As ususal, we begin this episode with the opening credits and the Big Voiced Announcer Guy talking about G-Force. Always five...Acting as One
As per usual standard operating procedure, we open with the bane of my existence, 7-Zark-7. Today, he's dressed in his own yellow Birdstyle. Could someone please tell me again why Zark is allowed to have is own Birdstyle? It just looks sad and pathetic and he just looks like he's a G-Force Wannabe or a crazed fan or a stalker or something like that, which would explain why he always pays special attention to Princess but he doesn't know why. 1-Rover-1 is standing beside him. Zark tells us that all is quiet in the galaxy tonight. Or is it morning? Zark isn't sure because, as he reminds us, he's at the controls at Center Neptune 24 hours a day and, since Center Neptune is many fathoms or leagues or other units of nautical measure under the sea, it all looks the same to Zark. Then Zark flies over to his monitors, telling us that the only "action" he gets is short flights like the one he just took. Uh, Zark? Your icky flirting with Susan "That Will Be $3.99 For the First Minute" from Planet Pluto doesn't count as action?
Anyway, then Zark reminds us that the only companionship he has is 1-Rover-1, who does that weird Pumaman Butt-In-The-Air flying thing while Zark plays a ten-second game of Tetris on his monitor. Then he goes into his usual spiel about how he monitors the galaxy and then says something about some tiny asteroid like this one, and then we're taken to another world and shown a volcano and this other world is Earth in Gatchaman, but since this isn't Gatchaman, it's another planet.
Whew! I have to catch my breath here.
Okay, I'm fine now. Zark goes on to inform us that this asteroid/planet/place on Earth was discovered by space explorers who wanted to find something about radio emanation sources (?) in a distant galaxy. They had to go to a distant asteroid to find good radio reception? I know that in my cube at work, the radio reception sucks The Big One and every day, I have no choice but to listen to the Oldies station, which only plays the same fifteen songs repeatedly and seven of them are by Neil Diamond. I just have to leave the building to get better reception. I don't have to go to another planet to find it.
Anyway, Zark tells us that the space explorers named this with the extremely original name of Space Island . Later, it was colonized. Um. Okay. Then Zark natters on about geothermal energy and rasslin' volcanoes and refueling stations for space ships or something like that.
Rasslin' is a cool word, isn't it?
As Zark is going on and on about energy and volcanoes and space explorers and colonizing, we see what looks like some industrial/power plant type place where people are working. It's next to a volcano. Zark says that things look okay in the industrial park, so he's going to check out how things are out in the sticks.
Now we're out in the sticks, or the mountains. Actually, it's Monument Mountain . Monument Mountain looks suspiciously like a famous United States Landmark in the Black Hills of South Dakota that goes by the name of Mount Rushmore. Ms. Ann went to Mount Rushmore in 1991 and it was very impressive. Ms. Ann went in February, so she got good parking and didn't have to wait in line. Ms. Ann also lucked out because during that week, it actually got up into the 60's in South Dakota. Ms. Ann also got to go through the town of DeSmet, which is where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and the setting of several of the Little House Books. Because it was only February and a Monday, nothing was open, so we only got to go through the town. But all the main drags were named for characters in the books, but that's okay because they were real people who lived there, too. Ms. Ann also got to see Wall Drug, too. And then Ms. Ann went into Wyoming to see Devil's Tower, which is a famous natural landmark most people associate with the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Monument Mountain, Zark informs us, was sculpted by a guy who decided to sculpt the faces of the men who discovered Space Island. And who exactly discovered Space Island? George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and some hippie dude from Woodstock. There's nary a Teddy Roosevelt in sight.
Monument Mountain isn't finished yet. The guy who started this sculpture has a daughter named Amelia, and she's "dedicated her life" to finishing this monument. I hope she at least takes the time to dedicate herself to other things, like, maybe, reproducing, because Amelia's working alone and at that rate, she won't finish this sculpture before she's too old to shimmy up that mountain every day to carve hippie dudes from Woodstock . As Zark tells us that finishing the monument is Amelia's "greatest ambition", we see her rappelling down the Hippie Dude from Woodstock's nose. Then Zark has to make this all about him and compare Amelia's lonely work to Zark's lonely work at Center Neptune.
Hey, Zark? You have a robot dog and a breathy voiced not quite girlfriend on Planet Pluto with whom you exchange creepy innuendo. Amelia doesn't even have a crew to help her. And I don't hear her complaining about it.
