As per standard operating procedure, the episode opens with 7 Zark 7 babbling. He's checked everything out and everything seems to be peaceful.
Not so fast, Zark.
Susan "That Will Be $3.99 For the First Minute" From Planet Pluto calls. I think Susan has a cold or something, because her voice is not as breathy as usual. Of course, Zark's antenna pop up when he hears her voice. (Schwing!). But Susie is all business today. She tells Zark that she's just received an emergency message from the planet Aquatica. Something strange is going on and it might be an alien invader, which naturally means Spectra. Or maybe it's Captain Doom again. Or Antoff. Zark thanks her for the head's up. (Mr. Ann O'Malley pointed out to me that this last line is a bad joke, in accordance with the "schwing" I put in above. Mr. Ann admits he has a dirty mind.)
Zark goes to his monitor and he has some trouble finding the planet Aquatica and has to resort to using the zoom lens or whatever zoom technology he has. I really don't want to think of Zark having the capability of zooming in on anything.
On Aquatica, we see a base (which actually looks more like some shipyard in the middle of the ocean), as Zark explains that the planet is made up of entirely water and it's 50 light years away from Ursa Minor. Because Aquatica lacks any land, Zark says that it is used as a repair station for the entire Intergalactic Defense Force. Some ships, which look like the Phoenix, but with tigers painted on the wing pods, are seen either landing or taking off, but Zark says they're returning from a reconnaissance mission and maybe they spotted the alien invaders Susan was talking about. As they are doing this, a storm comes. Zark says it's strange, because Aquatica doesn't have storms.
The storm rocks the ships and makes people on them fall. Then out of the ocean comes the Sea Dragon of the episode's title and it appears to be holding a yellow ball of some kind in it's left paw. Since this show comes from a Japanese show, the dragon is an Oriental style dragon and not a medieval type dragon. But at least they didn't call it a Gigantic Galactic Sea Monkey or Cursed Cosmic Sturgeon or the Horrifying Space Crappie or something like that. Anyway, fighter planes are sent out to destroy it, although it is unclear if they are piloted by humans or if they are robot fighter planes because Zark hasn't chimed in to say so. The fighter planes are no match for the Sea Dragon, so missiles are launched. They don't work, either, but they do succeed in ticking off the Sea Dragon. One of the sailors remarks that it is impossible for that Sea Dragon to have stayed intact because of all the "nukes" that were shot at it. Ahh, the days of the Cold War, when nuclear annihilation was very much a reality and the Soviets were the bad guys and people made jokes about Leonoid Breshnev's bushy, bushy eyebrows.... Not that I want it again, but that's how it was when I was a kid.
Digressing again. And please remove yourself from the glade upon which my domicile is constructed.
The dragon goes back under water and wraps itself around this base. On board, His Purpleness, Zoltar, tells his men, "Well done." He orders his crew to disengage the dragon's suctions and to bring them into the base for refueling. One of the sections of the dragon opens up and these little crab vehicles, the same ones used in the Great Demonic Whale Ship Aircraft Carrier Thing from Episode 2 come out and head into the base to get gas. Zoltar muses that because they took over this base Oh Luminous One will be pleased. Back on the surface, ships are burning.
Cut to a tall, building. Zark tells us that Chief Anderson is in an emergency meeting with President Kane and the Intergalactic Federation. President Kane informs them briefly of the situation, but Chief Anderson gives them the details. Spectra has taken over Aquatica, but the Chief is going to send G-Force to take care of the situation. This scene, I should say, is the missing footage of the UN meeting that got chopped out of Battle of the Planets Episode One in favor of Zark's camera time.
Back on Aquatica, the robot fighters from Ursa Minor come out to tangle with the Sea Dragon and they, as is standard operating procedure, get their butts kicked by Spectra. Don't ask me how a star, a ball of burning hot gasses, can support life, much less metal aircraft. I'm not a writer on this show.
In case you were wondering, we're now seven and a half minutes into the show and we have yet to see G-Force.
Back at Center Neptune, Zark informs us that he's rounded up all the members of G-Force, but he can't find Mark anywhere. 1 Rover 1 suggests that maybe Zark should go in Mark's place. Uh, bad idea, Rover. Zark says he couldn't do that, and for once, I agree with the Tin Can. He wonders where Mark could be. Just then, Hanna Barbera Mark (the Sandy Frank drawn version of the character created to come down and visit Zark) walks in. HB Mark wants to know how things are in the "great black yonder". Zark informs him of the situation at hand. Mark says he's on his way. And he walks out. The sight of HB Mark is quite horrifying as he is HORRENDOUSLY drawn.
Time for a commercial break.
