Captain Scarlet (New)
Series 2 Box Set

Starring (voice): Nigel Plaskitt, Wayne Forester, Robbie Stevens and Emma Tate
Granada Ventures Ltd
RRP: 17.99
Certificate: PG
Available 18 September 2006

Spectrum team must once again face the inscrutable alien enemy, the Mysterons in a battle for the very existence of Earth. Leading the fight is Captain Scarlet; on a mission to Mars, Scarlet and Captain Black encounter an alien city, under the impression that they are under attack; Black launches a missile into the city destroying it. However, the city miraculously reassembles and a counter attack is launched and Black is killed. Back on Earth, Black is resurrected to become the Mysteron's agent of destruction and Scarlet is transformed into an indestructible being. Both men are now locked into a battle for the very existence of the human race...

The second set of DVD releases of Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet brings the series to an end, which is a shame as the episodes just keep getting better and better.

Contained on these discs are episodes 14 to 26 and all are generally sharper and more dynamic than the earlier instalments. Just compare Instrument of Destruction (the opening two parter) or Rain of Terror (the third episode made) with Dominion (the final episode to be completed) and the development is clear. The scripts are better, the animation has gained in leaps and bounds, and the use of characters is more complex.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the show - at least visually - is the shots of aircraft. Flypasts from the Angels are so good at times you could almost think them real, and many of the land vehicles also posses a genuine realism. CGI water lets things down a bit so the show's boats and subs don't meet the same level of realism, but even here it's never distracting.

However, the best part of the show is its characters. In the original series the puppets are given little emotion and all the secondary characters (Captains Grey and Ochre for example) could be swapped around and no one would notice. In the remake, the Spectrum agents are individuals with personalities of their own.

And now for the gripes... There is no reason why we couldn't have had twice as many episodes on a disc. The entire 26 adventures would have fitted across four DVDs without any problem and yet we get twice that number. If the discs had been chock full of extras (there are none in this second batch) then I could have understood it but given that these are vanilla releases there really is no excuse.

Also, the final episode completed, Dominion, really should have been shown last as it would have made a fantastic finale cliff hanger... what are the Mysterons going to do next? Instead we get Grey Skulls last, and although it's a good story (aliens and Roswell) it doesn't pack the same punch.

These gripes aside, Gerry Anderson's remake of Captain Scarlet is actually very good. Oddly, in the puppet version the opening two episodes are amongst the best while in the CGI show they're by far the worst. And by the time we get to the end of their runs the puppets are stiffly walking through The Inquisition (a cheap flashback episode) while the CGI Spectrum is battling biker gangs. The chance of any more episodes being made is apparently zero, but the 26 CGI Captain Scarlet stories are never less than entertaining and sometimes they're thrilling. If you liked the first set of DVDs, you'll love the second.

Anthony Clark

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