Amelia reaches the ground, heaves a sigh, pulls off her helmet, and wonders out loud what is causing all the new cracks in the mountain. Amelia sounds a lot like Princess. Then she bids Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Hippie Dude farewell for that day, but, as she says, she'll be back tomorrow "swinging".
Rather kinky for a kids' show, don't you think? To each his own, but I don't want to know about someone's rock fetish. I've heard of being attracted to rock stars, but in this case, it's just kind of sick, not to mention that it's the source of a bad pun.
Is it just me, or does Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Hippie Dude sound a lot like the name of a progressive rock band from the 70's or an 80's super group consisting of members of various 70's prog rock bands that nobody listens to because prog rock went out with mood rings, AMC Gremlins, and pet rocks?
Maybe it's just me.
Yes, it's probably just me.
Anyway, Amelia runs off to her jeep and she leaves. The camera pans up to Hippie Dude from Woodstock, who will be known now simply as HDFW or Hippie Dude. Suddenly, Hippie Dude's eyes start glowing, which is not normal for rocks, but might be some normal side effect of some illicit, mind-altering, brown substance that one would find Hippie Dudes and Dudettes from Woodstock ingesting like they were Pez.
Now we cut back to the power plant/industrial park and some unknown guy in a business suit tells us, the Viewing Audience, that in the twelve years he's been on Space Island, he's never seen the volcano so active. He's standing with his back to us and asking some assistant type guy for the latest reports. The assistant type guy says something about geothermal and hot lava, and when I hear the words "hot lava" I think of that song that Chef sang in South Park in the episode where the volcano erupted and Scuzzlebutt, the monster with Patrick Duffy for a leg, saved the kids from the erupting volcano. Then I think that the Standards and Practices Lady Listed In the End Credits would probably have a massive coronary if she ever had to watch an episode of South Park .
Digressing yet once more. Par for the course.
The guy with his back turned turns around and says that they should close up the plant and order an immediate evacuation. And later, I'm sure, Zark will tell us, that despite what we see and despite the abrupt editing dictated by Standards and Practices Lady Listed In the End Credits, either those people we see getting blown to bits are robots or nobody died because Zark saved them all.
Now we cut away to Oh Luminous One, or the Big Blue Chicken, or even the Almighty Butane, if you prefer. He informs Zoltar, or His Purpleness (only Katse can be the Purple Doberman on Speed. Zoltar is much more mellow than Berg Katse), that they have to capture the geovolcanothermalthingamabob plant for Spectra. Oh Luminous One also warns Zoltar not to bungle this one. But since we're only 22 episodes into Battle of the Planets, Zoltar will bungle it of course because we're only a fourth of the way through the series and we need more episodes and because this is American Television and Zoltar is a bad guy, the Bad Guys can't win because that's just not how it's done. (Even though we see cheaters and bad guys getting away with all sorts of crap in real life.)
Zoltar agrees and he pushes a button. Then we see that the HDFW's head is sliding back into the mountain. There's a big black hole where the head used to be and then black smoke fills the air. Then we cut to the volcano, which is gurgling more than normal. Suddenly, the volcano spews out more lava and we see a giant, lava-y fist thrusting upwards. The fist belongs to a big, giant lava dude, who suspiciously looks like a Giant Lava Hippie Dude From Woodstock. He strikes a pose, but doesn't get to it right away.
Either we've all been dropping the brown acid, or Zoltar's been dropping the brown acid, or Oh Luminous One sampled the brown acid, because there is no other explanation for this week's mech. Giant Lava Hippies from Space.
That sounds like a really cheesy B-Movie title: Giant Lava Hippies from Space. Tee-hee!
Anyway, the Giant Lava Hippie comes out of the volcano and starts walking around, of course destroying everything in its path.
Then we hear a distress call from Space Island. The distress call tells us that it's not a Giant Lava Hippie, but rather a "Flaming Lava Giant" that's going on a rampage. Flaming? He didn't look like a flamboyantly gay lava man to me.
Chief Anderson looks on in concern and then he shuts off the tape. G-Force is gathered around him. Chief says something about security tapes and military time and stuff like that. Mark wonders what kind of giants would be on Space Island. Jason says it's probably those giants on Monument Mountain and that girl who is carving them might be a Spectra secret agent. Princess won't have any of that, as she says that Amelia is a friend of hers. That doesn't mean much, though. I don't think Princess knows about Amelia's rock fetish.
Jason still thinks that they should bring in Amelia for questioning. And the others agree. Mark asks for security clearance to fly to Space Island. Chief Anderson has a Nambu Hakase moment and has to think about it, even though a Giant Flaming Lava Hippie Dude from Woodstock is trashing the place. Finally, Anderson says yes and then G-Force leaves to go to Space Island.
