We open the show with the credits that we are so familiar with. Same voice-over guy, but now we have the "Star Wars" like title.
We open with Zark, who is adorned in his own Birdstyle, that is, the beaked helmet and cape. Why was it necessary to give him this? Why? Anyway, he says he's the Top Dog at Center Neptune. Correction, he's the top Robot. And now we are introduced to 1-Rover-1, Zark's K-9 companion who likes to chew on wrenches, flies through the air by twirling his tail, and has the most annoying synthetic bark. Rover, thankfully, doesn't have his own Birdstyle.
Zark finishes babbling and then "flies" over to his monitors. Well, his cape flaps actually. He tells us that he's at his controls day and night and his only companionship is 1-Rover-1. Then we get a totally unnecessary sequence of Rover twirling his tail and flying. Rover, or his programmer, must have attended the Pumaman School of Flight, as Rover's little metal backside is sticking straight up in the air as he flies.
Pumaman, for those who don't know, is a 1970's movie that was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, about an ordinary guy who becomes an unwitting superhero. When he "flies", he flies with his backside sticking up in the air. Greatest American Hero? No. Lamest American Hero? Definitely. Donald Pleasance is in it as the bad guy.
Then Zark goes on about today's mission. He is to monitor the landing of a space capsule containing two astronauts who got some sort of dirt on Spectra. Then he goes on about the Phoenix being this modern space craft good for long space flights, but NASA or whoever is in charge on this show also does things "the old fashioned way" for shorter flights to the moon, Mars, or whatever.
The astronauts are on the capsule and we get a sequence of them talking to Mission Control. One of the astronauts sounds like Mark and the other sounds suspiciously like Jason, but not like Jason from Episode One. The Mark-voiced astronaut tells Mission Control they're ready for landing. He tells this to them in a voice that sounds like the Voice Over from the Smuckers Preserves ads and he uses a lot of CB sounding lingo like "give us a wig wag". The guy at Mission control tells the astronauts that they don't need him, they've done this thing so many times, and that they can swim home. Well, that's really nice, Mr. Mission Control guy, I say to myself sarcastically. Just because you're having a bad day doesn't mean you should take it out on someone who is in outer space.
I guess Mission Control ignored Mr. Cranky Pants, because some ships are cruising along the ocean waiting to pick up the astronauts. The space capsule re-enters Earth's atmosphere and lands in the ocean. Then the capsule marks its territory, because around the immediate area of the capsule, the water turns yellow. Yes, yellow. A very large area of yellow. Insert Pee Joke of Choice here.
Before the NASA people, or whatever they call them on this show, can pick up the astronauts, two mechanical sting rays come from underwater and then they capture the capsule and the astronauts. The sting rays take the capsule underwater, dragging it back to a big whale ship or something.
Meanwhile, Mark is sitting at his desk at his airstrip, feet up on the desk, and there's a tiny turtle perched on his hand. Zark calls Mark on the communicator and the tiny turtle withdraws into its shell to save itself from the terrifying voice. Zark informs Mark about the astronauts' disappearance. Mark says, "I copy, what's up?" Zark says he doesn't have time to tell Mark and that he should get his David Cassidy haircut and his bellbottoms to the Phoenix at once and the others will brief him when he gets there. Mark runs out of his office, jumps in his plane, takes off, and Transmutes! Then he eventually meets up with the Phoenix. And while he is doing this, the Gatchaman theme is playing in the background. Some of the original incidental music from Gatchaman made it into BoTP, including "Defeat! Galactor" (the shupa, shupa, shupa, shupa song), the original theme song (Dare da, dare da, dare da), the trumpety song when Galactor is usually attacking, and the music they played in episode one when everyone was docking (the one with the trumpets and the tambourine). I don't know if that song had a name. But I digress...
Mark enters the cockpit of the Phoenix, running and his wings spread out. Jason turns around and says to him, with extreme sarcasm, "We're honored you finally decided to join us!" (And I snicker every time he says that, too.) Then Mark answers, "You're lucky I didn't let you try to go on this job alone. It was my day off." And I'm going, "Excuse me, but superheroes don't get days off!" And it can't be that big of a deal for Mark to get called away anyway, since all he was doing was playing with a tiny little turtle. Then Keyop stutters, "Round One."
