Episode Review: 'Raid of the Space Octopus' by UnpublishedWriter
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Raid of the Space Octopus
Battle of the Planets, Episode Ten
Gatchaman Episode #67, Mortal Blow! Gatchaman Fire
DVD and Veoh episode #56

Review/Summary: Establishing shot of Center Neptune, and these lines from Zark: “10-4, Big Twinkle, I copy. Pick up some motion lotion, and do it to it for home 20. Cut some Zs on the backstroke. We gone.” [I am not making this up. I’m not that twisted. Making it worse is the perky ‘Zark’ theme in the background.]

Then he turns to the camera. “Oh, I was just rapping with a robot pilot on his way to the Big Dipper.” [Anything you want to tell us, Zark? Anything we should know about?] They do that to pass time, when there’s not much happening. [Hm: what about all those Spectra attacks?] But he’s usually too busy to chitchat. He’s the ‘eyes that never close for G-Force.’ You know, his task of keeping watch for alien invaders. But now it’s time to check things on Earth.

Gatchaman footage of some sort of industrial facility, as Zark says that everything looks okay. Energy plants and supply areas are working smoothly. [Then why the pensive music? I think that things were not well in the original.] But they cannot be lulled into a false sense of security. “There are forces outside our galaxy whose own planetary resources are almost gone.” [For some reason, we see a cutaway view of the earth under a power plant, showing what looks like a shaft through layers of Earth into something that resembles a cloud. The cloud is connected to a more colorful cloud-looking area, that seems to be ignited by an energy beam also penetrating the rock layers.] Zark continues with this week’s set-up, telling us that we’ve dug deep in search of more resources, even tapping molten areas below the Earth’s crust. [Here, we have bubbling magma.]

Shot of woods and birds. Zark says that here on Earth, everything seems normal and peaceful. Scientists in Earth’s special laboratories are seeking new ways to stretch Earth’s own resources.

Switch to the main Federation Security building. The eight-sided one. Zark tells us that G-Force has been able to repel all attacks, but Spectra is sure to ‘visit’ soon.

Now to the Luminous One in conference with Zoltar. Their galaxy is doomed, unless they have Earth as a supply base. [A planet supplying a galaxy. Right. And a truck farm in Puerto Rico can feed the entire Earth.] Zoltar understands. The Luminous One isn’t so sure about that. Every time Zoltar goes to Earth, he returns empty-handed. Now Zoltar swears that, by the dual red suns that shine above Spectra, Earth shall be conquered. [Careful what oaths you swear, Zoltar.]

“How?” the LO demands.

“By a magnificent new giant robot machine that is operated electrically, under my control,” Zoltar tells him. [Setting yourself up, aren’t you, Z?]

In that case, the Luminous One points out, any mistakes will be his alone. [I think that’s a hint.] The new Spectra base is in the Arctic, where the magnetic fields will disrupt enemy scans. Strike Earth’s power centers. Without the ability to produce vitalumis, the ‘Intergalactic Federation’ will crumble. [So, vitalumis is no longer mined from under the ocean: it’s manufactured. And it’s holding the Federation together. Economically interesting. And the scriptwriters still don’t care that ‘intergalactic’ is not synonymous with ‘interstellar.’]

Zoltar promises ‘The Great Light of Wisdom’ that Earth shall be destroyed. [Uh, you guys want the resources, remember?]

LO has heard the boastful words and glowing promises before. Zoltar hastens to reassure that he shall return victorious.

Cut to someplace very cold, and the spinning spaceship from The Fastest Gun in the Galaxy. [It’s the exact same shot because it was cribbed from the Gatch original of this episode and moved.]

Zoltar, in the control room, says this is one time he cannot fail the Luminous One.

Scene in the Luminous One’s chamber. As its image appears on the screen, it praises Zoltar’s strategy so far. The guardians of Earth seem unaware of his approach.

Sandy Frank space-travel footage.

As Earth fills the screen, Zark breathlessly tells us that the Interplanetary Patrol has detected an unidentified intruder in their universe. [Unless Spectra is invading from a parallel universe, this is inaccurate. The scriptwriters were lazy again, using that 1950s SciFi manual.] They’re approaching Earth.

The spinning spaceship appears above some snow-covered mountains during a snowstorm. One of the small craft attached to it launches. Zoltar is the pilot. We do not see his destination except that it’s somewhere in the mountains.

Camera pans over a cityscape. Zark in voice-over tells us that the alien invader is definitely from Spectra, which means trouble. [I think even new viewers would figure that out without help, Zark.] As the scene changes to a strange-looking craft in the sky, Zark says he’s ordered the area evacuated, but can’t contact Mark.

And now we have a look at the odd-looking craft. It’s a sphere with a hexagonal frame around it. Tentacles extend from the faces of the frame, and where the faces join are solid projections. It makes the same weird, hollow, boinging noise as the ‘preying mantis’ of episode 5. An energy beam projects from its underside, but we don’t see any destruction.

Zark contacts G-Force, and finally gets hold of Mark to tell him what’s happening. Mark acknowledges, transmutes, and docks with the Phoenix.

