Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sunday 8 November 1964

As I write this, the most recently screened episode of Doctor Who has faced some criticism for dealing with themes too dark to be suitable for children.  Tonight's episode of Stingray could be criticised for the same reason, focusing, as it does, on one powerful man's terrifying descent into madness.

There's no on screen title for tonight's episode, but for reasons that will swiftly become clear it's called Set Sail for Adventure.  You may remember that last week we were introduced to the character of Admiral Denver, who put the important work of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol on hold so they could focus on his own project to prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster.  That was as nothing compared to his abuses of power this week.

Things start off quietly enough, with Denver viewing an old film about battles at sea in the days of sailing ships in company with Commander Shore, his daughter Atlanta, and Troy Tempest.

Denver's opinion that it's one of the greatest films ever made isn't shared by Shore, who's got so fed up with Denver showing it to him that he falls asleep during it.

As Troy and Atlanta adjourn to put on records and twist the night away, the two old codgers bicker on about the film, until Denver announces his intention to sail the Pacific in a ship of the kind seen in the film to prove it can still be done.

The Admiral insists that he needs Troy Tempest in his crew but Shore, determined that the Admiral's ship should be escorted by Stingray in case of disaster (obviously nobody's got anything more pressing on that week), gets Troy to fake an illness.

So Denver sets sail (it's not explained where he got the ship from - perhaps it's the same one that was used as a villain's hideout a few weeks back) with just a two man crew, consisting of the hapless Phones and Lieutenant Fisher, who's been snatched away from duty without Shore's knowledge.  The pair of them are worked like dogs.  Everyone's dressed in authentic olde worlde outfits, of course.

The ship sails on, with Denver unaware that it's being trailed by Stingray, with Marina being Phones for the week.

A terrible storm kicks up, the mast's struck by lightning. and Admiral Denver receives a blow to the head that knocks him unconscious.

As if Admiral Denver wasn't certifiably potty enough already, he awakes with no memory, but seeing his outfit in the mirror assumes himself to be a real 18th century sea captain, and determines to keep his amnesia from his crew.

Addressing Phones and Fisher in a bizarre voice that's presumably meant to sound like Charles Laughton in Mutiny on the Bounty but instead resembles a Dalek doing an impression of Cary Grant (voice artist David Graham was actually one of the original Dalek voices), Denver determines that they're mutineers, and forces them off the ship at gunpoint.

At Marineville, Commander Shore's so worried about the situation that he hasn't even bothered to shave.

Phones and Fisher are picked up by Stingray, and Troy swims over to the galleon, climbing up its sides and swinging from a rope to knock its insane captain out.

As the Admiral recovers in hospital, Troy marvels that the second blow to the head brought his memory back.  This is clearly a man who has never watched a cartoon.

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