Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, often referred to as Captain Scarlet, is a 1960s British science-fiction television series produced by the Century 21 Productions company of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, John Read and Reg Hill. First broadcast on ATV Midlands between September 1967 and May 1968, it has since been transmitted in more than 40 other countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Combined with scale model special effects, characters are presented as marionette puppets in a filming technique that the Andersons dubbed "Supermarionation", a technology that incorporated internal solenoid motors as a means of producing mouth movements synchronised with pre-recorded dialogue.
Set in 2068,[e 1] the series charts the hostilities between Earth and a race of Martians known as the Mysterons. After a misunderstanding results in human astronauts obliterating their base, the vengeful Mysterons declare war on Earth,[e 1] initiating a succession of reprisal attacks that are countered by Spectrum, an international security organisation. Spectrum boasts the remarkable abilities of its top agent, Captain Scarlet, who comes to possess the Mysteron healing power of "retro-metabolism". This ability to return to life, even after suffering fatal injuries, essentially makes Scarlet "indestructible".[e 2]
Captain Scarlet, the eighth of ten puppet series that the Andersons produced in the 1950s and 60s, follows Thunderbirds and precedes Joe 90 and the little-seen The Secret Service. In terms of visual aesthetic, the series represents a departure from the style of Thunderbirds due to its use of non-caricatured marionette puppets of realistic bodily proportions. Re-run a number of times on British television and purchased by the BBC in 1993, the 32-episode series has been the foundation of merchandising campaigns since its first appearance, leading to the release of items such as toy dolls and other associated media, including novels and comic strips in the Anderson-related children's magazine, TV Century 21.
Compared to its antecedents, Captain Scarlet continues to be recognised as much "darker" in tone and less orientated towards child audiences due to increased levels of violence and themes of extraterrestrial malevolence and interplanetary conflict. The transition in puppet design has polarised the opinions of commentators and former production personnel, although the series has been praised for its depiction of a multinational and multiethnic cast of characters against the backdrop of a utopian future Earth. Deciding to revive Captain Scarlet in the late 1990s, Gerry Anderson supervised the production of a computer-animated reboot series, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, which commenced broadcast in the United Kingdom in 2005.