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Monthly Archives: August 2010

“He’s always been very…  flexible.”

Unfortunately, this line does not set the tone for Space: 1999, because every single other line in the premiere episode “Breakaway” is simply agonizing rather than hilarious.  Though the show as a whole remains hilarious.  From the insistence that the problems could be the result of a “virus infection” (when “virus” or “infection” could certainly have sufficed) to Dr. Russel’s wooden acting and silent voice, it is impossible to discover what is actually going on in the show.

Dr. Russel’s complete lack of emotions suggests that, at some point in the series, it will be revealed that she is actually a robot.  Her Data-like immobility, her electrically sparkling eyes (which, I must admit, afflicts all members of the Mooncrew)…  She is clearly just waiting to begin barfing milk through a newspaper.  Even the computer does not trust her; as she watches over a deceased crewman through a monitor, her face reflects eerily in the image of his shoulder.  She spins over to ask the computer a question, and appears to threaten it with a prop identical to the gun we saw used moments ago!  The computer is well aware that this woman cannot be trusted, and will only work when she forces it to with force.  We can presume that she also threatens it with utter obliteration should her secret be revealed.

The brain damage is the result of a radiation attack.  In a scene following Robowoman’s revelation of this, we see a massive Radiate consuming the screen!  — Oh, wait, sorry, that was just a dramatic closeup.  In fact, radiation does not attack.  It’s rather disappointing.

Apparently, in space, no one can here you talk.  Everyone is always whispering for no clear reason, or shouting for just as much clear reason.  They shout most often when speaking into the comms; my best explanation is that they don’t really realize that the comms are there, and believe that they are shouting across space itself to each other.  Considering the physics involved in the launch of the moon from orbit…

Martin Landau asserts that there was a time that the colonists had no centigrade radiation covers (oh noooooo, our temperature can be measured!  LIKE AN ATTACK!), which is followed immediately by a RADIATION ATTAAAACK.  We can tell that radiation is attacking the rainbow-flag-armed Redshirt because he twitches.  Twitching in space means certain doom.  Everyone knows this; it’s a shame that he was working alone.  After a commercial break, he remains alone, and begins sweating and apparently attempting to pull his own face off.  Yet, the slow-moving space-walkers who run gradually into their car confirm that there is no radiation to be attacking anything.  Unless the MAD MAN who has been ATTAAAACKED into TWITCHING is actually radiation.  He begins slamming his helmet against the window.

One would be disappointed to learn that the windows on the space station on which one works can be cracked by being smashed into by a space helmet.  Whether we want our helmets to have more integrity than our space windows is unclear to me; I suspect the preference would be to have neither able to crack the other.

The best moment may be when we discover that one of the station’s engineers is none other than hit musician Bjork.  She, as the other scientists, cannot understand how there can be heat without any radiation!  While in a very real sense this is true (heat moves from hot objects and locations to cooler ones), they are clearly referring to radiation radiation.  The kind that attacks.  WITH LIGHTNING.  ON THE MOON.  The lighting arcs at a ship which they send out to investigate for no clear reason.  During this sequence, our dear Dr. Robot wanders the bridge, clearly making everyone else uncomfortable.  Are perhaps the other crew members aware of what she is?  Or does she just make them nervous, with her vague sociopathic tendencies?

Our balding friend determines that the heat and brain damage was caused by magnetic energy.  Which goes a long way to explaining the lighting, I suppose, but we’re all quite disappointed that the magnets aren’t ATTACKING.  Our heroes discover that their bizarre attempts to determine what the problem is and fix it, with no real rationale behind them, have turned the moon into “the biggest damn bomb mankind has ever created.”    Or maybe it’s the situation itself which as done that.  It’s very hard to tell.  It’s not even clear what the magnetic whatsits are, except that while they are doing damage, they are not capable of attacking.

Finally, though, the magnetic junk does attack.  It attacks the moon itself, creating a jet flame (somehow!) which very slowly pushes the moon out of orbit.  Although mere minutes after the acceleration begins they begin to “decelerate” (well of course they actually just lose g’s, meaning that they have only ceased to accelerate), and the earth appears to be the same size as the moon from an over-the-moon’s-shoulder shot, there is no chance for the crew of Moon Base Alpha to return to home.

