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Master List of Lovecraftian TV shows

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Guest squashua

I'm Netflix'ing The Lost Room, which was a miniseries show on the Sci Fi channel about a room from a 60's hotel that disappears into the universe or something.

 

Very Hastur-esque in theory, but I'll watch to see the execution.

 

BTW, way to resurrect a thread.

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Dr_Locrian
I've envious of you Dr_Locrian of the stories of Sapphire and Steel you haven't seen the best yet which to my mind is the second story (Set on a Railway Station) and the fourth(?) story which is set in a junk shop, both these stories still after repeated viewings still sends shivers up my spine.

 

Looking forward to the rest of it, definitely! And I'll have to see if any of those other shows you mention are available on the ol' Netflix--thanks for the tips.

 

And about the Lost Room: IMO it was worth seeing, but in many ways it was more enjoyable as a mine for gaming ideas than as a story (kind of falls apart towards the end).

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Guest squashua

And about the Lost Room: IMO it was worth seeing, but in many ways it was more enjoyable as a mine for gaming ideas than as a story (kind of falls apart towards the end).

 

Finished episode 6 (final episode) last night. The show felt like a series pilot, but it unfortunately never got made.

 

I enjoyed it a lot.

Here are some non-to-increasingly spoiler points of LOST ROOM:

 

- There is a hotel room that has become unstuck from reality.

- All objects in the room at the time of reality unsticking, as well as the key to the room, became imbued with various reality-altering abilities.

- And by reality, I mean Matrix-style reality alteration stuff.

- Various warring cults have formed around these mysterious reality-altering objects, of which there are at least one hundred, that have been distributed out among the populace.

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golfsale

I've just watched an episode of Sanctuary entitled "Normandy" (series 3 episode 17). Very World War Cthulhu.

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ScS

Finished episode 6 (final episode) last night. The show felt like a series pilot, but it unfortunately never got made.

 

I enjoyed it a lot.

Here are some non-to-increasingly spoiler points of LOST ROOM:

 

- There is a hotel room that has become unstuck from reality.

- All objects in the room at the time of reality unsticking, as well as the key to the room, became imbued with various reality-altering abilities.

- And by reality, I mean Matrix-style reality alteration stuff.

- Various warring cults have formed around these mysterious reality-altering objects, of which there are at least one hundred, that have been distributed out among the populace.

 

I loved that series. I especially liked the classic weirdness of the premise.

All of the supporting characters tried to use logic to exploit the artifacts, to understand the phenomenon, and failed. The protagonist only succeeded by embracing the weirdness, by acting on instinct and hope.

Nothing is ever explained, and practically nothing is finished, and everyone goes forward into a uncertain future, ultimately knowing even less about the universe than they thought they knew before.

I especially liked the most vague possible explanation for the entire event: "God died in that room".

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yronimoswhateley

Just want to say first that this is a great thread, full of some suggestions that are new to me!

 

Most of my own suggestions were mentioned already, but I'll mention them again:

