Today's episode is one of those episodes of BoTP that I have not forgotten over the past thirty some odd years. If you had come up to me in the year 1987 (when I was a walking 1980's teen-aged, big mall hair sporting, acid washed jeans wearing fashion cliché), and asked me if I remembered "that show with the people who dressed up in bird suits and that one guy had the car where the hood split apart and it had that big gun and their ship turned into a firebird and that one kid had the weird stutter and there was the fat guy and that girl who did the somersault and you could see her underwear...", I would have said yes, with this episode being one of a few in mind. We will get to the "why" later. But rest assured, gentle reader, this is an episode I never forgot about.
Another episode, another Zark opening. Today, he's in his "Birdstyle", reminding us that he's the god...HE'S THE GOD! That's because he claims to be responsible for everything that G-Force does, invents all their gadgets, etc., etc. He even does windows, he says, as he washes his monitors rather noisily. Then he says something about his "sensitive probes". Ms. Ann is actually shocked...SHOCKED that Susan "That Will Be $3.99 for the First Minute" from Planet Pluto hasn't picked this moment to chime in with some breathy remark regarding 7-Zark-7's "sensitive probes". Actually, Ms. Ann is quite thankful for that.
Then we cut to Oh Luminous One and Zoltar kvetching about this weeks' diabolical plan to take over the Earth. This time, it involves sound and how this sound will bring the Earthlings to their knees. Uh oh. Sounds pretty bad. Zoltar gets some prime brown nosing in, but then Oh Luminous One warns Zoltar that he'd better not fail. Then we cut to a rocket, which blasts off and hangs a left past Saturn on its way to Earth. Of course, this worries Zark, so he tries to contact G-Force, but they are enjoying themselves at a rock concert.
Wait a minute. Is G-Force having an acid trip? Or am I tripping? There are colors and some weird dragon-y wizard-y thing pops up while a moth flies in front of it and more colors. The acid trip fades as we see the band on the stage. Not sure what the name of the band really is, but the bass drum says "DN 5" on it. I wonder what that stands for. Dewey Nackers 5? Dangling Noogies 5? Darth Narwahl 5? The band is playing and they're getting into it. The crowd is getting into it. And then the singer starts to sing, but it sounds like she's really getting into something, doing her best impression of a Howler Monkey, or she took her chances on the Wheel of Death® and had the egg salad sandwich. The crowd, however, is digging on it, but then again, the crowd looks a bit glassy eyed, if you know what I mean.
Zark, again, tries to contact G-Force, but he can't get through because the music is so loud. The music of the rock group Dirty Name 5, that is. Yes, the D and the N stand for Dirty Name 5. So, is that their real name or is it a euphemism for an actual dirty name? Inquiring minds want to know. Zark then tells us that the Dirty Name 5 is "the most popular band in the Milky Way". With a name like Dirty Name 5 and the way that singer was singing, I can see why they are so popular.
Then we cut to G-Force, who apparently got the worst seats in the house, and who don't look all that enthused about the show. In fact, it looks almost like Mark and Jason have fallen asleep. But Ms. Ann finds herself in some sort of fever dream, because for some unknown reason, Tiny and Keyop are wearing wigs and grooving to the music, which evolves into some wig snatching and hair pulling. Princess lets Tiny and Keyop know that she finds their behavior embarrassing because she "can't take [Tiny and Keyop] anywhere". And then she says she doesn't know why Tiny and Keyop can't sit down and enjoy "good music". Mark and Jason exchange looks. Are they thinking what I'm thinking? That Princess should re-think her definition of good music? I get the feeling that perhaps Princess dragged the rest of the team with her and they really don't like the Dirty Name 5.
But then there is a sort of a reprieve when a big yellow ship flies overhead. The ship is the one that came from Spectra. This big glass thingy comes down and sucks up the Dirty Name 5. Zoltar laughs like a maniac and then the ship flies off. The crowd probably thought that this was part of the show, being as "glassy eyed" as they were. I'm sure more than one person in the crowd thought that this was the "Best. Finale. Ever."
On that ship, which has wing pods that look like those old reel to reel tapes from the 1970s, Zoltar comes into the on board recording studio to tell the Dirty Name 5 why they are there in the first place. The band wants to be let go, but Zoltar has made them an offer they can't refuse.
Did I mention that the drummer looks like Tiny? He does...
Did I also mention that the bass player looks like Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap? He does...
