Battle of the Planets, Episode Eighteen
Gatchaman Episode #24, The Neon Giant That Smiles in the Dark
DVD and Veoh episode #21
Review/Summary: Establishing shot, and Zark VO: “This is Center Neptune, the watchful eye of the universe, where even the slightest disturbance in the most remote part of our galaxy is monitored.” [By a hypochondriac, fussy, AI.]
Zark is having a 10-second oil break. “At the moment, everything is calm in outer space, so I can take a 10-second break. But it probably won’t last long.”
Susan calls. [Brace yourselves.] Zark’s antennae sproing upright [for the first time]. He’s been wanting to talk to her. He asks if she gets an oil break. After she affirms, he suggests they meet each other during one. She likes the idea. He asks her location. She says she’s on top of a very high skyscraper someplace. Where is he? He says deep down in the ocean. Guess their break isn’t time enough for a meeting. [Skyscrapers on Pluto? Well, to be honest, she hasn’t said she’s on Pluto, yet.] She says they’ll work something out.
Meanwhile, there’s an alert from the Galactic Early Warning System. [Okay, that’s it. Time to sic the IT and AI techs on her, and investigate Quanto Tobor. Flirting during an alert? That’s not allowed in any military on the planet Earth.]
Zark politely thanks her and asks her to put it on his monitor.
Sandy Frank space footage. According to Zark, an alien object has entered the Solar System and is passing Saturn. Now it’s heading for Earth. [Stop talking, Zark, and start alerting. NOW.]
It’s heading for the general area of the Intergalactic Research Laboratory. Which is Gatchaman night footage of an 8-sided skyscraper that we will see in later episodes. He must warn Security at once. [How about, oh, say, five minutes ago, Zark?]
Brief shot of the building interior, with people working at old-fashioned computers, then a man leaving the building and bidding the guard good night. He gets into his car.
This fellow rates a chauffeur. He’s in the back seat, reading. He asks the driver to turn on the news. All they hear is strange music. The driver is mystified (and in the dialogue, we learn his passenger is Dr. Rainey). Rainey says the music sounds familiar, and is coming from ‘that direction’ (not the radio). Driver says that, in this neighborhood, it could be almost anything.
A huge, glowing foot and lower leg appear, and he brakes suddenly. We see a glowing white mecha-head, then the driver and Rainey as light flickers.
Cut to a house in the suburbs. A car drives up, an older man gets out to raise the garage door, and the music starts. Light bleaches the night, and it looks as if the giant foot is about to step on the man. Except they edited to avoid upsetting anyone.
Phoenix in daylight. Mark says that Anderson sounded unhappy. This must be a real emergency. Keyop strikes a pose and says (with noises), “Not to worry: Keyop’s here.” Jason says that’s what worries him, and Mark reminds him that the last time he tried to take over, it was a real mess. [I don’t remember that episode.] Thus deflated, Keyop sits down.
They arrive in the city. Jason says Defense Center has cleared them to land.
Wherever they landed, G-Force needs a cab. They’re in civvies, and Keyop’s looking out at the city. For a team called in for an emergency, they don’t look very worried. Keyop’s excited. He spots the Ferris Wheel and giant statue of an amusement park and wants to go.
The cab passes the statue, which is of a stereotypical Native American chief, and there is a significant pan up its height.
For some reason, although Mark is shown, we hear Ronnie Schell asking what has Anderson so uptight this time. [I know I noticed when the episode first aired.]
The team reaches the 8-sided building and meet with Anderson. He tells them that three of their top scientists have disappeared in the past few hours. [Gatch animation does not support the seriousness of this: Keyop’s acting like a boy on his first trip to the big city.] Keyop asks if they went fishing. Anderson says it’s not a joking matter, deflating the boy’s excitement. G-Force’s assignment is to make certain that nothing happens to the remaining scientists.
The team splits up. Mark (in his civilian garb) is guarding Dr. Walter Lambert, inventor of the electro-dynamic force field. G1 is driving a sporty red convertible. Zark says that his sensors indicate that the mysterious object from outer space has something to do with all this. [Gee, ya think?]
Lambert drives through an electric gate. Mark parks outside the wall, and climbs over. [Why? Why not accompany him inside? Or does Lambert not know he’s under guard?]
Inside the facility, a man hands Lambert plans. New secret installations. Center Neptune wants force fields set up around them.
Three dark-clad, winged beings break through a window. Someone’s attempt to copy G-Force? Lambert calls for the guards, and the intruders attack.
Strange editing. Mark runs to help, and suddenly the intruders are jumping through another window. What happened?
Mark stops and transmutes.
