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Stingray (TV series)
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Television show information

Genre

Action
Adventure
Children's
Science fiction

Created by

Gerry Anderson
Sylvia Anderson

Written by

Gerry Anderson
Sylvia Anderson
Alan Fennell
Dennis Spooner

Directed by

David Elliott
John Kelly
Alan Pattillo
Desmond Saunders

Voices of

Don Mason
Robert Easton
Ray Barrett
Lois Maxwell
David Graham

Country of origin

United Kingdom

Original language(s)

English

Production
Broadcast

Original network

ATV

Chronology

Stingray is a British children's Supermarionation television series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and produced by AP Films for ATV and ITC Entertainment between 1964 and 1965.[1] Its 39 half-hour episodes were originally screened on ITV in the United Kingdom and in syndication in Canada and the United States. The scriptwriters included the Andersons, Alan Fennell, and Dennis Spooner. Barry Gray composed the music, and Derek Meddings served as special effects director.

Stingray was the first Supermarionation production in which the marionette characters had interchangeable heads featuring a variety of expressions. It was also the first British television series to be filmed entirely in colour over its production run.

Plot

Stingray, a highly sophisticated combat submarine built for speed and manoeuvrability, is the flag vessel of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP), a security organisation based at Marineville in the year 2065.[2] It is capable of speeds of up to Script error: No such module "convert"., while advanced pressure compensators allow it to submerge to depths of over Script error: No such module "convert"., enabling cruising to the bottom of any part of any of the Earth's oceans. Marineville is located somewhere in California, on the West Coast of the United States. In the case of it being under attack, battle stations is sounded and all the buildings and vehicles are sent down on hydraulic jacks into the safety of underground bunkers, protected by enormous steel and concrete shutters whilst missiles are deployed from underground silos and fighter jets are launched. The base lies Script error: No such module "convert". inland, and Stingray is launched from "Pen 3" through a tunnel leading to the Pacific Ocean. The alerts "action stations", "launch stations", and "battle stations" are sounded by a rapid drum-beat (composed and recorded by series composer Barry Gray) that is played over Marineville's public address system. Commands given by radio are acknowledged with the acronym: P.W.O.R. which stands for, "Proceeding With Orders Received".

The pilot of Stingray is the square-jawed Captain Troy Tempest (whose Supermarionation puppet was modelled on actor James Garner). He is paired with Dixie navigator Lieutenant George Lee Sheridan, nicknamed "Phones" for his role as Stingray's hydrophone operator. (Phones' real name, George Sheridan, is referred to in the series' publicity material but is not mentioned on-screen.) Troy and Phones board Stingray by sitting on twin injector seats in Marineville's stand-by lounge, which are sent down rapidly into the vessel through injector tubes and clamped down into place. They answer to the crusty "hoverchair"-bound Commander Samuel Shore, whose daughter, Lieutenant Atlanta Shore, is enamoured of Troy. The reason for Shore's disability is revealed in the episode "The Ghost of the Sea": as a security agent for a deep-sea mining platform, he was injured when a hostile submersible attacked the facility and damaged his patrol craft. He managed to ram the enemy in return, and then escape to the surface, but in so doing lost the use of his legs. Sub-Lieutenant John Horatio Fisher also regularly takes shifts in the Marineville control room.

During the course of the series, Stingray encounters a number of undersea races, both friendly and hostile. The Aquaphibians, an aquatic warrior race, appear regularly—usually under the command of King Titan (modelled on Laurence Olivier), who is the tyrannical ruler of the underwater city of Titanica. In the pilot episode, Stingray is attacked by Titan's forces and Troy and Phones are captured. They are rescued by Titan's slave girl, Marina (modelled on Brigitte Bardot),[3] a mute young woman who can breathe underwater. Troy immediately becomes infatuated with Marina, causing Atlanta to become jealous. Titan, meanwhile, swears revenge for Marina's betrayal. Marina becomes a regular member of Stingray's crew, and later acquires a pet seal pup named Oink, who appears in a number of episodes.

Many later episodes revolve around Titan's schemes to destroy Stingray and Marineville. These often fail due to the incompetence of his spy on land, Surface Agent X20 who lives on the Island of Lemoy (whose likeness is modelled on Claude Rains but whose voice is imitative of Peter Lorre).[4] Most of the characters, vehicles and places featured the series have names that are connected, in some manner, with the sea. Character names of this type include Tempest (synonymous with "storm"), Shore, Atlanta (from "Atlantic"), Marina, Lieutenant Fisher and the hostile Aquaphibians. Place names inspired by the sea or its elements include Marineville, Pacifica, Marina's old home and Aquatraz, Titanica's prison. Vehicle names include Stingray itself and Titan's fleet of lethal submersibles, the mechanical fish, named "Terror Fish" in merchandise and comics but never in the series itself (where they are only referred to as "mechanical fish").

