Captain Scarlet – 50th Anniversary Sets From Big Finish!

Big Finish have been very busy making sure Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons gets the 50th anniversary celebration it deserves. There’s a lot of fantastic audio drama on offer, and we’ve been lucky enough to review the Captain Scarlet 50th Anniversary Box Set, and Spectrum File One. But here’s a full list of all the sets that are on offer and their contents:

Captain Scarlet 50th Anniversary Box Set

Mini albums

Introducing Captain Scarlet by Angus P Allan
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons by Angus P Allan
Captain Scarlet is Indestructible by Richard O’Neill
Captain Scarlet of Spectrum by Angus P Allan
Captain Scarlet versus Captain Black by Richard O’Neill

Adapted TV stories

Big Ben Strikes Again by Tony Barwick
Manhunt by Tony Barwick
The Trap by Alan Patillo
Special Assignment by Tony Barwick
Heart of New York by Tony Barwick
Model Spy by Bill Hedley
Flight 104 by Tony Barwick
The Launching by Peter Curran and David Williams

Also includes a brand new sixty minute Captain Scarlet anniversary documentary.

Spectrum File One

An adaptation of the 1967 John Theydon novel, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons narrated by David Graham and performed by Wayne Forester and Liz Morgan.

Spectrum File Two

An adaptation of the 1967 John Theydon novel, Captain Scarlet and the Silent Saboteur narrated by David Graham and performed by Wayne Forester and Liz Morgan.

Spectrum File Three

An adaptation of the 1967 John Theydon novel, The Angels and The Creeping Enemy narrated by David Graham and performed by Wayne Forester and Liz Morgan.

Needless to say it’s a pretty comprehensive set of releases diving full on into the Captain Scarlet phenomenon based on three formats, the original television episodes, the mini album adventures, and the novels.

Let’s kick off by exploring the Captain Scarlet 50th Anniversary Box Set.

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The set opens with the five stories which were written and recorded especially for the Century 21 Mini Album records released back in the 1960’s. They are beautifully presented here. The source material that the Big Finish team had to work with would have been limited and no doubt varying wildly in quality. A lot of careful work has gone into making everything sound fantastic and like they were recorded yesterday.

The mini album adventures make for fascinating listening. The television series had the luxury of a particularly large voice cast, and spectacular special effects to accompany the stories. The cast was cut down somewhat for the recording of these which features some performances of guest characters from cast members who would normally stick strictly to their regular roles. Francis Matthews, Ed Bishop, and Donald Gray have rather distinctive voices, so hearing them in other roles here is somewhat amusing. There’s some rather unusual dialogue overall and some wonderfully over the top performances, with the cast attempting to make sure all of the drama that would normally be visible on screen is fully injected into the dialogue. The stories themselves range from being exactly the sort of thing you would see in the television series, to being a little more… bizarre. Said bizarreness surely culminates in the story Captain Scarlet versus Captain Black which sees Captain Black take two children hostage in an incredibly disturbing manner. The stories are presented in the order that they were released, and rather brilliantly we’re treated to the Lyon’s Maid and Kellogg’s adverts of the period between each episode for a really authentic 50th anniversary experience. The five mini album stories are a must-listen for Captain Scarlet fans to give you some extra stories featuring the original cast as you’ve never heard them before…

A little bit of Barry Gray goodness is slipped in at this point as we’re treated to the opening and closing themes in all of their forms, including some unused tracks.

The 50th Anniversary Box Set continues by presenting 8 original television episodes adapted for audio with linking material from the original cast. Some of these were released back in the 60’s, but many use material especially recorded by Ed Bishop in the 90’s and released for public listening for the first time. It’s a great selection of episodes spanning across the entire series and a thrilling variety of adventures. If you’ve ever wanted to enjoy a Captain Scarlet episode while you’re on the move, this is undoubtedly the best way to do it.

The set is wrapped up with a brand new documentary featuring members of the production team. Newly recorded interviews, rare archive material, and narration from Jamie Anderson definitively tell the story of Captain Scarlet. Mike Trim, Shane Rimmer, Alan Perry, Liz Morgan, Gerry Anderson, Mike Jones, Nick Williams, Mary Turner, Leo Eaton, Derek Meddings, Tony Barwick, Sylvia Anderson, Alan Shubrook, Peter Holmes, Crispin Merrell, Barry Gray, Ed Bishop, Mike Noble, and Lee Sullivan all offer their insights on the production and the legacy of the series.