  • Threshold:  this would be my choice for one of the most Lovecraftian (in spirit) shows on television; too bad it vanished before its first season was even finished.
  • Star Trek:  I'd never thought of it until someone else in this thread mentioned it, but the original Star Trek does use some standard weird fiction tropes from time to time (it probably helps that some episodes were written by folks who, if I remember correctly, were among Lovecraft's correspondents, or at least were very familiar with Lovecraft's work!  Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Theodore Sturgeon, Harlan Ellison....)  If nothing else, there's the Gene Roddenberry standard theme of the crew routinely journeying into space, meeting the gods, and finding out that the gods are little more than sufficiently-advanced, insane aliens who enjoy abusing their authority over mere humans....  Still, I'd rate it low on a Lovecraftian scale, as this show really didn't develop the bleak cosmic atmosphere of truly Lovecraftian fiction very far.
  • Doctor Who and Torchwood:  These shows over all weren't especially Lovecraftian, though a couple stories really got close in mood and atmosphere, and one or two stories from the classic era were almost certainly directly inspired by Lovecraft; still, these shows are worth mentioning anyway, since they really get it right when they do dip their toes in the weird fiction waters.  (I'd suggest that most of the "Lovecraftian" vibe from this series can be attributed in the original run to influences from the Quatermass franchise, and in the "New Who" revival run to the dark fiction inclinations of contributors like Neil Gaiman.)
  • Anthology series:  These are generally uneven, but would occasionally delve into Lovecraftian horror, and are worth checking out, even if in some cases you have to pick through them with a fine-toothed comb to find anything that is both Lovecraftian and watchable:
    • Night Gallery:  After Rod Serling's Twilight Zone ran its course, Serling moved on to this lesser-known show (which in turn morphed into the short-lived, inferior and quite forgettable The Sixth Sense). As an anthology horror/dark-fantasy show, the Night Gallery over all was not particularly Lovecraftian, but contributer Jack Laird appears to have been a big fan of Lovecraft and at least a handful of episodes/segments were either direct adaptations of Lovecraft stories, or made use of Lovecraft's creations (generally in parodies), or were written by Lovecraft's correspondents, friends, fans, or direct influences (Fritz Lieber, Algernon Blackwood, Richard Matheson, Jack Laird....)  The occasional parody was cute, and there are a few other segments that really nail the right atmosphere of Lovecraftian horror or fantasy without any direct links to Lovecraft, but for the connoisseur,  "Pickman's Model" and "Cool Air" segments are really the ones to look out for!
    • Boris Karloff's Thriller:  Poor Thriller!  Hosted by the legendary Boris Karloff, this series' bread-and-butter was at first generic crime/detective stories, and the show quickly made the mistake of trying to directly compete with Alfred Hitchcock Presents as a crime show, only for Alfred Hitchcock himself to take the challenge personally, roll up his sleeves, fight dirty, and all but blot Thriller from existence by "headhunting" Karloff's writers away from his show, running Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the same time slot, and generally doing the crime/detective story much better than Karloff's show did (it didn't help that Thriller's crime/detective stories were, to be honest, usually quite boring and forgettable at their best, and bloody awful at their worst!)  Where this show really excelled was when it played with Gothic and supernatural horror, though, and some of its best episodes came from stories that were drawn from Lovecraft fans and friends (Robert Bloch, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, August Derleth....)  Aside from the Gothic and supernatural elements, Thriller's only other advantage over Alfred Hitchcock's show was in its ability to push the envelope of lurid violence a bit further than genre television ever had before, and some of the better stories in this show were also surprisingly violent and overtly occult for their time.
    • The Outer Limits:  This show was generally more straightforward New Wave Science Fiction, but could occasionally dip into vaguely Lovecraftian territory, at least in its original run (the 1990s revival series might be another story....)  The Twilight Zone original run might have done so a couple times as well, but not as often (it seemed to prefer a very different flavor of dark fantasy), while its 1980s revival was a little more likely to delve into other territory (someone else mentioned the adaptation of Stephen King's Lovecraft pastiche "Gramma" from the 1980s revival, which was a very good example of this).
    • Tales from the Darkside:  along with its (generally inferior) successor Monsters sometimes delved into Lovecraftian territory.  Ray Bradbury Theater, Amazing Stories, Darkroom, and a few other 1980s anthology shows occasionally went there, too, but it's a mixed bag.
    • Masters of Horror:  and its successor Fear Itself occasionally dipped directly into Lovecraftian horror, with at least one episode (an adaptation of "Dreams in the Witch House") between them being directly based on a Lovecraft story.  Night Visions and The Hunger were other 1990s anthology shows that might have dipped into the same territory (though my memory on details is a bit vague).
  • Dark Shadows:  The original run of this Gothic horror soap opera had a subplot running over couple seasons that was loosely inspired by "Shadow Over Innsmouth", "The Dunwich Horror", and other Lovecraft tales, involving tainted bloodlines, alien gods, eldritch lore, and that sort of thing.  (The 1980s revival didn't seem to last long enough to go there.)
  • The X-Files and Millennium:  I enjoyed both of these shows and they are worth checking out anyway, but any Lovecraftian elements were minor, and would probably have been borrowed more from The Nightstalker and decades of indirect Lovecraftian influence than any direct, conscious source.  If nothing else, there might be a couple explicitly Lovecraftian stories in the X-Files that I might have forgotten, and some of the cults in Millennium could make for some fun inspiration for Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green RPG scenarios.