Then Mark places a call to Security Chief Anderson, who wasn't in the last episode at all. I think maybe the producers thought that they could edit him out of the show in favor of Zark, but found out that they couldn't do that. Anyway, Chief tells Mark that Jason can brief him (Mark) on the disappearance of the astronauts later, but now there's a new development. Mark doesn't know anything about the astronauts' disappearance, since he was too busy playing with turtles and having days off and such. Chief explains that the astronauts were electronically surveying the surface of Mars and their data showed activity of giant alien bases there. Keyop stutters, "Under the ocean?" and then Princess tells him, "Don't be silly, Keyop. There's no water on Mars." Which is wrong, actually, but they didn't know this back when this show was made, so it was right for the time. Chief says Keyop's right, so I guess this falls under the category of The Chief Knows More Than We Do, This Episode Took Place on Earth in Gatchaman, or Dodgy Science That Turned out to Be True. It seems that underwater locations were recorded on a Map Simulator Cassette. G-Force's mission is to get back that cassette and rescue the astronauts. Mark goes, "We're off and winging." and sticks his arm out so that his wing stands out.
Zark pipes in to state the obvious as we see the Phoenix flying off over the ocean. Then we see the Big Whale Ship or Demonic Air Craft Carrier or whatever it's called in this episode. As we see a Spectran Green Guy get on an old fashioned elevator, Zark states more of the obvious, meaning that someone followed the astronauts down here to get them before they could report their findings on that tape.
Green Guy takes the elevator down to this room where we see the Octopus Head Guy from the last episode, except his voice is different. Instead of sounding like Scrooge McDuck, he sounds more like Zoltar. He hands Octopus Head the cassette. Octopus Head tells the goon to put it in the computer. He does, and then they watch the tape on this monitor that lies flat in a table. The astronauts had pinpointed all of Spectra's bases on Mars. Octo Head says that Zoltar will be very pleased with this information. And who should pop in on the viewscreen himself? His Purpleness, Zoltar, naturally. Octo Head reports his good news to Zoltar, who requests a readout. Some ticker tape appears and Zoltar checks his stocks. Actually, it's the information from Octo Head. Then Z informs Oh Luminous One of this information. The Almighty Butane isn't happy, despite the fact that this is good news. The Luminous One tells Zoltar that he will only be happy when those bases are made operational.
Meanwhile, G-Force arrives at the Giant Yellow Stain. Tiny wonders what to do now. Mark says to go underwater. Tiny takes the ship underwater. Once the water clears up from the splashdown, we are treated to some fish swimming by and some "Tinkly Fish Music". Princess watches the scene and remarks at how beautiful it is. Mark, in a really pissy tone of voice, informs her that "we're not on a pleasure cruise." Geez! The fish just happened to swim by and you couldn't help but see it and now you get pissy because someone remarked on how beautiful it looked? What's the problem, Mark? That time of the month or something?
Princess looks all mock sheepish and goes, "Sorry...Commander" in a somewhat mildly sarcastic tone of voice. Then Mark gets all pissy again about everyone doing their jobs. Little touchy there, aren't we, Marky? Princess gets another sarcastic jab in at Mark. "Yes, sir", she says as she and Jason go to their stations. Jason, however, doesn't say a word.
The Phoenix goes cruising along underwater, when suddenly, it hits this blinding light that makes some needle go haywire. Then we get some stock footage of FILM of water and some red dye or smoke or something. Yes, folks, actual film. Anyway, the Phoenix is now out of control because of whatever it was that flashed. Tiny can't move his levers. It looks like they're headed for a whirlpool or something. Mark goes, exasperated and like it's Tiny's fault the ship's controls are not responding, "We're getting nowhere, fast." Then he turns to Keyop, who is sitting in the Commander's chair, "Keyop! Get out of there!" And Keyop lets out this yip that sounds a lot like the yip a dog makes if someone should kick it. And I'm thinking, "Did Mark just kick him or something?"
Then Mark, now in his chair, says that they have to use the blast off system they use for space shots. He tells Tiny and Jason to pull their levers on his count. Tiny, of course, is sitting in his pilot's chair in the front, but Jason is at his station in the back of the ship. So what's the point of having a throttle all the way in the back of the ship? I wonder. Don't know. Anyway, Mark counts backwards from five and when he reaches zero, both Tiny and Jason pull on their levers and the ship goes up and out of the water from the middle of the whirlpool. Once out of the water, Tiny goes "G-Force does it again." They fly past a big wave, and then Mark asks Princess for the coordinate tape transmitted by Zark.