The contributors give a full and frank overview of the series and what it was like to work on. The cancellation of Thunderbirds, the debate over the scale of the new Supermarionation puppets, and the darker tone of the series are all matters that are touched upon with opinions from both sides. Some great new stories come to light, particularly from the archive material provided by Susan Harman and the estate of Simon Archer (Gerry Anderson’s first official biographer). The intense workload at the studio is covered in depth. Century 21 were a well-oiled machine by this point and the schedule was relentless, and hearing about the lengths that were gone to in order to keep things moving are extraordinary.

The documentary is an excellent addition to the set and one of the highlights of the 50th Anniversary as a whole.

As if a big fat box set of classic adventures wasn’t enough, we have some newly recorded stories in the form of the Spectrum Files releases. Three novels published in the 1960s re-told as audio-books, narrated by Supermarionation veteran David Graham, and with character dialogue performed by Wayne Forester and Liz Morgan. This provides the listener with the detailed description of the novel, and the dramatic potential of the television series.

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With so many of the original voice cast either unavailable or no longer with us, Wayne Forester takes on all of the male roles, while Liz Morgan performs all of the female characters. Wayne Forester played Captain Scarlet in Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet with a new and fresh approach, but his revival of Francis Matthews’ original Cary-Grant-esque interpretation captures the essence of the characterisation superbly. The same can be said for all of his re-creations of the original characters. Every voice has been carefully honed to the point that you instantly know which character he is playing, but his performances aren’t labored with the effort of trying to get every line pitch perfect. Forester sounds comfortable with every single one of the voices, an art that is often lost when one actor has to re-create a large number of impressions. In addition, he plays every guest character both in a starring role and in the tiniest of cameos, and each one has a distinct voice too.

Liz Morgan’s return to the roles of Destiny, Harmony, and Rhapsody Angels is very welcome indeed, and her re-creations of Symphony (originally performed by Janna Hill) and Melody (originally performed by Sylvia Anderson) are also of a great standard. She throws herself into the characters and gives some wonderful performances.

The narration provided by David Graham guides you through the story and the ever-changing locations with great charm and energy. He is not only a brilliant character actor, but it turns out a thoroughly engaging storyteller. It’s a pleasure to hear him read. Even though we know all about Cloudbase, the Spectrum organisation, and all other important aspects of the Captain Scarlet format, David Graham makes them sound fresh and original.

I don’t want to spoil the story of Spectrum File One too much, but let’s just say that it takes the epicness of the original series and turns it up to eleven. I’ve never been fortunate enough to read the original John Theydon Scarlet novels, but these audio-books certainly do develop upon the original format and do things that couldn’t have possibly been done in the television series. The locations are many and varied, taking us on a whirlwind adventure. The story is everything you could possibly want from a Captain Scarlet feature film and more.

The production of this release is of the usual stellar standard that we expect from Big Finish, with lots of special treats dotted about here and there. Original sound effects are put to great use, while re-imagined music reminds us that this is a new interpretation. The revamped staccato drum beat is a particular favourite of mine.

In short, the Captain Scarlet 50th Anniversary Box Set is a celebration of everything that the original series achieved, and the exciting stories that were told. The Spectrum Files releases are something bold and new, telling outstanding stories in a resourceful and exciting way, celebrating the legacy of Gerry & Sylvia Anderson’s classic format by daring to do something different with it.

All of the Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons releases from Big Finish are available online as CD box sets, or digital downloads! Visit The Gerry Anderson Shop or BigFinish.com

Watch the trailer for Spectrum File One now!

VOTING CLOSED: Captain Scarlet September Reviews!

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the indestructible Captain Scarlet, every Friday on the Security Hazard blog throughout the month of September we will be reviewing your favourite episodes of the classic Supermarionation series.

Five episodes will be poked, prodded, analysed and laughed at (probably) starting on Friday, September 1st and continuing every Friday for the rest of September.

But how will the five episodes be chosen? That responsibility falls to you, earthman. Select the five episodes from the series that you would like us to get to work on! The five episodes with the most votes will be featured here on the Security Hazard blog – voting closes on August 20th.

