Battle of the Planets, Episode Nineteen
Gatchaman Episode #61, The Phantom Red Impulse
DVD and Veoh episode #52
Review/Summary: Yes, establishing shot of Center Neptune (which still looks as if it’s just below the surface) and Zark (sans Zarkstyle): “Here at Center Neptune, 900 fathoms beneath the sea, I’m the first one to get bad news through my complex sensory system. I should be happy: not a single alert in 24 hours. But, I’m worried. It’s just too peaceful. Spectra, a hostile alien planet in Crab Nebulae (sic), is bound to attack again soon. They’re planet is just like Earth, only millions of years older, and all their resources are depleted. They need what we have, and they’ll never stop attacking until they rob Earth of everything.”
Then he turns his ‘head’ to face the viewer and introduces himself and G-Force to the newer members of the audience. Including telling us that the members of G-Force have been trained almost since birth for their roles. And now he should get in touch with Mark, the leader of G-Force.
Now we have a shot of the Phoenix bridge as Zark calls them. Nobody makes a move to answer [because there was nobody calling them in the Gatch original]. Zark becomes increasingly upset.
Keyop suddenly reacts, pointing and saying something about Mark not hearing. Princess scolds him and puts a finger to her lips. [Yeah, never alert the boss to a communications from base, kid. It’s never a good idea to let him know there might be important news.] For some reason, this is very distressing, as if Keyop just did something upsetting to Mark.
The music becomes pensive, and Mark turns away from the team, plainly sad about something. Keyop tries to apologize, but Mark tells him to forget it.
Mark takes his plane out (to rather more dramatic music). Zark tells us why Mark is upset: he just received word that Zoltar and his forces had attacked planet Riga and completely devastated it. Mark’s friend, Colonel Cronus, was on Riga, and lost during the attack. (During Zark’s explanation, we see what must be flashback footage of a rocket flying through the sky and exploding behind clouds, then a still of Cronus – who looks a lot like one of the red-suited pilots we’ve seen in earlier episodes.)
As Mark opens the cockpit of his plane [that can’t be good, opening a jet cockpit in flight] and tosses out a chrysanthemum-like flower, Zark continues talking about how the two had served together in mutual defense of ‘our galaxy’ [even though the Crab Nebula is in the Milky Way] and had a great deal of respect for each other. Yes, Zark ruined a powerful scene. What a surprise.
Then, as Mark responds to something off-screen, Zark tells us there’s trouble. Three invaders breaching (?) the blue cordon perimeter in Sector Z [?]. Mark must contact Security Chief Anderson right away.
Except he doesn’t, and the three invader craft look remarkably like the red planes we saw in The Thing With 1000 Eyes. The other craft buzz him, and one comes close enough that we can see Cronus in the pilot’s seat.
The apparent Cronus comments that Mark looks as if he’s seen a ghost, then zips off with his followers.
Mark, disbelieving, calls Anderson (who answers on what looks like a CB radio) and tells him that Cronus is alive. Anderson himself is astonished.
Mark wants permission to follow, but Anderson tells him he’s already in a restricted area. Return to the command ship at once.
And Mark, the Boy Scout of the show, the moral exemplar – refuses. He has to follow. [Rather an extreme reaction. He and Cronus must have gone through hell and come out the other side for him to throw caution aside that way.]
Anderson again orders Mark to return to the Phoenix. He’s certain this can’t be Cronus.
Aboard the Phoenix, the crew is astounded that Mark disobeyed orders. Anderson tells them he’s jeopardizing the program’s security, and to bring him back.
As they turn to pursue, Jason comments that their ‘noble commander might be in line for a demotion.’ Tiny says Mark always knows what he’s doing. [Which is not the same as making a good decision.]
Then a puzzling bit of animation. It looks as if a rocky outcrop with a cave entrance rises out of the ground like an elevator. Or were they trying to show a POV shot of an approach to the place?
Mark thinks of a secret air base.
All four planes enter the base, Mark’s last. By the time he’s inside, the hangar is empty. [Which should be suspicious in and of itself: no matter how secret the base, support personnel are needed for basic operations and maintenance. There should have been technicians out there to check out the planes and perform other necessary work.]
Mark is impressed by the base, and wonders what Cronus is doing there.
He enters a cage elevator at the other end of the hangar and is taken down a couple of levels and comes out into a featureless room or short corridor with a door opposite.
The door slides open, revealing a large, well-appointed room with a red-suited figure standing at a window-wall. There’s a nice little music surge, as Mark says, ‘Cronus!’ and approaches. He tells the apparent Cronus that he thought Spectra destroyed Riga.
‘Cronus’ tells him that he managed to escape to Earth, but does not explain how, or why he didn’t contact anyone. To fill in the Gatch animation, Mark recalls how Cronus once saved him from a magnetic field. He owes him his life.
‘Cronus’ says he owes him nothing, and that together, they can get rid of that demon, Zoltar. Mark is willing, and does not get the least bit suspicious when ‘Cronus’ tells him that they need the entire G-Force team and they must work in complete secrecy. [Remember: there’s a chain of command. A special ops unit doesn’t get to run off willy-nilly. No military unit does.]
According to ‘Cronus’, their first objective is to penetrate Spectra’s secret base on Earth. He presses a button on his desk, and a drawer with a briefcase slides out. This is all the information they need on the base’s location, its approaches, and its vulnerabilities. He refuses to answer Mark’s question about the source of the data, asking him only to trust him.
Significant close-up of the symbol on the briefcase.
Cut to the Phoenix. They can’t find Mark, and have no idea where to start looking.
Then a giant wasp-mecha comes out from hiding in the trees. Or is it from over the horizon? [More scale problems. The show commits more than a few of these sins.] Given its size relative to the trees in front of it, there’s no way it could have been hiding in the forest.
Jason says, “Red Alert. We’ve got a weird alien invader.” [To whom is he saying that? A report to Zark?] Then he smashes the cover to the missile control.
The cover to the missle bay retracts, but no missiles fire. Jason realizes the Spectrans jammed their weapons. Princess says that means the back-up systems are also down. [Unlike in Gatchaman, they don't need all the vehicles aboard to use the weapons.] Help can’t arrive from Center Neptune in time. [What? No locals to call on?]
Without weapons, all they can do is dodge the wasp mecha. It pursues them, shooting energy-beams from its ‘eyes’ and some sort of projectiles from its antennae. The Phoenix is damaged, and only Tiny’s skill keeps them from crashing in the forest (jungle?).
They think they lost the wasp-mecha, but it comes down on top of them (a goon in the mecha notes that people never look behind) and the stinger injects a gas into the ship. G-Force, to a person, pass out. The Spectrans take them to the secret base.
And now – yes – Zark. “Oh, dear. If Mark had been there, I don’t think this would have happened. I’m not receiving any contacts at all. I think I’m losing my sensors.” He tries to call Mark, but doesn’t get through. [Are we to assume that Mark turned off his communicator? And why isn’t Zark alerting Anderson to this development?]
Meanwhile, unaware that his team’s been captured, Mark asks ‘Cronus’ his plan. The other tells him to return to his team and bring them here.
Apparently, Mark can’t do that. He can only recommend the plan and let them make a joint decision. [Oh, good. A bit of sense crept into the script.] ‘Cronus’ does not sound entirely pleased as he praises Mark’s loyalty.
And Mark flies off in his plane, with the information ‘Cronus’ gave him.
At Center Neptune, Anderson looks over the documents. Then he asks why Cronus gave them to Mark. Mark says the problem with Security is that they’re suspicious of everybody. (Wait, isn’t Mark part of Galaxy Security as well?) Anderson says they can’t afford one mistake in judgment. [Which they can’t, but realistically, nobody ever has enough information to avoid making mistakes.] If his own son gave him the papers, he’d question them.
Mark points out that he’s not Anderson’s son, and Cronus once saved his life, and now needs help.
Anderson thinks Mark must have doubts. [The script has a silly line about the Spectra symbol on the document case. As if a symbol, in and of itself, can demonstrate the veracity of the contents.] He tells Mark they’ve had these documents before, and run them through the ‘crypto-phaser.’ They revealed nothing. [So why not say this earlier?] The papers are fakes. Maybe Cronus defected to Spectra.
Mark says, in an ominous voice, that he’ll know soon.
[Oh, guys, what about G-Force? You know, the rest of the team? Last known to be looking for Mark? Hello?]
Zark, pacing. His Zarkstyle must be in the wash. And no Rover, anywhere. He tells us that Mark is going back to see Cronus, and isn’t happy about what Anderson told him. And, in case the audience doesn’t get it, he asks, “How would you feel if you didn’t know whether your friend was really your friend?” He knows how he’d feel. Wait, no he doesn’t: he’s a robot, and he never had a friend. It would be nice to have someone to compute with.
Well, the Commander is on his way, and Zark has a queasy feeling in the pit of his base electrode that he’s in for trouble. [Ya think?]
‘Cronus’ and Mark, back in the well-appointed base, over coffee (or something that looks like coffee). Cronus is disappointed that Mark showed the plans to the Security Division. [And this is the difference between a children’s show and one for older audiences: older viewers would know that Mark had to tell Anderson what had happened, and would be suspicious of any request that G-Force act independently.]
Mark admits that he had his doubts. “You doubt a friend?” ‘Cronus’ asks. Mark apologizes. ‘Cronus’ suggests they drink to their upcoming victory.
[Animation errors follow. When Mark picks up the cup, his glove is white, and when he drinks, we see pink skin. Oops.]
