Monday, January 11, 2016
Cult-TV Theme Watch: Weather Control
One of the most common stories in cult-TV history involves human attempts to control Earth's weather. Sometimes this control is managed by a device, and other times by miraculous and super-heroic (or super-villainous...) powers.
The seventies saw a number of "weather control" stories involving instrumentation.
In Filmation's The Secrets of Isis (1975-1976) episode, “Now You See It,” a criminal posing as Rick Mason (Brian Cutler) steals a top-secret weather control device from government lab. Almost immediately, Rick is arrested for the crime. He is concerned, not only for his freedom, but because the weather control device could wreak havoc upon the world. Isis (Joanna Cameron) teams up with Captain Marvel (John Davey) and a trio called "The Super Sleuths" to retrieve the item.
Another Saturday morning series, The Monster Squad (1976) features a not entirely dissimilar plot. In "The Weatherman," A villain called “The Weatherman” (Avery Schreiber) wants to be unanimously elected President of the United States, or else he will force the country to endure severe weather for months. He plans to bury Wisconsin in ice, for example.
The Monster Squad learns that the Weatherman is headquartered in an old U.S. Government weather research center, and has armed himself with a weapon called a “thunder-buss” that can freeze living tissue. Unfortunately, the Wolf Man falls prey to the device, meaning that Dracula and Frankenstein must not only defeat the villain of the week, but thaw out their frozen friend as well.
One of the best episodes of The Bionic Woman (1976 - 1978) -- the three-part epic "Kill Oscar" -- brings in Steve Austin (Lee Majors), introduces the Fembots, and sees Jaime (Lindsay Wagner) attempting to infiltrate the island headquarters of Dr. Franklin (John Houseman), a scientist who has developed a weather control device and intends to hold the world for ransom with it.
In the early 1980s -- the ABC afternoon soap opera General Hospital got in on the "weather control" action with a long-running plot featuring guest star John Colicos as Mikkos Cassidine, a madman bent on burying Port Charles in bad weather, courtesy of a weather control device.
Weather control devices aren't limited to Earth, either. A first season episode of Lost in Space (1965-1968) "The Space Trader," sees an alien merchant (Torin Thatcher) destroy the space family Robinsons' settlement with a weather control device, in hopes the family will need to buy his goods.
Similarly, an early Doctor Who (1963-1989) serial, "The Moonbase," sees the Cybermen taking over a lunar facility and attempting to control Earth's weather from it.
In terms of people with the ability to control the weather without instrumentation, The X-Files (1993 - 2002) featured at least two episodes exploring the concept. The third season entry "D.P.O." concerns an anti-social young man who could harness the power of lightning.
And the sixth season installment, "Rain King" sees Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigating a case in which one man's emotional state seems to alter, if not control, weather patterns.