Battle of the Planets, Episode Seven
Gatchaman Episode #15, The Fearsome Jellyfish Lens
DVD and Veoh episode #14
Review/Summary: Establishing shot of Center Neptune (supposedly deep beneath the sea, yet looking very near the surface). Zark, for the benefit of any who haven’t watched previous episodes, is again talking about keeping the entire galaxy alert for intruders from outer space. [Yep, again with using that 1950’s SF scriptwriting book. Must have inherited it from the folks who wrote the Flash Gordon series.] He reviews all alerts, and sends them on to G-Force, that incredible team of young people. [Yep, they’re no longer guarding the vitalumis mining facility, as stated in that first episode. That went bye-bye pretty quick.] Then he goes on about how he’s never even met one of them in person. [He hasn’t, yet.] But he feels very close to them and considers them his family. One of these days, when he gets his new overhaul, he might be able to meet them, and even to work with them. [And just last episode, he was moaning about being scrapped.] But for right now, he must monitor the galaxy. And he’s getting a red alert.
Gatchaman footage. And Zark voice-over. A ruined city, which is the capital of Riga, a planet similar to Earth [which is ‘millions of miles’ away. Barely gets it out of the Solar System.] Riga is a member of the ‘Intergalactic Federation’ and badly in need of Earth’s help. But lately, something has happened to interfere with rehabilitation. [My, but this alien city looks a lot like an Earth city, right down to a wedding dress in a shop window.] Zark says his probes have detected an alien presence, and he’s alerted Chief Anderson, who’s sent a recon unit to investigate. As Zark speaks, the scene turns to a ruined harbor full of boats, and there’s a close-up of an ominous bubbling of the water.
Next, we see a—helicopter. Wow. A case of similar needs resulting in similar technologies? [Yeah, we can go with that. Or some other hand-wave.] The crew wear the sort of helmets and uniforms of the ‘futuristic’ style that used to be common in SF movies, television, and comics. One of them (later revealed to be named Kelly) comments that he doesn’t like it: the city’s empty, and there’s no sign of the Federation work force sent there a week ago. Wait, they’re getting something on the ‘diatherm scanner’. The readout says there are people hiding in the city.
Anderson tells them to be careful. They’re recon, not fighters. Kelly says that at the first hint of trouble, they’ll return to the mothership and blast off for Earth. We all know what this means, don’t we?
The investigative team goes in closer. The diatherm scanner reading edges up as the helicopter approaches the ground. View through the helicopter windshield of a small figure running, as Kelly announces that someone is down there. Anderson orders them out: he wants information, not trouble.
The scanner readout straightlines.
Next shot is Zoltar, with headphones, laughing.
Now we have Zoltar with the Luminous Spirit. He tells it that the Thing With 1000 Eyes is ready. [Okay, I’ll admit that I love some of these cheesy titles!] The Luminous One tells him that the Federation will try to stop him. Riga has always been Spectra’s main outpost for raw material. Keep it that way. Zoltar acknowledges and bows.
Cut to the Phoenix getting a snazzy gold paint job.
Anderson tells the team that the ship has just been fitted with warp drive, and that the gold hue is a protective coating of anti-matter. [Uh, what? Wait. How was the Phoenix traveling before the warp drive was installed? And we all know what happens when anti-matter and matter meet.] The coating will protect the ship from dangerous gasses on Riga. The investigative team was captured, and they know it wasn’t by the Rigans.
Transmutation sequence, and gold Phoenix launches. [Confession: when I first saw this episode, I thought the gold color was much better than the blue-and-red original. It still looks pretty cool.]
Sandy Frank space travel footage. And Zark burbling. With the amazing new ‘time bypass converter’, he says, they can make the trip to Riga in an hour. Indeed, they’ve just arrived, and are starting their descent.
Back to Gatchaman footage. As the crew looks down at the blasted, dead landscape, Mark comments that Riga is a real paradise (regrettably, Casey Kasem does not sound sarcastic enough). Princess looks on the bright side: it isn’t crowded with campers. Again, not enough sarcasm. Keyop broops about ‘Death Valley.’ Jason says he’d seen microfilms of Riga: it used to be great. Tiny notes that they’re approaching the capital city.
They can all see that there’s nobody in sight. Princess comments that it’s like a spider’s web. Mark adds that you can’t see the spider, but you know it’s there someplace.
The Phoenix approaches the last known position of the investigative team. Significant close-up of a traffic light with a gun-barrel pointing out of it.
