TV & Film
Author Mark Clark returns to discuss the exceptional Japanese television series ULTRA Q.
Originally envisioned as a combination of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, ULTRA Q was altered to be more of a ‘giant monster’ series to appeal to the Kiaju craze that was increasingly popular with children in the 1960’s. But while giant creatures were a common element of the show’s run there were also numerous episodes in the 28 stories produced that didn’t utilize such monsters. In fact, some of the best the series has to offer are tales that focus on deeper concepts more in line with adult concerns and fears. And even some of the more monster heavy episodes are clearly about larger ideas with a lot of emphasis placed on ecological destruction and the fallout of unchecked human greed. The show’s tone is quite variable with humor sometimes intruding into topics a western audience might find odd but things usually work out in a satisfactory fashion even if it means shooting children into outer space!
Mark and I dig into some of our favorite episodes including the amazing gothic horror tale ‘Baron Spider’; ersatz Gamera tale ‘Grow Up! Little Turtle’; possible Godzilla vs Biollante inspiration ‘Mammoth Flower’; man in a gorilla suit madness ‘The Underground Super Express Goes West’; the interesting ‘Challenge From the Year 2020’ and the bizarre vision of the inferiority complex of one of the series’ reoccurring characters in ‘The 1/8 Project’. Along the way we touch on several other episodes in relation to these and spend a long time detailing the melancholy finale that is both touching and sad. ULTRA Q stands out as one of the most inventive and intelligent series made by Tsuburaya Productions even if it was the various future UltraMan series that went on to larger worldwide fame.
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