bringers of wonder

So anyone remember that post I made a long time ago about that scifi thing I remembered the plot from when I was like 5 but couldn’t remember what it was from? About the tentacle aliens with one eye and the telepathic genie lady and the dude on the doctor table who was the only one who could see these things?

AFTER YEARS OF TORMENT, I finally posted on the right community online and they fucking FIGURED IT OUT. My agony over this has ended and I am not crazy and did not make this up or dream it! It was not The Crawling Eye or Dr. Who, but rather a 2 part episode of Space 1999 entitled The Bringers of Wonder.

Let me introduce you to those aliens. THEY’RE SO ADORABLE.

SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW.

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Thor Odinson, Bringer of Storms. I like the sound of that, he thought.

A grin spread across Thor’s face. He gave his brother a playful shove. “You see, Loki? And just yesterday you were saying I was the only one in this family without magic.”

Thor had expected Loki to be happy, too. After all, the younger prince was always complaining that Thor was so hopelessly ignorant of magic—and though the boys were usually inseparable, Loki’s private lessons with Mother had been driving them apart more and more of late. But now this was something they could share together.

To Thor’s confusion, Loki’s expression was crestfallen. His green eyes kept darting between Thor and Frigga and the storm.

Bringer of Storms by @ladyofmidgard

In Memoriam Gene Wilder (1933-2016)

Gene Wilder was a superbly talented actor, writer, and director whose deft sense of comedic timing and his ability to vividly inhabit characters was captured in a number of films, four of which will always remain dear to me.

As Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks’ THE PRODUCERS (1968), Wilder’s neurotic Leo overcomes a drab and circumscribed life with the assistance of has-been Broadway producer Max Bialystock, now down on his luck and seducing senior ladies to drum up funding for an ever-lengthening roster of flops. Max is boisterous, worldly and desperate, and his powerful persona ignites in Leo a desire to expand his horizons in what becomes a classic misfiring get-rich scheme. The friendship that develops between the two is touching, kindled amidst the frenzy of bringing “Springtime For Hitler” to the stage along with the panoply of grotesques that are called-upon to participate in its production. While Brooks’ approach is very broad, Wilder adds some subtle touches which give depth, and his chemistry with the great Zero Mostel is a joy to behold.

In Brooks’ BLAZING SADDLES (1974), as The Waco Kid—a “retired” gunfighter who is as quick with his trigger as he is with a bottle, Wilder brings to life a character whose quietude arises from his jaded pragmatism and disappointment in both himself and those around him. Yet he alone has the wisdom to see through the façades of those in Rock Ridge, from the nefarious to the stupid, and he offers sage advice throughout to the out-of-his-depth new sheriff, as well as able assistance when required.

Both he and Brooks created an enduring masterpiece in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974), a razor-sharp send-up of the great Universal horror films of the 30s. The cinematography, sets, and score are perfection, as is the casting of superlative comic actors (Madeline Kahn, Terry Garr, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Peter Boyle, Kenneth Mars) all at the top of their game. As Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (“That’s Fronkensteen!”), Wilder’s scientist has closed his mind to reach a place of assuredness that is shattered once he must confront the legacy of his ancestor’s successful research and experiments that dared to probe the secrets of life and death. Both the broader go-for-the-throat schtick of Brooks and the subtler irony and surrealism of Wilder are galvanically wedding to make a perfect comedy, skewering beloved conventions and giving us characters on a transformative journey that we can laugh at, and laugh with. It is a pinnacle for all involved in which Wilder is the central figure whose exchanges and ripostes to all he encounters should remain an example for any with ambitions toward comic acting. Watch and re-watch the “Ovaltine” repartee between Wilder and Leachman for a scene that is sheer genius in timing and expression.

And, of course, one of his crowning achievements is Wilder’s conjuring of the titular candy tycoon in WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971). It is a Satanic classic, as the film explores a sense of life in which self-satisfaction is considered a proper goal and wherein Wonka’s technologically magical factory leads to many receiving their just desserts. Wilder’s Wonka is a quirky visionary, a veritable dapper devil who mercurially leads adults and children though an exciting wonderland that delights some while terrifying others. Thus is evoked a perfect metaphor for the world in which one lives, if one has the proper perspective of looking for the myriad wonders which can lead to greater understanding and vital existence. When this film was first released, I suspect that many parents would find that the children who experience negative consequences for their shabby, narcissistic behavior to be appalling and deserving of their comeuppance, and not something they’d ever encourage or tolerate in their own offspring. Considering that the constant bronzing of their offspring’s turds is now standard procedure for many who have children, this film likely would leave current parents puzzled as to why only Charlie receives the legacy of a world of imagination and fulfillment and not the ones who act much as do their own shallow and demanding Hell-spawn. I do know a few notable counterexamples of parents who will share this classic with their wonderful young ones and have its message received loud and clear.

So here’s to a true master as he lives on in his vibrant performances. Those who appreciate his brilliance will savor them for centuries to come.

Hail Gene Wilder, bringer of laughter and wonder, a dreamer who will continue to give us smiles as he presents insights into what it means to be human!

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore