Ms Ann Reviews BoTP/Gatchaman Episode 8 by msannomalley
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Story Notes:
These reviews were originally written in 2002. The Gatch review was written from the Japanese subtitled episode that was included with the BoTP DVD's issued by Rhino. 

I was really tempted to do something different and write the Gatchaman Episode Eight review before this one.  I think mainly because I like that version better than this one.  But I stuck with tradition and did this one first.

Okay.  This episode has a teaser at the beginning and then we get the theme song.  The Battle of the Planets opening theme is very good.  I wish more cartoon theme songs were that good.  I'm talking about the theme because I am stalling from writing about another Zark opening.  As if you hadn't guessed, I do not like 7 Zark 7.  To say that I find him annoying is putting it mildly.  I was never really a Zark fan to begin with.  I thought him annoying even at the tender age of 8 (and I'm 38 as of this re-write).  I felt that he took too much time away from G-Force.  I wanted to see more of G-Force, especially Jason (since a lot of his stuff got edited from the original version).  Yes, I was a fan girl at the age of eight.  *grin*

Okay, I've stalled enough.  I'll get it over with.

We open with Zark pacing around Center Neptune burbling about his job or something. One Rover One is watching him.  Then he says something about getting excited over something.  Zark got a call from the head of Quanto Tobor Labs.  Seems his high school reunion or the robot equivelant is coming up and the head called with Zark's invitation.  Zark babbles on about Quanto Tobor.  Then he starts...SINGING!  Oh, my bleeding ears!  Quanto Tobor apparently had it's own school fight song or something.  Rover yaps at Zark about his singing, and I'm thinking, Thank you, One Rover One.  Zark says he's going to the reunion.  I am having nightmares imagining a room full of 7 Zark 7's.  Then Zark goes on about Galaxy Security building a new base in Galaxy 30.  Then Zark decides to play voyeur and peek in on the construction.

Next, we're underwater, on some planet in Galaxy 30.  The innermost planet without a name.  We see a bunch of submarines traveling along as Zark babbles some more.  Seems the base is a submarine base, but this base will also be used by G-Force as a rest stop during long space flights.  So I'm wondering if this base will be like some of the other rest stops I've seen.  Will it be like the fancy ones that dot the Interstate Highway System?  Or will it be like the dump I saw in Northern Wisconsin when I was a kid, a rest stop that hadn't been cleaned in years?  Or will it be like the maze one I saw in Michigan's Upper Penninsula, where you had to walk through a maze to get to the pit toilet.  A person with diarrhea would die in one of those things.  But, yet again, I digress...

Oh, and it's also an additional line of defense against Spectra.  Zark tells us it's all very "hush-hush" and even G-Force doesn't know all the details.  Then Zark shuts up.  I am relieved.

Two guys in a submarine have a conversation at the beauty of this ocean, remarking how the waters are like what Earth's used to be and hopefully, this base doesn't mess it up.  Suddenly, a Thing interrupts their eco-friendly conversation.  This Thing is the Fearful Sea Anemone. It looks rather silly, as its eyes are quite extended.  It looks like a cross between Sigmund the Sea Monster and one of the Fierce Flowers (the episode where Princess gets sucked into a very large flower.)  As the Anemone shoots things from its tentacles at the submarines, Zark tells us that he has to alert G-Force at once.

Then the screen goes red, and I'm thinking, "Are they finally showing blood on this show?"  But the red is a balloon.  And Mark is getting a balloon unstuck from a tree and handing it to a little girl with an oddly shaped head.  She thanks him in an annoyingly high pitched voice as three other children with even more oddly shaped heads run up to Mark and the little girl.  Then we see Keyop, in his civilian clothes, standing aside, against a tree, playing with his bolos.  He's watching.  One of the boys, who is wearing a sailor's outfit, who probably gets beat up a lot at school, tells Mark that he looks like a space explorer.  The taller boy, with a very long face, thinks Mark looks like a commando.  Mark asks the kids if they've ever seen G-Force, which is odd, because the kids never specifically mentioned G-Force.  Sailor Boy replies, "No, but I know the leader, Mark, wears white wings."  And I'm bothered by the fact that this kid knows Mark's real name.  Aren't G-Force's identities supposed to be a secret?  The Long Faced Kid wishes he could see Mark once.  (You're looking at him, Kid.)  Then Keyop runs up to this group.  He's taller and not as badly drawn as the other children.  Keyop announces to the kids that he's seen Mark, and Mark gives Keyop a dirty look.  Then Keyop asks the kids who their favorite G-Force member is.

