"Operation Time," is the eighth instalment of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, whose writers, Richard Conway and Stephen J. Mattick, were special-effects technicians earlier in their careers.
This is the instalment of the programme in which it is discovered that Mysteron likenesses are impervious to X-rays and vulnerable to being killed instantly by high voltage electricity. The engineerings of the C38 Mysteron detector and the Mysteron rifle follow not long afterwards.
"We will kill time"
At London Hospital, the renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Theodore Magnus, M.D., is about to conduct a brain operation on a patient called Mr. Morgan. After putting a sheet on the patient's head, he asks for the X-rays of Morgan's brain and goes on with the proceedings. During this procedure, a Dr. Turner, one of Magnus's colleagues and an anaesthesiologist by medical speciality, maintains a constant monitoring of Morgan's pulse rate. Two students watch above in silence as Magnus uses a local anaesthetic on Morgan to check his reaction. After all the preliminary preparations have been completed, Magnus tells Turner to switch on the "cerebal pulsator," a device of his own construction. Everyone watches to see the result.
The Mysterons dispatch their latest threat as this is transpiring. "We will continue to take our revenge," it reads. "You will pay for your act of aggression. Our next act of retaliation will be to kill time. We will kill time."
Aboard Cloudbase, the Spectrum Organisation's senior staff is confused by the latest threat. Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue reveal a list of anything associated with it, but it is over fourteen micro files long! Colonel White says that they should spread out and be on the lookout for anything suspicious. He proceeds to send Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue, along with Captain Ochre and Captain Grey, to four distinct locations: New York, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, and London. Each agent is given a Spectrum Passenger Jet to go to his given location. Lieutenant Green asks Colonel White if the Mysteron threat could be a trick and is told that it is not, as Colonel White is extremely certain that the Mysterons intend to destroy something--or to kill someone.
Dr. Magnus vs. Captain Black
Outside London Hospital, Dr. Magnus is just getting ready to leave when he meets Dr. Turner. The latter tells him that the operation was a complete success and that Mr. Morgan will be making a full recovery. After hearing this, Magnus agrees with Turner that their next operation, on an armed-forces general officer whom he does not name, will definitely take place the next day. He gets in his car and says goodnight to Turner. He then drives off in the direction of Westbourne Clinic to see the general officer in question.
But Captain Black is in another car, watching, and he proceeds to follow Magnus to the clinic.
As Magnus' car drives through the gates, Captain Black stops and reverses his car to keep himself unseen. The general officer is resting when a nurse appears with Dr. Magnus and tells him that he is here to see him. Magnus tells the general officer that his operation will take place the next day. The general officer is relieved, as he cannot put up with any more waiting. Magnus gives him a release to sign. When the general officer asks if there will be any complications, Magnus assures him that though brain surgery is very delicate, the cerebal pulsator eliminates most of the risk. He goes on to tell him that his operation with Mr. Morgan was a success and that the release is a mere formality. Despite Magnus's suggestion to get a second opinion and postpone it for a week or more, the general officer decides to get the operation performed immediately and signs the release--his signature proves to read "J. F. Tiempo."
Magnus gets in his car and drives away, with Captain Black still following him. Magnus is forced to stop at the traffic lights and grows impatient. Suddenly Captain Black draws a pistol and shoots the windscreen of the car. Magnus panics and drives straight through, even though the lights are still red. He keeps checking his left door mirror to see if he is still being followed. After seeing no sign of Captain Black, he tells himself to calm down and find the police straight away.
Vain and empty hope!
Soon Captain Black catches up with him and continues to shoot. One of his bullets strikes one of the tyres of Magnus's car, forcing him to crash through the barriers of a road over a cliff. The car falls down the cliff and explodes, killing Magnus instantly. Twin green rings sweep the body of the original Magnus and re-create an exact likeness of him. The Magnus likeness stands at the very top of the cliff, where Captain Black gives him (the Magnus likeness) his instructions. "Dr. Magnus," the Mysteron agent says in the deep slow voice of the Mysterons, "tomorrow you will kill time."
The mystery is solved!
Back at Cloudbase, the Destiny Angel lands with nothing to report back to Colonel White. The Colonel is still despairing about having nothing to counter the Mysteron threat when he receives a transmission from an excited Captain Magenta who tells him that he was checking the local papers for a lead when he read an article about how a General Tiempo, commander of the Western Legion World Defence, is in London for an operation; this General Tiempo is the target of the Mysterons, Captain Magenta explains excitedly; Tiempo, in Spanish, means "Time." "Kill time--KILL TIEMPO!!!" he concludes.
Back at Eastbourne Clinic, the Magnus likeness goes over to the sleeping general when Captain Scarlet suddenly appears and says that he has orders to escort them back to Cloudbase.
In the Cloudbase conference room, the angered Magnus likeness demands an explanation for these interruptions. After Colonel White explains about the general's safety, the Magnus likeness indignantly says that Tiempo was due to have a serious operation this morning. Captain Blue says that they have the facilities to have any operation here. Dr. Fawn agrees, but says that in view of the Mysteron threat, they should postpone it for a week or so. The Magnus likeness refuses to listen and argues that they should begin the operation immediately. Colonel White finally gives in and bids Spectrum to prepare the sick bay at once.
