Movies ‘Till Dawn: Saturday Morning Matinee Theater – “Stingray”

9 a.m. “Stingray” – “Titan Goes Pop” – Children’s Programming/Science Fiction

51Z17IFqDdL(1964, Shout! Factory/Timeless Media Group) Intentionally funny episode of the popular Gerry Anderson “Supermarionation” series “Stingray” (1964-1965) which pokes fun at both mainstream culture’s bafflement over rock and roll and teenaged hysteria over pop idols. Series “star” (he’s top-billed) Troy Tempest and the WASP (World Aquanaut Security Patrol) are assigned to supervise singing sensation Duke Dexter during a top-secret performance at their Marineville base. However, silver-faced chief villain King Titan catches wind of the plan and dispatches his chronically inept henchman X-Two-Zero to abduct Dexter in the hopes of using his wailing guitar and screaming fans to induce chaos among the surface dwellers. While Anderson’s lock-jawed, perpetually twitching Supermarionettes are more likely to induce giggles than thrills in 21st century viewers (though due entirely to the passage of time and technical invention than any sort of construction ineptitude), the visual effects remain impressive, even by current CGI standards, with the sleek title vehicle and elaborate Marineville set worthy of the most praise. There’s also a lot of broad humor in the script: how else to describe the marble-mouthed Duke Dexter, who bears a strong resemblance to Dash Riprock from “The Beverly Hillbillies,” or X-Two-Zero’s “rock and roll” disguise – a wild frightwig mane, striped beatnik t-shirt and an “I Like Duke” sign? The combination of gentle camp, genuinely fine special effects and offbeat laughs, as well as an affinity for youth/pop culture inform many of the 39 episodes that comprise “Stingray’s” TV run, which are compiled on Shout! Factory’s 5-disc set along with an interview with Anderson himself.

About Paul Gaita

Paul Gaita lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his lovely wife and daughter. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Variety and The Fix, among many other publications, and was a home video reviewer for Amazon.com from 1998 to 2014. He has interviewed countless entertainment figures from both the A and Z lists, but his favorites remain Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury and George Newall, who created both Schoolhouse Rock and the Hai Karate aftershave commercials. He once shared a Thanksgiving dinner with celebrity astrologer Joyce Jillson, and regrettably, still owes the late character actor Charles Napier a dollar.
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