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msannomalley Reviews The Duplicate King by msannomalley
msannomalley Reviews The Duplicate King by msannomalley
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Author's Chapter Notes:
This review assumes that you are familiar with the Gatchaman episode "Berg Katse Triumphs". If you are not, the episode is available for streaming at Hulu.com.
This episode, according to Hyperbolic Voice-Over Guy, involves G-Force protecting the King of Baldania and his “fabulous jewels” from the “scheming hands of Zoltar”.

Indulge me for one moment. I need to get this out of my system.

THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.

There. I’m better now.

There’s more hyperbole and then Hyperbolic Voice-Over Guy refers to G-Force as “five daring young astronauts”.

Wait…what? I thought they were “five incredible young people with super powers.”  I have a feeling I’m in for a long episode.

 
Ad 1:  A child is pelting his father in the back with water balloons, but the father doesn’t seem to mind. Just as I’m wondering what they are trying to sell me, it’s an ad for the True Value chain of hardware stores.  The “Milwaukee Convertible Hand Truck” is on sale for only $49.99. While supplies last, of course.
Ad 2: Kellogg’s Raisin Bran makes a middle-aged dad want to put on…his-his-his-his boogie shoes. To boogie with you, of course. I wonder if back in nineteen seventy-whatever, KC, and perhaps his Sunshine Band, ever dreamed that one of their biggest hits would be used to sell breakfast cereal.

 
By this point in the series, it’s assumed that the episode opens up with 7 Zark 7.  Today’s Zark word salad is about his assertion that Spectra suffers from a condition called “ubiquity”.

“It’s not a communicable disease,” Zark assures us. It just means that they’re everywhere.

Actually, Zark, it’s pronounced “ubiquitary” and I looked it up at Dictionary.com. You also left out the part about omnipresence.  In other words, Spectra is everywhere, all at once. 

Wait a minute…doesn’t this describe Zark? Or rather, isn’t this how Zark describes himself?

I just noticed something. “Ubiquitary” sounds similar to the term “dysentery”, a particularly nasty condition that often results in abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. And we all know that Zark is full of crap.

Therefore, Zark is like dysentery.

And there’s your quota for logical fallacies to arrive to a conclusion we already know: 7 Zark 7 is full of crap.

Anyway…

Spectra, according to Zark, just shot off a bunch of missiles. He doesn’t know what Spectra would want with Saturn, or some place called “Bernard’s Nebulay”. He’s more concerned with the ones headed to Earth and the unfortunately named Kingdom of Baldania.

Um, Zark? Unless Bernard owns more than one, it’s pronounced “neb-u-LAH”.  Don’t make me unleash the Grammar Kraken on you.

G-Force is in their Ready Room, and fortunately, we’re spared from their usual musical, burger-eating, ping-pong playing antics. They’re ordered to report to Chief Anderson because there is a UFO headed to Baldania.

Wait a minute. I thought Zark said they were missiles? If you already know what they are, how can they be unidentified flying objects?

“Why Baldania?” Mark asks.

Chief Anderson, pointing to a dark green shape that resembles a more than a few Western European countries, tells us that Baldania is “rich” and that the royal jewels rival those of “Zyr” or “Riga”.  Of course, Zoltar wants those jewels. They probably compliment the pointy ears and pink lipstick rather nicely.

G-Force’s mission, should they accept it, is to guard the jewels and protect the king, because, as the Chief points out, “[they’ve] been loyal to us.”

To whom? G-Force? Earth? The damned Council that always has to be consulted on everything and undermines the G-Force Commander’s authority?

I’m confused.

Then I become even more confused about this king they’re supposed to protect who may or may not be alive. This king is 92 years old, but you wouldn’t know it, according to the Chief, as he points to a picture of an elderly man holding a cane. Chief A hopes that when he’s the King’s age, he is doing that well. 

The King owes his slightly gimpy longevity to being a vegetarian.

There is a lot of this conversation I left out because it’s vague and redundant and making me feel the urge to start yanking out my own hair. I like my hair. I’d prefer to keep it. Plus I already covered the important things you, the viewer, need to know.

I’m not entirely certain, but I think this has to be one of the most ambiguous missions G-Force has ever been sent on. And trying to figure it out is giving me a headache.

So then…

G-Force is off to Baldania. Their fans are all over the tarmac at the Baldanian International Airport like Beatles’ fans at JFK in 1964. 

Now I’m even more confused.  I’m not confused about G-Force having fans. I’m confused about other things.

If they’re supposed to be guarding the King and his jewels, why would someone announce that they are coming? Wouldn’t you want that secret and not tip Spectra’s hand?

Then Mark spies a bunch of Spectran Goons. Not the Green Goons, mind you. These look like self-important, pompous assistant to royalty Spectran Goons.

Now I’m even more confused. My confusion is confused. If you were trying to set a trap for G-Force by giving them some stuffy, protocol-filled warm welcome at the airport, why would you show yourself? How, as the evil bad guys, do you expect them to fall in your trap when it’s obvious that you’ve set a trap for them?

Apparently Mark is just as confused as I am about all of this, especially about their arrival being so public.