We get a long and protracted scene of G-Force running down the hall, boarding the Phoenix, and taking off to the strains of the Gatchaman Theme (aka "Shupa, shupa, shupa, shupa," but without the singers). That's all we get. Ms. Ann is surprised but glad that we don't have to endure one of these scenes with Zark going on telling us how he controls everything that G-Force does. Ms. Ann's joy is short-lived because as soon as we cut to the Sandy Frank Space Animation, Zark chimes in. Of course, G-Force hangs a right past Saturn because Sandy Frank decreed it to be so. Zark gives us the play by play of all the planets G-Force goes past. Past Saturn, past Jupiter and Mars, and...
Hold it right there. Unless every science teacher I had as a child was on crack, G-Force would leave Earth, fly past Mars first, then Jupiter, and then fly past Saturn. After Saturn comes Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto. I guess Action for Children's Television only cared about cutting out all the good parts, and not actually caring whether or not writers got scientific facts right.
Zark continues his play by play and informs us that G-Force has left the galaxy and is in the cosmos and he goes on about time warp and time and distance are meaningless (almost like scientific fact is meaningless) and that centuries are like seconds and billions of miles are like mere steps. It's is interesting to note and methinks someone at Rhino was having a little fun, but this chapter on the DVD is entitled "7-Zark Sagan". *g*
G-Force arrives on Space Island, and even though it's an asteroid and asteroids are nothing but pieces of rock, this asteroid somehow has water and looks a lot like Earth. Zark cheerfully informs us that G-Force is headed towards the volcano and cheerfully wishes them "Good Hunting".
G-Force witnesses the havoc that has been wreaked by the Flaming Giant Lava Hippie, and because he has to, Mark reminds us that all the people got out safely. The team gets a closer look at the devastation and they see giant footprints. Keyop chirps that they have to follow them and follow them they do right into the volcano. It's getting hot in the Phoenix, and Princess watches a gauge that looks like the stripe on the side of an Amtrak train and says something about heat stress and some meter thingy else going up 800 K's (kilometers, kilograms, what is it?!?) but G-Force goes into the volcano and sees a tunnel. The tunnel goes towards Monument Mountain, and the others tell Princess that her friend is not what she seems to be. Then the volcano is about to erupt and then G-Force have to haul ass out of the volcano before the term Fiery Phoenix takes on a whole new meaning and before commercial break. They manage to get out of the volcano before commercial only to have the Giant Flaming Lava Hippie Dude from Woodstock start swatting at the Phoenix. The Phoenix then crash lands into the water, which we all know shouldn't be there because asteroids are rocks and can't support water or grass or life, and the Lava Hippie Dude stands up and plants one leg up on some rock and has his hands in the air (like he just don't care) and gloats like a Giant Flaming Lava Hippie would gloat. I sure hope that the Giant Hippie Lava Dude is wearing a Giant Hippie Lava Loincloth because if he isn't, we're seeing a pair of Giant Hippie Lava Testicles dangling between his Giant Hippie Lava Legs. Then we cut to the Phoenix cooling off in the water. Apparently G-Force bailed, because they're standing in the water, too.
Tiny wades toward shore and says that G-Force knows one thing for sure: the giant magma hippie guy comes from the "mountain where all the faces are". Princess, though, is in extreme denial about her friend Amelia. Mark tries to talk some sense into her. Facts are facts, he says, but to be fair, it's not really fact but unlucky coincidence. Mark says that they have to find Amelia for questioning as we see a shot of Hippie Dude's rock head sliding back into its place on Monument Mountain.
Time for a commercial and yet another moment of digression cleverly packaged as a new feature to Ms. Ann's Episode Reviews called "When Ms. Ann O'Malley was a Little Girl."
Every week day afternoon, Little Ms. Ann O'Malley would race her third grade self home from school to catch the last fifteen minutes of the Woody Woodpecker show. She'd sit through Woody Woodpecker, anxiously awaiting the opening intro to BoTP (and hoping that there would be lots of Jason featured in today's episode). So engrossed was she in that days' G-Force adventure, she did not hear it when her mother would mutter under her breath, "This show is so dumb". Little Ms. Ann really didn't care what her mother thought of BoTP, anyway. How would she, or any grown up for that matter, understand how...COOL...this show was? They just didn't get it! Anyway, during the middle commercial break, was a little game called Clubhouse POWWWW! Clubhouse POWWWW! was a daily Pong tournament on TV (which later evolved into shooting at spaceships as videogame technology got more advanced), hosted by this blobby white thing with legs named Barney. Later, Barney was replaced by a guy. You would send your name, address, and phone number, and if Barney picked your name, you got to play. Players simply said the word POW! into the phone to shoot at your target. They did this three times in 90 minutes and at five minutes to five or so, the kid with the highest score won and won some gift certificate or some toy or something of interest to the average Cheesehead child in the late 1970's. I think runners up got Channel 11 t-shirts or something like that. In other parts of the country, there were similar games, but on Channel 11, in the Green Bay, Wisconsin TV Market of the late 1970's, ours was Clubhouse POWWWW!