He follows the trio to a nearby construction site. One tries to nail him with a forklift, which he dodges. Five or six corner him near 55-gallon drums. The leader says Mark would have been wiser not to follow them, to which Mark replies they would have been wiser not to leave Spectra.
An exciting (and edited) fight follows. Although there are a number of intruders, we only see one jump into a purple car and drive away. Mark hops into his little red sports convertible to follow.
This Spectran is good. He takes a sharp corner, and Mark barely avoids hitting a large truck that fills the intersection. Then he punches the smoke screen on his car, blinding Mark long enough to get away.
Mark makes a guess at where the man went, and ends up at the entrance to the amusement park.
Now, the park at night. The camera focuses on a minstrel-like flutist accompanied by some odd-looking clowns. Keyop’s watching, licking a lollipop. Mark grabs him by the ear and demands to know what he’s doing. He’s supposed to be working. Keyop says, “Crazy music.” Mark tells him to find Princess and get back to work. Keyop wants a few more minutes, but Mark isn’t having any of that. [Remember the flutist, folks.]
Apparently later, Princess (with Keyop riding pillion) follows a red car along a mountain road. They hear strange music. The car follows the road, to meet an all-too-familiar giant leg.
The driver stops the car. As Princess and Keyop race to help, the giant lifts its foot to stomp, but the driver backs up and it misses.
Princess and Keyop are in civvies, and still try to stop the thing. They don’t have any luck stopping it, but they do distract it from the scientist. It chases them, and drives them off the road (and through the cheapest, most flimsy guardrail ever seen). Fortunately, they aren’t hurt (although the accident does something to the space-time continuum: it’s suddenly daylight). Princess reports to Mark that they’ve just found a giant mummy. [It doesn’t look that much like a mummy. More like an oversized Las Vegas performer.]
Zark again. Now they know what came from space. They just don’t know for certain whose behind it, but it has all the hallmarks of one of Zoltar’s machines.
He floats over to his console. He’ll turn his ‘electronic comparator’ on it and try to find its hiding place. So far, it looks like the amusement park is where it’s concealed, but Zark can’t believe it. [Why not? An amusement park is perfect: costumed performers provide cover for oddly-dressed Spectrans, vehicles arrive at all hours to deliver supplies and materiel, nobody will pay undue attention to odd-looking machinery and other devices, and the crowds make it impossible for Federation Security to rush in, guns blazing.]
The park at early evening. Mark is certain that the giant is not the statue at the entrance. [Why not? It’s the right size, and they’ve seen a few instances of disguised mecha before this.] Tiny wonders if Princess and Keyop imagined the whole thing. [Spectra uses giant mecha. Come on, folks, this is taking stupid to new levels.]
Mark apparently reconsiders. Two giants in as many days is a bit of a coincidence. (Yes, he asks where a 100-foot giant could hide, and the team responds, “Anywhere it wants to.” Groan.) They’re going to check out the park.
Significant close-up of the statue.
Later at night. The team’s searching the park. Keyop runs over to the flutist. Princess tries to call him back, but Mark says to let him go. They know where he is if they need him. She says the music bothers her, and that Keyop can’t seem to stay away. Mark and Jason agree. [Not a lot of consistency here.] Mark agrees that the musician is spooky. They should split up and look around. He’ll take the flute player.
Princess takes Keyop off.
The flutist finishes playing, to audience applause. The curtain falls.
Much later, Mark (in Birdstyle) is hiding as the flutist walks past. He follows the performer to a fake castle on a hill.
Meanwhile, Keyop and Princess are at a ride in the shape of an octopus. You know this won’t go well. Keyop, still acting like a child, hops into one of the cars. The ‘ride’ activates, lifting the arm holding the car. Keyop jumps out as it throws the car, which Princess dodges. He lands on the control dome, and sees dark-clad Spectrans at the controls. The same men who attacked Lambert earlier. As they use the mecha to attack Princess, Keyop takes out his bolos. They wrap around the throat of one, and bad editing makes it seem that this is all it takes to stop Spectra. When he emerges, Princess tells him Mark could be in danger.
At the ‘castle’, Mark has followed the flutist to a sort of throne room. A door slides down behind him, cutting him off. The lights turn on, and the throne turns around, with the flutist seated in it. Several of the black-winged agents flank it.
Zoltar’s voice says, “We have a music lover: the Commander of G-Force.” The flutist stands. He’s been expecting him, ever since the scientists began disappearing.
And we have the first flamboyant reveal as Zoltar tears off the flutist costume. Allow him to introduce a large friend G-Force has been searching for. He starts playing.
A viewscreen on the throne’s back shows the Native American statue. The guise disappears, revealing the glowing giant.