Sailor Boy, who talks in a really annoying high pitched voice, says, "Naturally, Mark is.  He's the leader.  And he's the greatest one"  Because everyone knows that the main hero is the most popular, and I'm sure it was some subliminal thing to all those kids who liked Jason the best, because the heavy handed morals of American cartoons says you're supposed to like the hero because he's honorable, ethical, and really, really boring.  You're not supposed to like the temperamental, rebellious one who thinks for himself.  But yet, once more, I digress...

Keyop is disappointed to hear this.  Then he asks the kids who their second favorite is.  The girls reply, "Princess, of course.  She's so pretty."  Nothing about her technical expertise or her fighting or because she is a strong female.  Nope.  She's pretty.

Keyop is disappointed again and asks, who is the third favorite?  The kid with the long face replies, "That's easy.  It has to be Jason."  He doesn't give a reason, though.  More disappointment from Keyop.  Then Keyop asks about the fourth most popular.  Sailor Boy says, "That would be the fat fellow, Tiny.  And then the funny little guy comes in last."   And those freakish children, who really should not be throwing stones, nor calling the kettle black, start laughing.  Keyop is really sad.  I couldn't catch what he said between all the stuttering.  Mark gives Keyop a condescending pat on the head and laughs at him.  Then he walks away.  Keyop is sputtering mad, calls the kids "dumb dumbs" and stalks off after Mark.

Mark and Keyop are walking down a street.  Then they are paged by Zark.  It's a Red Code Priority Call!  There are no details as to what the priority is, but Mark and Keyop Transmute!  Over some stock footage of the Phoenix in flight, Zark tells us that he called G-Force and ordered them to go on a super secret double dog mission and he can't reveal the details right now.  Then they hit outer space and Sandy Frank's Rule of Space Travel That All Routes Must Pass Saturn is in full effect.  As they go into Time Warp, the ship Transmutes! into the Fiery Phoenix, and breaking a bunch of laws of science, namely the one that states that fire must have air in order to burn.  And that there is no air in outer space.  So isn't this impossible?  Anyway, they pass a space station.  Mark wants to know what their destination is, but Zark tells him to keep his pants on.  Zark talks about the base on Galaxy 30 as we pan across the team.  Princess goes, "Strange?  I wonder why we were never told about this secret base before?"  Zark says it's nothing personal, but he wasn't programmed to release that information until now.  Then he tells about the subs that were destroyed earlier in the episode.

Jason says sarcastically, "So what else is new?  It's Planet Spectra again."   Zark goes in this business like voice, "Confirmed.  They're agents have been seen in the area."  Then Zark goes on about how they have to patrol an area around Arc Island, in an area called G Zone.  And I'm thinking that wouldn't it be hilarious if the writers decided to call it G Spot instead.  *evil grin* Zark says something about no radio contact unless necessary.  Keyop stutters, "Look, but don't touch."  Zark goes, "Right!  And he reminds the team to refrain from personal heroics, which is a bit of foreshadowing. But I think he's mainly talking to Jason, since we all know that Zark thinks Jason is the hot-headed one.  (Zark can bite me.)  But Keyop goes, "Looking at me?"  Then Zark burbles about how much he worries about the team, and I think Zark needs to see a shrink.

Jason goes, "Once again we're on patrol duty."  And Jason doesn't sound too happy.  Then Keyop goes, "Real fun".  And he's not too happy, either.  Then Tiny goes, "It's like kissing your sister." And Tiny is not too happy either.  Princess scolds the three, "Our job is just to follow orders."  Mark goes, "Right."  And I'm thinking that those two are just a couple of boring old brownnosers and question why they are the most popular members of G-Force.  Then they approach the Giant Space Goo-Goo Cluster, (aka Mir, aka Zarkadia).  They land in some fog (lifted from Episode Five).  Then finally, they reach the island in G Spot, I mean, G Zone that they're supposed to patrol.  They give the island a run by and a green tentacle comes out of the water.

