Episode Review: 'Big Robot Gold Grab' by UnpublishedWriter
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Big Robot Gold Grab
Battle of the Planets, Episode Seventeen
Gatchaman Episode #6, The Great Mini Robot Operation
DVD and Veoh episode #6


Review/Summary: We open, as always, with Center Neptune, the three fish crossing the screen, and (sigh) Zark in voice-over: “All the universe knows of Center Neptune, guardian of the galaxy, but only a privileged few know of its location, deep in the ocean here.” [Not so deep, according to the establishing shot.]

Now we see Zark, in his Zarkstyle. “I know what you’re thinking: I’m lucky to be here all the time, wearing my smart G-Force uniform, surrounded by the latest in space technology, and you say to yourself, ‘That’s living. How can I get to be a Zark. Oh, my friends, don’t envy me. It’s not all it seems.” [We know, Zark, we know. You moan about how stressful and lonely the job is every single episode. No wonder you have phone sex with Susan.]

He floats over to his console. [No flapping cape, yet. It’s just a matter of time.] “Oh, sure, I can get from place to place in a flash, as long as it’s in this room. But look beyond what you see, and – what do you see? Worries, my friends. Antenna-curling worries. Simply trying to outguess Planet Spectra is enough to scramble your phase discriminator. We know they’re apt to strike at our airfields, our cities, our natural resources, but sometimes they come up with a mind-boggling surprise.” [Because there are no spies in this show, no-one actually gathering intelligence and analyzing it. Just Zark, and his ability to see everything (as long as there’s no fog in the area or dirt on his monitors). When he isn’t paying ‘special attention’ to Princess.] He pokes at his console, and the four screens light up in the usual manner.

“And the emergency word I’m getting right now, since I can’t get a picture, is that Spectra, believe it or not, is about to rob a bank.” [From whom is he getting this word?]

Gatchaman footage. A large white building with INTE NATIONAL BANK on its fašade, at night. “You might know Spectra wouldn’t choose just any old bank,” Zark tells us, VO (as the scene shifts to inside, with shots of what looks like a bank lobby and the corridor to the vault). “This may look like one, but that’s part of its security. This is where all the Intergalactic Federation gold is stored. The gold that keeps the economy of the galaxy stable. Naturally, this is where Spectra would strike.” [Well, Earth’s been off the gold standard for a while. Probably since before this episode was written.]

The floor between the security grille and the vault cracks open. A drill-tipped mecha emerges, a door opens, and two small, humanoid robots emerge. They have some serious weaponry: just one has sufficient firepower to melt the vault door. The gold is revealed, complete with the ‘shiny’ sound effect. The other presses a button on the mecha. The drill-nose flips aside and a flat surface extends so that the section immediately below the nose slides forward. It unfolds a single gripper claw and scoops up the gold. Strangely, the gold sounds rather light as it’s poured into the mecha, more like small coins than heavy bars. [Is Zark watching this, or not?]

And now to Mark, who’s reading. His bracelet communicator sounds, and somehow he knows it’s Zark. Zark tells him it’s an emergency Red Alert, and to report at once by any available means. [Zark, a Red Alert is automatically an emergency. Your scriptwriter should be penalized.]

Mark acknowledges, and runs out to his plane for the usual take-off and transmutation sequence, followed by docking with the Phoenix. Princess and the others have also just joined the fun.

Anderson’s on the monitor, telling them the thieves used an underwater ramming device, probably mounted on a submarine. The bank had originally been built far enough from the water to be safe, but erosion of the shoreline left the vault over water. [And, with typical bureaucratic foot-dragging, nobody bothered to rectify the situation? Please, tell me that’s the reason Spectra was able to break in. Of course, if the bank were on solid ground, they could have deployed a mecha to smash in the roof.]

Mark asks if there’s a lead. Anderson says there’s one: a report of an unidentified submarine heading for the Paya (sp?) archipelago that night. There were no reports of Spectra activity in the area before then. They may have just moved in. G-Force should look for any evidence of a base. But the first priority is the gold. The ‘Intergalactic Federation’ wants every single bar back. [I don’t think the scriptwriters really appreciated just how large our own galaxy really is, or how far apart galaxies are. That, or they didn’t care.]

Princess comments that the archipelago has over 50 islands.

Jason says they should just look for recently disturbed trees.

“And grass skirts,” Tiny says. The last time he was in the South Seas, a native girl did a hula underneath the palms in the moonlight. Just for him. [And to judge by the expression on his face, that was only the start of the festivities….]

Mark tells him to close his scrapbook and set a course for Paya. [Envious, are we, mighty Eagle? Or just staying on mission? Or do you still have that stick in your ass from the previous episode?]