  • The Nightstalker:  a couple episodes from the original run of this very influential cult favorite came consciously close in spirit to Lovecraftian horror, with its amateur "detective" (a skeevy tabloid reporter for a low-budget newspaper) delving into Gothic Horror-inspired monster-of-the-week stories, killing the monsters with fire, losing the evidence, and barely surviving to tell the tale to an indifferent and useless public, his eccentric co-workers, and his bewildered, put-upon, and constantly-angry boss.  (This basic premise went on to inspire dozens of similar television shows in the decades since, including the highly successful The X-Files, and would make an excellent framing story for pretty much any Call of Cthulhu RPG campaign ever.)
  • Supernatural:  taking its cues from Nightstalker, some of the monster-of-the-week stories our amateur "detectives" (well-armed, working-class ghost hunters) have gone on have had a decidedly or even explicitly Lovecraftian feel to them, with H.P. Lovecraft himself actually appearing as a character in the back story to at least one episode of the show.  The lengthy "Leviathan" story arc from one of the later seasons (involving ancient, primeval, supernatural abominations escaping from their sealed-evil-in-a-can prisons) was pretty much made of Lovecraft pastiche....
  • Invasion:  I agree with the poster who suggested this sadly short-lived Invasion of the Body Snatchers TV adaptation:  the films also had a quite Lovecraftian touch to them, in the form of intelligent vegetables that travel through space without space ships to take over the bodies of humans.  About the only thing missing would be occult conspiracy references and direct references to the Great Race of Yith, the Necronomicon, and vast epochs of vigintillions of years of cyclopean, rugose, gibbous, and eldritch horror....
  • Extant:  to be honest, I wasn't crazy about this show and felt it really didn't work in its second season, but the first season, at least, seemed to work on a vaguely Lovecraftian level.  The story was in many ways similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets Village of the Damned, with alien fungi impregnating an astronaut as the first step in unleashing their formless, mind-controlling psychic hybrid children onto the Earth.  (If the first season could be compared to Village of the Damned, then the second season could be compared to the sequel Children of the Damned, with both the second season and the similar sequel failing to engage me as completely as the originals for similar reasons - namely, in that the second season and sequel really weren't particularly creepy, and suffered from being slightly preachy and talky.  YMMV.)
  • Quatermass franchise:  I'm mostly only familiar with the Hammer films based on the television shows, but the wildly imaginative Quatermass and the Pit, AKA Five Million Years to Earth, in particular is quite Lovecraftian (with buried corpses of ancient alien cultists who inspired witchcraft folklore, which are awakened from their slumber in a living spaceship to unleash a nightmarish psychic god made of something other than matter upon the Earth!), and I highly recommend it.  The excellent Quatermass Xperiment has its fair share of cosmic horror elements as well, and pretty much any of the television shows or films in this franchise are worth checking out.  (These serials would be a major inspiration for Doctor Who and Torchwood, and those later shows' main source of cosmic-horror/weird-fiction influences.)
  • Dark Intruder:  this was, believe it or not, a pilot for a 1965 weird fiction television show which never made it to television due to being too dark, violent, and scary for early 1960s television, and it was turned instead into a (short) "B" horror film.  Brought to us by Night Gallery's Jack Laird, the show contained many direct references to Mythos lore (with throw-away dialogue routinely referring to Azathoth, Dagon, Nyoghta, and more), as well as cultists, immortal ghouls, demon-gods, creepy tomes and artifacts, and more.  I thought it was actually quite good, very similar in tone and execution to Curse of the Demon and other great black-and-white horror films from the era, and worth checking out - one wonders what might have happened had this been given a chance to launch a televisions show!
  • Intruders:  a 2014 series that, sadly, disappeared after only one season on BBC America, about an ancient, secret cult who can project their minds after death into the bodies of other people.  The Lovecraftian atmosphere was at best sort of vague in the first season, but I suspect that it would have gotten more overt had the show been given a chance to develop elements such as the "ghost machine" (some sort of creepy fringe science device that let ordinary people hear disembodied spirits), the cult's ancient conspiracy, its library full of strange tomes written by generations of the same personalities in different bodies, and so on.
  • Babylon 5:  the writers for this show routinely mined classic fantasy literature for inspiration, with direct and indirect references to King Arthur, Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings, and Call of Cthulhu (among many, many others).   Once the show established its setting, we quickly get introduced to the "First Ones", sufficiently-advanced aliens who once strode the galaxy like gods, outgrew their mortality, warred among each other until they all fell, and now lurk in the shadowy places between the stars, playing with younger civilizations like pawns in epochs-long games of chess, and insinuating themselves into mortal religions and legends and cultural nightmares through direct interference, mysterious nearly-magical technologies, and shadowy psychic powers in order to disrupt the anthills of younger mortal civilizations like sullen, overgrown children who haven't yet outgrown the galaxy enough to leave it for even more ancient and shadowy corners of the universe....  The plot of one made-for-TV movie, Babylon 5: Thirdspace, is more or less "The Call of Cthulhu - in SPACE!" (an extra-dimensional space-born First One corpse-city surfaces from hyperspace, driving the sensitive artists and such exposed to its psychic presence mad); beyond that, the series in general routinely touched on common weird fiction and cosmic horror tropes, really giving a sense of a vast, ancient, thoroughly Gothic universe full of shadows for unspeakable horrors, soul-chilling secrets, and mind-shattering mysteries to lurk in.
  • True Detective:  the first season, at least, with numerous references to R.W. Chambers' Lovecraft inspiration The King in Yellow, had a definite weird fiction feel to it; the second season (with a different cast of characters and a new story line) is worth checking out as well, but was a much more conventional police procedural.

