Battle of the Planets, Episode Sixteen
Gatchaman Episode #2, Monstrous Aircraft Carrier Appears
DVD and Veoh episode #2
Review/Summary: Center Neptune establishing shot. Zark VO: “Here at Center Neptune, where we monitor all activity of a suspicious or alarming nature in our galaxy, you might say, I’m the top dog.” Then we have Zark and Rover in the Nerve Center (or control room, or whatever it’s actually called). “Well, actually, 1-Rover-1 is the top dog. I’m the top robot. Well, actually, I’m the only robot. But I am at the top.” [Line of extras in medieval getup shouting, “Get on with it!”]
He floats over to his favorite console. “I’m at the controls here every minute, day and night, and my only companionship is 1-Rover-1.” Rover whirls his tail and flies the few feet to join Zark. [He has an excuse for flying: those legs do not look functional.]
“Yes, I know, 1-Rover-1: we have an important mission to monitor right now. Two astronauts are returning today from a space mission extremely vital to the security of our galaxy.” [Galaxy, or solar system? The show could be rather cavalier about the distinction.] Shot of the Phoenix in space. “Today, modern ships like the Phoenix travel millions of light-years into outer space, all in a matter of a day or two. But sometimes, for short flights to the Moon or Mars or something like that, astronauts still use the old-fashioned system. That’s the type of flight and re-entry I’ve got to cover now.”
[The space shuttle was just entering public consciousness at this time. Hard to believe, now, but the hope was that the shuttle would replace the huge, multi-stage, single-use rockets that launched satellites and space-station parts into orbit. SF shows already depicted reusable craft to go from place to place. Had things gone as hoped, shuttle flights could have become common, and the fleet would not now consist of the aging, 30-some-year-old originals. And nowadays, we are back to the ‘old-fashioned system.’ Yep, NASA’s bringing back the proven technology of multi-stage rockets.]
Gatchaman footage of a space capsule in orbit. Inside, an astronaut says, “Retro-burners set for re-entry. Give us a wig-wag, and we’ll be happy to head for splashdown.” [How far must I look to find out if this is even remotely similar to real transmissions? Or should I even bother?] He trades an ‘I’m happy to be going home’ look with his comrade. There follows some banter between the capsule and Mission Control that suggests long familiarity with this sort of thing.
Somewhere in the ocean, naval ships move into position.
All goes as usual: the capsule splashes down and releases the marker dye, while helicopters deploy from the recovery vessels – and then Spectran ray-shaped submarines crash the party. They steal the entire capsule by pulling it under the water. [Anyone want to weigh in on the mechanics of that?]
Next we see an underwater complex, and a very large submarine resting on the sea floor. Not good.
Now to Mark, who’s balancing a little turtle on his wrist. Zark in VO: “7-Zark-7 calling G-Force. Red alert.” Close-up of the turtle, which pulls into its shell. “Two astronauts have disappeared.”
Mark removes the turtle and says, “I copy, Zark. What’s up?” [He just told you. Weren’t you listening?]
Apparently, there’s no time to explain. Mark must join G-Force at once. They’re already in flight, and Zark will guide him to them. [The dialogue here is mostly to accommodate the Gatch animation.]
Mark runs out to his plane, takes off, and transmutes.
When he gets to the Phoenix bridge, Jason acidly greets him: “We’re honored you finally decided to join us.” Mark tells him it was his day off. [I think, technically, a unit like G-Force never really has days off.] He calls Chief Anderson.
Anderson tells him that Jason can brief him about the astronauts. But there’s a development that makes matters a good deal worse. While they were orbiting Mars, they discovered alien bases and activity there. [Which implies that this wasn’t the reason for the mission.]
For some reason, Keyop asks, “Under the ocean?” Princess tells him there’s no water on Mars. Except that Keyop’s right. [Okay, that was a badly-handled bit. Why not simply say that Mars was terraformed and given oceans? Now Princess looks stupid.] The base locations were recorded. G-Force must rescue the astronauts and recover the data.
Over footage of the Spectra submarine and its interior, Zark tells us that G-Force is heading for the spot where the astronauts and capsule were taken. For viewers who can’t make the connection, he says that the aliens must have followed the astronauts to Earth to prevent them reporting the base locations. [Because it never occurred to anyone to transmit the data as they collected it.]
A Spectran soldier gets into an old-fashioned cage elevator and descends several levels. He exits, and – Hey, Gorok (aka Kitty-Squid) is back! Well, it looks like him, anyway. The soldier reports that they have the data.
It’s not Gorok. Keye Luke is doing the voice. This is Kitty-Squid II. He wants a look at the data.
