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Series / Stingray (1964)

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"Stand by for action!"

"It dives under the sea, into the world below
Where beauty and mystery can always be found
It dives fearless and free, chasing the strangest foe
But against all adversity, sails homeward BOOOOOOUND!"'

Stingray is a children's marionette television show, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, that ran from 1964-65. Stingray was also the first British television programme to be filmed entirely in colour (the earlier series The Adventures Of Sir Lancelot had been made in colour from halfway through its run thanks to NBC money - although British TV viewers wouldn't get colour television until 1967).

Set 20 Minutes into the Future, the show's focus was the day-to-day adventures of the crew of WASP, the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (why, what WASP were you thinking of?), a Californian naval organization dedicated to keeping the world's waters free of any danger — in particular, any danger caused by the Aquaphibians, a race of evil fish-men. Helping them to lead the way is Captain Troy Tempest, who pilots the titular Stingray submarine alongside George Lee "Phones" Sheridan (so named because he operates the ship's hydrophones).

The organization falls under the direction of Commander Sam Shore, who now uses a hoverchair around the base as a result of a submarine accident. His daughter is Atlanta Shore, the assistant communications officer who loves Troy Tempest from afar.

Tagging along with the two pilots is a mute, tail-less mermaid by the name of Marina. It's revealed All There in the Manual that she is actually forbidden by her ruler Titan to ever speak (if she does so, he will destroy her people). Unfortunately for Atlanta, Troy seems to be attracted to her.

All of the underwater sequences were shot dry-for-wet by filming the puppets or models through narrow water tanks containing small fish and bubble machines, and using lighting effects to give an underwater look.

A compilation movie of the series, Invaders from the Deep, was the very first film ever riffed in Mystery Science Theater 3000, in its local-access season on KTMA-TV23 in Minneapolis.

It has nothing to do with the American '80s series of the same name.

Any tropes can happen in the next half hour!