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mvincent

Some other TV series' that I thought I'd mention:

Penny Dreadful: not explicitly Lovecraftian, but is well done and provides excellent imagery for Gaslight era horror.

Boardwalk Empire: not Lovecraftian or even horror in any manner, but can be an excellent 1920's resource.

Ash vs. the Evil Dead: well... the Necronomicon is still the central plot device. Similarly...

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is also centered around a Necronomicon-like book

Tremors (the TV series): contains Grabboids.

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yronimoswhateley

I keep forgetting to mention:

  • Garth Marenghi's Dark Place - which comes across as an affectionate parody by the some of the boys responsible for The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh of a low, low-budget 1980s vanity-project horror TV show that it seems I really ought to recognize, but can't really put my finger on.  They hit so many of the right notes on badly-written weird fiction/cosmic horror tropes poorly-translated into bad television and film, I can't help suspecting the writers might be closet fans of Lovecraft and his imitators....

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RobP

I third Darkplace, was a great affectionate spoof

I'd also add 

The League of Gentlemen - dark humour,  particularly the couple in the "local" shop, wouldn't be out of place in Innsmouth

 

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ralfy

Doomwatch

 

The series was set in the then present day, and dealt with a scientific government agency led by Doctor Spencer Quist (played by John Paul), responsible for investigating and combating various ecological and technological dangers.

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomwatch

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ReydeAmarillo

Disappointed that no one has menioned the short lived and much missed (well by me anyway) UK TV show:-

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_(TV_series)

 

A team formed of a Defrocked Priest, Nurse, Computer/Electronics wizz kid and a mediumistic young man investigating and stopping demonic activity in the local city (Bristol I think??).

 

Very atmospheric and eerie with the team working from limited information, scouring ancient books and newspapers alike and often having many misteps before they track down the "Demon of the Week". And in the background the Uber-Demon Asmoth (who killed the Priest's wife) looms large and unidentified.

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johnmcfloss

Twin Peaks, possibly. Certainly in tone. Most Lynch feels like it's based in a world where Hastur had risen.

 

And also Gravity Falls. Which despite being a modern children's cartoon (which, I've got a lot of time for, I'd argue we're in a bit of a renaissance), kinda feels like someone syndicated Twin Peaks for Saturday mornings, and managed to do it justice. It's a little monster-of-the-weeky in places, but the metaplot resolves entirely around understanding, protecting and finding grimoires of supernatural knowledge, ancient/alien technology, and the risk of madness.

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deuce

I just want to thank Yronimos for re-upping this fine thread. Much Innsmouth gold to be found herein. The vaults and coffers of Yoggie are deep, and filled with eldritch gems, obviously.  B)

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yronimoswhateley

Thank you, Deuce!