The shot of a news reporter describing the incident, and its repercussions on Earth, with no concern for the thousands of lives surely lost in Italy and other places particularly named, suggests that perhaps the robotism is a plague affecting earth somehow.

The credits which follow announce that Gladys Goldsmith was in charge of continuity.  If I bother to review or you bother to watch the very next episode, you will see why I prefer not to acknowledge that my ancestry contains Goldsmiths.  Curse you, Gladys Goldsmith.

In the show’s defense, it does have amazing set design and the occasional quality special effect.   Disregarding the fact that our hero, who is aware of the previous commander’s….  flexibility… has two giant glass, ahem, spheres on his desk, that is.  Other than that, everything looks very very sciency.  It had a massive special effects budget, which really only barely shows.

This weekend, happening to stop by a comic shop on my way home from failing to sign a lease, I discovered a new Lovecraftian comic book entiled “The Calling: Cthulhu Chronicles.” Despite that rather ridiculous title with its awkward allusion to “The Call of Cthulhu” I was somehow… drawn to this dark covered tome before any others. Published by Boom! Studios, it’s an intertwining story of… Well, so far it’s not really clear. There are two primary perspective characters as of the first issue: Clay Diggs, a pharmaceutical rep who is slightly ruthless, though kind, in his trade, and seemingly a great family man. His sister has gone mad, due to some strange phenomenon which I’ll get to later. The other character, who is less important in the first issue, is Paige Brees. Her husband was on a boat called the Paradise, on which every single human being mysteriously died. But the main character is clearly the as yet unnamed child, spoken of so far only as “baby” by his mother and “her son” by some elderly people who appear to be her parents. He is also told he is chosen by some culitists. Clay Diggs’s sister, Azilee, has been stalked by a strange, hooded man, who seems to only appear in photos. She seemed unaware of him until well after he began whispering to her; her boyfriend’s Polaroid camera is the only source of his sight. The big twist at the end is that, dun dun dun! The investigating Clay is now being stalked by the strange man. So, the story is pretty basic fare. Quality horror, scary, unknown goings-on; yet so far, every single character is clearly human or humanoid. This is something that frustrates me about most Post-Lovecraft Lovecraftiana; the “enemy” is imbued with far too many human(ish) characteristics. If this review interests you, I am sure you are familiar with August Derleth’s recasting of Lovecraft’s “gods” as forces of good and evil. This seems, so far, to be what is happening in this comic. The cultists are not dark and spooky; they’re the sort of people who will kill a child’s loving mother right in front of him mostly just for the hell of it. Perhaps it’s essential to their Dark Ritual that he suffers so; but even that isn’t very much in keeping with Lovecraftian themes. We can only hope that it will turn out that they do not understand what they are truly doing; that they are merely sadists who want to summon something terrible because they have nothing better to do; rather like Ladd Russo’s gang, we hope that all of them are of the understanding that, sooner or later, they will all be killed by that thing they follow. The narrative is quite intriguing; the story winds in and out of itself, intersecting with elements which are clearly the main story, yet are shunted into the background, while the main story is also at the forefront. It’s intertwining stories, with clear focus points – though it is unclear which, if any, is THE focus point. Clay so far has great provenance over Paige, but their connection to the dead ship Paradise makes it certain that Paige will not simply fade into the background. Had lovecraft himself written it, we would get the whole of Paige’s story at once, without the ominous visit to the dying Paradise at the beginning. This is not an issue at all; simply a stylistic difference. The art is good. The dead bodies are suitably inexplicable, but there is a strange overuse of shadows. Deep sunken eyes are far too deep sunken; perhaps the Cultist Leader will turn out to be inhuman. The strangest is when Azilee’s boyfriend, the photographer, is suddenly veiled in shadow in his well lit living room. He isn’t even saying something particularly spooky, for his narrative. I also cannot help but note one police officer’s disturbing resemblance to Axe Cop, despite his lack of mustache, axe, or villain-genocidal expression. Overall, though, the art is rather non-notable. Good, I would like to see more, but ultimately… non-notable. In brief, then: I look forward to future issues of this series, but I am not ready yet to recommend this. If you are the sort of person who voraciously consumes all Lovecraftian work, regardless of quality, then this is for you. No that tI would need to tell you that. Same if you feel this way about horror or Strange Mysteries. But for most people, I reserve judgment.