"To learn more about the Mysterons, Spectrum have devised "Operation Sword", the objective of which is to land a spy probe on Mars's moon Phobos in order to capture detailed images of the planet's surface. The first probe is detected and destroyed by the Mysterons but the second, Mini-Sat 5, touches down safely and begins its orbital reconnaissance. Once Phobos has made a full orbit of Mars, the images will be transmitted to Earth, where they will be received at K14 Observatory in the Himalayas.
Captains Scarlet and Blue have been dispatched to K14 to observe astronomers Carter, Angelini and Breck. To the astronomers, the second probe was able to reach Phobos undetected by travelling in the "shadow of fear": "Phobos" – the name of a companion of Mars in Greek mythology – means "fear", and the probe avoided detection by approaching the moon from behind so that it would remain invisible to Mars.
A few hours before transmission, Breck is viewing Mars through a telescope when the planet begins to flash brightly. Overcome by the dazzling light, he is killed and replaced by a Mysteron reconstruction. Knowing that K14's antenna will need to be rotated to receive the transmission, the reconstructed Breck plants a bomb in the rotation gear, rigging the device to explode when the gear is turned. He then hides in the rocks above the observatory. Aided by Melody Angel and Captain Grey in a Spectrum helicopter, Scarlet and Blue pursue and locate Breck. Revealing his sabotage, the reconstruction fires a gun at the officers but is shot dead by Scarlet. However, before Scarlet and Blue can warn K14, Carter and Angelini turn the antenna and the bomb explodes, causing the antenna to collapse and crush the observatory.
With Carter and Angelini dead and K14 destroyed, Earth misses the probe's transmission. However, Colonel White insists that this is not the end of Operation Sword."
Just to let you know the Tele-Snaps are darker here because I snapped these and those for the next two episodes with a different TV set. This one allowed for better camera exposure, allowing me to get the space shots with solid blacks, rather than the muddy, over-bright outlines I got in Episode 7. However, it causes problems with brighter episodes (as seen in the snaps of Episode 14, which you will see soon).
This is one of my favourite episodes. It seems slow at first, with the the main cast of the story confined to one room for the most part, but the episode has excellent music and great visuals, particularly on the space front, with Mars pulsating.
The episode also has a problem, though. Operation Sword... Colonel White declares at the end of the episode that it will go ahead... But it's NEVER mentioned again for the rest of the show. Even radio adventures and the comics in TV21 never mentioned it again.
Here we bid farewell to Charles Tingwell and Paul Maxwell. Why did they leave the show? Dr Fawn and Captain Grey would make non-speaking returns from then on. How come they weren't recast à la Virgil Tracy?
Technically on the audio only episodes, two characters were.
Dr Fawn was taken over by Jeremy Wilkin, using the same voice he used for Virgil.
The World President was taken over by Francis Matthews. His voice was just Scarlet with an American accent.
I cant say why Tingwell or Maxwell left, but at least it gave Martin King, Gary Files and David Healy more acting work on the show. Healy easily became one of my favourites.