 

It seems like there's still a few shows out there that haven't been called out yet, but I'm stumped on thinking of them.  There is still:

  • Land of the Lost - best remembered for being an adult-friendly 1970s Sid and Marty Krofft kids' show, it's creative use of extremely low-budget and vaguely psychedelic special effects, stop-motion dinosaur puppets, and most of all for the eerie Sleestaks: savage, menacing, antediluvian serpent-men who worship strange gods and rule what appears to be a strange, Dreamlands-like alternate dimension somewhere deep inside the Earth and outside normal space and time.  The first couple seasons are generally fondly remembered, but I seem to recall the last season saw a drop in quality due to executive meddling, and the 1990s revival and 2009 film were generally forgettable.

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GBSteve

The Omega Factor, about secret societies, government conspiracies, ESP and the occult.

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yronimoswhateley

...there were a few Lovecraftian moments in the original "Star Trek" ... I'm particularly thinking of the Kelvans, aliens from Andromeda that took on human forms and would "distill" people into a powdery polyhedron ("essential saltes," anyone?), as well as Sylvia and Korob, alien illusionists who looked a bit like tentacled stickbugs in their natural form. The mind-controlling jellyfish things from "Operation: Annihilate" were very creepy and Lovecrafty in their own way, as well...

 

Sorry to "necro" the thread, but as someone who hasn't seen this show since the 1980s, I just found out for the first time that the Star Trek episode you mentioned with the alien illusionists was one of two of the episodes written by H.P. Lovecraft's friend, Robert Bloch, which drop a reference to Lovecraft's "Old Ones" in throw-away dialogue.

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MrHandy

I had recently mentioned in another thread that Outlander has a couple of Mythos references. It's not apparent in the episodes as aired, but the Blu-ray (and presumably DVD) of Season 2 has an extended scene in Episode 2 where Claire visits Master Raymond's shop for the first time, and he's showing her various things, including copies of Unausprechlichen Kulten by von Junzt and al-Azif (aka the Necronomicon) by "the mad Arab Abdul al-Hazred." One of these books is later shown again as evidence against him in the Star Chamber scene in Episode 7, though it is not named there. What Gillian does at the end of the final episode is also somewhat Mythosy.

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cloud64

I have recently finished watching Jordskott. A nice piece of TV Scandi Noir: 10 episodes of 1 hour. 
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordskott
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2309405/
 
Warning: involves child abduction.
 
The synopsis doesn't give any hints as to the show having any supernatural elements, but they slowly develop.

 

[From Wikipedia] 

Police inspector Eva Thörnblad (Moa Gammel returns to the village of Silverhöjd, seven years after her daughter Josephine disappeared beside a lake in the forest. Josephine's body was never found and it was presumed that she had drowned. Upon Eva's return, a boy is missing and Eva begins to look for similarities between this disappearance and that of her daughter. At the same time, she has to deal with the death and probate of her late father and his large timber felling and processing business, Thörnblad Cellulosa.

 
It builds the intrigue nicely, which keeps you coming back for more, and in true Lovecraft style, even at the end you're not completely clear about what happened – well, we weren't. Any more than that needs a spoiler tag.
 

At first you think it's another detective mystery, albeit it with some odd aspects. Strange things start to happen: a child with a mysterious illness, an old bag lady with hints of forbidden knowledge, psychic homeless people, tainted bodies turning up. As the investigation goes on you realise there's more to it than can be naturally explained.


 
It is very investigation driven, slowly delving deeper into the mystery through a variety of sources. Lots of stuff to steal for one's own scenarios.
 
Worth a watch. In the UK it was on ITV Encore, and we watched it via Now TV. Well, half of it because they took it down and we had to buy the final eps on the iTunes store. It's £10 for the lot, and I didn't feel hard done paying that to finish it off.

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SunlessNick

True Detective (the first season) is low-hangig fruit for this thread.  In Cthulhu terms, its atmosphere is as if a Mythos event happening somewhere between the 1930's and 1950's, which sparked off a trail of madness that's been continuing to destroy lives long after the investigators and actual cultists and monsters and magic were gone.  Which is almost more bleak than if they were still around.