As Mark drinks, we see his eyes widen slightly, then return to normal. And now there’s a close-up of ‘Cronus.’ Something is up.
Suddenly, Mark chokes and collapses. ‘Cronus’ runs to him and kneels beside him, asking if he’s all right. Mark doesn’t move.
‘Cronus’ stands and starts laughing. The laughter becomes harsh, and then – Zoltar pulls off the disguise. He says that Cronus is dead, and that he had taken his place. The plan had been to use the Commander to lure G-Force out and capture them, and it turned out that wasn’t even necessary. The wasp-mecha already had G-Force.
As he turns to leave, Mark calls to him. Zoltar is clever, yet dumb, Mark says. If he’d really been Cronus, he’d have known Mark doesn’t drink. [So that wasn’t coffee?] What did he do with G-Force?
Zoltar says they escaped, which Mark isn’t buying. After all, didn’t His Purpleness just say they had G-Force captive? His tricks won’t work.
Soldiers rush into the room. Edited scene occurs. Mark leaps into the air, swings off the chandelier – and falls through the trap-door Zoltar just opened in the floor. [Yep, they edited Mark into stupidity.]
He falls some distance into the same cell as the team. Keyop blurps that they have to stop meeting like this, and Mark says he didn’t believe Zoltar had really captured them. [Uh, why not? If Zoltar thought you were dead or helpless, he’d have no reason to lie.] Princess says they were looking for him, but got stung by a giant wasp (and for some reason, Keyop looks really bummed). Mark says he goofed it.
The famous evil Zoltar laugh. They all look to the bars. Zoltar, some soldiers, and a bomb are on the other side. He mocks them and calls them distinguished guests, then says they won’t be his guests for long, but merely unpleasant memories. If they have any plans, act now. The clock is ticking.
Mark reaches into one of his belt-pouches for a small device. He flips it onto Zoltar’s cape as the Spectra leader orders his men to clear the area.
After Zoltar leaves, Mark tries to contact Center Neptune, but Princess says the communications are jammed. [Or maybe it’s because they’re surrounded by rock?]
Princess chucks one of her bombs at the bars. No good.
The bomb is counting down.
Jason pulls out his gun and attaches a drill bit. [Why doesn’t he snag the bomb with the cable, instead? Perhaps because he doesn’t know what will happen. The bomb might explode if it’s shot.] He starts drilling out one of the bars.
A very happy Zoltar arrives at an underwater base. G-Force is gone. The Earth is theirs.
He surfaces at a dock and steps out of his single-passenger submarine. As he acknowledges his men’s salutes, the small device drops from his cape into the water.
Jason’s drilling, the bomb timer is counting down, and the wasp-mecha is in flight.
Finally, Jason drills through the bar. Keyop’s thrilled, until Jason mentions they still can’t get out.
And again, Ronnie Schell is speaking for Mark. They don’t have any time: they have to use the ‘Astro Bomb’.
Mark has a number of those little things, and he packs them into the breach Jason made. He sets them off with his boomerang, and a bar spikes the wall right between Keyop and Tiny (to their dismay).
They rush out through the break (Tiny has to squeeze), and fly out of the base just seconds before it blows.
Crappy-headshot Mark calls Zark and reports that they’ve just escaped from the base. Tell Anderson that his information was right.
Zark says that it was his information, and he’s always right. [How egotistical can a robot be?] Then he loses the connection, and thinks he must have pushed the wrong button. [Oh, I’ve said it before about Zark. Can’t have it both ways, folks. Either Zark knows what he’s doing, or he doesn’t. He’s a robot, so a bad day means a malfunction requiring repair.]
And some remarkably intelligent goons notice that G-Force has escaped and they must warn Zoltar. The Spectra HQ on Earth is in danger.
On the Phoenix, Mark apologizes for his mistake. Princess says it’s thanks to him that they’re all safe. [Missing the point, Prin: if Mark hadn’t gone haring off after ‘Cronus’, G-Force would never have been captured and in need of rescue.]
No-one is safe until they find Spectra’s main Earth base. They’ll find, depending on where the homing bug (which he had tossed at Zoltar earlier) landed.
They’re all looking at a large map. A glowing line is making towards what looks like an icon of – Center Neptune? There’s a crescent-shaped island above it, and the shape below the crescent looks rather familiar.
Mark says that, depending on where the homing device dropped, the line should show them the Spectra HQ. The line obligingly takes a hard right and heads for another location on the map.
Someone apparently sent Zoltar word that G-Force escaped. He enters the control room of the underwater base and tells his men to prepare for an attack.
Seriously edited scenes here. The wasp-mecha is underwater. The soldiers in the base open fire on it. Then suddenly, the base is destroyed, with bodies lying everywhere, and Zoltar is escaping.
