|Episode no. Episode 13|
Cinematography by Julien Lugrin
Production code 4
|Directed by Robert Lynn|
Editing by Bob Dearberg
|Written by Peter Curran and David Williams|
"Point 783" is the 13th episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, a British 1960s Supermarionation television series co-created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Written by Peter Curran and David Williams and directed by Robert Lynn, it was first broadcast on 22 December 1967 on ATV Midlands.
In this episode, the Mysterons attempt to assassinate the Supreme Commander of Earth Forces using an experimental superweapon.
The episode begins with a demonstration of the latest in computer-controlled weaponry — the Unitron, an unmanned tank impervious to almost all forms of weaponry. It is controlled by an operator or can be pre-programmed to attack a designated target until it is completely destroyed.
Two army officers (Major Brooks and Colonel Storm) are killed in a car crash engineered by the Mysterons and reconstructed to assassinate the Supreme Commander. At a conference chaired by the Commander and Spectrum Captains Scarlet and Blue (Francis Matthews and Ed Bishop), during which Scarlet's "sixth sense" for the Mysterons becomes evident, the Mysterons use Brooks as a live bomb in an attempt to kill the Commander in the same way that they tried to assassinate the World President. However, this trap is avoided when Scarlet, acting on his sixth sense, activates an emergency response system that shields the Commander, Blue and himself from the explosion. This leaves the Mysteron duplicate of Colonel Storm to kill the commander.
Blue drives the Commander to Point 783, a military blockhouse located on a test range in the Sahara Desert, to observe the Unitron in action. Also in attendance is Storm. The demonstration initially proceeds according to plan, with the vehicle efficiently destroying a selection of targets. However, when the Commander steps outside, the Unitron launches a shell and flamethrower bombardment of the blockhouse, which soon starts to weaken under heavy fire. Undamaged by attacks from the Spectrum Angels, the tank moves in for the kill.
Scarlet requisitions a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle to extract the Commander. Remaining in the blockhouse, Blue leaves the Commander in the care of Storm. The SPV speeds away from the blockhouse as the Unitron closes in; however, after ramming the building, the tank heads off in pursuit of the SPV. At this point it is revealed that Storm had re-programmed the superweapon – and that the target is not the blockhouse, but Storm himself.
Scarlet is held at gunpoint by Storm who shoots him several times at point-blank range. Despite this, Scarlet still manages to eject both himself and the Commander to safety, leaving Storm in the SPV. The SPV, with Storm still in it, is chased by the Unitron until both vehicles crash when they plunge over a cliff. The Commander is rescued by Spectrum while the wounded Scarlet is taken away for treatment. At the end of the episode Blue explains that the Mysterons will make no further attempts on the Supreme Commander's life because their agents have been destroyed.
The incidental music for "Point 783" includes a piece titled "The SHEF March", which accompanies the scenes of the Supreme Commander arriving at the SHEF Headquarters. The march can also be heard in various episodes of later Supermarionation productions, such as the Joe 90 episode "Business Holiday". All music for "Point 783" was recorded using a 14-member orchestra during a single four-hour studio session held on 30 April 1967.
James Stansfield of the entertainment website Den of Geek considers "Point 783" the ninth-best episode of Captain Scarlet, crediting the "unique threat" posed by the Unitron and the Mysteron reconstruction of Colonel Storm as well as "good dummy threat" embodied by Major Brooks.
In a review published in the Gerry Anderson-related fanzine Andersonic, Vincent Law interprets the plot involving the Unitron as a negative commentary on advancements in automation and mechanisation. He compares "Point 783" to "Recall to Service", an episode of The Secret Service that features a malfunctioning superweapon called the AquaTank, as well as to the Star Trek episode "The Ultimate Computer". For Law, "Point 783" is "quite a bloodthirsty installment" of Captain Scarlet, in part due to the accident that results in the deaths of the original Colonel Storm and Major Brooks. He states that the explosion of the reconstructed Brooks reinforces the "very alien" nature of the Mysterons, whose ability to self-destruct is argued to draw parallels with Second World War-era Kamikaze pilots. Law regards some elements of the Mysterons' plan as confusing, pointing out that the MCA tanker appears only briefly: "... it appears that they've reconstructed the tanker driver whom they use to kill the two officers in a crash, both of whom are then recreated to do the assassinating. Just a tad long-winded." He suggests that the highlights of the episode are the special effects: the Angels' assault on the Unitron is "what Century 21 is, in a nutshell - fast editing, great music, big explosions and unrelenting action." He sums up "Point 783" as "a snapshot of what Captain Scarlet is all about" and "visually and technically impressive, loud and exciting, yet perhaps just a tad flawed at script level".
Chris Bentley, author of The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide, considers "Recall to Service" to be a remake of "Point 783".