According to the audio adventure Journey to Marineville, the "3" on Stingray's fins indicates that the vessel is Stingray Mark III. Marineville is stated to be 20 miles inland, as opposed to the 10 miles mentioned in the TV episode "The Big Gun".

Production

The series' 39 episodes were filmed as three blocks (or series) of 13 episodes each, since ITC Entertainment managing director Lew Grade was accustomed to ordering further batches of 13 shows as need demanded, which he had done in the cases of the earlier Anderson series Supercar and Fireball XL5 (which also ran to 39 episodes each).

Supercar had featured a vehicle that could travel on land, sea, and air, while Fireball XL5 had featured a spaceship; the next logical step was a series about a submarine, which presented a number of technical challenges. Scenes featuring model submarines or marionettes underwater were actually filmed on a dry set, with the camera filming through a narrow water tank containing air bubblers and fish of different sizes to simulate perspective, thereby creating a convincing illusion that the models or puppets were underwater. This was enhanced with lighting effects that gave the impression of shafts of light being refracted through the ocean surface. Scenes set on the surface were filmed using a large tank filled with water and blue dye. To conceal the boundaries of the set, the tank was deliberately overfilled so that the water would constantly spill over its edges. These techniques proved so successful that they were also used for sea-based scenes that appear in Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, and Joe 90.

Stingray represented a major breakthrough from Fireball XL5 both in terms of special effects techniques and storytelling. It was the first Supermarionation series to use puppets with interchangeable heads, allowing a number of emotions to be conveyed to the audience. The love triangle between Atlanta, Troy, and Marina is a surprisingly mature development for a children's TV programme, and is even incorporated into the closing credits, in which Troy sings "Aqua Marina" (a song about his romantic feelings for Marina, sung by Gary Miller) while Atlanta gazes wistfully at his photograph.

List of characters

WASP Personnel

  • Captain Troy Tempest: Captain of the WASP's main submarine, Stingray (voiced by Don Mason). He was made Aquanaut of the Year in one episode, for his fearlessness and bravery.
  • Lieutenant George Lee "Phones" Sheridan: Stingray's co-pilot hydrophone operator (voiced by Robert Easton) He is Troy's loyal best friend.
  • Marina: - A mute mermaid (though in one episode is voiced by Sylvia Anderson), who once was the slave for Titan and princess of the undersea race of friendly Pacificans. In the first episode she helped Troy and Phones escape from Titan.
  • Commander Samuel "Sam" Shore: - Commander of the WASP base at Marineville (voiced by Ray Barrett). He is a widower and confined to a hoverchair. He is also the father of Atlanta Shore.
  • Lieutenant Atlanta Shore: - Control Tower Lieutenant (voiced by Lois Maxwell). She works with her father, Commander Shore. She is also Troy's love interest.
  • Sub-Lieutenant John Horatio Fisher: - An eager young Lieutenant (voiced by Ray Barrett). He works in the control tower with Commander Shore and Lieutenant Atlanta. In the episode "Rescue from the Skies" he is seen training to be an aquanaut.

Villains

  • King Titan of Titanica: Ruthless ruler of the undersea race of the Aquaphibians from Titanica (voiced by Ray Barrett). In the Pilot episode he captures Troy and Phones but they escape thanks to his slave Marina helping them.
  • Surface Agent X-2-Zero: Surface agent who lives on the island of Lemoy, near Marineville, who reports directly to Titan (voiced by Robert Easton). He is often blamed by Titan when things go wrong in Titans plans.
  • The Aquaphibians: Titans minions (voiced by Robert Easton and David Graham)).

Recurring Characters

  • Oink the Seal: — A seal pup (voiced by David Graham). He joins the Stingray crew as Marina's pet after saving them from a bomb.
  • Marineville Tracking Station operative: — An early warning system that alerts Marineville of aerial attacks and unidentified vessels and aircraft in the area (voiced in most episodes by David Graham, and 1 episode by Lois Maxwell).
  • Marineville Power Plant Technician: - Controls when Marineville goes into Battlestation Mode (voiced by Ray Barrett).
  • Doc: - Marineville's main Doctor (voiced by David Graham).
  • Admiral Jack Denver: - He is president of the WASP underwater research division (voiced by David Graham). He went to college with Commander Shore and enjoys debating with him.
  • WSP Commanders: - Three World Security Patrol Commanders (voiced by Don Mason, Robert Easton, Ray Barrett and David Graham). They all appear in different episodes to brief Commander Shore.

