4.5 Dieselpunk on the Small Screen

There have been several Dieselpunk productions on television. Batman: The Animated Series, as mentioned previously, and it’s deco pulp spinoffs Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, The Big O, et. al., were popular hits. The dieselpunk style can also be found in animated pieces such as: Last Exile, A Detective Story (Animatrix), Blue Submarine No. 6, Battle Angel Alita, Metropolis (2001), Hellsing, Full Metal Alchemist, The Iron Giant, Strike Witches, and B-17 (Heavy Metal).

The SyFy channel’s Battlestar Galactica spin-off Caprica is a mix of dieselpunk and cyberpunk, and the in-story virtual game “New Cap City“, which plays an important role in the series, is noir dieselpunk, with the virtual skies patrolled by zeppelin-borne P-40’s.

A panoramic view of New Cap City

A panoramic view of New Cap City

Carnivàle debuted September 14, 2003, breaking all records for an HBO series at that time and winning numerous awards. Set in America during the mid-1930s, Carnivàle is a classic tale of the battle between good and evil. Several characters have telepathic abilities that are frightening to both them and others along with have bizarre and confusing visions as well as powers that they don’t understand.

Cast of HBO series Carnivàle

In the amateur part of the scope, Norwegian Guardians of the Constitution (orig. Constitutionens Voktere) mini-serial is a much welcome breakthrough, being the first dieselpunk self-parody which expoits nearly every trope of the genre:

Atomic Age Pictures 1940s-styled short movies, directed and shot by Douglas Monce and starring Miss Amanda Lee, are also worth a mention (and a look).

Miss Amanda Lee in a noir alley

Miss Amanda Lee in a noir alley by Atomic Age Pictures

In 2010, Toyota created an ad series for their Avalon series that were decidedly dieselpunk. The first, “Train”, is set in an art deco train station (complete with a Milwaukee Road streamliners-inspired locomotive), where the characters are wearing 40’s-inspired clothes and a cover of Mr. Sandman by Pomplamoose plays in the background. The second, “Plane”, depicts men and women in 40’s-inspired aviation uniforms as a Douglas DC-3 flies in the background.

Episode 15 of Season 8 titled “Kill Screen” of the American television show CSI: New York, which originally aired April 6, 2012, there was a fictional video game named “Dieselpunk.” Shown in the episodes were posters of the video game with the title “Dieselpunk” as well as a statue of a character holding a fantasy machine gun from the game named “Dieselpunk.” The show credits list actor Tim Dragga as the “Dieselpunk Fan.”

On December 7, 2012 the web site Screen Crush reported that the executive producer of the AMC television series “The Walking Dead” Gale Ann Hurd had been approved to make a series for the USA Network titled “Horizon.” According to the site, “Set at the peak of World War 2, ‘Horizon’ follows an FBI secretary who finds out that her husband may have been killed in a battle with a spaceship while in the South Pacific, and in her obsessive investigation inadvertently becomes “the only person standing between Earth and an alien invasion.”” No release date has been announced at this time.


Gale Ann Hurd

On May 13, 2013, the Syfy cable channel program Warehouse 13 broadcasted a Dieselpunk episode titled ‘The Big Snag’ in which an accident in the warehouse transported agents Pete Lattimer and  Myka Bering into a pulp noir novel set in the 1940s titled ‘Kiss Me, Forever’. To return to the real world the characters were required to impersonate private investigators to solve a murder mystery and retrieve an artifact. While the episode follows two story threads, which is a standard feature of the series, the majority of the Lattimer/ Bering thread was filmed in black and white while the opening title was replaced with nothing more than a neon sign that simply read ‘Warehouse 13’.

Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries is a television series produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that premiered February 12, 2012. Based on novels written by Kerry Greenwood, the central character is Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis), whom the ABC web site describes as a “glamorous and thoroughly modern woman of the 1920s”. The web site goes on to describes Phryne Fisher as a “lady sleuth” who “sashays through the back lanes and jazz clubs of Melbourne, fighting injustice with her pearl-handled pistol and her dagger sharp wit”. Two seasons have been produced and a third season was announced on June 13, 2014. Videos of the series are distributed worldwide by Acorn Media Group.

Agent Carter (Film)
The short film Agent Carter is a American direct-to-video film featuring the Marvel Comics character Peggy Carter, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on the home media release of Iron Man 3. It is a follow up and spin-off of the 2011 feature film Captain America: The First Avenger, and is the fourth film in the Marvel One-Shots short film series. The film is directed by Louis D’Esposito, with a screenplay by Eric Pearson, and is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. It stars Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, reprising the role from the films, along with Bradley Whitford and Dominic Cooper, the latter also reprising his role from the films. In Agent Carter, Peggy Carter faces sexism post-World War II while working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R.), a precursor to the fictional organization S.H.I.E.L.D. Released straight to DVD on September 3, 2013.

The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, the publisher, Marvel Studios, or the graphic artist.

The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, the publisher, Marvel Studios, or the graphic artist.

On October 10, 2014, the PBS series Live from Lincoln Center broadcasted the dieselpunk play The Nance. reported: According to LCT, “A nance, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is ‘an effeminate or homosexual man.’ In the world of 1930s burlesque, a nance was a wildly popular character, a stereotypically camp homosexual man, most times played by a straight performer. In The Nance, playwright Douglas Carter Beane tells the story of Chauncey Miles, a headline nance performer in New York burlesque, who also happens to be a homosexual. Integrating burlesque sketches into his drama, Beane paints, with humor and pathos, the portrait of a homosexual man, living and working in the secretive and dangerous gay world of 1930s New York, whose outrageous antics on the burlesque stage stand in marked contrast to his messy offstage life.”

The production can be viewed online at PBS.Org.

nance2Agent Carter (Television)
Marvel’s Agent Carter, or simply Agent Carter, is an American eight-part television miniseries created for ABC by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It was inspired by the films Captain America: The First Avenger and the Marvel One-Shot short film of the same name. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. It premiered January 6, 2015.

Philip K Dick’s dieselpunk classic The Man in the High Castle was released to video on demand on Amazon Prime Instant Video, January 15, 2015. Directed by David Semel, Teleplay by Frank Spotnitz. According to the official press release:

Based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternative history novel, one-hour drama pilot THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE explores what would have happened if the Allied Powers had lost World War II, debuting January 15, 2015 on Amazon Prime Instant Video in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. Some 17 years after that loss, the United States and much of the world has now been split between Japan and Germany, the dominating global powers. As tension mounts between the two hegemonic states, a resistance builds as the United States citizens rise against the oppressive regimes.

While Germany controls much of the East Coast and Japan controls the West Coast, the Rocky Mountains have become a “neutral zone” — and ground zero for a rebellion, led by a mysterious figure known only as “the Man in the High Castle.” As people struggle with freedom, fear, equality, diversity and ideology, some accept their lives, but others question the authenticity of their history and the government’s information. Among them are heroes, leaders, spies, pacifists, tyrants, rebels, enablers and sympathizers.


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