They use the ‘teleprobe’ for a closer look. [No. Will not make ‘probe’ comment that just popped into my mind.] Close-up of a statue, which has a line around its neck for some reason.
The Phoenix lands. Mark comments on how strange everything is.
A suspicious gleam off a statue. And their cameras detect guns everywhere.
Mark orders Tiny to blast off, as Spectra gunners start shooting. One shot nicks a wing, then they knock over a tower containing another gunner.
When Mark says he spotted some familiar faces, Jason quips that it’s the ‘happiness boys from Spectra’ again. Let’s get them.
Mark reminds him that their orders were to find out what happened to the investigative team.
Zoltar and the Luminous One are in conference. The Luminous One tells Zoltar that the soldiers on Riga should not have revealed themselves. That was a foolish blunder, and should not be repeated. [Presumably in the future, given the next lines.]
Well, no matter. The base had outlived its usefulness, and the underwater breeding tanks were not harmed. (And now we see the underwater facility.) Unleash the indestructible new form of life they have created. (Inside the facility, where glowing lights and blobby things are initially all the viewer can make out.) Soon they shall have all of Riga in their grasp, and then Earth. [So the Federation consists of maybe five members? Must be small, if taking Earth can be counted that important.] No-one can withstand the Creature With 1000 Eyes: not G-Force, and not Riga’s own air defenses.
Cut to the control room of the facility, where a mook announces, “We’re ready for synthesis.” Then we see the titular monster. It looks like a large olive-green glob covered with lighter green bumps that pulse with light. Close-up of one bump, which opens to become an eye.
Cut again, to overhead shot of three rather Earth-like fighter planes flying over a city. Then cut to a cockpit shot, as a pilot says there’s something below them. [I think the average fighter plane flies a little too fast and high to see much ground detail.]
Now to bubbling water, and the giant glob is airborne. The fighters prepare to attack. The eyes on the glob open, there’s a flash of light –
And the rest is censored to avoid traumatizing the kiddies.
Except that we get Zark in its place. He’s getting terrible input on his telecom scanner. Spectra’s latest weapon is destroying planet Riga. It’s a living mass of unknown biological structure. The people of Riga a terrorized, and he knows that G-Force is right in the middle of it. His attenuator is turned up full strength, but he hears nothing. [Perhaps because you’ve turned up the wrong equipment, Z-egg?] But, he’s not worried because he’s sure that Mark will bring them all through safely. His antennae droop as he complains of being stuck waiting.
I think I spotted a commercial break.
Back to Zark. Pacing. It’s been an hour, and there’s no word from G-Force (and for those who haven’t been paying attention, he reminds us that they’re on Riga). He knows that they can take care of themselves, but he’d like them to call and keep him posted.
Now he’s back to poking his favorite console, and trying to contact G-Force. To his relief, Mark responds. Zark says he wasn’t worried at all, but he has been viewing reports of the latest destruction from Riga.
Agh! Crappy-headshot Mark! He says they can see the destruction the monster leaves, but they can’t find it. Zark tells him that, according to his probes, it was incubated in the sea of Riga, and that may be where its base is. [Gee, shouldn’t you have informed them a couple of hours ago if you knew that, Zark? Or did you just figure it out?] Mark acknowledges.
And back to Gatchaman footage.
For those with short attention spans, Tiny asks why the thing would head for the ocean, so that Mark can repeat what Zark just told him.
They dive. The water is so polluted that Keyop comments that it’s slimy. Princess advises him to keep his eyes on his scanner.
Tiny detects something. After some technobabble, we learn that the depth is 1000 (feet? Meters?) Right in front of them is the base, and the titular monster. As the team reacts in horror, Princess spoils the culinary curiosity of numerous children by comparing it to a big plum pudding. Jason will pass on dessert. Let’s destroy it and get out of here.
The Thing With 1000 Eyes picks that moment to reproduce. Mark wonders if it’s smart enough to know ‘Divide and conquer’. [Well, usually, it’s divide the enemy, thus weakening any ability to counter-attack or defend, then conquer, not asexually reproduce until you outnumber the enemy.] Princess notes that Zoltar is that smart.
It doesn’t take long for the blobs to surround them. Because the footage requires a line for Jason, and to ensure that the audience draws the correct conclusion, he says the things are all around them. Mark says the things are waiting for them to make a wrong move. Princess finds them ugly. Tiny says their ‘air screens’ are clogging up. Jason suggests that a couple of them could go out and finish off the blobs with their ‘proton lasers.’ Princess agrees.