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christian

My take on Jordskott was rather less enthusiastic ;-)

 

Like many others the world over, I was spellbound by The killing, and its heroine Sarah Lund, and loved Borgen and the Bridge.

 

Granted, some of the plot-twists in the Bridge were a bit over the edge ( how many conspiracies can exist with twisted masterminds fooling the police to get personal revenge?) , and some of the red herrings in The killing were just there to get to the requisite ten episodes BUT each and every character was well thought out and had an interesting arc even if it was sometimes abruptly terminated. And you really felt that you were there, in another country, with a different way of life, a different political system, etc etc. I could say the same for The missing, with James Nesbitt. The story was great, harrowing, the characters were well fleshed-out, and you could feel that you were there, in England and in the back of beyond in a French provincial town. JORDSKOTT is nothing like this. The characters are bleeeeah, their actions defy rationality, the plot follows along the dotted lines with mind-numbingly cretinous moments ( Oh, she seems to have died on us, let's cut off that electric wire I've just unplugged, strip the ends off and jolt her with electric current, we're sure to wake her up...) Eva, the main character, manages to emote rather well in the first episode, as a female cop whose child disappeared seven years ago and may or may not have turned up unexpectedly. But after that, it's all downhill. The character goes through each episode without ever becoming believable. Nordic Noir has made a habit of showing us actors who look real, who do not look as if they've all had plastic surgery, but this is way beyond that. Most characters act dumb, and look ugly. I mean, really ugly. The parade of unattractive men in this series has to be seen to be believed. And the workings of the town in which all this happens are so badly depicted that you never have the feeling that this place really exists. Local politicians, TV people, local police, industrialists, environment protectors, all go through the motions of their cliché cardboard characters. A special mention must be made of the youngish badly shaved Special Task Force cop who arrives at the beginning of the last episode to take over and show his contempt for the cops we've followed through the first nine episodes. His mission is to act tough, speak badly to, and demote "our heroes", and cheepishly disappear when the elderly spinstery chief of police who seems to have been there through the last century glares wordlessly at him for thirty seconds as a sign of disapproval. Oh, I forgot to mention the fantastic element. This is no Twin Peaks, believe me. The premise of "something strange lives in these woods" is unnerving at first and you hope that it will develop into something horrific or profound, but the scenario just piles on a few shocks and boring explanations without ever realising its potential. My advice is to stay clear of this. Unless you're an immortal monster hiding among humans while hoarding felt hats and coppery junk, in which case you won't feel cheated of ten hours of your life

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Armitage72

Sorry to "necro" the thread, but as someone who hasn't seen this show since the 1980s, I just found out for the first time that the Star Trek episode you mentioned with the alien illusionists was one of two of the episodes written by H.P. Lovecraft's friend, Robert Bloch, which drop a reference to Lovecraft's "Old Ones" in throw-away dialogue.

 

The other Robert Bloch episode, "What Little Girls Are Made Of", was essentially "At the Mountains of Madness", with humanoid androids instead of Shoggoths.  An ancient alien race (referred to as the Old Ones) manufactured a race of slaves, which eventually became too intelligent and rose up and destroyed their creators.  They even lived in caverns under an frozen environment.

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Thekinginpurple

Would anyone else agree with me in that I consider the Prisoner (the one from the 70's with Patrick McGoohan and the deadly bubbles) Lovecraftian? It focuses on a spy who is taken to a strange village where nothing is quite as it seems, and disturbing practices and phenomena are plentiful. Also in a similar vein the black and white lodges from Twin Peaks (they remind me of that passage from the Call of Cthulhu where Castro rabbits on about how great Cthulhu is and how morality should be discarded)?

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Shrike

There are a plethora of homages to The Prisoner in Delta Green: Countdown, so you're not alone in your thinking.

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yronimoswhateley

I added an entry for The Prisoner into the Yog-Sothoth dotcom Wiki earlier this year, seeing some promise in the series as a setting/premise for a Call of Cthulhu campaign (possibly set in a variation on the Dreamlands, which to me seems appropriate for the strange location, buildings, costumes, and customs of The Village).

 

The Wiki entry is, of course, a stub - if anyone would like to expand on its content with an eye toward a Lovecraftian adaptation, you may feel free.  Be seeing you....

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