A dissolve later, the Phoenix in flight, and Princess in VO asks, “See any recently disturbed trees?”

Tiny (VO): “Not even a recently-disturbed hula skirt.” [Nice one.]

Shot of the archipelago, then the scene switches to an individual island.

Mark, Princess, and Keyop are tiptoeing through the jungle. [Why not just announce, as loudly as possible, that you’re not searching the island? Same message.] Princess asks how many islands they searched, and Keyop brips that he stopped counting after a million. Genre-savvy Mark says that it’s always the last one.

And Spectrans surround them. Right on cue.

When a guard asks what they’re doing, Princess says they’re looking for a home in the country. The guard says they’re going to see the commander. (His voice changes between the lines.)

Our Heroes are taken to the Spectra base. [If the guards had just stayed hidden, G-Force would have moved on.]

Somehow, this is on a monitor in the Phoenix. When did they hack the base security system? They hadn’t known this island was a base until a few minutes before.

Jason reports that everything is going according to plan. For the benefit of the viewers, Anderson reveals that while Mark and Co. distract the Spectrans, Jason and Tiny are to find and retrieve the gold.

Jason says the base doesn’t look like a temporary installation. Shouldn’t they knock it out in a surprise attack?

Anderson says they can’t risk losing the gold. [The Federation wants every last bar returned. Probably be rather – upset – if it were to disappear in a base explosion.] Not to mention the risk of losing members of G-Force.

Jason thinks there’s no risk if they surprise the Spectrans. Anderson refuses again. The gold is the first priority. [Jason, you have a good idea, but if the gold is lost, the economy is screwed, and G-Force is likely out of a job. And maybe Spectra wins because the Federation can’t afford a proper defense.]

Mark, Princess and Keyop face the base commander. He demands to know where they came from. All innocence, Princess says they already told him. Does he want them to lie? Keyop makes a sound, and says, “Hang glider club.”

Now we have a close-up of the commander’s mask as he tells them to show him some respect. Dark olive green, okay. The eyeholes are outlined in pink. Pink. Now we see him. The mask has pointy ears and short antennae. And his one-piece uniform is a sort of dark brick red, with a – How can I describe the thing around his neck? A frill? Blue, with yellow inside, attached to a blue panel covering his upper torso. Olive green gloves that end just past his elbows. And a brown gun holster at his waist. Was he at the end of the line when the costumes were handed out, and got what was left in the bin? He orders his men to use the remotes to look around the island. [Too bad they didn’t do that earlier. They might still have the gold and their base.]

Cameras deploy all over the island.

The Phoenix appears on Monitor #4. To the consternation of Mark, Princess, and Keyop.

Cut to Jason tiptoeing along, until he spots a panel opening up to reveal a missile. He realizes that it must be pointed at their ship.

The Spectrans aim and fire. [And why don’t Mark and the others attack? Keeping to their cover? A fight would be a wonderful distraction.]

The missile hits the water, and there’s a flash. Princess cries out and turns her head, while Mark and Keyop look horrified.

The commander chuckles. So, that was their transportation. They’re not going anywhere. He gives a signal, and a panel slides up, revealing the mini robots. As the mini-robots advance on G-Force, the commander chortles and tells his captives that these are the most powerful robots that Spectra has devised. He orders the robots to take them to the isolation room.

Now we see the shadow of a Phoenix wing-pod on the ocean floor. Then we see the ship itself, safe and sound.

Back at the cave, a Spectra guard patrols. [I assume it’s the same cave.] Jason comes out of hiding [just outside the mouth of the cave]. He creeps up on the guard and leaps. They cut the moment Jason takes out the guard. He follows the tunnel.

Commercial break.

Zark. And he’s going on again about the viewer supposedly wanting to be him, and how worried this person would be when his best (and only) friends are in Spectra custody. He extends his legs and wipes at a monitor. And he can’t see well enough to determine if Tiny was in deep enough water to be safe from the missile. It’s so hard to find people who will do high windows. Then it turns out that Zark saw Jason run into the tunnel. [Consistency, people.] He can’t reach anyone.

And we have Zoltar and the Luminous One. Zoltar announces that the gold is safe on the island of Paya. The Luminous One says that the gold can never be safe until it’s on Spectra. Bring it to Spectra, and if a single bar is missing, the responsible officer will activate his self-destruct button. And they all know who the responsible officer is. [So Spectra has robot officers?]

Back in the base, Keyop, Mark and Princess are shown to the isolation room, which seems to be in a dank, dripping cavern. At the end of the cavern is a short, metal-clad tunnel ending in a substantial-looking wall with a heavy door.

