Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, set Twenty Minutes into the Future, tells the story of a "war of nerves" between humanity and a race of Martians called the Mysterons.The aliens were never seen in person and would attack Earth by killing prominent humans and replacing them with superpowered duplicates who would attempt to perform terrorist attacks. Their primary agent is Captain Black, a former Spectrum agent who was turned after accidentally starting the war by panicking and attacking them first.Opposing them were the Spectrum organisation, an international defence force whose best agent, Captain Scarlet, is killed and cloned in the first episode. He regains his humanity through Heroic Willpower and a convenient building collapse/jolt of electricity (depending on which version you watch). However, he still has the clone body's powers of Nigh Invulnerability.Like the earlier Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet was produced by animatronics expert Gerry Anderson. The difference here is that the puppeteers used an upgraded design that places the internal mechanisms in the chest area of the puppets as opposed to the head. This change allowed the creation of puppets to forgo the characteristic oversized heads of previous super-marionettes for more realistic proportions. As a result, the show looks a bit like the old 12" G.I. Joe action figures have come to life, which Anderson later noted made them feel less lifelike as a result.For the 2005 CGI Remake, see Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet.
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons provides examples of the following tropes:
Achilles' Heel: Mysteron duplicates are vulnerable to electricity (which means, as an associate pointed out to Scarlet, "high voltage is the one thing that can kill you"). They also show up as "positive" images on X-rays. Scarlet can also sense when one is nearby.
And Starring: After the first scene of each episode of the original version, the main characters are billed on screen "With Captain Blue" first. Also included: Destiny Angel, Colonel White, Symphony, Melody, Rhapsody and Harmony Angel, and "Mysteron Agent Captain Black".
The weekly magazine TV 21 ran strips and such based on the series (a related publication, TV Tornado, fleshed out the Mysterons' backstory), and the "annuals" (hard-backed yearly comic collections) would print cutaway diagrams of, say, the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle or Captain Scarlet's car.
A sharp-eyed viewer will notice there's a window in the shots that shows scenery moving past in the "wrong" direction, making it obvious that the SPV crew are seated in the rear and facing away from the front of the vehicle (presumably for safety reasons). There are also several occasions where they open the doors showing the seats face backwards. And of course the toys showcased the feature. This was mentioned in the first episode.
Undercover Agent: It must be difficult, driving backwards and looking at video monitors. Captain Blue: Oh, you'll get used to it.
The ejector seat is also used during "The Winged Assassin". Or more accurately, Captain Blue's ejector is forcibly triggered by Captain Scarlet, so the latter can try to be a Big Damn Hero.
Spectrums final victory took place in the comics after the series ended.
Awesome, but Impractical: Well, more mildly clever and innovative but impractical in the case of the aforementioned SPV's camera system, which was combined with rear-facing seats. It might reduce the likelihood of injury in the event of a collision, but how anyone drove one for more than five minutes without having to pull over and throw up is a mystery for the ages. And also there was one time a Mysteron agent jammed the camera resulting in the SPV crashing. All of which is probably why the revival did away with this, allowing drivers of the SPV's successor, the Rhino, to face the right way.
The Bad Guys Win: In "Winged Assassin," "The Heart Of New York", "Shadow of Fear" and "Inferno".
"S.I.G." — "Spectrum Is Green." Used to mean "acknowledged" or "Roger". The alternative warning-code, "S.I.R." — "Spectrum Is Red", was only mentioned in a couple of episodes. This sort of thing is an "Andersonism" dating back at least to his earlier series Stingray.
Also the above "voice of the Mysterons" quote.
Cloning Blues: Averted; Captain Scarlet is readily accepted by his colleagues, and he shows nary a hint of angst about being a copy.
Code Name: All of the main Spectrum agents were assigned code-names based on colors — Captain Blue, Lieutenant Green, Colonel White, and so forth. The Angels are code-named Destiny, Rhapsody, Melody, Harmony and Symphony. Long before the home computer era, this show introduced kids to the colour name "magenta". Who says kids' TV isn't educational?
