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