 

Terrahawks Gets A Big Finish! – Volume 3 Review

Terrahawks is back for a third series of audio adventures from Big Finish. Since the television series began in 1983, the show was always in a state of change – daring to try new and whacky ideas to keep the audience on their toes. The show shifted from serious and chilling, to downright hilarious and bizarre – and often mixing the two tones into a terrifying yet tongue-in-cheek blend of something which made Terrahawks a very unique and entertaining piece of television, and a stand-out Gerry Anderson production.

Fast forward 30 years, and the Terrahawks formula has been given new life by Jamie Anderson, cast members old and new, some special guest voice artists, and a talented team behind the scenes dedicated to recapturing the old magic, while also creating something special and unique all over again.

When the announcement was made at Andercon 2014 that Terrahawks would be returning as an audio series, the very notion of it was as near perfect as you could get. Jeremy Hitchen, Robbie Stevens, and Denise Bryer were all set to return to their original roles, with Hitchen filling in superbly for the retired Windsor Davies as Sgt. Major Zero, and newcomer Beth Chalmers faithfully bringing back Captain Kate Kestrel and Cystar, characters originally voiced by the late Anne Ridler. The colourful characters of the original television series were driven by strong and distinctive performances from the voice artists, making the characters easily transferable into audio stories.

Now to be frank, if there’s one thing that the original Terrahawks series needed, it was more money behind it. The limited budget meant that the format was never quite able to reach its full potential on television – and so the audio adventures picked up where the series left off. Across the three audio series, the writers have developed the characters and built upon the Terrahawks format in ways the original series simply couldn’t have done. There’s a newfound maturity to the formula which presents the characters at their best, while also offering some of that quirky humour which makes Terrahawks unique.

Volume 3 picks up from the dramatic conclusion of Volume 2 which saw the Terrahawks team and Zelda’s forces pushed to the limits of destruction by the twisted Prince Zegar of Guk. Take a look and listen to the trailer:

*SPOILER WARNING – A few minor plot details are hinted at in the following comments on each episode*

Episode 1, No Second Chances, written by Jamie Anderson, sees the surviving Terrahawks slowly picking themselves up after the devastating battle. After the conclusion of Series 2 it was certainly going to be a challenge for both sides to get back on their feet, but through some clever twists in fate, Mary is able to take command and continue the fight against Zelda who is soon back in full force. It’s a thrill to have Terrahawks treated to mature, complex storytelling with some genuinely intriguing resolutions and shocking moments. The characters retain their amusing quirks while also facing some very real drama including the love and loss felt between Ninestein and Mary at the climax of the story.

The quality of the performances in this episode, and across the entire box set is stellar. The cast give it their all with both the drama and the comedy. The team are clearly having a ball recording these scripts while also working extremely hard to deliver performances consistent with the characters they brought to life over 30 years ago. The audio adventures have injected the characters with some raw emotion which was previously lacking from the television series, and is now played upon to full effect by the cast. They are all superb performers.

The Wrong Clone Number

The Wrong Clone Number brings Terry Adlam’s signature comedy writing back to the series. A particular highlight of the episode pokes fun at the villainous Mysterons of Captain Scarlet. The Terrahawks audio stories have always made affectionate nods to other classic Gerry Anderson shows, and this series is no exception. Zelda is back with another truly bonkers plan which involves taking over Buckingham Palace to become the Queen of England… yes, really. It wouldn’t be Terrahawks without some absolute nuttiness thrown in – and Yungstar getting nibbled on by the Queen’s corgis is certainly rather nutty. The audio adventures have gained a satirical edge which is utilised very nicely in this episode.

Named after the classic Stingray episode, episode 3 – Set Sail For Mis-Adventure by David Hirsch, sees the Terrahawks called upon to escort Professor Otto Maddox on a cruise across the Atlantic Ocean. David Graham’s characters have entertained generations of fans, and in the role of Maddox, one is taken right back to the magic of his Supermarionation performances. The energy he gives to the part of Maddox is quite delightful and plays particularly well against Jeremy Hitchen’s Sixstein. This nautical episode also sees the return of Captain Goat, one of the more unusual villains of the television series, and the addition of a new vehicle to the Terrahawks fleet – Seahawk – specially designed by Chris Thompson.