Stock footage of the G-1 docking with the Phoenix, then we get more footage recycled from Episode 2 of Mark coming onto the bridge, wings spread out. Instead of uttering the cutting "We're honored you finally decided to join us", Jason says, "Welcome aboard. What's the scoop?" Mark brings everyone up to speed on what happened so far. I would think that when Zark got the others together, he would have told them why they were being called. Wouldn't you? Then Mark wouldn't have to explain everything. But on the other hand, we just returned from a commercial break and people do tune in late.
By the way, it was eight minutes into the episode and one commercial break before we actually saw G-Force. Hanna Barbera Mark doesn't count.
After Mark explains what's going on, he says that this is going to be a rough mission and if anyone wants to back out, they should speak up. Jason crosses his arms in front of his chest, causing his wings to fly up a little. He says, "I'd like you to name the last time any of us backed out of an assignment." Princess says, "I'm ready for outer space." Keyop chirps, "Count on me." And Tiny, who is hanging on the back of his chair, says, "It's unanimous." Mark goes, "Then what are we waiting for? Blast off!"
Now we get more stock footage of the Phoenix flying, hanging a right past Saturn, turning into the Fiery Phoenix in an environment that lacks the air necessary to keep fire burning (even though Mr. Ann suggests that it's a "plasma fire" and with that, it's entirely possible. But I still say it's not and turning to flame in outer space is impossible.), past some shooting stars, and through this cloud thing.
Morning comes to Aquatica as the team arrives. Tiny, who has somehow acquired buck teeth, says, "It's Aquatica!" Princess remarks (by way of footage recycled from Episode Two) that it's a beautiful planet. Jason adds that it will be more beautiful once they get rid of Spectra. Mark orders everyone to take their positions. In footage recycled from Episode Eight, Jason sits at his radar thing and tells Mark that he's got a target. Yes, it's Hanna Barbera Jason, (see Thoughts from Ms. Ann about this one) who made it into the Gatchaman version of Episode Eight as Condor Joe. Someone must have found him at Tatsunoko and dragged him back to his own time and place.
Anyway, on the Sea Dragon, a Spectran Green Goon spots the Phoenix. It's the moment Zoltar's been waiting for. The dragon disengages itself from the base and goes above water to fight G-Force. The team is surprised by the monster (shown by recycled footage from various episodes). Keyop goes, "Sea Dragon!" Jason goes, "Let's see if he'd like to drag a little with us." The writer of that line should be slapped. Anyway, back to the action. Mark goes, "Don't play with him Jason. Take him out." In the background, some funky Seventies music is playing. Jason nods (recycled footage from Episode Five, the one where he runs out of missiles) and hits the button. The missile hits the dragon, but doesn't do anything. Mark goes, shocked, "It didn't even dent him!" Jason fires off a few more missiles, but they don't do anything either.
On the dragon, Zoltar says, "Earthling fools. They're about to get the surprise of their tiny lives."
The Phoenix is flying around the dragon. The dragon turns and starts coming toward the Phoenix. Mark pushes on the lever to activate the Fiery Phoenix (back to Episode Two for that footage). The Phoenix transmutes into the Fiery Phoenix. On board the dragon, Zoltar orders his men to "show them how to fight fire with fire." The dragon breathes fire at the Fiery Phoenix and then flies around it in circles, causing a lot of damage to G-Force's ship. We get to see the actual Phoenix inside the Fiery Phoenix. Metal is being melted away from one of the wing pods. The nose cone is peeled back from the intense heat, like a sardine can, and we can see Jason's car. It also looks like either Keyop's buggy or some landing gear got trashed. (Every time I watch this, it looks like it starts out as Keyop's buggy, but then all I see are wheels flying out.) The ship, now out of Fiery Phoenix mode, nosedives out of control into the ocean. The exhaust in the back is on fire.
Time for another commercial break.
We're back now.
Back at Center Neptune, Zark paces back and forth. As he tells us, this kind of situation overloads his "phase advancer" and heats up his "hydrometer just awful". Because G-Force is lying helpless at the bottom of the sea on Aquatica, Zark can't contact them or help them. (So how does he know where they are if he has no contact?) But, as Zark tells us, everything will be okay because he's alerted a rescue squad to go and get the team. Then Zark flaps his cape over to his monitor. Zark is going to keep contacting them because sooner or later one of them has to answer.
On the ship, everyone is lying on the floor, passed out. Water seeps in from the door to the bridge. Some of it trickles past Mark. He comes to and tries to get up, but it's difficult for him. Outside, the hatches that close when the Phoenix goes underwater open up, letting more water into the ship.
In a voice over that indicates to us, the audience, that Mark is thinking this, he goes "Got to get up. Stop water." He gets up with a lot of difficulty and manages to get himself into Tiny's chair. "Gotta hold on," he thinks. "Get us out of here." He pushes some buttons and manages to get the Phoenix up a little, but the ship is so damaged that it careens out of control down some rocks in the ocean. It hits a rock and the impact knocks Mark out of the chair. But he speaks. "Only chance now. 7 Zark 7. You with us good buddy?" Then Mark passes out and more water comes gushing into the Phoenix.
