Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Mystery Island (1977): "Sentinels of Time"

In “Sentinels of Time,” the Mud-Men -- “people of darkness” -- return to claim their idol or God, P.O.P.S. 

The robot is taken to a cave on the island where none have ever returned from, and meets the “Sentinels of Time” there, small white, flying creatures, like insects, which can freeze people in time.

While Sue and the others are trapped in the cave with P.O.P.S. and the Sentinels, Dr. Strange reprimands Krieg for his failures (“you’re simply not up to dong the simplest tasks!”) and sends him into the caves to capture the robot.

As the story ends, Sue and her friends are trapped in the cave, asleep for “a thousand years,” and P.O.P.S. is powerless to help them without access to solar power.

The pulpy nonsense of Mystery Island (1977) continues in episode 6, which introduces strange little gnat like creatures which can suspend people in time.  The Sentinels are an interesting creation for sure.  What are they? How do they operate?  This episode doesn’t tell us anything about them, beyond specifying their cave habitat.  Hopefully upcoming stories will explain a little more fully about them.  But I don’t have my hopes up.  I think they're just the weird gimmick/danger of the week.

Meanwhile, the cliffhanger of the week on Mystery Island finds our heroes suspended in time by the Sentinels apparently not to awake for ten centuries.  Their only hope of escape and survival rests with the nefarious Dr. Strange.

The episode also features other typical “dangers” of 1930s-style chapter plays, including an attack by a black panther. Sue encounters one in the caves, and is relentlessly pursued by it until she is captured by Krieg.  Today, it's easy to see that the impressive-looking big cat was never in close-proximity to the damsel in distress.

There’s a lot of running around in this episode, and scenes of the bad guy, Dr. Strange, yelling at his underlings, but beyond the focus of action there’s not much to enjoy beyond the weird costumes (for the bush men) and the colorful sets. In particular, I like Strange’s subterranean, 1970s-tech laden underground base. 

Unlike Filmation programming, there is no focus here on delivering a message or moral commentary in Mystery Island.  Like Bigfoot and Wildboy, the stories tend towards phantasmagoria. But with cliffhangers in each tale, the stories tend to blend together, one pitfall after the other.  Of all the Saturday morning programs I've watched, this one is the most impenetrable.  But on the other hand, I was not able to see episodes 2, 3 or 4, and perhaps they offered more in terms of explanation.

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