Anyway, for some odd reason, the band suddenly looks glassy eyed (not that rock musicians looking glassy eyed is odd) and some helmets come down and attach themselves to the heads of the Dirty Name 5. Then Zoltar remembers that he forgot to tell the band that he is going to use their music to make Earthlings "a little more flexible in dealing with Spectra". They roll tape, Zoltar orders the band to start playing and then I have this weird tightening in my midsection because I know what is coming. The band launches into The Song That's Been Stuck in My Head for the Past Thirty plus Years. This same song is why I remember this episode over the years and I believe that having this song stuck in the recesses of my brain, only to surface every so often (like when someone asks the question, "Do you remember that show with the people who dressed up in bird suits and that one guy had the car where the hood split apart and it had that big gun and their ship turned into a firebird and that one kid had the weird stutter and there was the fat guy and that girl who did the somersault and you could see her underwear...,") is probably responsible for my being the warped, twisted and sick little monkey I am today.
The song sounds a lot like the one the Dirty Name 5 was playing at their concert, but this time, I don't know what they are doing to the singer or what they are piping through her helmet, but she sounds like she's really enjoying herself and had a tape recorder going while she was enjoying herself. Maybe that's where the "dirty" in the Dirty Name 5 comes from?
Donna Summer's got nothing on this chick.
Zoltar looks as if he's enjoying himself, too, because he's really getting down with his bad self and grooving to the beat. He probably hasn't had this song stuck in his head for the past thirty years, either. Zoltar is lucky in that regard.
Then we cut to the city. All is quiet. For now. Then, much like that annoying gangsta-wannabe white suburban kid who drives through your neighborhood at 2 am with the bass pumping and vibrating loudly through the blown out speakers in his car, Spectra's big yellow flying tape deck cruises overhead and blasts out the Dirty Name 5's musical orgasm, shattering buildings and breaking windows and causing a lot of mayhem and destruction.
Meanwhile, G-Force is gathered at Center Neptune, listening to a news report on the incident. Chief Anderson comes in with a cassette tape he has, because a girl "had the presence of mind to record the raid as it happened". Chief puts the tape in the cassette player, puts on some ear protection, and then turns on the tape. G-Force has their hands over their ears, with teeth gritted and their faces twisted in a very painful grimace, as if they just had to sit through the American Idol auditions listening to people who are under the delusion that they can actually carry a tune. This is the same reaction I have whenever I hear country music.
Chief says, "It's difficult to recognize, but it appears to be the music of the rock group The Dirty Name 5." And, again, I wonder if the Dirty Name 5 is their real name or just a euphemism for an even dirtier name. And I also wonder how it could be difficult to recognize, since the song sounds like their other song. Chief Anderson also says that he now knows why Zoltar grabbed them and that the band is now in danger. Princess wonders what Zoltar would want with weird music like that, to which Mark replies, "I don't know, but he sure hasn't got a hit record." Which is funny coming from Mark, because Casey Kasem, the voice of Mark, also used to host "American Top 40" back in the day. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars, indeed.
Apparently, there is a price to make Zoltar stop his massive Rick Roll: all of Earth's food and processing plants.
Anyway, Chief asks the team if they are ready. I assume he means ready to deal with Zoltar. But maybe he meant to ask if they were ready for some football. Tiny replies that the Phoenix will be ready when "he sits at the controls". Then antsy pants Mark points out that while they are "rapping, Zoltar's raiding". Funny, I don't recall seeing anyone bust a rhyme in the previous few minutes.
G-Force heads out to deal with Zoltar. They meet up with Spectra's Flying Tape Deck, and Zoltar promptly Rick Rolls them. The music makes the gauges on the ship go all haywire and makes things crack, which leads me to believe that Spectra stocked up on Memorex tapes before the raid.
The G-Force team exchanges some cheesy musical puns, and then Jason heads off to push The Big Red Button, which are not TBX Nuclear Missiles or Bird Missiles this time, but ejector chutes.
Wait...WHAT???? G-2 is proposing that they BAIL??????
Mark, of course, tells Jason no, he can't push the Big Red Button, and then the team tries to come up with a way to outrun Zoltar. G-Force gives chase before eventually going underwater, where they are safe from the insidious tune.
Then we cut to Zark, who is heading up his tube. He expresses how he felt about watching the team's escape, stating it nearly made his "dynamometer magnetize". Does this mean he can be erased?
A girl can dream, can't she?
