Fifty years ago, a man by the name of Gerry Anderson and his wife Sylvia created what would be some of the greatest programs in television history when he introduced the concept of “Supermarionation.” The concept, which proved to be exactly what it sounded like–using marionettes in the place of actual actors for series–led to some of the greatest series on television. Those series included the likes of Thunderbirds Are GO, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, and Stingray just to name a few. All three titles have received their own DVD releases in the early 2000s courtesy of A&E Home Video. And now thanks to the efforts of the people at Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory, Stingray has gotten what can only be described as a full, proper DVD box set release. Timeless Media Group released Stingray: The Complete Series–50th Anniversary Edition on DVD last Tuesday, January 13th. First and most notable of the box set’s positives is its writing. Those that might not be so familiar with the series will appreciate the writing that went into this series. It was a serial that wasn’t a serial. While it does hold serial elements, there are also plenty of stand-alone episodes to counter that serial element and make the series true fun. Also worth noting is that in its new re-issue, Shout! Factory has seen what A&E Home Video offered audiences in the series’ 2002 DVD release, and raised them quite a bit with this release. Timeless Media Group has raised the ante with packaging that is far more ergonomically sound than that of A&E Home Video’s 2002 release of the series. TMG has also raised the bar with the set’s bonus features. It has carried over some of the bonus material from the series’ 2002 release and included even more for audiences with this set. Last but hardly least of all worth nothing of the set is its collective look and sound. While half a century has passed since Stingray first debuted to audiences overseas, the series looks and sounds just as good as ever in its new release. It shows that the efforts taken by those charged with bringing the series back to life yet again more than paid off. Together with the set’s improved bonus material and its equally impressive writing, it becomes one more shining reason that ay lover of classic television should include Stingray: The Complete Series–50th Anniversary Edition to their home DVD library. All three factors together show just why TMG’s new re-issue of Stingray: The Complete Series—50th Anniversary Edition an early candidate for the list of the year’s best new box sets.
Timeless Media Group’s new 50th Anniversary re-issue of Gerry Anderson’s Stingray is an early candidate to make any critic’s list of this year’s best new box sets. This applies both to box sets for grown-ups and for the whole family. The central reason for such an accolade is the series’ writing. The writing presented a series that was a serial but not a serial. From the series premiere to its finale, the series’ writers never allowed the ongoing conflict between W.A.S.P. (World Aquanaut Security Patrol) and the Aquaphibians to overpower the series. Given, the Aquaphibians are always there in the background as the series’ central villains. But the writers always managed to maintain the series’ episodes as their own stand-alone entities from one to the next beginning to end. One of the best examples of the writers’ ability to maintain that balance comes in the form of “Loch Ness Monster.” The story takes rugged Captain Troy Tempest and his navigator Lt. George Lee “Phones” Sheridan to the famed Loch Ness in Scotland to investigate an attack on a fisherman by the legendary Loch Ness Monster. In another case, Troy and George meet some new allies while helping the crew of an oil rig in “Sea of Oil.” And there are even more enemies and challenges for the members of W.A.S.P. late in the series’ run in “An Echo of Danger,” “Invisible Enemy” and “Deep Heat” just to name a few more of the series’ great stand-alone episodes. The series’ early episodes tend to focus more on the conflict between W.A.S.P. and the Aquaphibians. Even as much as those episodes focus on the underlying conflict, there are stand-alone episodes early on, too. The fact that the series’ writers could balance both an ongoing storyline with a solid share of stand-alone episodes shows great talent. That ability to keep viewers watching through said balance is something that far too few of today’s writers posess. It’s one more example of what once made television great, how far it has fallen since then, and of course why any lover of classic television will throoughly enjoy Stingray: The Complete Series–50th Anniversary Edition. The bonus material boasted throughout the set makes it even more of a must have for any lover of classic television.
