They answer to the " hoverchair "-bound Commander Sam Shore, whose daughter, Lieutenant Atlanta Shore, works in the Marineville control tower and is enamoured of Troy. The series begins with the WASP's discovery that the ocean floor is home to many advanced civilisations. Among these is the undersea city of Titanica, ruled by King Titan. A despot, Titan commands the Aquaphibians, a warrior race who possess a fleet of lethal submersibles called "Mechanical Fish". They are rescued by Titan's slave, Marina, a mute young woman from the undersea city of Pacifica who can breathe underwater.
Troy becomes infatuated with her, making Atlanta jealous. However, his attempts to destroy Stingray and Marineville are always thwarted, often due to the incompetence of his henchman Surface Agent XZero.
Titan's spy on land, XZero operates from the Pacific island of Lemoy, where he lives in an outwardly dilapidated house whose interior conceals vast banks of sophisticated surveillance and tracking equipment. Some episodes revolve around encounters with other races living under the sea or within the Earth some friendly and others hostileor investigation of natural phenomena.
The final episode is a clip show in which Troy is named "Aquanaut of the Year" and past missions are recounted in flashback. Episodes are listed in the order of original broadcast in the ATV London region. In a first for a Supermarionation series, Stingray included a Christmas episode"A Christmas to Remember", and a clip show finale, "Aquanaut of the Year". Negotiations with Edwards were slow to progress, so work began on an alternative clip show in which the main characters watch film recordings of some of Stingray ' s past missions.
Production on this episode was halted when APF received permission to proceed with "Aquanaut of the Year". APF used the framing scenes from the abandoned clip show to create a Stingray feature presentation. Written and directed by Alan Pattillothis comprised four complete episodes and was privately screened for visiting Japanese TV executives. It has never had a TV broadcast. The linking material from the feature presentation was re-discovered in late or early and subsequently included on Stingray DVD releases.
These were made for American TV and later released on home video. They were televised as part of an ITC package branded "Super Space Theater", which also included compilations from other Supermarionation series.
Each of the Stingray films consists of re-edited versions of four of the original episodes. In lateas production on Fireball XL5 drew to a close, Gerry Anderson decided that an underwater series was the next logical step for production company AP Films APF : "We had been on land and in space, so where could we go next? One possibility was underwater. There are features that man has never seen and pressures that are almost impossible to withstand.
I began to wonder if there were areas of the Earth which had been little explored and felt justified in writing some wacky stuff. APF's financial backer Lew Gradewho had bought the company after the success of Fireball XL5 approved the concept and commissioned 26 episodes. Production began in spring or June and the series was completed in ten months. As filming progressed, Grade extended his commission to 39 episodes.
In her autobiography, Sylvia Anderson, who had voiced the regular characters of Jimmy Gibson in Supercar and Dr Venus in Fireball XL5wrote that she devised Marina as a mute so that she could take a break from voice acting and "concentrate on the scripts and characters". The process of designing and making the puppets took four months and each of the main characters was sculpted in duplicate to allow episodes to be filmed in pairs.
Stingray was the first Supermarionation series to feature puppets with glass eyes and poseable hands for increased realism. For the underwater sequences, Anderson had originally envisaged filming inside a water tank,  but the cost of the specialist cameras and equipment required would have made this impractical.
The illusion of scenes being set underwater was further enhanced by populating the aquaria with tropical fish of various sizes to create forced perspective. Ocean surface shots in Supercar and Fireball XL5 had been filmed in an outdoor tank, but for Stingray several tanks were built inside the studio. Each tank incorporated an artificial horizon system whereby the back wall was built low and the tank was deliberately overfilled to create a waterfall, blurring the divide between the rim of the tank and the painted-sky backdrop.
Shots of aircraft in flight were filmed using a technique known as the "rolling sky", whereby the miniature models were positioned in front of a painted-sky canvas and remained static while an illusion of movement was created by running the background in a continuous loop around a pair Cold Cave - Oceans With No End (Vinyl) electrically-driven rollers.
This system, devised by Meddings, made aerial shots easier to film as it took up very little studio space. The title sequence consists of a series of action shots featuring undersea explosions, Marineville going to red alert and Stingray doing battle with a Mechanical Fish. This is accompanied by dramatic narration from Commander Shore, who warns the audience to "Stand by for action!
Jim Sangster and Paul Condon, authors of Collins Telly Guidepraise the introduction, writing that "Of all the programmes we've looked at for this book, there is none with a title sequence as thrilling as Stingray. Children's TV had never before been this exciting. The series' closing titles focus on the love triangle between Troy, Marina and Atlanta. They feature Troy singing "Aqua Marina" — a song about his feelings for Marina, performed by Gary Miller with soprano backing vocals — while Atlanta gazes wistfully at his photograph.
In the US, the series was first shown in Writing inRobert Sellers described Stingray as the "first truly classic Anderson show", whose special effects "have stood the test of time remarkably well.
Comparing Stingray to the Andersons' earlier productions, media historian Marcus Hearn writes that the series essentially "[transfers] the format of Fireball XL5 to an underwater setting. Mike Fillis of TV Zone magazine regards Stingray as less "ambitious" than Thunderbirds but compares its "self-awareness" favourably to the "po-faced rigidity" of Captain Scarlet.
He also praises its "well-drawn" characters and describes the water-based special effects as "surprisingly elegant". Though judging many of the episodes to be "predictable and corny", they add that the series' "knowingness" and "love of character [ Some commentators have been critical of the puppetry and effects.
Paul Mavis of DVD Talk writes that the use of aquaria makes the underwater scenes look "a tad creaky" but believes that they compare well to contemporary feature film effects. He notes that this limitation forces a large amount of movement to be kept off-screen: "Almost every capture by Aquaphibians ellipses difficult-to-film interaction, skipping straight to static talking scenes instead. Sangster and Condon argue that, while Stingray is mainly for children, it was also the first Anderson series to have adult appeal.
Lewis and Penny Stempel, authors of Cult TV: The Essential Critical Guidethe series combines "kiddie-time exciting narrative action" with imaginative spoofs for the "more sophisticated".
Newman argues that through its use of "silver- and green-skinned" undersea villains and the "odd caricatured Arab baddie", Stingraylike Thunderbirdsconveys "square, almost s" attitudes towards race. Cull views the mute Marina as an example of a female Anderson character who is "subordinate" to men, while Erickson argues that Atlanta's role as an assistant makes her a gender stereotype. Cull observes that in its depiction of the WASP, Stingray is one of several Gerry Anderson series that "assume the development of world government and world security institutions" and "reflect the s vogue for stories set in secret organisations with extravagant acronyms.
He believes that the episode "Marineville Traitor", which focuses on a hunt for an "enemy within", has an "especially strong Cold War flavour". Cull also notes that while the Anderson productions often present nuclear technology as a threat, Stingray also shows it in a positive light: for example, the series' eponymous submarine is nuclear-powered.
Sarah Kurchak of The A. Club suggests that compared to villains of earlier Anderson series, Titan and the Aquaphibians serve as a "more classically Cold War-style villainous Other ". She adds that in the world of Stingray"the battle lines between land and sea are clearly defined, the enemy is always watching, and the target of their aggression is always close to home. The Stingray comics were reprinted in Polystyle Publications ' Countdown in the years — Originally marketed as "mini-albums", these feature the voice cast from the TV series and are each about 21 minutes long.
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