He apologizes for being late, repeats what Zark just told him about invaders from Spectra, and asks what the word is from Security. Tiny says Anderson’s calling them now.

Anderson tells them that Spectra is attacking Earth’s energy plants, especially those powering the vitalumis laboratories. When Mark asks, he tells them the enemy coordinates are 106 by 34 degrees east. [I believe some vital information is missing, there. Such as latitude and longitude, and North and South.] The ‘space octopus’ is moving north at 350 knots, heading for Energy Complex AB-2. G-Force shall proceed to battle stations, and Zark will provide the needed computer support.

Mark asks their present course from the navigator. Jason appears to be sulking in his chair. Mark snaps at him (calling the energy complex ‘ABZ’), and Jason sets the course. [Nobody caught the mistake when Kasem read that line?] Then G2 says, “Activate ANL. Get a reading on that space lobster.” Princess reminds him that Anderson called it a space octopus. Jason says that all seafood turns him off. [What is up with Jason? He’s really sulky today.]

Tiny complains the talk of seafood is making him hungry.

Mark says they can all stop: they’re approaching the attack area. Energy Complex AB-2 is in the middle of a desert, with an artificial river running alongside.

Our ‘space octopus’ looks a bit different this time. Seems that what we saw earlier was only one component of the mecha. This is made of five hexagons (four lined up for the stern, and one for the bow), sporting two tentacles and a bow spike. It attacks the energy complex, breaking open the dikes along the river.

The Phoenix approaches. Mark orders the missiles readied. Princess reports that their shields are jammed. Mark states the obvious: Spectra is blocking their control units. Princess reports that their back-up systems are fouled, and Mark orders her to keep working on it. [She is more than the token chick!] Jason says they can try the rocket pod.

The top missile bay opens up.

Zoltar realizes there’s a problem with the Phoenix, and orders an attack.

As the Phoenix nears the Spectra ship, the sections separate and sprout their full complement of tentacles. Zoltar utters some techno-babble, and the battle is joined.

The team’s missiles are shot out of the air and the rocket pod destroyed. As the Phoenix loses control, the Spectra ship reforms in a new configuration.

Mark abandons the attack. There’s just enough time for everyone to make it to the emergency center. Jason asks, “Auxiliary power?” Mark orders everyone out. They rush for the elevator. Tiny aims the Phoenix straight up.

The Spectra ship follows, then passes them.

Mark, in his plane [?], asks Tiny how long until they can transmute. 70 seconds. Mark orders him to do it, but Tiny says they have to wait for power build-up. [They’ve never had this problem before. And why aren’t they in the ‘emergency center’ mentioned earlier?]

Now the ship is simply hovering, with the Spectra craft above it. Zoltar is thrilled. He will be able to destroy G-Force.

The Phoenix dives, and Mark orders transmute. Zoltar follows.

The Fiery Phoenix activates, and the Spectrans drop ‘cell missiles’, blobby things that explode on contact with the flames. Zoltar laughs over his victory over G-Force.

Mark gives technobabble orders that basically translate to ‘Level off,’ but Tiny can’t budge the controls. The ship is coming out of transmute. With a last huge effort, he manages to bring the ship down without smashing it all over the landscape. Everyone bails out of their vehicles. [So, what happened to the ‘emergency center’?]

From behind a dune, they watch in disbelief as their ship explodes.

Mark makes the Heroic Pronouncement that Zoltar won the battle, but they will win the war.

And now Zark with drooping antennae. That was a terrible scramble. If he had heart, it would be in his mouth. If he had a mouth. [Bleargh.] Now he has his work cut out for him. Once he finds out what went wrong with the command ship, he’ll have to burn the midnight oil to design a new Phoenix in time to stop Zoltar. [So why does Center Neptune have humans, if Zark can do it all?] Then he wonders when they’re going to redesign him with all the latest technical components. [Yeah, it’s ultimately all about you, isn’t it, Zark?]

[Hey, just solved a mystery of misplaced footage on the Veoh site. During Siege of the Squids, there was a mysterious mention of problems with the Phoenix, and Keyop flopping onto a couch saying things could be worse. Those bits came from this episode.]

Back to Center Neptune. Mark kicks himself for not knowing that Zoltar would bring his ‘ion coupler’ into play. [And why should you? That’s the first we’ve heard of the thing.] Princess urges him not to have regrets, but Mark says they should have been able to defeat Zoltar. Everybody wants another crack at Zoltar, and Tiny wonders if the new Phoenix will be ready soon.

Anderson comes in and tells them that the recovery team has sifted through the wreckage. The data has been given to Zark’s aerodyne computer. [Because mere humans aren’t qualified to build squat. Hey, that’s the implication of Zark’s insertion into darn near every aspect of G-Force.] He has the utmost confidence in G-Force.

Mark wants their ship back. Anderson counsels patience.

Doesn’t help Mark, much. Losing the ship was his responsibility. Jason points out that he got them all out safely. It was nobody’s fault.