G-Force is victorious, but Mark is still sad. After all, as far as he knows, Cronus is dead. Jason points out that sentiment is risky in their line of work, and they must keep their guard up.
Zark in VO. He notes that Jason’s right, and then manages to make it about himself again, talking about how if he didn’t have solid-state circuitry, he’d never be able to handle all the alerts that come through him. Mark is sad because of his friend, BUT, he did manage to lead his team to victory, and that’s what counts. [Not sadness or grief. Victory. What a moral to convey.]
Yeah, obligatory Zark close in which he natters about how worried he was about G-Force and that Spectra will be back. Sigh.
(This is the second episode of Zoltar in disguise, and the first time we have seen him impersonate a specific person. He’ll do more of that as the series progresses.)
Fic Alert: What sort of bond would Mark have with Cronus that would make him behave so foolishly? (Remember, neither Mark, the audience – nor scriptwriters at the time – know that the two are related.)
If Mark is in a restricted area, that means the Spectra base is, also. Time for an investigation.
What about that magnetic field, and Cronus rescuing Mark?
Does Anderson have a son, or was that just rhetoric?
Science question: What about that magnetic field, and Cronus rescuing Mark?
Bizarreness alert: Where does Zoltar hide his costume when he’s in disguise?
I don’t think the scriptwriters considered some of their lines, or the intelligence of the audience. Maybe members of the intended audience would not have seen anything unusual in the fake Cronus’s request for G-Force to act in secret, but the scriptwriters could have done a better job. Different dialogue, perhaps.
If Zark could see what happened to the Phoenix, why didn’t he alert Federation forces in the area?
How long does all of this take?
Where are Susan and Rover? [Not that I miss Susan or the Zarkstyle.] This is Episode 19 in the Sandy Frank production order, but it seems to have been made before the appearance of even the Zarkstyle.
Gatchaman plot: Roughly 10 episodes ago, Ken’s father, Kentaro Washio, aka Red Impulse, died saving the world from Galactor’s V2 plan.
The Science Ninja Team is flying over the nation of Hontwarl, when Jinpei blurts out that Red Impulse died there. This sends Ken into a funk, and he takes his plane out, ignoring Jinpei’s attempts to apologize. (Jinpei sometimes talks before he thinks.)
While flying, Ken tosses the flower out the window of his plane and remembers his last moments with his father.
Then, what looks like the Red Impulse squadron passes him, and he spots a man who looks like his father in the cockpit of one plane. Excited, he follows, calling Dr. Nambu to tell him the wonderful news. Which Nambu can’t believe.
Ken lands at what appears to be the squadron’s base in Hontwarl, and has a touching reunion with someone he thinks is his father. In response to his questions, RI says he’s been undercover, learning Galactor’s organizational structure and the location of their bases. He has it all in a briefcase, which he gives Ken.
Meanwhile, the SNT try to locate Ken. They meet a giant bee mecha (although it does look more like a wasp than a bee). Without Ken’s plane in the God Phoenix, they can’t fight. Jun heads up to rewire things so that they can use the missiles. They’re able to fight for a while, but the mecha gets hold of them and injects sleeping gas into the God Phoenix.
While his teammates are being captured, Ken takes the briefcase to Dr. Nambu, who is still rightly suspicious. Anyone can fabricate maps and documents. He asks Ken if he knows where the team have gone. They went missing while searching for him.
Ken, angry, goes back to the base. This time, while talking to his apparent father, he notices that the man never uses his name, but keeps calling him ‘Gatchaman.’ When offered coffee, he pretends to drink it, and then to succumb to whatever drug is in the coffee.
Turns out that Nambu was right to be suspicious: this is Berg Katse in disguise. Katse mocks his apparently-fallen foe, and reveals that there was a transmitter in the briefcase. Soon, Galactor will know the location of the Crescent Coral Base.
Ken leaps to his feet and beats the snot out of Katse. Goons rush in to intervene. While Ken deals with them, Katse punches a button and drops Ken into a cell where the rest of the team is held. With considerable chagrin, he admits that his father is really dead, that it was all a trick.
Katse comes down to mock them and leave a time bomb that will destroy the base and them. Ken waits until he turns around to flip a transmitter onto his cape.
Now for the sweat. All the team’s efforts to blow the bars don’t work. Joe attaches a drill bit to his gun and starts working on one of the bars. Time is short. When Joe makes one breach, Ken takes some his smaller bombs and shoves them into the gap. They blow, making an opening large enough for the team to escape.
Galactor internal communications suck. The bee-mecha crew lost the signal from the briefcase when Nambu tossed it into the incinerator. Unbeknownst to them, they’re now heading right for one of their own bases, following the bug Ken threw onto Berg Katse. The average goon isn’t too bright, so they don’t question the sudden change in their course.
And the people in the base think the intruders are the Science Ninja Team.