Voice cast

Voice actor Main Hero Characters Main Enemy characters Recurring and Guest characters
Don Mason Captain Troy Tempest (speaking) N/A Various
Robert Easton Lieutenant George Lee "Phones" Sheridan Surface Agent X-2-Zero Various Supporting Characters
Ray Barrett Commander Samuel "Sam" Shore
Sub-Lieutenant John Horatio Fisher
King Titan of Titanica Power Plant Technician
Various Supporting Characters
Lois Maxwell Lieutenant Atlanta Shore N/A Various Supporting Characters
David Graham N/A N/A Oink
Marineville Tracking Station
Doc
Admiral Jack Denver
Various Supporting Characters
Gary Miller Troy Tempest (singing voice only) N/A N/A
Sylvia Anderson N/A N/A 2 episodes - uncredited

Marina is unique among Supermarionation characters in that she has no dialogue. In the episode "Raptures of the Deep" she appears to communicate telepathically with Troy (her thoughts voiced by Sylvia Anderson), but this is later revealed to be a part of a dream that Troy experienced while delirious, having passed out underwater due to a lack of oxygen. In the dream sequence in question, Marina's lips do not move because her puppet was not equipped with a speech mechanism.

In addition to the 39 TV episodes, three original EP "audio adventures" featuring the TV voice cast were released during the 1960s. These recordings are included as special features in the UK DVD box set. One of these audio episodes (entitled "Marina Speaks") reveals that Marina is in fact not mute at all; her race has been cursed by Titan—should any one of them speak, another will die. They are not certain if this is true, but none of them dares find out; thus, for years they have lived in complicit silence. However, this storyline to some extent contradicts the TV episodes.

Later revivals

In 1980 and 1981, two TV compilation films were made for the American market, airing in the United States as part of an ITC Entertainment movie package called "Super Space Theater"; this practice was common at the time for many of Gerry Anderson's TV productions. The first, titled The Incredible Voyage of Stingray, was released in 1980 and comprise the original episodes "Stingray", "Plant Of Doom", "Count Down", and "The Master Plan". Released in 1981, Invaders from the Deep was a compilation of "Hostages of the Deep", "The Big Gun", "Emergency Marineville", and "Deep Heat". On 24 November 1988 (Thanksgiving Day), Invaders from the Deep appeared as the first broadcast episode of movie-mocking TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the UK, ITV repeated Stingray in 1988. The series was later repeated on BBC Two in 1992. Stingray was also shown on Sky One from 2002 to 2003. In the United States, the Sci-Fi Channel aired some episodes of Stingray in the early 1990s, as part of its block "Sci-Fi Cartoon Quest".

On 2 January 2008, a new episode, "The Reunion Party" (with a running time of 30 minutes), was broadcast on BBC Four in the UK as part of a themed "Thunderbirds Night". This episode was assembled by Anderson from recently discovered linking material filmed in 1965, and takes the form of a clip show episode including footage from the episodes "Stingray", "An Echo of Danger", and "Emergency Marineville". The linking material was originally filmed to showcase Stingray to potential overseas buyers, but was ultimately never used. An un-assembled version of "The Reunion Party" appears as an extra on the Stingray DVD box set.

Stingray-class

According to the Stingray comic strip in the weekly Countdown comic, more than one Stingray-class submarine was in service in the Marineville fleet. These vessels had names such as Spearfish, Barracuda, Moray, and Thornback and were identified by different numbers on their fins, suggesting that the "3" painted on Stingray's tail fin did not indicate that the submarine was a "Mark III" after all.

A similar idea had been adopted by author John Theydon for his second Stingray tie-in novel, Stingray and the Monster, some years prior. In the novel, another WASP submarine (unnamed and referred to as "Number Thirteen") is hi-jacked by an old enemy of Commander Shore. Theydon's description of the hi-jacked boat, both inside and out, is recognisably similar to that of Stingray, with the exception that "Number Thirteen" is stated not to possess Stingray's exceptional performance, being limited to roughly Script error: No such module "convert". instead of the Script error: No such module "convert". that Stingray is quoted as being able to attain. The implication, not explicitly stated, is that Stingray is an upgraded version of the design. Later, TV21 comic mentioned a second "super-sub" due to enter service under the WASP that is stolen by a Mysteron agent as part of the plot of a Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons story.

Episodes

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Specials

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Compilation films

Between 1980 and 1981, two compilation films were produced for which a number of the original episodes were re-edited and modified for inclusion.

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Foreign titles

References

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  3. http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/dvd-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews/13206-stingray-the-complete-colletion
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External links

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