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Episode 4, You-Foe, opens with a loving dig at Gerry Anderson’s first live action series, UFO, and leads to the return of Zelda’s alter ego, Grandma Buggins, for some devious trickery – a wonderful contribution from Denise Bryer. This episode takes a slower pace as Zelda and her family carefully manipulate Threestein, the final clone, into doing their bidding. The episode, and indeed much of the series, makes for an interesting study of what makes the character of Tiger a strong leader despite being thoroughly unlikeable at times. For my money, it’s his unpredictability, cold logic, and willingness to  be the bad guy at times which make him an engaging Anderson hero – but this series provides an exploration into what changing up the Ninestein character would change about the series’ format.

Living Legend brings David Graham back for another role as space explorer, Elias Crick – David’s great versatility as a voice artist still being put to great use. This episode also features a cameo from one of David Graham’s lesser-loved characters from Fireball XL5, but all is forgiven because one can’t but help but be grateful that Terrahawks is a weird enough show to be able to include such a character! Meanwhile, it’s time for a certain furry napoleon to depart, escaping the clutches of Zelda for good…

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And so we come to episode 6, The Prisoner of Zelda, and this is one I’ve really been looking forward to. Terrahawks meets Patrick McGoohan’s cult classic, The Prisoner. Zelda’s most chilling monster of all is back while Threestein and Lois Price (a character introduced in volume 1 and brought to life splendidly by Beth Chalmers) are transported to The Community. The blend of Terrahawks bonkersness with classic elements of The Prisoner is just great fun. Chris Dale’s script also offers plenty of woooonderful and obscure references to other Anderson shows and beyond. The story soon takes on a more serious and emotional tone as the truth behind MOID’s tragic existence unravels before him…

Mark Woollard’s Star Crossed sees Threestein facing a shortcoming never encountered by his predecessor – a little thing called love. Of course, nothing is as it seems. There is no doubt that these characters have evolved a great deal from their television series counterparts with some outstanding depth. Jeremy Hitchen and Beth Chalmers are incredible in this episode and take Terrahawks to an emotional level I never would have thought possible.

Jamie Anderson brings the series to a close with Enemies, Negotiations and Deceit – a simple tale which sees both Tiger and Zelda choosing to negotiate a peace treaty – really truly actually. Every character is given the opportunity to shine. The episode opens with an overwhelming sense of optimism, with Mary and Tiger even set to overcome their will-they-won’t-they courtliness. But of course it wouldn’t be Terrahawks if there wasn’t a nasty twist, and there’s no chance you’ll guess this one. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, climaxing with an outstanding rendition of the Terrahawks theme like you’ve never heard it before.

The final moments of the series are the greatest testimony to the achievements of Big Finish’s Terrahawks audio adventures. They have taken the show in directions that no-one could have possibly imagined, trying all sorts of new and exciting format experiments to produce stories which not only break the mould of Terrahawks, but break the mould of what you can expect from a classic Gerry Anderson formula. If you like Terrahawks, you will love the Big Finish audios. If you were perhaps underwhelmed by Terrahawks upon first viewing, the audio stories do everything to make amends. But frankly, having just finished listening to this incredible box set, there’s nothing I yearn to do more than to start watching the original series from the very beginning.

Terrahawks: Stay On This Channel! This is a must have for any Gerry Anderson fan!

Available now from Big Finish.

The Security Hazard Podcast #4! – Anderson In The Classroom

Jack and Andrew are back for another exciting podcast, this time exploring an interview originally published on the Official Gerry Anderson website with a teacher who introduced his students to the Worlds of Gerry Anderson! You can read the full article here. Sit back and enjoy our nattering about how we would be Anderson into the classroom.

Coming to SoundCloud soon!

The Security Hazard Podcast – Episode 2 – Goodbye Stirling Road

In the latest edition of the Security Hazard Podcast, Jack and Andrew discuss their fond memories of the Century 21 Studios at Stirling Road on the Slough Trading Estate, following the area’s recent demolition. The pair also share their thoughts on Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet and the exciting news that the series is being given new life thanks to an upcoming release on blu-ray! All this and more on the Security Hazard Podcast. You can listen on YouTube, or download from SoundCloud to enjoy the show where ever you are!

New Security Hazard Videos and Podcasts!

Exciting changes are happening here at Security Hazard HQ! Some exciting new regular features are going into action and you can enjoy the humble beginnings of these projects right now:

Security Hazard Unwrapped

A new video series which sees me diving into the uncharted depths of my collection of Gerry Anderson memorabilia. After a recent move across the Atlantic Ocean, my assortment of models, games, toys, books, and much more currently reside in boxes wrapped up in newspaper. It seemed only fitting that I would open up these surprise goodies on camera for your enjoyment. Take a trip back in time, or feast your eyes on pieces of merchandise from the worlds of Gerry Anderson that you may have never seen.

