Fifty years ago today, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s seminal follow-up to Thunderbirds hit British TV: Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons launched, with a show that chronicled the sci-fi adventures of an indestructible secret agent battling a sinister Martian threat. Now, for the first time ever, it’s making its way to high-definition with a loving restoration.
Announced to commemorate today’s anniversary, Captain Scarlet will hit Blu-ray for the very first time later this year, the first of multiple volumes that will bring the 32-episode “Supermarionation” scifi series to high definition for the first time, remastered from the original 35mm film the show was shot on.
Captain Scarlet was a significant step up from the Andersons’ work on Thunderbirds, both in terms of its use of more realistic puppets and the fact that it adopted a much darker tone than the action heroics of the crew at International Rescue. Captain Scarlet was all about a future where Earth faced an imminent invasion from a race of sinister, mind-controlling beings from Mars known only as the Mysterons, after an expedition to the planet inadvertently destroyed their home city. The titular hero, an agent of the international security organisation Spectrum in 2068, was a brutal and efficient hero, aided by his powers of “retro-metabolism” — a Martian ability that rendered him basically invulnerable. While his foes, like the deadly agent of the Mysterons Captain Black, couldn’t kill Scarlet, he had no qualms about murdering anyone who came under the influence of the Mysterons, or stood in the way of his goal to safeguard Earth from Martian invasion.
Unlike Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet was a darker, more violent affair, dealing with themes of mortality, terrorism, and morals in the face of interplanetary war, rather than daring heroics of the Tracy family. At the time it was a shock to viewers expecting something similar from the team behind Thunderbirds, but Captain Scarlet became a cult classic that would be re-aired time and time again in the years since (and even got a brief CG reboot series in 2005). Plus, just like Thunderbirds before it, it had a truly groovy theme song:
As someone young enough to have watched the BBC’s re-airing of the series as a kid in the early ‘90s, that title card art is seared into my brain, and will be all over again when Network’s remaster hits UK shelves this November.