Back from Commercial (and moment of digression)...
Of course, because very few to no episodes of BoTP can ever jump right back into the action after commercial, we're back at Center Neptune and Zark's ready room. Rover starts barking at Zark because Zark thought he could get away with a 30 second oil break instead of the allowed 10 second oil break. Rover tells Zark that he was sleeping and Zark tells us that his off switch is on his robot ass. Speaking of nether regions, and right on cue, who rings but Susan "That Will Be $3.99 For the First Minute" from Planet Pluto. There's some icky flirting going on between the two. Zark mentions pushing his off button and Susan remarks that she wants to "turn him on". Susan says something about worrying about him and Zark mentions Susan's measurements, and I think during that whole exchange a part of myself died and I will never, ever get it back. Zark says that he must get his mind back on G-Force. Good. Get your mind out of the gutter, Zark! Where is the Standards and Practices Lady Listed In the End Credits when you need her?
Thankfully, we cut to a kink of a different kind, because Amelia returns, "ready and swinging". She notices things are not right with Hippie Dude and proceeds to climb up the mountain. Amelia must have really strong arms because somehow she got her rope tossed all the way up the Hippie Dude's head by herself. I don't recall seeing a long string hanging from Hippie Dude when he was Giant Hippie Lava Dude and even if there were, it would have disintegrated from all the Hot Lava.
Then Mark and Jason notice Amelia, who has climbed onto the Giant Hippie Dude's Rock Lip and leave her rope which looks like a Giant String of Giant Hippie Dude Snot Hanging from Giant Hippie Dude's Nose. Jason reminds us that Amelia carved the Giant Hippie Dude (in case we were distracted earlier by the Giant Lava Hippie Testicles we saw before commercial break or grossed out by the Zark/Susan flirting) and that is the face of the Giant Lava Hippie Dude Monster Thingy and they'd better question her right now. So he and Mark move in and they tackle this girl or clothesline her or something like that and enter the cave behind the Giant Hippie Dude's Head through the Giant Hippie Dude's Giant Hippie Mouth. Then Princess and Keyop join them. Jason is holding Amelia and covering her mouth with his hand. Then he goes all tough guy and starts questioning her. Mark and Keyop notice a tunnel and Princess scolds Jason and tells him to let go of Amelia and she can't say anything because Jason has his hand over her mouth. Jason lets go and Amelia calls him Jack, says she has no idea what's going on, and informs Jason rather tartly that if he's looking for giants, he should go climb a beanstalk, those exact words.
Ms. Ann would like to mention that in Gatchaman, this scene played out similarly, but yet different words were spoken and the name the girl calls Condor Joe is not as nice as "Jack".
Ms. Ann would also like to admit at this point that Jason did have it coming to him, too.
But Jason apologizes to Amelia and asks if she knows anything about what's going on, since her rock carving is the face of the Giant Hippie Lave Dude. Amelia says she carved the head of a great man and just because her sculpture is now a rampaging monster, it doesn't make her a criminal. Mark tells Amelia, that yes, her carving is the same as the Giant Hippie Dude's head, and he invites her to follow him and G-Force down the tunnel.
Ms. Ann wonders who the "great man" is that Amelia carved into this mountain? The only people who Ms. Ann can think of that resembles the Giant Hippie Dude are various rock stars from the early 1970's. One of the guys in Three Dog Night Comes to mind or Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap.
But when Ms. Ann thinks about it, I think the "great man" Amelia is referring to is ex-Beatle, the late George Harrison, who, for awhile in the early '70's had the hippie dude/Jesus look going on. And if there is one thing that made him great, in my opinion, is that, above anything else, he put up the money to get the movie Life of Brian made.
So if my theory is true, then Space Island was discovered by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and George Harrison.
You know how many Fab Four jokes I could make about that? A lot. But I won't do it.
