Episode Review: 'Space Safari' by UnpublishedWriter
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The Space Safari
Battle of the Planets, Episode Twenty
Gatchaman Episode #73, Pursue Katse!
DVD and Veoh episode #62

Review/Summary: You know the drill by now. Establishing shot of Center Neptune, Zark in voice-over and then we’ll see him. And even though it’s plainly near the surface of the ocean, Center Neptune will always be claimed to be deep beneath the sea. As Zark does now: “Center Neptune, deep beneath the sea, is the silent sentinel of the universe.” [Because the scriptwriters have no sense of scale.] “We keep a constant watch throughout the galaxies for any sign of intruder or alien invader from outer space.” [Need I go into what’s wrong with the preceding sentence? Thought not.]

“I suppose I’m what you might call the ‘brains’ of the organization,” Zark continues, now that we can see him. Back in Zarkstyle (after its mysterious absence in the previous episode). “G-Force gets to enjoy all the action and adventure. Of course, I can throw a sonic boomerang, just like Mark.” [No, please, no. Wasn’t it enough at the end of Big Robot Gold Grab?]

Darn. He does. Pulls it out of nowhere and throws it. And it reverses course and flies back into his hand. Which trick he’s really proud of. [Okay, I need the cookies again. Or something.]

He can also fly, although at first he can’t take off. Whatever’s wrong doesn’t last [darn], so he floats over to his favorite console. I’ll not inflict his silly monologue on you.

“Uh-oh: there’s an emergency alert coming from somewhere in space. There seems to be trouble in the vicinity of Planet Lucadia.”

And Gatchaman footage of a mecha being destroyed and crashing (with the Fiery Phoenix scream in the background). According to Zark, that was a Lucadian spacecraft, destroyed by a Spectra ‘aircraft.’

So much for G-Force’s vacation plans. They had just come off a dangerous mission, and were on their way to Eden, apparently the vacation planet for the Milky Way. Zark’s glad Chief Anderson’s the one who has to break the bad news to them. [Or maybe they're still recovering from the previous episode's emotional wringer?]

Aboard the Phoenix, everyone’s talking about their plans for Eden. Tiny’s going to eat. Keyop plans to disco dance, and hang glide. Princess wants to water-ski.

Then Anderson contacts them. Spectra is attacking Lucadia, and trying to take it over. For some reason, there’s footage of an escape craft breaking free of a damaged spaceship, and Zoltar inside, very upset. Zark hasn’t been able to find Spectra’s bases, so G-Force has to scout the planet. Be careful.

Not happy, Mark orders Tiny to set a course for Lucadia.

Zark tells us that they’ve circled the Earth and are on their way to Lucadia. So, they were nowhere near Eden?

We have Sandy Frank space-travel footage. They’ve left the Milky Way galaxy and pass several others. [No sense of scale in the scriptwriters.]

And Lucadia – looks like a chocolate turtle. Or a magnified pollen grain. Or a giant dessert of some sort. [Eyeball roll.]

As the Phoenix flies, Princess picks up a bogey on her scanner. They should have visual in a few seconds.

Zoltar is annoyed. He’s all out of ammunition. [What’s he doing in a single-person ship, anyway?] Quickly, he calls for aid. All units report to Quadrant 7. [Which will be a very neat trick, since there can only be 4 quadrants. A quadrant is of any surface or a circle.]

G-Force is closing in. Jason demands to know what they’re waiting for, and rushes to the missile control. He readies the big missiles for firing (on the logic that killing Zoltar will end the war). Mark tries to stop him (he wants Zoltar alive for questioning), and there’s brief fight. Jason punches the big red button, and blows up Zoltar’s ship.

The damage is done. Mark’s angry: how do they find the location of the enemy headquarters before the Spectrans wipe out the inhabitants of Lucadia? Can Jason tell them that?

Rant over, he says they’ll have to work harder and faster to get the job done. And in time, Princess adds.

Then she spots something.

Zoltar has escaped, in a bizarre craft that Mark calls a ‘rocking chair chopper’ (and it does look like one).

Tiny follows, but the Phoenix isn’t quite as maneuverable as the goofy-looking escape vehicle. They lose it while landing. Where did Zoltar go?

