Saturday, April 03, 2021
Thundarr The Barbarian in Mindok the Mind Menace
In “Mindok the Mind Menace,” Thundarr, Ookla, and Ariel race to an abandoned NASA facility when a massive Wizard war machine rises from the sea attacks it.
Inside the huge complex, in the “Space Medicine” department, Thundarr and his friends discover that three 20th century scientists in suspended animation are the ship’s target. Specifically, a Wizard named Mok wants to capture them, brainwash them, and use their knowledge to destroy the human race…
While Thundarr has some problems grappling with the idea of “space” and what it means, he has no problem whatsoever taking the battle to Mindok and his robotic minions…
The concept of men of the past being awakened in the future is one common to cult-television, and even to Saturday morning television. The Twilight Zone (“The Rip Van Winkle Caper,” “The Long Morrow”), Star Trek (“Space Seed”) The Starlost (“Lazarus in the Mist”) Doctor Who (“The Ark in Space”), Space: 1999 (“Earthbound,” “The Exiles”) Logan’s Run (“Crypt”) and Blake’s 7 (“Time’s Squad”) are just a few series that have explored the concept.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979 – 1981) was based on this very premise as well.
In terms of Saturday morning programming, the live-action Filmation series Ark II (1976) explored the concept too, in “The Cryogenic Man.”
Thundarr the Barbarian’s “Mindok the Mind Menace” is of a very similar nature to the aforementioned productions. The tale involves a group of people from a different era, the technological twentieth century, being forced to reckon with a future they could not have possibly imagined.
But what makes “Mindok the Mind Menace” feel distinctive is the idea that a post-apocalyptic “wizard” desires the “magic” of 20th century science to conquer the world. That’s a bizarre premise and it reminds me of Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards , but a good one. Week after week, Thundarr imaginatively contextualized our present as its world’s “future history.” Our technology must seem very much like magic indeed in that world.
In terms of 1970s allusions, the giant robot that Mindok utilizes to capture the scientists n this episode also has a more-than-passing resemblance to the police robots of George Lucas’s work of art, THX-1138 (1971).
In addition to all the imaginative visuals featured here, “Mindok the Mind Menace” boasts a nice sense of humor. The 20th century scientists -- asleep for two-thousand years – awaken to see…Ookla the Mok.
My, how times have changed…
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