As a robot prods Keyop forward, the boy asks Mark if he has any ideas. Mark says they should transmute. Which they do. [So much for the secret identities. Surely Spectra has pictures of them, now.]

A rather exciting little fight follows, during which Keyop discovers the robots can fire lasers out the backs of their heads.

The commander runs down to investigate the commotion. When he sees G-Force, he asks who they are. [How hard would it have been to write a recognition of them?]

Mark says they’re Galaxy Security. Princess says they’re called G-Force.

The commander has the classic line, “After them!”

Edited fight. Must prevent trauma to the kiddies.

Now the three are running down a corridor.

And a clumsy edit to another part of the base. An alarm sounds, and guards run to respond. Jason darts out of cover and finds the vault.

He attaches a drill bit to his gun and sets to work. The truly amazing tool cuts through the thick vault door in a few seconds. He opens a large case, and the gold makes a shiny sound at him.

The Phoenix surfaces at the base dock. Jason boards and gets into his car. Yep, he’s going to use that one-person vehicle to transport the galaxy’s gold. And he has some cases in the car with him on the way to the vault. Something is up.

Now we have some bad editing. Mark calls Jason, who’s already finished retrieving the gold.

Looks like Mark, Princess, and Keyop were in some sort of fight, since they’re in dramatic poses, and the base commander is sending out the mini-robots again.

Surrounded, the three form the Whirlwind Pyramid to deal with their opponents and escape.

Zoltar is angry at his underling. First the idiot didn’t recognize G-Force, and now he’s let them escape. They’re after the gold, and he’d better not lose one ounce of it.

Again to the Phoenix, traveling under water. The team is having a good laugh, beside numerous sealed cases. “Wait until they get a look at their ‘gold’,” is Jason’s line.

Tiny reports that they have a visitor. Mark identifies it as a submarine. On the front viewscreen appears the drill-tipped mecha.

Jason figures that Anderson could not object to him destroying one enemy submarine. Mark stops him: if he misses, he’ll give away their position. Jason says that he won’t miss, and Spectra won’t miss the mecha for weeks. He’ll sink it so deep they’ll never find it. Just one shot. And he presses the button. [So they aren’t considering the possibility that the mecha is loaded with the fake gold and that it will be missed? Or that blowing up the mecha defeats the purpose of their trick?]

Oops. The missile hits a coral outcrop instead of the mecha.

The explosion rocks the mecha. Realizing that G-Force is still around, the commander orders the mini-robot pilot to take them to the surface and prepare to depth-bomb.

Apparently, changing attitude to surface is too much for the clamps holding what the commander thinks are cases full of gold bars. They give way, the cases scatter, and the ‘gold bars’ break as they fall to the floor. They’re fakes.

The commander is in a panic. He was not to lose one ounce. What will Zoltar do when he finds out what happened?

Zoltar calls, and immediately starts berating him for failure. [How did Zoltar find out?] The responsible officer must self-destruct. Or will he blame the robot?

Desperately, the commander shifts the blame to the mini-robot and orders it to self-destruct. Bad idea. The robot willingly self-destructs before the commander can bail out. [Wait: did someone just die?]

The Phoenix heads back to base.

And we have Zark narrating again. Everything’s well. The gold was saved, the Spectrans stopped, and the bank will be moved inland. “Once more, the civilized universe has been saved by – G-Force.”

Now he hopes the viewer will stop wishing to be him. See what he had to do to get G-Force out and back safely? [No, we didn’t. You didn’t do a thing, Zark.] Pushing buttons and reading monitors is nothing: it’s the worry. But, now that the team is safe, he can take a 10-second oil break. After he cuts off some switches and wipes out his monitor screens. And –

He pulls out a sonic boomerang. NNNOOOOOO!

And throws it. NNNOOOOOOOO!

The boomerang makes its way around the room, then strikes Zark, so he goes invisible. Zark giggles and says he wiped himself out. [We can only hope so.] Darn. He can turn himself back on again.

Fic Alert: Tiny’s date. When did that happen? What happened?

Who told Zark that Spectra was about the rob the bank? And why didn’t he order extra security around the place.

Science question: Lots of questions about mecha with drills for tips, the weight of gold, the plausibility of drilling through the ground to break into a building….

Bizarreness alert: Jason using his one-person car to transport the stolen gold. He would need an obscene number of trips to make the transfer. Could the Phoenix even fly with all that gold aboard? Just when did they load it?

Gatchaman plot: The BotP episode follows the Gatch plot pretty much. Of course, in Gatchaman, this is the world’s gold supply. And the bank is one of the Science Ninja Team’s sources of funding. Rather higher body count, also.
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