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Commander Shore's opening theme call-to-arms "STAND by...for ACTION!"
  • Alien Invasion: "The Invaders".
  • All Just a Dream: "The Cool Cave Man," "Tom Thumb Tempest" and "Raptures Of The Deep" (that's right, they did it three times!). In the last-named it's more of a hallucination, but it still counts.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Troy has a crush on Marina (who is forbidden to speak). Atlanta in turn longs for Troy. It is occasionally implied that Phones carries a bit of a soft spot for Atlanta.
  • Apparently Human Merfolk: Marina and some of the Aquaphibians, others of the species are more Fish People.
  • Asian Rudeness: Two episodes - "Star of the East" and "Eastern Eclipse" - focused on the incredibly rude (and extremely deluded) Arabic sometimes despot El Hudat.
  • The Cameo: In "Raptures Of The Deep," Marina speaks for the only time onscreen with the uncredited voice of Sylvia Anderson. Too bad it's only in Troy's oxygen-starved imagination.
  • Captain Fishman: Aqua Marina is a humanoid princess of Pacifica. She's a tailless mermaid capable of breathing in water or in air. She gets rescued from the clutches of King Titan, and becomes a valuable ally to the heroes, Troy Tempest and Phones. Though she cannot speak, she can make herself understood, and often guides the Stingray around the seas, exploiting shortcuts and dodging hazards.
  • Compilation Movie: Two, under the umbrella title Super Space Theater.
    • The Incredible Voyage of Stingray, featuring the episodes "Stingray," "Plant of Doom," "Count Down, and "The Master Plan," in 1980.
    • Invaders of the Deep, featuring the episodes "Hostages of the Deep," "The Big Gun," "Emergency Marineville" and "Deep Heat," in 1981. Notable for being the first movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (ever).
    • A third one was put together to be shown for Japanese television executives, with framing footage bridging "Stingray," "An Echo Of Danger," "Raptures Of The Deep" and "Emergency Marineville." Said footage was later used as the basis for "The Reunion Party," shown on BBC4 as part of a Gerry Anderson celebration.
  • Cool Boat: Stingray.
  • Cryptid Episode: One episode has the crew shipped to Scotland to find the Loch Ness Monster.
  • Cute Mute: Marina. According to the audio adventure "Marina Speaks" a curse was put on her race by Titan so if any of them ever spoke, another of them would die.
  • Damsel in Distress: Atlanta and Marina, in several episodes.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: In "Raptures Of The Deep," a hallucinating Troy sings "Aqua Marina" (the Ending Theme) to Marina.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Troy has a thing for Marina and her people are mute and communicate (with each other at least) via telepathy.
  • Egopolis: Titan, ruler of the underwater city of Titanica.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Marineville's buildings could be retracted underground in an emergency.
  • Ending Theme: "Marina...aqua Marina...what are these strange enchantments that start when ever you're near?"
  • French Jerk: The titular character of "The Man from the Navy", who drives Troy to distraction with his arrogance and need to prove the Navy's superiority.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In the first scene we see, Teufel seems to be just a fish that the Titanicans worship... the next scene we see proves it is anything but, and serves as Titan's advisor and enabler.
  • Human Aliens: Some of the Aquaphibians, including the love interest Marina, are quite human in appearance, despite their aquatic origins.
  • I Gave My Word: Titan is xenophobic and a slave owner, but he's still a man of his word. After Titan poisons Troy and demands Marina's return for the cure, Marina chooses Troy's life over her freedom, and Titan sends the antidote as promised.
  • Jumping Fish: Performed by two submarines in the opening credits: Stingray itself, followed by the Aquaphibian's "Terror Fish" craft.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the pilot episode there's a dramatic announcement regarding the current crisis, "Anything could happen in the next half hour!" Of course that's just so they can say the line in the Title Sequence introducing each half-hour long episode.
  • Love Triangle: Troy, Atlanta, and Marina.
  • Made a Slave: Marina is Titan's personal slave when she's introduced, but she helps Troy and Phones escape the first chance she gets.
  • Moving Buildings: All of the buildings in Marineville can be lowered underground on hydraulic jacks in case of an attack. This idea also surfaced in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Musical Episode: "Tune of Danger" and "Titan Goes Pop".
  • Never Say "Die": Subverted: Troy is sentenced to "death" by Titan in the opening episode.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Surface Agent X20, who looked and sounded like Peter Lorre, though his appearance was also based on Claude Rains. Troy Tempest was modelled on James Garner, and Marina on Brigitte Bardot.
  • No Ending: The series ends on a clip show with the overall arc unresolved.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: When Teufel is introduced, it appears to be just a fish that Titan claims is their great god, and Troy is given what appears to be an arbitrary trial where he lives or dies depending if it continues to look at him for one marine-minute, and it turns away from him JUST as the time runs out. Then when Titan vows revenge on his slave Marina for saving Troy and escaping Titanica, he implores Teufel for how to enact his revenge. Teufel then conjures a flower that devours the atmosphere around it, which Titan smashes only just in time, before remarking how the plant would be his instrument of revenge. This reveals in one scene that Teufel is not a dumb animal, that it purposely sentenced Troy and his crewmate to death, and that it didn't care if Titan died before realizing what the plant was for.
  • One-Word Title
  • Punny Name: Atlanta Shore, Marina, Troy Tempest, Lt Fisher; also, the Titanians worship the living fish-god Teufel (German for "Devil"), and their maximum security prison is named Aquatraz.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: El Hudat, and how.
  • Sound-to-Screen Adaptation: Inverted with a series of original cast 'audio adventures', originally released on vinyl and included as DVD extras (and also released on CD by Fanderson, the official Gerry Anderson fan club).
  • Stock Footage: Notably on two occasions, besides the launch and battle stations sequences: the collapse of the drilling rig in "Sea of Oil" is seen again in "The Ghost of the Sea", and the destruction of Seaprobe in the pilot episode is reused in "A Nut for Marineville".
  • Suddenly Speaking: Marina actually does speak in one episode, her voice being provided by Gerry Anderson's wife, Sylvia (who would gain more recognition in Anderson's next series as Lady Penelope).
  • Trojan Horse: Titan sends Surface Agent X20 to Marina's people with a gift to show "no hard feelings" for her freeing two prisoners sentenced to death and fleeing her life of slavery. This is a gambit to get the deadly plant inside WASP after they pay Marina's people a visit a short time later.
  • Ultra Terrestrials: The various aquatic races.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: Lieutenant Fisher is put through one of these in his Day in the Limelight episode, "Rescue from the Skies".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Commander Shore and his Insane Admiral buddy Jack Denver.
  • Zeerust: A guarantee in all of Anderson's Supermarionation works set in the future. According to the show's technical manual, Stingray is capable of speeds up to 600 knotsnote  and submerging to depths of 36,000 feetnote  (for reference the Seawolf class fast attack submarine is rated at 35 knots and approx. 2350 feet) making it every bit as advanced today as it was then. Not so for pretty much everything else in the show: sixties decor and fashions, big computers with lots of flashing lights and spinning wheels, terrible graphics and resolution on every monitor etc.


Aqua Marina

End credits song from Stingray.

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Example of:

Main / EndingTheme

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