Triple poopie. They're only chance is the tin can. It's not looking good, folks.
But here comes the cavalry! Well, the subs at least. It's the rescue crew and just in the nick of time. It's the same sub crew from Episode Eight (before the Fearful Sea Anemone vaporized them at least.). Zark assures us that G-Force is rescued and they are sent back to Earth in a special capsule. Zark also assures Rover of this, too. Then he tells us he's got something that should make G-Force feel a lot better. And Chief Anderson is showing this to them right now.
In another part of Center Neptune, Chief Anderson comes through some doors, puffs out his chest and says, "Are you ready? I've got something to show you." A window opens and as the newly repaired and refitted Phoenix goes past them on a conveyor, Anderson explains the myth of the Phoenix, the bird that came from the ashes to be reborn. Then he tells the team about the repairs done to the ship as they watch it go by. (Because like the mythological Phoenix, their ship is being "reborn". Get it?) Then it goes through this tunnel to get a coat of paint. I want to know what machine they used, because it painted all three colors on the ship at the same time without them mixing or smearing or dripping. The Chief points out that the Phoenix was rebuilt according to Zark's plans. And he also adds that this new Phoenix and G-Force is the "last hope" and if they fail, there is nothing left but surrender. Way to motivate the troops, Chief!
Mark goes, "This time we'll do it, Chief."
Anderson replies, "Zark has something else, a new weapon."
Princess says, "What kind of weapon? What does it do?"
Chief replies, "When it's set off, it creates a frozen vacuum within a 500 yard radius."
Then Jason asks, "A frozen vacuum?"
The Chief explains, "Zark calls it the 'Frigid Midget'..."
At this point, I'm laughing, because I'm picturing a sexually unresponsive little person. I'm laughing really, really hard. And I thought Gatchaman had some weird names for things (like Whisker.) Back to the episode...
"...And once it starts to spread, make sure you're out of it's way."
Mark goes, "Okay, why are we standing around? The new Phoenix is waiting!" And the team takes off for Aquatica once again. The Chief watches the departing Phoenix through one of the windows and says, "Come back safely, team."
This time, we don't get any stock footage of space travel. It looks as though the Phoenix met up with the Sea Dragon on Earth. Which is the case with the Gatchaman Episode I will review once I get the DVD, because all the Gatch episodes took place on Earth. (Authors note: As of 2005, I do own the DVD, but I haven't written the review yet.)
Mark orders Tiny to take the ship down to the ocean floor, where it will hide. "You guys hang onto this parking space while I go see if they left the welcome mat out for us," Mark says.
Jason goes, "Wait a minute. You're not going without me." Mark says he doesn't have time to argue and that the rest of the team is to stay put until he gives them the word. "Then come running," he says. "And don't even breathe." Mark leaves the bridge. Jason turns to Tiny and says, "You heard the man, Tiny. Cut everything." Tiny turns off a bunch of lights and stuff.
On the dragon, two goons spot something. They turn on the monitor to see a spy fish. "Bring them in and we'll see what they got," one of the goons says. I should mention that this goon sounds a lot like Jason. The other one kind of sounds like Zoltar. The spy fish are actually a whole school of fish and they swim into an open hatch on the dragon. The goons surround the fish. A hand comes out of one of them, to reveal that it wasn't really a fish, but rather Mark in a fish costume. Mark swims out and the goon that sounds like Zoltar spies him. Before he can do anything, Mark's hand comes up, grabs the goon by the ankle, and pulls him into the water. Mark comes flying out of the water and up until he lands on some wires. The goons are surprised. Now Mark is seen running down a hallway, a bunch of goons chasing him. He jumps up on the ceiling and walks a few steps then drops to the floor, does a flip for no apparent reason, and turns around. More goons are coming. And I'm seeing the hand of the Standards and Practices lady at work here.
Like I said, more goons are coming. A door is closing and Mark manages to sneak under it before it's closed completely. Then Mark calls the Phoenix to "come and get him" and he tells them that they're "missing all the fun." The Phoenix comes out of its hiding spot, and the Sea Dragon promptly disengages itself from the base and goes after it. Inside, Zoltar calls his crew dolts and incompetents because they couldn't catch Mark. He orders them to catch him because Oh Luminous One demands it. In another part of the ship, Mark plants that Frigid Midget thingy on the wall and activates it. Except I think Mark is too embarrassed to actually say the name because he refers to it as a "deep freeze weapon" rather than by it's name. It's so nice to know that Mark has dignity. :) Unlike a certain robot...
The door opens and more goons come in. On the floor, the goons who tried to capture Mark are lying there, motionless. "Too late," Mark tells them.
Then the Phoenix flies out of the ocean, luring the Sea Dragon after it. On the dragon, Zoltar yells, "This time, be sure!"
On the Phoenix, Jason says to Tiny, "We gotta get Mark." Tiny says, "Going down" and then goes to get the G-Force commander. The Phoenix transforms, for some unexplained reason, into the icy version of the Fiery Phoenix (I'm sure this is explained in the corresponding Gatchaman episode.). On the dragon, Mark starts to make his way out of there. He literally walks over some goons to get out of the room and away from the deep freeze device. The platoon of goons start to chase him, but they are stopped because they are frozen. Gooncicles, anyone?
The freeze is spreading and Mark is trying to get the hell out of that dragon. The dragon starts to break apart. On the Phoenix, which is back to normal, Princess, Keyop, and Tiny are watching, horrified. Tiny goes, "Mark did it! He got the flying dragon!" Princess goes, "But he didn't get out! He's going down with it!"
On the dragon, Mark is cornered as the deep freeze gets closer and closer to him. He's huddled up in his wings. Mark thinks to himself as Highly Dramatic Music plays in the background, "Getting cold. Can't hang on much longer." The freeze is coming closer and closer. It's almost got him.
On the Phoenix, Princess tries to contact Mark. "Mark, answer me," she says. Then she goes, "Jason, do something!" Jason, standing with his arms crossed over his chest, says, "He'll be okay. The ship is breaking up. Watch."
The ship is breaking up indeed. Mark is huddled in the corner, and Princess is contacting him again. "Mark, come in!" she says. "Please answer me!" Mark lifts his head up and then thinks, "Princess. Can't...answer. Too tired." The freeze has reached him and only his Birdstyle is keeping him from becoming an Eagle-cicle. But he'd better not fall asleep because that would be really, really bad. A piece of the wall breaks apart and the sun comes shining in. As Princess is still frantically trying to contact him, Mark gets up and jumps out of the Sea Dragon and freefalls into the water.
Then the dragon blows up. Princess is horrified because she doesn't know that Mark got out. I assume that the others are horrified as well, but they only showed Princess. Pieces of the dragon fall into the ocean, including the ball that was in the dragon's paw. The ball splits apart, and Zoltar's escape ship makes a run for it. Zoltar cackles his usual "you may have won the battle but you won't win the war" spiel.
On the Phoenix, things are not well. Jason and Princess are looking down because they are sad and Keyop is crying because they think Mark is gone for good. Then Mark's voice comes over their radio and they all look up and they are happy and relieved. Mark, in the water, looks up and grins at the ship. On the ship, Princess goes, "He's safe!" and Keyop goes, "I told you so." (Did he? I don't remember.) Then Princess starts crying and Jason hugs her, but the tender moment is ruined by Zark's "all's well that ends well" voice over. Mark is still in the water, waving at the approaching ship. Zark tells us he has to call Susan.
And he does, from his ready room. He thanks her, but he throws in a barb about wanting to know about these things earlier. Susan gets the tin can good by telling him that some comets are headed towards Earth. Zark, of course, is all concerned and wants to know how much time they have. Susan tells him ten thousand years. Atta girl, Susie. Teach that tin can not to diss your performance. You do the best you can, Susan.
Thoughts from Ms. Ann:
I was able to write a review of this one because I downloaded it from a website that offered downloads of Battle of the Planets episodes and this one wasn't going to be out on DVD for awhile yet. Had to get my fix somehow.
The first part of this episode uses a lot of recycled footage from previous episodes. The show is famous for that. But in this one, I guess because of all the edits, it seems to be more noticeable, at least noticeable to the point where I can pick out pretty much which previous episode the footage came from.
I also get the feeling that a lot of stuff was edited out because this episode is rather Zark heavy. I will find out what exactly some day, when this is released on DVD. And I'm curious to know what that freeze weapon was called in Gatchaman. I hope it's not as ridiculous as "Frigid Midget".
Additional Note: After I posted this page, I hopped on over to the Production Diaries to read the review of the Gatchaman version of this episode, and boy howdy I was right about a lot of stuff being cut out of it. Let's just say that there was a lot of G-Force's moments cut out of this episode (especially the briefing after their first run in with the Sea Dragon). A scene with Nambu (Chief Anderson) and Red Impulse (Col. Cronus in BotP) didn't even make it into the epsiode at all. Which kind of gets me to thinking about how different this one would have been if that had been left in. When I see a BotP episode, it makes me want to see the Gatchaman version, too, and now I really, really, really want to see that one.
Additional Note to the Additional Note: This episode review was originally written in 2002, and yes, this episode has since come out on DVD. And yes, I've now seen the Gatchaman version of this one, too. I deleted a reference I had put in the original review of a website that had little movie clips of the Gatchaman version of this episode because, by now, we've all seen this on DVD.