Mark thinks it’s too risky, and orders Tiny to take them up to 500 (feet or meters?).
The Phoenix heads up, then turns and starts a run at the blobs. Mark orders the TBX missiles with explosive warheads. Jason notes that they will be in the middle of terrific hydraulic pressure. [Water is a great transmitter of vibration, and explosions are giant vibrations.]
The missiles take out the Spectra base, knock the Phoenix around, and don’t do squat to the blobs. As the ship arrows for the surface, the blobs follow and attach themselves to it. They start eating through the protective shielding. Cracks appear in the hull.
Mark gives technobabble orders to increase speed. The ship’s increased speed removes the blobs from the hull.
After they break the surface, Mark praises Tiny’s piloting. Tiny asks if he’ll get a medal, and Jason suggests 10.
Unfortunately, he’ll have to wait for the medal. All the Things With 1000 Eyes have followed them out of the ocean. They’re alive, and are merging into one giant monster at least twice the size of the Phoenix, possibly more.
Mark realizes that, out of the water, the blob-thing operates on solar energy.
Sure enough, the eyes open, and Tiny’s dodging energy-beams. Then the thing spews a gas to eat through what’s left of the protective coating.
Jason suggests another missile, but Mark says that will only make the thing separate.
Zark calls. They’ve analyzed the monster. It was synthesized out of pollution in the sea of Riga, and lives on pollution. He also repeats what we just noticed: it can’t be destroyed under water, as it will only reform again and again. It’s only vulnerable in the air, where it’s also most powerful. It draws power from the sun, and redirects it through its crystalline eyes. [This is pretty much how the Jellyfish Lens original operates.]
Crappy headshot Mark is talking with Zark. Zark tells him that the monster can only be destroyed by injecting it with pure oxygen, and then blowing it up. They’ll have to transmute into the Fiery Phoenix to make it work. Rigan pilots are ready with the oxygen bomb. Mark must time this perfectly.
On the viewscreen, we see some cool-looking red planes carrying a large canister. Remember those red-and-white planes, because the squadron leader is someone we will meet in later episodes.
The bomb drops, and the Fiery Phoenix flies through the monster. The Thing With 1000 Eyes explodes and is destroyed for good.
While they’re congratulating each other, Anderson calls. He’s declared a full day of celebration in their honor, and invited officials from Riga to attend. All flags will be flying in their honor. [Just how much power does Federation Security have, anyway? Another time the scriptwriters didn’t think about what they were writing.] When Mark asks about Zark (who ‘did all the brainwork’), Anderson says he’ll be at the head of the parade. [Um, right. So far, Zark hasn’t mentioned backup systems or having other bodies, or any other means of being in two places at once. If he’s that important to the planet’s security, he’s staying in Center Neptune, where he’s safe.]
Zark is over the moon. He’ll finally get to meet G-Force. He doesn’t know if his trigotron (sp?) can take the excitement. And what does he do when he meets humans? Does he shake hands with Princess and kiss Keyop, or is it the other way around? He certainly hopes so. [Uh, erm --- I really don’t know what to say, here.]
Fic Alert: Explain how a member of the Federation can be a source of raw material for Spectra.
Science question: ‘Diatherm scanner’? I know there’s such a thing as a diathermy machine, but it isn’t used for scanning things.
Just what sort of government does the Federation have? This is the second time a special day has been declared in honor of G-Force.
Bizarreness alert: If Riga is part of the Federation, how is it Spectra’s main source of raw material?
The scriptwriters really weren’t thinking this through. Some 80 episodes from now, guess which planet will be the staging area for the attempted destruction of Earth.
What happened to the ‘captured’ investigation team? The scriptwriters forgot to toss in a line about their rescue.
Gatchaman plot: A city was devastated by its own pollution ten years ago. Nobody lives there anymore, making it perfect for Galactor. An ISO research team is shot down by Galactor, prompting Dr. Nambu to send the Science Ninja Team to investigate. The BotP plot follows the Gatch plot aside from the inevitable Zarking and editing. Aside from dead helicopter pilots, this episode also includes military forces bombing the Galactor base. This does not much concern Leader X, since their weapon, the Jellyfish Lens, is complete. Then they send the thing out to destroy neighboring cities. In this episode, the creature is able to refract sunlight into a powerful energy beam that destroys cities and people. It breathes the toxic smog that still poisons the city. What kills it is pure oxygen, coupled with the Firebird.