The Phoenix goes under the ocean and runs into the result of giving Sigmund the Sea Monster large doses of radiation.  Yep, they've now met the Fearful Sea Anemone of the title.  Princess is scared, and Keyop tells her it's just a big overgrown fish.  Mark says he's never heard of a sea anemone that big.  Tiny says that if you get yourself caught in those poisonous tentacles, you've had it.  The Phoenix flies closer, then goes away.  The Sea  Anemone chases after it.  Actually it bounces after it.

Jason goes, "Look at it!  A real weirdo."  And I have to agree with Jason.  Spectra's had some weird mechs, but this one is one of the weirdest by far.  Methinks the scientists were watching too many Sid and Marty Krofft shows.  Keyop goes, "It's coming after us."  Jason says, "No way!" in a way where his body language suggests he's making fun of Keyop (which means this part was probably different in Gatchaman.)  Then Keyop goes, "Yes, way!"  He doesn't say "Way!" like Wayne Campbell does, because Wayne's World had yet to be invented.

The S.A.  (which the Mech O' the Week will now be called as I'm sick of typing Anemone because I always type it wrong.) starts shooting things out of it's tentacles at the Phoenix.  And they miss.  Mark goes, "So it's Spectra again."  Of course it is, Mark.  Jason goes, "They must be trying to locate our secret base."  Then we see a shot of Princess getting up from the floor.  But I don't recall her falling down.   Maybe the Standards and Practices Lady knows.   Then she says, "Now we know how those submarines disappeared."  Mark tells Tiny to "lay the smokescreen."  The Phoenix goes in circles around the S.A., blinding it with smoke.

Next, it's night time, and we're on a beach.  The Phoenix is parked there and the team is asleep.  Outside.  In the open.  Where they can be seen.  We learn that Mark and Jason can sleep sitting up and that Tiny snores like a diesel engine.  Keyop is the only one awake and he's really annoyed at Tiny's snoring.  He gives Tiny a really dirty look (which is kind of cute and really priceless).  Then Keyop looks up at the moon and we are treated to a Keyop POV shot through his visor (which is really neat.)  He hears Sailor Boy saying how the funny little guy is last and the cackle that follows.  Keyop vows that he'll show those kids.  He gets up, but then Tiny moves his arm in his sleep and trips Keyop.  Keyop kicks Tiny's arm and then Tiny rolls over.  Then Keyop runs to the Phoenix, with this nifty disco music playing in the background, gets in, and gets his buggy out.  Nobody hears him leave.  Then Keyop goes, "We'll see who's number one in G-Force and who's last."  Then he drives the buggy into the water.

More Zark babbling about what we've just seen, and how he worries about G-Force and other crap I'll spare you from having to read.  Then Zark also mentions that he asked Susan out to the big Robot Reunion, but she hasn't accepted yet.  Rover asks Zark out to the reunion, but Zark turns him down.  Rover wasn't made by Quanto Tobor.  And it's rather sad to bring your dog as your date to your class reunion.  It's almost like...kissing your sister. 

Morning now, and the rest of G-Force wakes up and discovers that Keyop is gone.  Mark says, "I think I know why Keyop disappeared."  Princess asks, "Why?"  And at this point in the DVD, Mr. Ann O'Malley yells out, "Because he's sick of you!"  and then he does his impression of Keyop, saying "Br-rr-root-toot-toot! Boss is pussy!"  Okay, you had to be here.  And yes, the man I married has an impression of Keyop. 

Anyway...

Mark says that Keyop wants to do something special and be a big hero and he says this in a homey sounding voice that reminds me of the voiceover guy in the Smuckers ads.  Princess says that they'd better find him.  Mark tells everyone, "Let's go!"  And then they get on the Phoenix.

More Zark babbling and shots of the Phoenix flying as the team searches for Keyop.

