Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Mercury Men

The Mercury Men takes place in Pittsburgh, circa 1975. It's shot in a stark, yet sleekly high contrast black & white that really is eye-catching. The whole production is incredibly well designed and simply looks amazing. This ambitious and engaging New Pulp web-series really captures the essence of the best of the old cliffhanger saturday morning serials like Captain Midnight, Flash Gordon, The Phantom Empire and Radar Men From the Moon, while managing to make it all fresh, new and exciting.

Right off from the get-go The Mercury Men is a rapid-fire adventure that catches your attention and really delivers some nice thrills and chills while introducing the main characters, villains and the initial crisis: the nefarious Mercury Men - beings of living light - have installed a Gravity Engine in the basement of the municipal office building in Pittsburgh and they intend to use it to crash the Moon into the Earth.

Edward Borman, a lowly clock-watching government employee winds up caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Jack Yaeger - a dashing and heroic engineer from 'The League' - are the only two people who have any chance of stopping this evil plot. At first Ed is scared witless, but eventually, after eluding the luminous bad guys who shoot lightning from their fingertips, he is found by Jack and the two of them team up to do what must be done. Mostly this consists of Jack shooting at the Mercury Men with his Lumiere – a pistol that fires bullets of solid light – while Ed hides from the weird glowing aliens until Jack is captured. Predictably, Ed runs away from the lightning-flinging white beings. He's practically drowning in fear. In his haste to escape from the Mercury Men, Ed slips into an office to hide only to discover a TV set that Doctor Tomorrow uses to contact him and set him straight about what is going on...and to make it absolutely clear that the fate of the entire world is left up to him now. Ed must rise above his deeply ingrained cowardice and rescue Jack so that together they can save the Earth from the Chief Designer's Gravity Engine.

Ed's transformation from office-drone to a decent man, even something of a hero-in-the-making, is a lot of fun to watch take place before your very eyes. Jack Yaeger is the ultra-determined, stalwart hero with the rapid-fire ray gun and more than enough brains to outwit the servants of the Chief designer. At the outset they're two guys who couldn't be more different, but who are thrust together by circumstance. As they rise to the challenge of the Mercury Men and their Gravity Engine, Ed and Jack become partners and Ed takes a fateful step across the boundary between the ordinary and the fantastic worlds beyond. And then there is the matter of Grace. A hapless civilian trapped in the office building when the Mercury Men systematically kill everyone in order to install their leader's infernal device, Grace has been hiding out and trying her best not to freak out worse than Ed already has (multiple times over). Grace is only briefly glimpsed in a couple of scenes, but she might well figure more prominently in the episodes to come. Who exactly Grace is and what she might eventually mean to the heroes has yet to be revealed.

There are several mysteries and off-hand references to such things as the Saturn Accords that have yet to be explained or revealed, including the identities of the other members of Doctor Tomorrow's 'League' who make only a very brief but memorable appearance.

But a good pulp or pulp tale or serial is nothing without a great arch-villain, and The Mercury Men introduces a mysterious and malevolent super-scientist referred to as The Chief Designer. This guy is so dangerous that he single-handedly led the Russians into space, convinced thirteen of the world's top scientists to have their brains extracted and placed into jars for his perpetual use, constructed a full launch facility on an empty world that has never seen a scrap of technology, and in a twelve-hour period he nearly crashed the Moon into the Earth. Equal parts Dr. Moriarty, Fu Manchu and Ming the Merciless, the Chief Designer is one bad hombre who poses an unmistakeable threat to all life on Earth, and elsewhere. As major villains go, this one is a real classic in the making.

Over the course of ten all too brief cliffhanger episodes The Mercury Men delivers a ton of action and suspense, taking us along on a fast and furious New Pulp adventure that is only getting started. More episodes of this newfangled web-based cliffhanger-serial have been promised. Let's hope that they start to appear soon. Like right now would be nice.

All ten episodes of the first season of The Mercury Men are available online:

You can learn more about The Mercury Men at their website: , where there is an ever-growing collection of Digital Props (like the blue prints for Jack's Lumiere pistol or the Gravity Engine and other fun stuff), Jack Yaeger's personal Journal, Behind-the-Scenes video, and loads more.

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