STINGRAY - THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
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Drums pound, building excitement; the music bursts into life with a cry of "Stingray! Stingray!" Who can resist? Especially when a dramatic voice announces, "Anything can happen in the next half hour!" Stingray (1964) was the show Gerry Anderson made just before he really hit the big time with Thunderbirds (1965), producing 39 episodes of the 21st-century adventures of Troy Tempest--tall, dark, and handsome (his voice was based on James Garner) captain of the titular submarine. His mission: to protect the seas on behalf of WASP (World Aquanaut Security Patrol).
With complex underwater model and puppet effects, this was groundbreaking television, especially as it was the first British series to be made in color, though for years it was seen only in black and white. Special effects director Derek Meddings later graduated to the James Bond movies, while Moneypenny herself (actress Lois Maxwell) voiced Atlanta Shore. Here, just as in the Bond movies, she played second fiddle in our hero's affections, the mute Marina becoming Stingray's sex goddess. The end credits even featured a song in her honor, "Aqua Maria," which became an international hit. As for the bad guys: half-man, half-fish Titan and his Terror Fish wage dastardly war against humanity and the peaceful underwater citizens of Pacifica. Four decades on, the model and underwater sequences still impress, and surely much of the inspiration for the underwater city in Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace came from locations in Stingray. Whether as bizarre '60s nostalgia, or winning a new generation of fans, Stingray remains eccentric cult family entertainment. --Gary S. Dalkin
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