You can watch the first episode by clicking here.

The Security Hazard Podcast

Join Gerry Anderson blogger Andrew Clements and myself on an exciting adventure into the unknown. The Security Hazard Podcast sees two Thunder-Nerds talk about all things Anderson. Need something to listen to at work or on your commute? Give this a go!

Listen to the first episode on YouTube or download on SoundCloud!

We hope you enjoy these exciting new projects, and don’t worry, we’ll still be writing articles and reviews right here on the blog!

Security Hazard: 2017

Happy New Year to you all! Welcome to the first post on this blog for 2017. It’s going to be something a little bit different. As well as taking a personal reflection on everything the Security Hazard blog has achieved since it launched in May of 2016, I would also like to take this opportunity to look forward and let you in on what to expect from this little corner of the internet in 2017 – things are changing, but we’ll get to that later.

Last Friday marked this blog’s 50th post since I began writing on May 26th, 2016. I never thought it would get this far. I had no plan for what I was going to do, I just knew that I would need an outlet for all my Gerry Anderson ramblings after moving from the UK to the USA and leaving behind the wonderful Official Gerry Anderson blog (although I’m still involved in the background here and there.)

There have been so many highlights. I was inundated with kind comments when I reviewed the three Thunderbirds 1965 episodes. They remain a popular source of information for people who haven’t had a chance to see the episodes. I’m grateful to the Pod 4 Films team for allowing me to explore their work in such detail and for supporting me in doing so.

These reviews led to my utterly bonkers idea to analyse every single classic episode of Thunderbirds in the same intense level of detail every week. I have been publishing reviews for 19 weeks solidly every Friday and am enjoying the experience a great deal. I have learnt so much about the production of the original series just from analysing the episodes closely and putting pieces of the jigsaw together. It’s certainly been a challenge to write several thousand words every week about my favourite show, but the process is incredibly rewarding and has managed to change my way of looking at a number of episodes that I didn’t originally have a high opinion of. I’m still learning, but 19 weeks in I think I’m beginning to work out what makes this very imperfect series so incredibly good.

Along with those reviews have been the articles published every Monday which have ranged from being incredibly silly to being very insightful about various other Gerry Anderson works. Highlights have included achieving my dream of reviewing the lost pilot show The Investigator and having people actually read it, exploring my hopes for the 50th Anniversary of Captain Scarlet (and learning that some of them might just happen), and creating some fiendishly difficult quizzes for you all to enjoy. I also recently experimented with putting a Gerry Anderson themed gaming video together for the blog which seems to have gone down a treat.

So with 2017 now upon us, will anything be changing? For one very simple reason I have to say that it will. The day after this post goes up, I will be starting a new full time job. It came about very suddenly after Christmas, leaving me with very little time to make any plans. I am excited about the opportunity this job will bring to make life for my family a little more comfortable. But it also means that I just don’t have as much time on my hands as I used to. The time has come to prioritise and fine tune this blog to make sure I can cope with the workload and keep up the good quality writing that I believe I have created so far.

For the moment, therefore, I will cease regularly posting weekly articles on Mondays about general topics. The weekly Thunderbirds reviews on Fridays will, however, continue as before. The Thunderbirds reviews are the real heart and soul of this blog and it would be wrong to abandon or slow up on them now. That is not to say that writing about any other topic is out of the question – new blog posts may come out from time to time when special events occur, but I would not want people to expect them regularly. What I can try to promise is that the Thunderbirds reviews will continue to be published every week. Of course, assuming that happens, in around 3 months time I’ll be looking for something new and produced by Gerry Anderson to explore. Start submitting your ideas now for what you might like to see, and if you’re really lucky I might just be mad enough to do it.

I’m also considering doing more special videos ocassionally. You see, as well as bringing myself to the U.S. several months ago I also shipped over my enormous collection of Gerry Anderson memorabillia from across the years which need to be unboxed. Let me know if that’s something you would be interested in seeing in a video series!

Thank you all so much for supporting the Security Hazard blog during 2016. It has grown into something better than I had ever anticipated and it wouldn’t have continued if it hadn’t been for those of you who come back and read my musings every week. I hope you continue to enjoy what this blog has to offer as we blast into 2017!