We see Keyop and his buggy underwater.  In another part of the ocean, SA pops up.  Back to the buggy, and Keyop says he's going to get that "weird thing."  Then he looks out the window and sees the submarine base.  Keyop's buggy is on an underwater cliff and right behind him is the Fearful SA.  A tentacle reaches out, grabs the buggy, and has it for lunch.  Keyop and his buggy are on a platform that is lowered, and then we find out that Keyop is by  His Purpleness, Zoltar himself!

Zoltar says, "Come out of your whale, little Jonah."  And I'm thinking that the person who got Keye Luke to do Zoltar's voice is a genius.  And I'm also thinking what a great line that was.

The front hatch pops out and Keyop peeks out.  Keyop beeps out, "My whale...better than...your barracuda!"  Then Zoltar says, "What a defiant little fool you are!"  And again, I think it was such a coup for Sandy Frank to get Keye Luke to do Zoltar's voice.  Zoltar continues, "You are the dolt who guided us to your secret submarine base."  Keyop goes, "What?"  And Zoltar explains that he's been following Keyop all along and now that Keyop helped Zoltar locate the base, they're going to blow it up.  Keyop scolds himself and then goes back in the buggy and starts driving towards Zoltar.  Z jumps out of the way and Keyop keeps driving.  A saw blade comes out of the buggy, but then some nets catch Keyop and his vehicle.  Then Keyop and his buggy are hanging in this net.  Keyop peeks out of the buggy and says he feels like a mackerel.  Zoltar laughs and says Keyop's a poor hooked fish.  "I'm going to give you a treat," says Zoltar.  He's going to let Keyop watch as Zoltar blows up the submarine base.  "Won't that be enjoyable?"  Keyop replies, "Yeah, a million laughs."  Zoltar orders his goons to proceed to the secret base.  The SA bounces along its merry way.

Back on the Phoenix, wrist communicators go off.  Keyop contacts Princess.  He tells her that Spectra is going to blow up the base.  She says they'll tell the base to evacuate.  And Mark says, "And you stay out of trouble."  Jason says that he'll get a voice fix on Keyop's location on the sonar and I'm thinking that one of the writers had a brain fart or something because how does sonar get a voice fix on someone?  "Five degrees southwest," Jason says.  Mark orders Tiny to go there.

Now we alternate shots between the Phoenix and the SA, which is now using jet propulsion instead of bouncing.  It looks kind of disturbing.  SA gets to the base and Zoltar gives the order to blow it up.  They do and Zoltar laughs as he admires Spectra's handiwork.  Keyop blames himself.  Then the Phoenix arrives, but they are too late.  Then Mark smashes the cover over the Big Red Button (and I guess it only actually opens for Jason.)  Princess reminds him that Keyop is still in there, but Mark doesn't care, as he fires a missile at SA.  Or someone else does, because the hand we see is wearing a white glove.  The missile strafes the top of SA, knocking the tentacles and eye balls off of it, but not destroying it completely.

The Phoenix docks with the remains of SA and the four members of G-Force come flying out.  They all do back flips.  Then Jason does a flip over a goon and grabs the gun right out of the guy's hands.  While he is upside down, Jason shoots down the net holding Keyop and his buggy, who fly out of the net.  Princess goes up, courtesy of her yo-yo, for no apparent reason.  The Mark and Zoltar are face to face.  Zoltar backs away before Mark can punch him and disappears into the walls.  Then he says, "Well my young friend of G-Force, Spectra seems to have won the game again this time.  It is true that you put our anemone out of action, but it was expendable.  But what is important is that WE HAVE DESTROYED YOUR SUBMARINE BASE.  NEXT WE WILL DESTROY YOU!"  And the last bit will eventually be sampled by the Cuban Boys for their Battle of the Planets Theme remix.