If you manage to find some clarity in this whole mess, could you spare a little for me? Please? ‘Kthx.

Since, as Jason points out, the Phoenix is amphibious, they could go under water, which they do. G-Force waits out the welcoming committee. 

At this point, the Grammar Kraken is acting up because it says that “amphibious” means belonging to both land and water, but the Phoenix is an air/water craft. 

The Grammar Kraken needs to let this one go. Seriously. I already have a headache trying to follow this plot.

Meanwhile, at the King’s palace…

Prime Minister Square Jaw, who was one of the “Spectran Goons” Mark spotted, and his assistant, a hunched, jaundiced minion he calls “Frankfurter”, but I will refer to as Jaundimoto, are conversing. PM Square Jaw can’t understand why G-Force didn’t land at the airport.  G-Force shows up because they snuck in, and they announce their presence. PM Square Jaw gets all huffy because G-Force caught on to their lame attempt at setting a trap. He has Jaundimoto take G-Force to see the King.

And of course, the palace is full of booby traps.

Booby Trap #1: The chandelier falls from the ceiling. Princess screams like she’s in a B-grade horror movie.

Girlfriend, relax. It’s a lighting fixture, not Leatherface.

Of course, G-Force avoids the trap and they continue on their way.

Just kidding. They experience Booby Trap #2: The upstairs landing railings collapse.

Thankfully, they’re in Bird Style, so they can avoid falling and breaking limbs. They collect themselves and then they’re on their way.

I’m kidding again. Keyop runs into Booby Trap #3: A ginormous stone bust of Prime Minister Square Jaw falls off its pedestal and threatens to crush Keyop. Thankfully, Keyop gets out of the way.

Hopefully, that’s the end of that booby trap trifecta. G-Force isn’t buying the “this place is old and old things break” excuse from Jaundimoto.  If Baldania is as rich as everyone thinks, surely they could spare a few million dollars for basic home maintenance.

Mark is having none of Jaundimoto’s lame excuses.

This time, they continue up the stairs. Suddenly, a Wall O’ Gun Barrels materializes and begins shooting at G-Force.  Mark is still having none of this.


 
Time for a commercial break.
Ad 1: Rice Krispies. Kellogg’s is encouraging children to play with their food. It’s actually kind of cute.

Ad 2: Supertramp’s “the Logical Song” sung by children and a bunch of artistic stuff.

And we’re back.

 

G-Force is finally in the King’s office. The King dismisses Jaundimoto and then makes it clear he’s happy to see G-Force. Then he says something about being the last monarch on Earth, which I seriously doubt. Then he invites them to partake in some refreshments. Specifically, his favorite refreshment, beef tea.

Yes. You read that correctly. Beef tea.

Beef as in bovine flesh and tea as in a beverage that has its own time in the United Kingdom.

Beef. Tea.

Served on the royal china by none other than Jaundimoto.

Hold on for a moment…

Let’s forget for a moment the fact that the real king is supposed to be a vegetarian. How in the hell do you get tea from beef?  Does beef come in leaf form now? Or do they steep beef jerky in hot water that is precisely 200 degrees and for three to five minutes?

“Yes, I’ll take four ounces of the Prime Sirloin with A-1 Sauce Rooibos Blend and three ounces of the Chuck Roast Darjeeling, please. Oh, and a dozen asparagus crumpets, too.”

My next question is this:

Who is dumber here?

A). The bad guys for trying to pass off broth as “beef tea” and thinking that their enemy wouldn’t be briefed that the 90-something king who doesn’t look a day over 50 is a vegetarian? Especially during the 1970s, when vegetarianism was more novel than it is now?

Or

B).The Writers for thinking that beef tea is actually a thing.

At least in Gatch, it’s poison coffee. Why couldn’t the writers just call this poisoned coffee or poisoned tea? Is it because the Kid TV Cops decided having G-Force drinking coffee would be a bad example for kids? There are worse things G-Force could be doing than drinking coffee. I mean, Spectra could have invited them to partake in some angel dust (which was popular in the 1970s judging from the number of After School Specials about teenagers who got hooked on angel dust).  Or passing around a beer bong. Or maybe Zoltar got his hands on the brown acid from Woodstock and slipped some of that into their coffee.

I must admit that I do get some satisfaction in knowing that the Kid TV Cops’ campaign against coffee backfired miserably, because all of those little third graders, including Yours Truly, grew up and became young adults in the 1990s around the same time that Starbucks sprouted up on every corner like those nasty, wiry hairs I’m perpetually having to pluck out of my chin.

The King urges G-Force to not wait for him to drink, as it would be proper royal etiquette, because the King likes to wait for it to cool first.

I smell Booby Trap #4, and it smells an awful lot like bullshit, er, beef tea. I mean, if the King were to be more obvious that something is wrong with their broth/tea/brown water, he would have urged G-Force to not waste a drop because sometimes the poison settles to the bottom.

Princess seems to like the aroma of bullshit, I mean, beef tea. Keyop is about to take a drink until Mark smacks the cup out of his hand. “What gives?”