Anyway, Zark babbles on about the mission more and the Dirty Name 5 and how stressed he is and that he needs a Ten Second Oil Break®. Ms. Ann thinks that the middle of a mission is not a good time to be taking a break. Is Zark union or something??
Ms. Ann sometimes wonders if the phrase "ten second oil break" is a euphemism for something filthy, much like if the name Dirty Name 5 is also a euphemism for something filthy, but Ms. Ann still has to wonder, because today it seems that "ten second oil break" is a euphemism for partaking in adult beverages, particularly light-bodied "oil", vintage 1998.
Does Galaxy Security know about Zark taking a nip to brace himself on the job? On the other hand, it does explain a lot.
Zark wonders what Zoltar is up to. And right on cue, we cut away to the Dirty Name 5, who are having a diva like celebrity tantrum and are refusing to play. Zoltar will have none of this, and pushes some button that does something to keep the Dirty Name 5 in line. The band gives in, starts to play, but before they do, they wink at each other knowingly. Then they launch into their song, things get trippy again, and the singer is probably having a "ten second oil break" of her own again, if you know what I mean (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!).
New song in hand, Spectra takes their Flying Tape Deck and Rick Roll's another city. The military is sent out to stop Spectra's latest meme that is long past its' prime, but they are no match.
Meanwhile, G-Force is parked on a lake, the nose cone is open and a satellite dish is sticking out. But unlike the time they dealt with the Swarm of Robot Ants, Jason's car is still there. Princess is hooked up to something via her helmet, so obviously they are looking for something. Good music, perhaps?
Mark says that since they are not getting anything, they should "sweat it out" at Center Neptune. Then Zark breaks in to inform them that he has picked up strange signals coming from the vicinity of...
Wait for it....
Wait for it....
When I was eight years old, I laughed and snickered and giggled at the name "Lake Titicaca". I also laughed and giggled and snickered at the term "blue footed booby", too. When I was in my twenties, I associated that name with both the Animaniacs (because they really liked saying that name) and Beavis and Butthead (where Cornholio comes from). As I near the age of forty, I think that "Titicaca" is another one of those words that should never, never, not ever be uttered by 7 Zark 7 under any circumstances.
But I digress....
G-Force heads off to Lake Titicaca. Meanwhile, in a prison cell, the drummer for the Dirty Name 5 is banging on the bars of his cell door with a spoon. The guitar player thinks that he's dumb for doing so and that they will draw the attention of their captors, but the singer agrees with the drummer in her Cyndi Lauper-esque speaking voice, and she joins in the banging, too.
Soon, G-Force arrives and Mark orders Princess to "activate...[dramatic pause]...the detectors". She pushes a button which causes the nose cone to retract and expose Jason's car. A satellite dish comes out and picks up a signal. G-Force follows the signal underwater and finds Zoltar's base.
Inside the base, the band was caught sending out their distress signal and Zoltar is punishing them with their own music. But G-Force crashes in just in the nick of time, and in a choppily edited fight scene, they save the band. But of course, Zoltar gets away.
G-Force, with the Dirty Name 5, blast off. But Zoltar, much like the ‘Net newbie who sings the praises of that cool new thing called the Hamster Dance ten years after the meme has died, has to get in one more Rick Roll. He chases G-Force around blasting that infernal song at them, causing G-Force to exchange more bad musical puns. Just when things are not looking good, Chief Anderson appears on the screen to tell the team Zark's latest crazy idea. In order to stop Spectra, G-Force needs to deflect the sound back to Spectra.
I have my doubts that this will work, though. My parents tried this tactic once when I was a kid. There were some potheads that lived across the street from us who liked to put their stereo speakers in the windows and crank it up to 11 long before Spinal Tap came up with the term. Being the 1970s Wisconsin potheads they were, their music of choice was AOR, which was the antithesis of disco. For people under a certain age, this is what is now known as Classic Rock. My parents, being my parents, thought they were going to fight fire with fire, and one day decided to put their stereo speakers in our living room window, crank up the Slim Whitman, and go to town. I don't think they realized that doing this just made them look like really, really lame and uncool old people. My parents, for the record, were in their early thirties at the time, younger than I am now. And they owned a Slim Whitman record. Which they ordered from TV. Ms. Ann is thankful that she was only about seven years old at the time, because if she had been a teen-ager, she would have never been able to live down the shame and embarrassment of every one knowing that her parents have such bad taste in music.
Ms. Ann is also thankful that she does not possess the really Lame Oldness gene and still listens to a lot of rock music, although Ms. Ann's teen-aged son will be the first to point out and mock and laugh at Ms. Ann's extensive collections of mp3's of 1980s songs and tell you how lame he thinks they are.