A map of what’s supposed to be Mars appears, with glowing red dots. Every base, as the captain notices. He reports to Zoltar: they have the data. It’s all on a single cassette that they took from the astronauts.
What happened to Zoltar? His lips look a little pale today. He orders a readout transmitted.
And the high-tech equipment on Spectra produces – ticker-tape. Okay. Whatever.
After a quick look, Zoltar says he must advise ‘The Most Powerful One’ at once.
Before he can even say a word, the Luminous One starts scolding him: once again, he calls with “good news that is not good news; with victory that is not victory; with great and glorious plans that have not been completed.” [I’d say the LO is a bit peeved, wouldn’t you?] For now, the Earthlings are unaware of Spectra’s presence, but the tape is evidence that Zoltar’s plans are not impervious to detection. [Ouch. That must hurt.] The bases must be made operational without further delay. Only then shall the Luminous One rejoice.
Back to the Phoenix. They’ve arrived at the splash-down point, where the ships and helicopters are still present. On Mark’s orders, Tiny takes her underwater.
It’s rather pretty down there. When Princess comments on it, Mark reminds her that this isn’t a pleasure cruise, and that two astronauts disappeared here. [Lighten up. She hasn’t forgotten. Sheesh.] Princess apologizes. [She doesn’t sound as if she’s being sarcastic or snarky.]
Mark wants everybody serious about finding the astronauts. [Okay, what’s stuck up your ass? Or did you decide to be a dick today?]
They search near the ocean floor. A sudden explosion [which does not send the ship spinning like a leaf in a whirlpool] interrupts them. Princess reports that the ship is going out of control and that they’re off course.
Now the ship is in trouble, as the laws of physics return from the restroom and resume operating. Tiny can’t get them back under control. (For some reason, Keyop is in Mark’s seat, and Mark chases him out.) Mark says they have to use the blast-off system they use for space shots, and follows up with technobabble.
On the count of five: 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – 0.
The engines fire, and they break free.
Mark asks Princess for the coordinates Zark sent them. She hands him a spool of ticker-tape. He examines it, and says they’re right where the astronauts vanished. [Uh, we already knew that. The ships and helicopters were a big clue.] They’ll have to go back under, like it or not.
Tiny isn’t too certain about that, after what they just went through. Mark tells him they should be 60 miles from that volcanic eruption by now. [What volcano?]
Keyop worries that they’ll find Zoltar. Mark says Zoltar is no worse than the volcano.
Back under they go.
Commercial break. [Remember the days of the single commercial break in a half-hour show? Neither do I, and I was there for them.]
We have Rover yarping in Zark’s ready room. Zark jerks ‘awake’, yelling about red alerts and contacting G-Force. Then he laughs and tells Rover he was getting his modulators a 10-second rest. But he always keeps one actuator open. No need to worry. He’ll never be caught asleep at the FOSDIC. [Yeah, well your reaction to the yarping says otherwise. Time for a systems check.] FOSDIC stands for Film Optical Sensing Device for Input to Computers.
Susan calls. Zark gets all flustered and admits that he was dreaming – er – thinking about her. [Will not try to imagine his dreams, will not try to imagine his dreams.]
She asks if he has a moment to spare for something really important.
He does. He can meet her in her ready room. Or in his. Or in a hallway somewhere. Just – anywhere. [AGH! Brain bleach, brain bleach!]
Susan says that would be nice, but Chief Anderson wants him to contact G-Force. It seems they’re having trouble locating the alien base. [So why not simply have Anderson call and tell Zark this? Were they so wedded to having Susan around for flirties?]
Zark says he’ll get right on it. And she’s such beautifully-computerized machine. Why does she make him feel so human? [In the background, I just spotted what looks like an arcade game called ‘Star Race.’]
On the way down to the control room, he says the base must be very well hidden. [Not according to what I saw.] He must activate his phase discriminating amplifier to see if he can give G-Force a lead.
Now he’s in Zarkstyle and floats over to his panel. He calls G-Force with an advisory. [That was fast work.] When they reach the target area, try projecting their infrared light rays.
Aboard the Phoenix, Tiny turns on the projector. There’s the Spectra base. Mark says it’s the biggest threat to Earth’s security yet. Next step is to get inside.
Tiny’s all set to ram his way in. Mark stops him, and Jason says the astronauts could be in danger if they do that. [And I thought Jason was supposed to be some sort of hothead.]
Mark says he’ll find a way inside the whale-ship. When Keyop volunteers, Mark tells him it’s a risky job and he’s appointing himself.
Mark transmutes into his civvies, but when we next see him, he’s swimming out of the Phoenix wearing a wetsuit and scuba gear.