The Luminous One commands the guards: The enemy has landed on Lucadia. General Gorak (sp?) shall eliminate them. Zoltar has committed an error in judgement. Do not aid him. If he escapes, all will be forgiven. If he does not, Gorak will be in command.

Wreckage of the chopper, in a tree. Jason and Tiny wonder where Zoltar went.

Mark asks Keyop. The boy’s literally got his ear to the ground, and then he sits up and points.

Tiny and Jason get to track Zoltar on the ground. Mark, Princess, and Keyop are in the air.

Zoltar runs through the forest and kneels at a clean-cut tree stump. He wonders where his men are, then hears running footsteps. G-Force are like bloodhounds, but even bloodhounds have their limits. He whacks the stump, which opens up to reveal a console. [When did they have time to do that?] One of his little pets will stop them.

Guns deploy from every tree in the forest. [Again, when did Spectra have time to do that?] Mark and Princess spot and destroy them. Afterwards, Mark calls Keyop (who’s in his vehicle) and asks him to bring the ‘heavy artillery’.

Meanwhile, Tiny’s thinking with his stomach. He stops in the middle of chasing Zoltar to grab a bunch of bananas. Jason slaps them out of his hands, saying they might be bombs. Even though he admits the possibility, this doesn’t stop Tiny from grabbing one when Jason’s back is turned. He peels it, and finds – a bomb. Which Jason shoots out of his hand.

Then bananas literally fly off the trees. They’re all missiles.

Jason and Tiny run like hell until Jason can get a clear shot at a cliff and pull them up with his cable-gun. [Must not have been enough space to glide.]

Afterwards, while staring at a disarmed missile, Tiny says that Zoltar’s plan is to make them crazy by making them stare at bananas they’re afraid to eat. He’s hungry. [This is rather insulting to the overweight. Why assume that someone Tiny’s size overeats? Although, in this case, the Gatch original is clear about G-5’s appetite.]

Something makes a noise. Tiny looks up and around, and sees a hurt baby gazelle or antelope not far away. He hops down to help it. Jason thinks it could be another trap, but Tiny isn’t having any of that.

It is an ordinary, injured animal. Right next to a stand of sharp-toothed, homicidal flowers that shoot sucker-tipped tentacles. As Tiny tries to help the fawn, they grab him.

With feather darts and gun, Jason rescues him, then shoots a bomb into the mass and destroys them. Now, will Tiny please concentrate on business?

Tiny gives the fawn a bit of first aid and tells it to find its mother.

Commercial break.

And Zark. Briefly, he reminds us that the entire planet seems to be booby-trapped. Then the schadenfreude kicks in and he sounds rather pleased that Zoltar is a fugitive.

And there’s Zoltar, running for all he’s worth as Keyop catches up to him. [What happened to bringing the heavy artillery to Mark and Princess?]

Keyop readies his net.

Zoltar spits something into his hand and dives for cover. An explosion distracts Keyop. Then spotted sabre-tooths rush out of the smoke and fire to attack his craft. Their extra weight brings it down.

Now it’s a bit confusing, because the downed Keyop is surrounded by soldiers wearing spotted sabre-tooth skins. Does Spectra have soldiers that can run easily on all fours?

Mark and Princess had seen Keyop crash, but they don’t arrive in time to help. They find the soldiers’ tracks, and know that he’s a prisoner.

Mark calls Jason and tells him that Keyop’s been captured, and that he and Princess are on the trail. Jason replies that he and Tiny have stumbled on some sort of suspicious ceremony. Tiny wonders if it’s a fraternity initiation. [What?]

Said ceremony is rather dramatic. A flaming altar amid columns made from stone blocks, surrounded by men in black robes and red masks. One is beating out a rhythm on drums, and his hands are goon-green. Behind the flames is a flight of stairs and what looks like either ice or a quartz crystal the size of King Kong. Down the stairs comes the apparent leader of the group, armed with a scythe.

“Pray,” he commands.

The ‘prayer’ seems to be repetitions of the words ‘Great Spirit.’ From a slot beside the flame rises a spit with someone tied to it. The victim is dressed like a bird.