Why doesn’t Mark attack? He just stands there as the giant starts walking.
The giant is about to finish its mission. Once Earth’s best scientists are gone, Spectra shall rule. Anderson is its latest target. [So, Chief Anderson is a scientist. Why? Zark does everything.]
And Mark – still does not attack. He calls Jason and Tiny, and tells them that Anderson is next.
The leader of the black-clad Spectrans has let Mark talk to Zoltar. Now he and his men attack. There’s a fight, but I think it was edited because nobody seems to get hurt, yet Mark escapes them.
At the 8-sided building (which must be more than a set of laboratories), Anderson is working late. Light streams through the windows, and he turns to see the giant.
Jason and Tiny (driving either Mark’s car from earlier, or one just like it) arrive on the scene. They state the obvious: that they’ve found the giant, and must distract it.
Above, the giant smashes through the window to reach Anderson.
Tiny crashes into its foot, getting its attention. [And why does it change targets? They can’t really damage the darn thing. Not with just a car and their weapons.]
Back to Mark facing off against Spectrans. Then a yo-yo and bolos enter the scene, and take out the last two attackers.
Now Mark throws his sonic boomerang and knocks the flute from Zoltar’s hands. He tells Zoltar he’s through.
Keyop asks what happens now. Suddenly, Zoltar’s in Mark’s grasp as the commander tells Keyop to play the flute. They struggle as Keyop gets stage fright.
At Mark’s urging, Princess scolds Keyop that he’s never had trouble using his mouth before. Zoltar offers anything, if Keyop doesn’t play. Mark says Zoltar has nothing left to give.
Suddenly, there’s a control panel in the throne. Mark tells Keyop to start playing. Zoltar promises to make him rich. Princess demands the flute.
That’s what it takes. Keyop starts to play. He’s no flutist, and his playing wreaks havoc with the giant’s programming.
Tiny and Jason, unaware of Keyop’s playing, think they had something to do with the giant’s problems.
The controls overload and explode, sending Mark hurtling into Keyop, and so does the giant. [To the delight of construction contractors and dismay of insurance companies.]
At the ‘castle,’ Zoltar still manages to gloat. G-Force thinks they’ve won. He’ll be back, and next time they’ll play a different tune. Then he ducks out.
Mark starts to chase after Zoltar, but the ‘castle’ begins shaking.
They flee, as the central tower launches. It’s a disguised rocket, and it sheds its disguise as it flies.
The ‘castle’ explodes. Mark calls Jason and Tiny, who confirm that Anderson is safe.
Phoenix in flight. Inside, everyone’s at their positions, and Princess has some packages wrapped with bows. Keyop asks if she’s going to open her presents. She says she’s going to wait until they get home. Just because he’d like to know who they’re from. Keyop says he’ll find out, and starts playing ‘Yankee Doodle.’ Badly. To Princess’s dismay and the others’ amusement.
Zark. As required. They defeated Zoltar and sent him packing. It takes all of their combined skill to deal with his threat.
Crappy headshot Mark calls, requesting landing clearance. Zark grants it. Mark tells him the scientists he helped save have a present for him. It gurgles when he shakes it. It might be a big can of imported oil.
“It’s moments like these,” Zark says, “that make me realize how lucky I am to be a member of – G-Force.” [Bleargh.]
Fic Alert: Who did give Princess those gifts? How did Spectra take over that amusement park and land a mecha without anybody noticing? What happened to the missing scientists? There was no comforting Zark to tell us they were rescued.
Science question: How would music be used to control a weapon? Some sort of coding in the notes?
Bizarreness alert: That giant is easily turned from its target. But if it’s remote-controlled, it should only respond to unusual events if the operator does so.
Gatchaman plot: ISO scientists are murdered by a glowing giant. If they aren’t stomped, they’re blasted by energy beams.
The Science Ninja Team is called to Amegapolis, in the nation of Ameris. They apparently don’t know why they were summoned, and dialogue suggests they haven’t been to Amegapolis before. Jinpei behaves like a little kid on a visit.
At ISO headquarters (the 8-sided building), they’re initially stopped in the lobby, to Jinpei’s dismay (no children allowed). Dr. Nambu tells the guards to let them through (and Jinpei struts by them). The doctor tells them that he had intended to give them a tour of the city (which excites Jinpei), but had to change the plans. He tells them of the murdered scientists, and that they must protect the remaining scientists and find the people responsible.
The BotP episode follows the Gatch plot, more or less, from this point on. Some deaths are edited out, of course, the fight scenes are edited, along with Jun and Jinpei being knocked unconscious trying to defend scientists from the titular giant. The wrapped packages in the God Phoenix are cosmetics Jun purchased in Amegapolis.