The writing behind Stingray is within itself plenty of reason for any lover of classic television to pick up the series’ new 50th Anniversary Edition. Its balance of serial and stand-alone elements keeps audiences engaged from series premiere to finale. The bonus material offered along the way makes this new re-issue just as much a joy if not more so. The bonus material included in the set includes a number of commentaries spread across the series’ thirty-nine episodes. The commentaries in question are new additions to this box set. They were not included in the set’s previous 2012 release from A&E Home Video. They boast quite the history lesson on the show and its production as well as other topics. Audiences learn the role that the classic crime drama Ironside played in one character’s development. They also learn a little known secret centering on the series’ American broadcast versus its run on UK TV. The difference in question is that the series’ UK broadcast was run in black & white while its U.S. broadcast was run in color. There’s also a funny little bit telling about one model of the Stingray sub not being quite as waterproof as the series’ heads thought. There are even discussions on the show’s production values in terms of its special effects that audiences will find rather interesting. These discussions are just a handful of interesting additions to the set in whole. There is much more for audiences to take in, including a full length interview with the now late series creator Gerry Anderson in which Anderson reveals that Stingray that was carried over from the set’s previous release via A&E Home Video in 2002. Audiences will be interested to learn in the interview that Stingray was originally intended for adult audiences and not children. Considering that references to smoking including Troy and George smoking were included throughout the series, it would make sense. There are other elements to the series that show why it would be considered more for adult audiences than for children. Ultimately the choice is up to parents. That aside, that and the newly added commentaries show just why the bonus material included in Stingray: The Complete Series–50th Anniversary Edition adds to the enjoyment of the reborn classic.
The writing behind Stingray and the bonus features included in the series’ brand new 50th Anniversary Edition are both key in their own way to the set’s enjoyment. The writing balances a serial element soundly with just as many stand-alone episodes, making thirty-nine episodes that will keep audiences engaged from beginning to end. The combination of the set’s carry-over bonus material and its newly added commentaries adds to the set’s enjoyment and success thanks to the added history lesson on the series presented through each commentary. While both elements play their own integral roles in the enjoyment and success of Stingray: The Complete Series–50th Anniversary Edition, they still comprise only a portion of the set’s positives. The quality of the footage in terms of its look and sound is the last element to note that makes this set so enjoyable. Stingray has–as previously noted–been released in its entirety once before via A&E Home Video. Twelve years have passed since that release. So unless one already owns that previously released box set, it is difficult to make a comparison of the quality of the footage in that set. It can be said in the case of this release though, that the series looks and sounds wonderful. Those that have the pleasure of seeing the series on a Blu-ray player will especially agree to this sentiment. The original, grainy quality of the footage is still there. And the sound is just as clear. What’s really interesting to note in watching it on a Blu-ray player is just how clean it looks in its automatic up-conversion. The noted grainy quality of the footage is anything but overpowering. Rather it is like putting on an old vinyl and hearing that familiar static. It’s just part of the presentation. That in mind, those charged with re-mastering the footage for its presentation here are to be commended for their efforts. The efforts will generate a welcome sense of nostalgia for those that grew up with the series. For those audiences that might be new to the world of Stingray, it shows that such classic footage is just as good as any of the spit-shined material churned out by the major studios today. That coupled with packaging that is far more ergonomically sound than that of the set’s 2002 release from A&E Home Video makes complete this set. Together with the series’ writing and the mix of new and carry-over bonus material, the set in whole is yet another must see for any lover of classic television. It is also more proof of why the partnership between Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory has made the companies two of the leading names in home entertainment.
Whether it be for the series’ writing, the bonus material included in the set, or even the top notch quality of the show’s footage and its packaging, there is so much to like about Stingray: The Complete Series—50th Anniversary Edition. Considering how much there is to like about this new re-issue, it would be no surprise if this set ends up on any critic’s year-ender noting the year’s best new box sets either for adults or families. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Timeless Media’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/stingray-the-complete-series-50th-anniversary-edition. More information on this and other releases from Timeless Media Group is available online at:
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