There’s a whole base down there, under construction. He finds a robot crab and rides it into the whale-ship. Then he finds a secluded spot to change out of the wetsuit. I think. We don’t see it. Darn.
Hm. He had his clothes on under his wetsuit?
He searches, and finds the missing space capsule in the same hangar as other robot crabs. It’s been trashed.
A spotlight pins him. Then several more shine on him.
The captain mocks his unexpected ‘guest’ and says they don’t get many visitors.
Mark transmutes in front of captain and soldiers. [It’s not as if he can duck and hide and do it. He’s the only intruder. Pretty obvious that he’s G1, either way.]
Seriously edited fight scene, in which Mark spends a lot time running and hiding, and not hurting anyone. The captain orders up the drill.
A moveable drill mounted on a ceiling track is brought into service as a weapon. It moves pretty fast for an industrial tool, and Mark is hard-pressed to dodge it. The device takes out several of the robot crabs.
Then someone tries to drop a huge hook onto Mark. He rides it back into view, then starts swinging on it (complete with bad Tarzan yell).
The captain tells him to surrender, or he’ll never see the astronauts again. [We don’t see them now.]
Mark surrenders. The captain orders him locked up with the astronauts.
He’s taken down to another level, but before the soldiers can take him anywhere else, Keyop’s bolos come out of nowhere. [More editing. Presumably, someone gets badly hurt.] Now Mark has the upper hand, and he orders Keyop to get the data, while he rescues the astronauts.
Something was edited out, because the whale ship starts moving, and inside, things start breaking and exploding. The captain orders the crew to abandon ship.
Okay, the whale ship explodes. But we only see Mark and Keyop swimming away, as Zark talks of them rescuing the two astronauts.
Zoltar calls to chide his captain (and his lips are still pale). The man has one last chance. He must take one of the attack craft, find the Phoenix, and destroy it. No excuses, this time.
In the Phoenix, Mark tells Jason the astronauts are in sick bay.
From the remains of the whale ship emerges the – head of the Space Terrapin? It’s piloted by Kitty-Squid II.
Both aircraft break the surface, and the Spectra ship sets course to ram the Phoenix. There’s no time to dodge. Mark orders the transmutation to Fiery Phoenix. [Is this a good idea with wounded passengers aboard?]
We only see the Spectra ship heat up, but not what happens afterwards. Nor is Zark helpful enough to tell us.
Shot of the bridge. The others aren’t looking so good. Princess picks herself up and smiles at Mark.
Zark burbles about how good it is that Princess and Mark are friends again. Quarrels are forgotten when things get rough. Then a moral about how strong bonds are formed when people work together. That’s the secret to G-Force’s success. [Aside from Mark snapping at her earlier, there’s not much sign of a quarrel between the two.]
Obligatory Zark ending, now. He says most robots aren’t programmed to feel friendship. That’s a pity. Rover yarps, and Zark says that they have that programming. It’s essential if they’re to work with G-Force. Fortunately, they haven’t been programmed to hate. [Just pass value judgments, if all those ‘evil planet Spectra’ lines are to be credited.] More yarps, and Zark admits that in the case of Zoltar, they come very close. But G-Force has the data, and the astronauts, and the bases that Zoltar was forced to abandon. He’s really proud to be part of G-Force (and he salutes).
Fic Alert: Why not use time-warp travel all the time? Why should it take longer to reach the Moon or Mars than to reach Arcturus or Spectra?
Was the mission intended to find Spectra bases, or did that sort of happen?
Why were Mark and Princess not getting along?
Did the ‘volcanic eruption’ produce a tsunami?
Science question: What would it take to hijack a space capsule in the manner shown?
Water is an excellent transmitter of sound and vibration. That volcano should have set off a tsunami. As the pressure waves radiated out, they should also have given the Spectrans trouble.
Projecting infrared light? Is that even possible?
Bizarreness alert: The scriptwriters neglected to say anything about terraforming Mars.
If the mission was intended to find Spectra bases, then why use something as ‘old fashioned’ (and slow) as a space capsule?
If the mission was for some other purpose, then why not launch and land on Mars? (If they were going to give Mars an ocean, why not a navy and a space program?)
Gatchaman plot: This was a purported conclusion to Gatchaman vs Turtle King. The ISO sent up a space mission to locate uranium resources from orbit. The data was stored in the ‘Earth Compact’ device. When the capsule splashed down, Galactor submarines snagged it. Using the data from the mission, Galactor set up an underwater uranium mining facility. The Science Ninja Team were sent to find and recover the data and astronauts.
Ken does penetrate the base, but the astronauts are already dead. It turns out that Joe sent Jinpei to back up Ken. They sabotage the base, so that it explodes.