“It’s poison!” Mark says.

Mark is on the ball today. Why can’t this Mark be in every episode?

The poison turns the King’s red rug blue. I hope that rug wasn’t an old, valuable antique.

Mark throws his cup of beef tea at the King.

Rude? Perhaps. But Mark has seen through King Beef Tea’s plot and is thankfully putting an end to this charade.

“Have you lost your mind?” King Beef Tea says.

This is when Mark points out that King Beef Tea is not the real king because the real king is a vegetarian. Vegetarians wouldn’t drink beef tea. I wish Mark would have pointed out that beef tea is actually beef broth. 

And of course, the Fake King is really a Blackbird Ninja. Mark tosses his boomerang at the Fake King, which cracks the disguise.

Next is a heavily edited fight scene and then Keyop finds a way out. Except it’s not really the way out, but rather, Booby Trap #5, a room that looks like the inside of the Gravitron ride at the carnival.  Then they promptly encounter Booby Trap #6: Spiky things that pop out of the floor, Booby Trap #7: the garishly decorated walls begin to spin at a rate that could induce vomiting, and Booby Trap #8: sleeping gas.

Then we cut over to the bad guys. Zoltar and the Commander are talking. The commander assures Zoltar that G-Force are probably having “sweet dreams” right about now.  Zoltar says that this is good because the next step in their evil plot is to get the jewels. Commander Blackbird assures Zoltar that G-Force is “out”.

Now for our mid-episode Zark interlude: Zark is upset because he can’t wake up G-Force or he lost contact with him or some other convenient plot device concocted by Standards and Practices in an attempt to assure all the kids watching that G-Force aren’t really dead. Susan calls. Zark is too busy to flirt with her and rudely hangs up. Susan is miffed.

Somehow, G-Force escapes into a jeep and are followed by a helicopter. Then G-Force has to bail out and they do so behind a statue of a naked woman on her knees. Don’t ask.

Then Commander Blackbird issues the order to use something called a “Radiotronic Disorientation Module”. I had to pause and go back a few times to make sure I got the name correct. Basically, it’s a machine that emits waves that makes everyone turn into angry, frenzied mobs who carry sticks and other things and they are after G-Force.

When confronted by this angry mob, Mark points out their fickleness because these were the same people who were waiting for them at the airport.

Then suddenly, the cutest little kid shows up. This child is illegally cute and spends his free time in the sewers. In the Gatchaman version, the child was nameless. In BoTP, this child has a name: Joe.

Although no promises are uttered, Joe (this illegally adorable little child who likes to play in the sewers) and Mark do a pinky swear. Then he leads G-Force down into the Sewers of Baldania.


 
Commercial Break:

Ad 1: Crest White Strips. This is the one where the blond lady is deleting photos of herself from her iPad because, as she says, her teeth are “yellow”, when they’re clearly not yellow.  I wonder if she knows that you’re not required to use the filters when you post them to Instagram.  Or that there is a wonderful photo editing program called Photoshop that will make her yellow teeth white.

Ad 2: Eggo Waffles and the annoying family with their cell phones. I hate this commercial with every fiber of my being, except for the little girl who swoops in to steal the Eggo waffle while the rest of her idiot family are too busy playing with their smart phones. I love her and her smirk.  

Watch It Here and Share My Pain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkTgqdV5LSE

 
And we’re back.

Confusion abounds again because I’m thrust into another heavily edited fight scene that is only memorable because Mark says “hey!” a lot. Then Zoltar begins mocking G-Force because as he’s mocking them, he’s stealing the Baldanian Family Jewels.

There’s a bomb that goes off and I’m even more confused. Then Mark takes roll call. All of G-Force are present and accounted for.

Somehow, during the previous fight scene, Mark found time to plant a bunch of bombs. I somehow doubt that this is what really happened, but Mark is getting credit for the explosion.

Then G-Force heads home and Little Illegally Adorable Joe finds his parents and tells them all about G-Force. Mom asks, “You met friends underground?”

Little Illegally Adorable Joe assures his mother that yes, he did find new friends in the sewers.

All’s well that ends well.

Sort of.

Susan is still miffed at Zark. At this point, it’s difficult to tell who is giving whom the silent treatment and honestly, I really don’t care. I wish they would extend that silent treatment to us.

Oh, and the King of Baldania is still alive, even though we know he really isn’t. As a reward, G-Force are getting medals made from the Royal Family Jewels. For some reason, I’m picturing Flavor Flav’s clock necklace encrusted with sapphires, rubies, diamonds and emeralds.

A Few Thoughts:

I will give the writer’s credit for cleverness by having the King of Baldania be a vegetarian and the fake King’s consuming meat products is how Mark figures out the King is a fake. It’s almost as clever as the “tell” in the Gatch version: the King has a bad leg and walks with a cane and the fake King carried the cane in the wrong hand.

Almost.

Unfortunately, I have to deduct points for “beef tea”.  It’s broth, people! BROTH!
Chapter End Notes:
I've been told that there really is such a thing as beef tea in Britain. Since G-Force is American and I'm American, I'm still sticking with the broth thing. ;-)
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