She gives it to him, and Mark discovers that G-Force is in the exact area where the astronauts disappeared. He tells Tiny that they're going to have to go back underwater. Tiny goes, "Back into that?" Mark replies that it's okay because they're about sixty miles from the center of "that volcanic eruption". But where was the lava and stuff? I wonder. Then Keyop beeps, "But Zoltar?" Then Mark says if they find Zoltar, he's no worse than that volcano. The Phoenix dives back in the ocean.
Back at Center Neptune, Rover wakes up Zark, who is in his "civvies" lying on that thing he calls a bed. Zark wakes up, babbling about a red alert. Then he sees his robot dog. Zark explains that he was "giving his modulators a ten second rest". Yeah, uh-huh. Whatever, Zark. Sleeping on the job is still sleeping on the job. He babbles some more, then he lies back on his bed, when who should call, but Susan from Planet Pluto, the breathy phone sex operator voiced robot who makes everything she says sound so dirty. Zark flirts with Susan. Then she asks him if he has a moment to spare. Zark replies that he can meet her in "her ready room, in my ready room, or in a hallway someplace. Anywhere!" And I'm thinking, Ick. Susan says that's nice but Chief Anderson wants Zark to contact G-Force because they are having trouble locating the secret base. Zark says sure, then he says good bye. He remarks that Susan is such a "beautifully constructed machine." Then he wonders why she makes him "feel so human"? Excuse me. I just threw up in my mouth a bit. Then Zark goes down this tube to his control room. He contacts G-Force and tells them to use the infra-red something or other. Mark agrees.
Tiny activates this infra-red thing and then they find the base. Mark says he's never seen anything like it and it's the biggest threat to Earth's security yet. At least until the next episode *snicker*. Tiny wants to ram his way into the base, and reaches over to push The Big Red Button. Mark stops him and Jason tells Tiny that they can't ram the base because the astronauts might be in there. Mark says until they find a way inside, everyone is supposed to "just hang loose". Keyop volunteers to go, but Mark the Dictator says no because he's appointing himself. Mark leaves, and Keyop crosses his arms over his chest and says, "Who needs him." Jason puts his hand on Keyop's shoulder and tells him, "It's okay." Then he gets this big grin on his face that either means that Jason has some dirt on Mark that Keyop could use against the commander in the future, or that Jason knows Mark is going to mess things up and Keyop will end up going in for mop up.
Next we see Mark going down some hatch in the Phoenix and he Transmutes! back into his civilian clothes. Then he dons some scuba gear and swims. In the reflection off of his goggles, we see the head from the Space Terrapin going past. He sees some Green Goons from Spectra working underwater. It looks like their mining or something. Mark hitches a ride on some crab digger thing as it heads into the giant demonic whale ship aircraft carrier thing. Once inside, he grabs onto some lift thing and is lifted out of the water. He jumps off and is on some dock. Then he takes off his scuba gear.
As High Tension music plays, Mark sees more of those crab digger things parked in a big room. He goes to investigate. Then he finds the space capsule that had held the astronauts. Mark jumps up and investigates, and the inside is completely trashed. Then he's discovered by Octo Head. Mark makes a face like a growling dog, then Transmutes! He fights off a bunch of goons to some disco-type music playing in the background. He launches of the Sonic Boomerang a few times. Mark takes care of the goons, and Octo Head is not pleased. So he orders a goon to activate "the drill" and Mark is dodging this big-ass honkin' drill. Then this big hook thing comes down to squish Mark, but he hops on it. The big hook thing on a chain is raised, and Octo Head is totally expecting Mark to be an Eagle Pancake right about now. OH is shocked to see Mark on the hook. Mark looks down at OH, and in this shot, I swear Mark looks like Arizona Senator John McCain. Then Mark starts rocking the hook so it swings. When he gets that hook going really good, he swings down on it, Yelling Like Tarzan. I am not making this up. He actually did the Tarzan yell. And the first time I saw this in twenty-some odd years, I was laughing my butt off! Mark swings really close to the goon who was operating the drill. Then he swings back.
Octo Head must not have been too terribly impressed with the Tarzan Yell, because he tells Mark to surrender or he'll never see the astronauts again. Mark says okay and turns himself in to the two goons waiting for him. "What a waste of your time and mine," Octo Head says. "You have no chance. No chance at all. Take him away." The goons start leading Mark off. Then Octo Head goes, "Good Bye and good riddance. We shall not meet again." Mark replies, "I'd sure like to believe that." Then Octo Head instructs the Goons to lock Mark up with the astronauts.