In the Control Room, Colonel White gives Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue and Dr. Fawn their orders. Captain Blue says that Dr. Turner and the radiographer are in the sick bay and that Magnus' equipment has been installed. Colonel White tells Dr. Fawn that he will assist in the operation whilst all the others watch on the internal television monitors. Dr. Fawn tells Colonel White that General Tiempo is in the x-ray room of the sick bay, having his brain x-rays performed.
In the x-ray room, the Magnus likeness is with General Tiempo, giving the radiographer instructions to take x-rays of Tiempo's head. When the last x-ray of Tiempo's head is taken, the Magnus likeness commits what will prove, for him, to be a costly mistake by allowing his own hand to get in the way of the x-ray apparatus. After finishing, he bids the radiographer bring them up to the operating theatre as quickly as possible. On the television monitor, Colonel White watches the sick bay full of Magnus' apparatus, including the cerebal pulsator. He orders Lieutenant Green to keep open contact with the sick bay, for he feels that the Mysteron attempt on General Tiempo's life is very close.
In the sick bay, General Tiempo's head is covered and the Magnus likeness is angrily wanting to start. Dr. Fawn tells him that they can do nothing till they have the x-rays.
In the x-ray room, the radiographer takes each x-ray and examines it, he finds one where the Magnus likeness's hand had gotten in the way as he was shooting the picture. He thinks to himself that Magnus should have kept his hands out of the way.
Finally they start with the X-rays in place. Dr. Fawn asks if the Magnus likeness is all right, but the latter angrily responds, "Course, what do you mean?" Dr. Turner is shocked. They continue to conduct the following procedures while Colonel White is still watching.
Meanwhile, in the x-ray room, the radiographer sees that the x-ray that had Magnus' hand in the way is suddenly changing, with the bones of the hand disappearing.
In the sick bay, Dr. Turner is monitoring the patient's pulse. The Magnus likeness asks for a probe and tells them to switch on the cerebal pulsator, setting the voltage for 1.7. Dr Fawn, horrified, tells the Magnus likeness that it is far too high. The Mysteronised doctor angrily reminds Dr. Fawn that he is the one performing the operation.
Lieutenant Green, who is watching with Colonel White, asks if they should stop him, but the Colonel tells them to wait. Dr. Turner turns the pulsator on, and the Magnus likeness asks for the electrodes.
Back in the x-ray room, the radiographer is shocked to see the whole flesh of Magnus' hand on the x-ray and deduces, in horror, that Magnus could be a Mysteron agent!
In the sick bay, the pulsator continues to run, with Dr. Turner still examining the pulse. The radiographer heads straight for the sick bay, only to have Captain Magenta, who is under strict orders to make sure no one enters the sick bay at any cost, hold him at gunpoint and refuse him entry. The pulsator is still in operation, with the Magnus likeness turning up the current. Getting nowhere with Captain Magenta, who still refuses him entry, the radiographer goes straight to Colonel White to tell him his discovery.
The Magnus likeness continues to turn up the cerebral pulsator's current till Dr. Turner reveals that the patient's condition is deteriorating. The Mysteronised doctor continues to turn up the current till the patient finally shows signs that he is now dead.
Colonel White immediately sends out a transmission that Magnus is a Mysteron. The Magnus likeness sneers, "It's too late. Earthmen. He's dead." Dr. Fawn suddenly removes the supposed General Tiempo's fenestrated surgical sheet, to reveal that it is actually Captain Scarlet whom the Magnus likeness has just killed!
Colonel White orders the Magnus likeness arrested, but the Mysteron agent escapes by throwing the apparatus table at Dr. Fawn and knocking down Captain Magenta as he leaves the sick bay. Lieutenant Green sends out a Cloudbase alert to capture the Magnus likeness. Captain Blue appears and sees Captain Grey trying to shoot the Magnus likeness who is now armed with a gun and locks himself in the generator room. Captain Blue decides to enter alone through the maintenance door. He draws his own gun and finds the Magnus likeness inside, near a high-voltage generator and ready to shoot anyone who enters. Captain Blue tells the Magnus likeness that he has failed and if he gives himself up, then they can try to help him. The Mysteron agent scoffs, saying that if he has failed, then at least he will kill him (Captain Blue) first. But Captain Blue pushes a maintenance ladder down on the Magnus likeness; this knocks him into the generator, causing the high-voltage current to destroy the Mysteron likeness of Dr. Theodore Magnus permanently.
Back in the Control Room, General Tiempo thanks Spectrum for saving his life and Colonel White thanks Captain Scarlet for volunteering to take the general's place during the operation. He goes on that the Mysterons' likeness of Dr. Theodore Magnus may be dead, but this experience has given them more knowledge about the Mysterons: They are impervious to x-rays, and electricity is their main vulnerability; high-voltage electrical current can kill Mysteron agents as well as normal Earth people.
This instalment dressed the stage for the instalment "Spectrum Strikes Back."