Compilation Movie: Two, from 1980-1981, kick-starting the Super Space Theater project, in which episodes of other Gerry Anderson-produced series went through this.
Captain Scarlet vs. the Mysterons, featuring the episodes "The Mysterons", "Winged Assassin", "Seek and Destroy" and "Attack on Cloudbase". Aired in 1980.
Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars, featuring the episodes "Shadow of Fear", "Lunarville 7", "Crater 101" and "Dangerous Rendezvous." Aired in 1981. Notable for being the focus of the second-ever episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
One of these films is notable for a tacked-on ending that suggests the entire series was simply a dream!
Cool Car: Lots of them. This is Gerry Anderson we're talking about.
Cool Plane: Lots, but especially the Angels' Falcon interceptors.
Criminal Mind Games: The Mysterons would always announce their next target in advance (sometimes in very cryptic fashion).
Darker and Edgier: Than the other Supermarionation series, partly due to the opening titles and partly due to the fact that the good guys sometimes lost. Captain Black has several close shaves with Spectrum but is never actually caught, for example. Not to mention the deaths; Thunderbirds would hardly have an innocent getting murdered through crushing.
Descending Ceiling: The episode "Spectrum Strikes Back" has White, Blue, and other Spectrum personnel face possible death due to the floor of a building above them slowly descending and threatening to crush them.
Disproportionate Retribution: The Mysterons have reason to be angry since Captain Black destroyed their city, but since they could instantly rebuild it and there's no hint any Mysterons died, they seem to be rather irrational in their desire to destroy all life on Earth in retribution. When Spectrum apologises on behalf of mankind and asks for peace, the Mysterons pretend to be ready to negotiate so they can set a trap but actually never even consider making peace. They state explicitly they are not capable of forgiveness.
Kill and Replace: "The Mysterons, sworn enemies of Earth, [possess] the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person. But first, they must destroy."
Medium Blending: Live-action closeups were sometimes used when they needed to show something complicated that required finer manipulation than offered by the puppets, like setting a timer or interacting with control panels.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The whole War of Nerves starts when Captain Black and his co-pilot mistake the Mysterons' scanners for weapons and react by blasting their city into pieces, arousing their wrath.
No OSHA Compliance: the episode Spectrum Strikes Back features a house that lowers in its entirety to reach the basement conference room, which as demonstrated in the episode, has the potential to crush anyone unfortunate enough to be working below if someone removes the key as there are no emergency cut off's of any kind. Bonus points in that there is a perfectly functioning elevator... that shuts itself down once the house is in motion preventing escape.
Odd Name Out: Destiny Angel, the only Angel not named after a musical term.
An early episode features Big Ben striking 13 times, which is a key plot point. If one is about a third of a mile from Big Ben with a radio tuned to a local station, the real twelfth bong will arrive about a full second after the twelve on the radio. After Scarlet learns this, he says he'll consider it his "lucky number" from that point on.
In the episode where Scarlet gets fired, the reason as to why was because he lost all his money whilst playing roulette, his last act being to put it all on red — the ball lands on 13 (black). Fridge Brilliance: Scarlet was trying to loose money as part of an undercover op, so he put it all on his lucky number.invoked
Title Theme Tune: In one version thereof, "Captain Scarlet" is the only lyric. As a bonus, the later theme (the one with the lyrics) was sung by a group called The Spectrum.
To the Batpole!: Anderson's puppet characters couldn't be made to walk convincingly, so typically moved around on chutes, conveyor-belts etc.
Villain Ball: Possibly averted. The Mysterons announce their plans in advance, albeit in riddles. However, there's some speculation that they do this because they just enjoy tormenting the humans. At least once, the Mysterons stated point-blank that they were engaged in a "war of nerves" with Earth. They wanted to terrify us into self-destructive paranoia. A reason once mentioned was that the Mysteron Martian complex is an entertainment device (like the Shoreleave World of Star Trek'), but for aliens with other priorities. Occasionally the clues were a Xanatos Gambit, where SPECTRUM winning turned out to further the Mysterons' plan.