But I digress.
G-Force express similar doubts, but Chief Anderson assures them that Zark has made sure this will work. Mark orders Tiny to "release the sonar probe" as opposed to releasing the hounds. The satellite dish is exchanged for an antenna-like rod. But unlike Ms. Ann's parents, G-Force deflects Spectra's own song back at them, which does the trick. The Giant Spectran Flying Tape Deck destructs in a gorgeous display of pyrotechnics. Of course, Zoltar escapes and utters his standard "curses, foiled again!" speech. But all is safe for now.
But the show must go on and it does. The Dirty Name 5 is back on stage, playing for the same glassy eyed hippie crowd, who apparently never left. Even the older gentleman with the receding hairline, who is clad in a wife beater, and who has glasses perched on the end of his nose stands out among the young hippies like a big red, cystoid zit right in the middle of your forehead. (At 4:37 and 21:23 on the DVD, if you are keeping score). G-Force is also there, and again, Mark and Jason look like they've fallen asleep. Keyop and Tiny are without the wigs this time. Princess laments the fact that, in spite of getting free tickets, she can't stay awake for the show.
Zark chimes in, as the scene pans out from the stage, to say that he doesn't blame Princess for being tired, but now G-Force can enjoy the concert in peace. I don't know about that. No matter what concert you go to, you will always run into some obnoxious fellow concertgoer, fueled on copious amounts of beer, pot, ‘shrooms, or Ecstasy and who will ruin it for you by either groping you, pushing you, ramming their tongue down their date's decaying tooth filled mouth right in front of you, starting a fight, screaming in your ear, spilling their cup of watery, cheap beer on you, or they are really tall and they park themselves right in front of you so you can't see the stage.
Back at Center Neptune, Zark remarks that Zoltar was using that song to drive the world crazy, and it almost worked. But then Zark tells us that he has a tin ear, and even though he is not programmed for music, he reminds us how he will always sing the praises of G-Force.
And with that, this Susan "That will be $3.99 for the first minute" from Planet Pluto-free episode has ended.
Thoughts from Ms. Ann:
This is one of my favorite episodes of both series because it is so memorable for many reasons. I have alluded to some of them before. I will allude to the Gatch-specific reasons in the Gatchaman Episode Review of Murder Music.
I am also a very musical person, and because of that, I am prone to earworms. Earworms, for those who aren't familiar with the term, are songs that get stuck in your head and continue to play in your head as if it were on an infinite loop. And because I am so prone to earworms, I get the oddest and most obscure bits of song stuck in my head, like this old commercial for the 1977 K-Tel album "Dumb Ditties": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1-uFJnF8Mw . Sometimes, the bits were so obscure; I could almost swear that I imagined the whole thing. But thanks to You Tube, I can now prove they were not figments of my young and fertile imagination.
All of the moaning in the Dirty Name 5's song caught my tender little eight year old ears, and thus, this how this song got stuck in my head for over thirty years. It wasn't constantly playing, otherwise I'd have been sent to a padded room a long time ago, but if I saw or heard something that reminded me of BoTP between the years of 1978 and now, this song would rise out of the dark and dusty crevices of my gray matter to get stuck in my head until something else came along to send it back to the rock out from which it crawled.
The Wheel of Death® is the affectionate nickname we give our food vending machine at work. I have used a few sick days in my time after eating something from the Wheel of Death.
If you don't know what a Rick Roll is by now, then you probably don't deserve to have it explained to you, but I will anyway. Rick Rolling started in various Internet forums where someone would post a link "relevant to the discussion" within a discussion thread. When the user clicked on that link, they found themselves watching a You Tube video of Rick Astley's 1980's musical masterpiece, Never Gonna Give You Up, which has nothing at all to do with the conversation at hand.
Battle of the Planets is where I first learned of the existence of such a place called Lake Titicaca. So who says TV rots your mind??
As I pointed out in the review, this episode contained no Susan. However, the lead singer of the Dirty Name 5's moaning more than made up for the lack of Susan and any innuendo she may have inflicted upon an unsuspecting audience.
And lastly, this episode is a reminder to me that there was once a time where rock and roll was still rebellious and most of the adults in your young life hated rock music, except for your cool, younger uncle who had long hair and drove a muscle car. There's a definite "we don't really get this, but we're going to make something cool for the kids anyway" undercurrent in the script for this episode.