Anderson agrees, and tells him to take a look. He opens a large panel in the wall to reveal a new Phoenix under construction. Zark reworked the designs and made some brilliant new additions. After Princess asks, Anderson says the ship will be ready in two days.

When Jason notes that Zoltar will be running wild during that time, Anderson says that conventional units will do their best until G-Force gets back into action.

And now for the next bit of excitement. A power plant near a smoking volcano. Tanks and fighters are deployed to defend it, as the Spectra mecha attacks. The sections are separated. Presumably, Spectra wipes the floor with the defenders.

The new Phoenix is revealed.

Just in time. The mecha is about to attack the Federation Security building. Or so it seems, but nothing is shown of any attack.

Zark sends a report that the separate mecha sections are self-energizing drones. Anderson orders the team into the air.

In the Spectra ship, Zoltar anticipates victory. From Earth, they can go on to conquer the galaxy.

A soldier rains on his parade. A defending aircraft is approaching.

Zoltar gets a look at the new Phoenix. He can’t believe what he’s seeing: the Phoenix was destroyed.

They play tag with the Spectrans until Mark orders them to use the new weapons Zark developed. Everyone heads for their vehicles and awaits the word to attack.

Fortunately, this battle takes place in another desert region, full of exciting rock formations and such. The team take out their vehicles and prepare to do battle.

Mark gets into a dogfight with one section. He deploys a ray gun (from inside his plane, which should significantly affect its aerodynamics) and destroys it.

Jason shows off a honking big Gatling-type gun that’s been mounted in his vehicle. [I’m thinking that the way the front of his car splits should do something to its handling, but it looks cool.]

Princess has missiles.

Keyop has what look like cartoon bombs, complete with long fuses. They punch right through the mecha’s hull.

They take out the four drone sections, leaving Zoltar’s command vehicle. Time to get him.

Zoltar orders full jets. He wants to escape, and G-Force is gaining.

Tiny deploys the two big missiles under the Phoenix. [The effect of this is diminished by their appearance in previous episodes. It’s as if Tiny didn’t get new toys.]

Zoltar worries how he will explain this defeat to the Luminous One, but a retreat is called for. He ejects just as Tiny fires missiles.

Zoltar ejected in a chair, but there’s a shot of a piece of wreckage sprouting wings and flying off.

G-Force won this round. Tiny says it’ll be rather dull without Zoltar around. And he’s hungry. Mark compliments everyone on the job they did.

Zark voice-over, telling us that Zoltar and his crew escaped safely again. They’ll be back, more determined than ever.

And we have Zark in his control room. He wonders, now that G-Force has a new ship and vehicles, how long it will be before they invite him on one of their missions. He doesn’t have a winged cape, like theirs, he can’t fly, and he doesn’t have their cool weapons – face it, he’d be a drag in outer space.

Fic Alert: None

Science question: What is vitalumis and how is it made?

Bizarreness alert: Aside from the mecha not looking much like a cephalopod, not too much strangeness. Although why the scriptwriters talked about an emergency center on the Phoenix, when the Fiery Phoenix was clearly planned, is a good question.

And Zark as the ‘do everything’ character is bizarre, anyway.

The other one was the sudden appearance of that little aircraft thing in the falling wreckage. [It’s not in the Gatch original.]

Gatchaman plot: Humans have created a technologically advanced civilization, but at a cost to the human soul, and to the natural world. Scientists are working to restore the Earth, seeking non-polluting energy sources such as geothermal energy. This is the Mantle Project (a long-term target of Galactor). The idea is to create a new, peaceful world.

Leader X orders Berg Katse to attack the Mantle Project and destroy it. Katse thinks they should let the ISO finish, and then steal the whole thing, but Leader X is adamant. When they do conquer the Earth, Katse will be Leader Z. (This thrills Katse, who doesn’t realize he’s to be killed after Earth belongs to Galactor. Leader X is not nice.)

The attack begins, with much more destruction than shown in the BotP episode. A pollution-free city is destroyed.

The Science Ninja Team gathers, and Nambu tells them the next target is a desalination facility in the Goli desert. If it’s destroyed, this could be the end of the Mantle Project.

Joe’s unhappy because the team has basically two weapons: bird missiles and the Firebird. Despite Jun’s upbeat contention that they’ve come this far with brains and courage, he knows their luck can’t last.

And it doesn’t, since the God Phoenix is destroyed. No mysterious malfunctions: the bird missiles are damaged, and must be jettisoned. The SNT tries to retreat, but the mecha outflanks them. Ken orders the Firebird with Shadow Separation, and depth charges from the mecha wreck the God Phoenix. Ryu manages to keep them from crashing, but just barely.

At the Crescent Coral base, Nambu reminds them that they aren’t alone, and shows them work on the new God Phoenix. UN forces have the task of beating off Galactor until the new GP is ready. They get their butts kicked.

Cut from BotP is a fight in Jun’s place, when the team take offense at some patrons dissing them.

Then the new God Phoenix is ready.

The ISO headquarters come under attack, and the team arrive to kick Galactor butt. After leading the mecha to an uninhabited area. Jinpei’s bombs are not fused with long cords, but with an internal mechanism.
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