And you're probably all relieved to hear that, too. :-)
They walk and walk down the tunnel until they come across a giant pit of lava and some Spectra Green Goons doing grunt work. Mark and Jason surmise that this is where the Lava Hippie Giant is created and Princess reminds them that they should not have jumped to conclusions about her friend. Then we suddenly cut to Oh Luminous One and Zoltar, and Oh Luminous One tells Zoltar that Space Island is almost theirs except for G-Force and Zoltar had better get rid of them. Cut back to G-Force and for some reason Amelia morphed into Tiny and they hear a noise and Mark and Jason take Amelia, who morphed back into herself, up higher against the wall and Princess and Keyop go up against the other wall. It's the Giant Hippie Dude's Head making its way down the tunnel and going to get attached to the lava body and go on another rampage. Amelia concedes that she now understands why Jason thought she was responsible for the Giant Lava Hippie Dude, and Jason apologizes again for being rough on her. Princess reminds everyone that this water bearing asteroid is in danger and that they'd better hurry up and stop the rampaging Lava Member of Three Dog Night before things get worse. Mark calls Tiny and he comes and gets the team and Amelia. Once on board, Mark asks Tiny if the Phoenix is battle ready. I would think that you would find something as important as whether or not your ship was battle ready before you went out on your battle, but then again, that's just me. Tiny said that Zark supervised a complete overhaul. Mark orders everyone to their "battle stations" and then someone shoots a missile into the glass window that covers the lava pit and hides it under the Lake That Should Really Not Be on an Asteroid. Water comes gushing in, and the Phoenix flies out of that.
The Phoenix flies around and lava is bubbling and water is gushing and Lava Hippie is rampaging. Zoltar gives the order for the giant to go after our Birdsuited Heroes. Then for some reason, Keyop's buggy is being lowered, Princess's motorcycle is being lowered, and Jason's car is being lowered and I wish I knew what was going on and why this was going on and I wish that someone or even Zark would have been kind enough to fill us in, but I guess not so we have to guess as to why this is happening.
Ironically, it's Zoltar that fills us in on the action, sort of. He believes that G-Force's strategy is divide and conquer. So he orders the Giant Lava Hippie to go after the individual members of G-Force. Somehow I think, though, that the team's strategy is something else because I get this feeling that it will be explained once I watch the corresponding Gatchaman episode.
Even though we didn't see Mark's plane leave the Phoenix , it did because it's flying around Lava Hippie's head. G-Force gives chase to Lava Hippie and leads him right into the ocean, which most certainly harshes the Giant Hippie Dude's buzz, so to speak. GHD turns to rock and crumbles away, leaving a metal skeleton.
Mission accomplished and then we cut away to Monument Mountain , which now consists of Jefferson , Washington , Lincoln, and a Large Empty Space. Amelia thanks G-Force for saving Space Island . Amelia says she's going to start over and carve another Hippie Dude from Woodstock into the mountain. Maybe it would just be easier if she carved Theodore Roosevelt instead?
Just thought I'd ask.
Of course, Zark has to sum up the episode and says that G-Force, particularly Jason, learned a lesson that all people are innocent until proven guilty. Then he babbles on about nothing much and, thankfully, Susan is otherwise occupied and we don't have to endure any more Zark/Susan flirting.
Thoughts from Ms. Ann:
Ms. Ann's saving the best comments for the Gatchaman episode because, well, that one is kind of offensive depending on your point of view and whether or not you think the movie Monty Python's Life of Brian was blasphemous or sheer comedy genius. Ms. Ann, though, thinks it's a funny episode.
The BoTP version is pretty much a typical BoTP episode full of abrupt edits, unexplained things happening, things happening with weak explanations, and, of course, nobody dying.
Ms. Ann also can't really defend Jason in this one as far as his treatment of Amelia because he was rather rough on her and he deserved it. At least he apologized, though, which is always a good thing.
I really wish, though that someone would have devoted as much time to checking basic scientific facts as they did to standards and practices because if they were so concerned with rotting children's minds with violence, then maybe they could have learned something that was actually true.
Standards and Practices should also have spent as much time on the flirting as they did on the violence. Actually, they have it backwards from the way it really is in America . Violence is okay, but sex isn't and some of flirting gets downright suggestive. Maybe back in the late 70's, it went over my head and pretty much everyone else's heads, but with the way kids are now, it probably wouldn't. Sometimes, I wish it still went over my head.
For the curious, here is a link to a You Tube video regarding Clubhouse POWWWW! This is from a "where are they now" series of reports that WLUK TV did in the early 1990's on various personalities that graced their airwaves during the 1970's. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FycLKnLiYsA (Copy and paste into your browser.) As a side note, Ms Ann went to school with the girl player named in the clip.