Well, I guess Jason was right about Mark getting his butt in a sling. But I wonder what dirt he may or may not have had on Mark. *big evil grin*
Okay, now Mark and the Goons are in an elevator, going down. They reach the bottom and as Mark is about to step off, a pair of bolos come flying down the shaft, wrapping themselves around a goon's neck. Mark hurls him off the elevator, then grabs the remaining goon and the two go heading back up. Waiting at the top is Keyop, to whom Mark tells to "get the cassette". Keyop seems to know exactly where the cassette is and he grabs it. Then he starts pushing buttons. As he is doing this, Mark says, "I'll get the astronauts."
The Great Demonic Whale Ship Aircraft Carrier starts moving. We see goons panicking and things blowing up. Octo Head yells, "Abandon Ship!". As the craft is exploding, Zark informs us that Mark, Keyop, and the two astronauts are swimming safely away. But Mark and Keyop are the only ones on screen actually swimming.
Wait a minute. Where are the two astronauts? Were they way ahead or were they way behind? I'm confused here. Now why would Zark say "Mark, Keyop, and the two astronauts" when we only see Mark, Keyop and the exploding whale ship? Maybe the standards and practices lady knows...
Back on the Titanic, er, the whale ship, Zoltar chews Octo Head a new one. In order to redeem himself, Octo Head must search out the Phoenix and destroy it.
Mark and Keyop arrive back on the Phoenix. Jason asks Mark where the two astronauts are. Mark tells Jason that "they're in sick bay at the moment." I wonder if Jason believes this as much as I do.
Out of the flaming wreckage of the whale ship, the Space Terrapin head is seen leaving. It's following the Phoenix. Then it takes a sharp turn. The Phoenix surfaces. The Space Terrapin head surfaces and engages the Phoenix in a game of chicken. Mark sees this and pushes the lever that activates The Fiery Phoenix. The Phoenix starts glowing and then changes into the firebird. The Space Terrapin head flies right through it, glows, and then that's the last we see of it. The Fiery Phoenix returns to the Normal Phoenix. Mark wakes up right away, and then we see that everyone else is passed out. And I guess the astronauts down in sick bay are probably a little crispy now, since they don't have cerebonic implants like G-Force does. Anyway, Princess is the next one to wake up and she gets up and gives Mark a really goofy smile. Mark smiles back. Then Zark interrupts the happy moment in a voice over, thanking goodness that Mark and Princess are friends again and says that quarrels are forgotten when things get rough. Then he explains the meaning of bonds and teamwork and stuff like that as the Phoenix flies off into the sunset.
Back at Center Neptune, more Zark and Rover. Zark babbles about not being programmed to feel friendship, Rover yaps, Zark babbles more about not being programmed to hate. Then he babbles about the happy ending.
Then we get the end credits.
Thoughts from Ms. Ann:
A little low on the G-2 visibility scale, although Jason's cutting "We're honored you finally decided to join us" remark and the bit with him consoling Keyop were my favorite moments. I have to mention that Jason's voice is the voice we all remember and I don't know who did his voice in Episode One.
I have been writing these episode reviews out of order, having done Episodes Five through Eight before this one. Somehow, I'm getting this feeling that Zark is nothing more than a Mary Sue character invented by one of the writers who really fantasized about being Mark. Why else would Zark get his own Birdstyle, weapon, and the like?
I could have done without Mark's attitude in this one. He came across as really moody and pissy and I wonder if it really was his time of the month or something. (Edited to add in 2008: I think it has more to do with Casey Kasem's voice acting. Since acquiring the original series, I've noticed in more than one episode that when Mark comes across as preachy or overly bossy, in the very same scene in Gatchaman, Ken does not.)
One thing REALLY bothered me about this ep. is the thing with the astronauts. Not their voices (and in the G-Force: Guardians of Space version of this episode, they sound like they came from a Grey Poupon commercial.), but the absence of them as Zark is explaining that they're safe and rescued and all that. I don't like to give away things between the Battle and Gatch versions of episodes, and I won't, but I'm tempted. But what I will say is that there was a lot of stuff edited out of this version.
Additional Note: I just had to point out that I wrote this review before way before John McCain ran for President in 2008, but I still think that Mark's face in that one shot looks like the Senator from Arizona.
Another additional note: I read the phrase "Almighty Butane" in someone's fan fic a long time ago, but I don't remember who wrote it or what the name of it was. I cannot take credit for coming up with that phrase. That phrase sticks in my mind just like the phrase "Purple Doberman on Speed". So to whomever the author was of the fan fic whose name I can't remember, thank you for coming up with such a funny, funny phrase and I hope you don't mind that I borrowed it.