Now, imagine that all the characters are "played" by marionettes on miniature sets. That's Stingray, a fanciful 1964-65 British series created by innovative television producer Gerry Anderson and his wife Sylvia. On January 13th, Timeless Media Group will released a 50th anniversary edition of Stingray: The Complete Series. This five-DVD boxed set includes all 39 half-hour episodes, plus an interview with Gerry Anderson, a making-of featurette, and audio commentaries on several episodes from the Andersons and others.(Click here to view our trailer on YouTube.)
|Troy Tempest and his co-pilot Phones.|
|Sylvia and Gerry Anderson with Troy.|
Stingray was their first color series and also their most sophisticated one to date. The marionettes had interchangeable heads that were used to convey different emotions. The biggest challenge, though, was that much of Stingray took place underwater. On one of the commentary tracks, Gerry Anderson explains how the illusion of filming underwater was achieved and the dangers it created:
We used to film through a specially constructed aquarium in which we had different-sized fish. In order to give the illusion that Stingray was traveling underwater, we ordered the aquariums to be made by the same people who made aquariums for the London Zoo and so naturally, we thought the thing would be done properly and everything would be safe. When they arrived, we spent the first morning filming through the aquarium and everything seemed to work perfectly. Then fortunately, the crew broke for lunch. As they walked through the studio door in the corridor, there's this enormous bang as the aquarium exploded through the pressure of water and, of course, jagged pieces of glass blew out in all directions and the fish landed on the floor and all died. We were very lucky, because had the crew been there, I think there could have been a very, very serious accident. It's something I always think of when I see Stingray traveling, seemingly underwater.
|Troy Tempest and James Garner.|
|Atlanta was voiced by Lois Maxwell|
(Miss Moneypenny to Connery's 007).
|The mysterious Marina.|
Still, Gerry Anderson got his wish when he made the intriguing theatrical film Journey to the Far Side of the Sun in 1969. From there, he produced the cult TV series UFO (a personal fave), Space: 1999 with Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, and The Protectors starring Robert Vaughn.
Incidentally, the pretty closing song "Aqua Marina" was performed by Gary Miller. He had previously scored six hits on the UK record chart, with his biggest song being the theme from Richard Greene's Robin Hood TV series. Sadly, "Aqua Marina" wasn't a hit--though perhaps that was a good thing for Atlanta, who didn't have a song at all.