Monday, September 27, 2010
Tossing & Turning...Mutant X...Teen Titans...Adam...Mr. Jupiter...Lilith...Emma...Mad Mod...Thunderbirds...
Over the last week and a half I've been watching the first season of Mutant X. I saw the box for only $15 and remembered I liked it, so I went ahead and got it and have no regrets. It's the kind of simple show that many superhero fans tend to hate, but I like it because - despite it being based on no one particular comic book - unlike a lot of live action superhero shows it doesn't really seem to try to find the middle ground between comics and regular live action for non -comic fans. It just has a lot of straight up superheroics, albeit plain-clothesdly, but this was coming out early in the decade that I sometimes think of as the plainclothes era. And there is at least an explanation in the concept for the characters not having flamboyant outfits, which is that they try to keep a low profile. It's obvious that it was meant to spin off from the success of the X-Men movies, but with the difference that these people gain their powers after birth, and fight to protect a world that "doesn't know they exist" rather than one that "hates and fears them." I personally can never decide which one of those phrases describes my own life, but I digress. I can definitely see an argument for the show being a generic mishmosh, but I like that it sort of has elements of many superhero teams. For instance, they have a cool base and jet that seems a lot like...well, practically everybody, but they also all get special rings like the Legion. I'm kind of a sucker for any story with special rings. I also like that the effects and sets on the show are very basic. Some might criticize, but I personally like a concept show that just makes do with what it has and goes ahead and tells crazy stories. I like that the show just goes ahead without trying to seem plausible, most shows trying to seem believable just end up insulting my intelligence. This show rewards my faith, my suspension of disbelief. I get a kick out of techno karate scenes, what can I say. It is certainly the kind of show that, for better or for worse, bears the distinct stamp of the time in which it was made, making it an inevitable eventual time capsule.
Now, in watching it, I was trying to decide who their leader Adam most reminded me of as far as older mentor/team leader types go. There are many obvious comparisons such as Reed Richards, Niles Caulder, Professor X...but two of those guys have superpowers, and of course two are in a wheelchair and one of those is also slightly creepy and questionable. The quality Adam does share with them all is his superintelligence. He can technobabble as well as Mr. Fantastic, and invents some nifty gadgets.
Adam is fatherly but slightly mysterious. He is usually benevolent but can occasionally fly into a temper and chastise his young charges. He is able to be friends with them but never lose their respect. So that's when it dawned on me.
Of course, he's like Mr. Jupiter from Teen Titans in the late sixties and early seventies! Both are super intelligent but not super powered, have secret bases with training facilities and seemingly unlimited resources. Both are named after mythical father figures. Both possess mature good looks and are sharp dressers. Both are trying to teach the young heroes to use non-lethal means to make the world a better place.
And of course, both often appear in the company of a pretty girl with mental abilities.
In the case of Mr. Jupiter it is the ethereal, if slightly aloof, Lilith, who often experiences precognition.
In the case of Adam, it's the warmer Emma, whose powers of empathy, or "telempathy" as it's sometimes called, sometimes manifest a bit like the powers of Princess Projectra of the Legion, but also sometimes give her a kind of precognition.
Emma even has red hair in one of the seasons.
Once I realized Adam was making me think of Mr. Jupiter, it suddenly dawned on me that, although the obvious comparison of the show's villain, Mason Eckhardt, is to Andy Warhol, in a less specific sense he dresses quite sixties mod with his plastic framed glasses, shag hair, and finely cut pin striped black suits.
Which of course invites comparisons to...the Mad Mod!!!
Granted I used a pic from the cartoon show to make an easier comparison. But I do have a feeling that the makers of Mutant X were probably fans of Teen Titans, or at least channelled it as one of the many influences on this fun show, which also reminds me a lot of Thunderbirds, one of my all-time favourites.
(Mason Eckhardt is certainly mad, one of the things I enjoy is the staple plot element, at least in the early ones I've been watching, where some henchman of Eckhardt's, eager to prove himself, tries to get a prestigious assignment. It's fun to see how their inevitable foiling at the hands of Mutant X lead to the chilling Eckhardt, portrayed wonderfully by Tom McCamus, to, shall we say, dispense with their services.)