Then the Phoenix flies away as the anemone falls over and explodes.  Of course, Zoltar escapes.  As the Phoenix is flying away, Zark chimes in to recap what happened.  On board, Mark apologizes to Zark for not saving the base.  Keyop blames himself for what happened.  Zark tells them that they're all to be congratulated.  Then everyone looks at Zark like he's high on crack or something.  Zark can now tell them that the secret base has now been built and that the one that got destroyed was a decoy.  Then Jason goes, "Then you played a trick on us, Zark."  And Jason doesn't sound too thrilled about being taken for a ride by a giant walking metal suppository.  And yes, I still think Jason can't stand Zark.  You should see Jason's expression in this scene.  Zark swears that he only found out about this just now.  And I don't think Jason is buying this line one bit.

Then Mark wants to know where the new base is, and Zark says that they're over it.  The Phoenix is over a crescent shaped reef and then the ship goes under water and enters the base.

Zark babbles on some more about asking G-Force if they'll take him along (and I'm thinking that if Mark agrees to this, Jason will stage a mutiny or fire a missile at the tin can.).  Then he burbles on about Susan accepting his invitation to the Robot Reunion and how excited he is to finally meet her.  He said he was so excited he almost stripped his dioelectric tetrode or some other made up electronics sounding name.  Whatever.  I don't want to hear about it.

More Zark babbling and then who should show up, but Hanna-Barbera Mark and Princess!  Princess still has a flat face, and Mark looks quite whispery thin for a guy.  He's also puffing out his chest and his ribs are showing.  Mark, eat something!  Anyway, they stopped by to invite Zark to a party they're having in Keyop's honor, something about saving the real base and stuff and they can't have a party without their "cool computer".  Princess needs to rethink her definition of cool.  Zark turns down the chance to meet Susan to go to Mark and Princess's party.  Princess gives Zark a kiss (and I'm picturing Swan Jun from Gatchaman cringing right about now.).


Thoughts From Ms. Ann:

Okay, aside from the fact that they were horrendously drawn, the reasons those kids gave for liking Mark the best bothered me.  I think it was a message that we're all supposed to automatically like the leader because he is the leader and in spite of being a patronizing, goody-goody, know it all and that admiring someone who thinks for themselves and questions things is wrong.  American cartoons are heavy on the morality, because God forbid a child's parents are to be the one's to give them morals and guidance.  This whole thing ticks me off as an adult, because I admire people who think independently and don't blindly follow things or other people.  This is not because my favorite character is the moody rebel guy.  I do admire people who question things they don't think are right.

Whoever got Keye Luke (who played the old man in Gremlins) on this show as the voice of Zoltar really does deserve a medal.  He is just excellent as not only Zoltar, but all the other voices he does on the show (Oh Luminous One).  Of all the American incarnations of Gatchaman (and there were three), BoTP, for all it's sloppy editing and campiness, is still the best of them simply because Sandy Frank sunk the money to get some pretty good incidental music and to hire real actors to do the voices (even though I think Casey Kasem is wrong for Mark, he's still better than the rest of them.)  The other incarnation of the first Gatchaman series was the Ted Turner version called G-Force:  Guardians of Space, and if you have the Rhino DVD's you can vouch for how badly that one sucks!  That series, while being a pretty faithful translation of the original Gatchaman, is ruined by the cheap incidental music that was composed on a $30 Casio keyboard, which I refer to as The Back Beat from Hell.  Others have compared it to Chinese Water Torture.  It's also ruined by the horrendous writing (the characters tend to speak in overly expository dialogue.  When someone is docking with the Phoenix, they are telling us that they are docking with the Phoenix.), the horrible voice acting, and the horrendous names they gave the characters.  Ken/Mark is now "Ace Goodheart".  I know.  It's awful.  Joe/Jason is now "Dirk Daring".  Jun/Princess is now "Agatha June".  I am cringing as I type this.  Jinpei/Keyop is now "Pee Wee". And Ryu/Tiny is now "Hoot Owl.  Hooty to his friends."  And Nambu/Anderson is now "Dr. Brighthead".  [sigh]  Even the fact that this version is Zark free doesn't save it.  The third incarnation is a splicing of Gatchaman II and Gatchaman Fighter (the second and third series).  It was called Eagle Riders and it was produced by Saban.  I've never seen it.  My only urge to see this version is the same sort of curiosity that other people have when they pass car wrecks.  'Nuff said.

 

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