Jason comments that it’s some fraternity.

The spit is moved by some type of machinery towards the fire. The victim struggles and his mask drops off, revealing Keyop. Without his visor.

Tiny starts to go down, but Jason hold him back. They can’t go yet. Tiny slaps him off.

The big guy does fairly well, initially. He knocks a guy out and takes his robe and mask, then starts to crawl through the ranks of genuflecting worshippers. Unfortunately, one of them grabs the tail of his stolen robes, pulling them off. Now Tiny’s surrounded.

The scythe-wielder says, “Another of the Great Spirit’s enemies. Seize him.”

Something got edited out, because Tiny’s suddenly rushing the altar to rescue Keyop. Magically, the visor reappears the moment the sacrificial garb is removed. And no, there was no transmute.

Jason leaps into the fray, knocking over the scythe-wielder. He tells Tiny and Keyop to get out while the getting’s good.

And suddenly, Zoltar is running up the stairs into a transparent elevator. Which disappears into what looks like a monster trapped in the ice.

It is a monster. A mecha in the form of a mammoth, far larger than any known mammoth species ever got. It stomps the temple flat as it breaks free of the ice.

And the Phoenix is in flight.

Zoltar chortles, and the mecha fires some sort of high-velocity wind at the G-Force ship.

Inside, Mark tries to hold the ship steady. Princess says they’re over the pick-up point. Mark lowers the platform, and Jason, Tiny and Keyop leap aboard. Keyop hangs on as best he can, but is almost blown away. Jason manages to grab him.

Zoltar’s now angry that they got away from him.

G-Force still has the mecha to deal with. Jason knows just what to do, and lowers the big missiles again. Just before Tiny can push the button [huh?], he sees a herd of antelope rushing past the mecha’s feet.

Not wanting to hurt the antelope, Tiny instead takes the Phoenix up, luring the mecha from the area.

Zoltar, either not knowing or not caring about the antelope, takes advantage and presses his attack.

The Phoenix can fly, and hides behind nearby hills. The mecha can’t, and it gets rather close to the edge of a cliff. It prepares to fire. Jason launches the missiles as the cliff edge gives way.

The mecha shoots at the Phoenix, and misses.

Realizing they aren’t going to win this time (and getting knocked around), Zoltar orders everyone to abandon ‘this worthless machine.’

The mecha continues its slide, followed by boulders and chunks of ice, until it’s buried.

Lucadia should be safe again, Mark says. Now maybe they get their vacation. [No, Mark, not yet. Still have to make certain there are no soldiers or traps left on the planet. Time to call for backup.]

Jason says Anderson better not call with new orders, or else. Princess says he’ll just do what the rest of them do: complain a lot and follow orders. Which Jason concedes.

Mark says he made some important plans, and he’s behind schedule. (What sort of plans?)

Zark, in VO, says he will ensure that G-Force gets their vacation. If Anderson asks where they are, Zark will suffer a short circuit in his auditory system.

And we have Zark trying to fly again, and not succeeding. He admits he could not have escaped the monster, had he been on Lucadia. He’s decided that he’s happy just being the brains of G-Force. [Yeah, the brains. If Zark is the brains of G-Force, the Federation is in deep trouble.]

Fic Alert: The Luminous One doesn’t rescue Zoltar? Has it left other Spectran leaders to fend for themselves?

Were we supposed to get a look at Spectran religious practices at the temple? Or were the scriptwriters merely working with what they had?

Bizarreness alert: Spectra works fast. They just barely took the planet over, and already they have disguised weaponry everywhere.

Gatchaman plot: Opens with footage from a long-past episode, rather than make some new animation. A Galactor mecha is destroyed, and Katse escapes. Unlike the BotP episode, Joe is prevented from shooting at his escape pod. When it explodes anyway, they’re all surprised.

Leader X does not leave Katse to sink or swim. When his ‘precious subordinate’ calls for help, X dispatches an elite team to rescue him.

The BotP plot from then on largely follows the Gatch plot, with more traps and things that are not as they appear. Katse is the scythe-wielder at the temple.
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