Many of us have been a vegetable in the cubicle farm. Many of us have scars on our souls from the bureaucratic monotony and have had our humanity dulled by the neutral color schemes specially developed to do so. But here’s a thought: it could be worse. You could be an office worker in 1975. No office network, no email, and no PC to make work go faster. No smartphone, no MP3 player, and no Internet to make the day around you go faster. You might have a transistor radio. Maybe.
And of course, you would have to deal with the eight-foot aliens of solid light who fire electrical bolts and are planning to crash the Moon into the Earth.
[ad#longpost]That is what government office worker Edward Borman has to contend with in The Mercury Men. While trying to escape from the deadly aliens, he runs into Captain Jack Yaeger. Yaeger has a gun that can take out the invaders and, even better, seems to have a clue to what is going on. The aliens are from Mercury and are turning the office building into a massive gravity engine that will draw the Moon into the Earth. The Mercury Men are being led by the Battery, a brain in a jar that controls them. The Battery is telepathic and can even animate corpses. Yaeger is part of a mysterious “League,” tasked to stop these dangerous foes. All he has is the LumiÃ©re–his trusted light revolver, his wits, and the reluctant and understandably scared Edward. Are Yaeger and Borman up to the challenge or is the earth doomed?
When watching the series, you can see the obvious influence of the pulp serials of old, a la Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers (the original 1930s versions, not the disco 70s versions). You got Yaeger dressed like a flying ace, each episode ends in a cliffhanger, plus a brain in a jar. I’ll say it again, because it’s deathly important to the sci-fi pulp recipe: a brain in a jar.
But what I like best about the series is that there is more to it than just pulp appreciation. Borman discovers that the events he has inadvertently become involved in are just the latest battle between good and evil. On one side you have The League, led by the mysterious entity known as Dr. Tomorrow. Their enemy is the Grand Designer, former head of the Soviet space program and ruthless science villain. He managed to convince thirteen eminent scientists to follow his plans and even submit to being turned into brains in jars (more of them!). (Obviously, they never read The Whisperer in Darkness). The fate of planets are being decided and the general public has no clue what is really going on. This secret war idea fits perfectly with the mid-70s levels of paranoia in the wake of Watergate and the Church Commission.
Creator Christopher Preksta stated that the visual style was influenced by The Twilight Zone. I see more similarities with the original The Outer Limits, especially the episode “Demon With A Glass Hand”. The use of black and white to emphasize the shadows in the buildings and make the whiter than white aliens pop even more.
But wait, there’s more. Not only can you watch this exciting adventure, the website has plenty of features. The makers of the series have created digital props like blueprints of the various devices, selections from Captain Yaeger’s notebook, and even “commercials” for various Mercury Men merchandise. You can sense the devotion and effort that has been put into the project when they even go so far as make papercraft figures of the characters for you to print out and play with.
Mercury Men has been fortunate as they have been picked up for distribution by the Syfy website, Hulu, and On Demand. This gives the series access to more viewers than the usual web series. But Captain Yaeger and the League need our help. These guys got off their butts and made something really interesting and entertaining. This should be encouraged so more people with good ideas will get up and do something. And more places like Syfy will help give take a plunge into supporting new media instead of more wrestling shows. The universe they created has more stories to tell and more places to explore. So watch it and talk about it. It’s good for you.