Battle of the Planets, Episode Twenty-One
Gatchaman Episode #48, The Camera Iron Beast, Shutterkiller
DVD and Veoh episode #41
Review/Summary: And it’s Center Neptune establishing shot, with Zark VO time, kids! “Here in Center Neptune, known as the watchful eye of our galaxy, a highly sensitive detector system monitors all threats to Earth as well as other friendly planets within the Intergalactic Alliance.” [They were doing so well until they used the word ‘intergalactic’.]
Now to Zark and perky Zark theme. “Lately, Planet Vega has been receiving threats of attack from Spectra, that constant enemy of Earth and other Alliance planets. I’m keeping a round-the-clock watch on Vega, and it’s time for me to check on them right now.” He turns on his monitors with the sonic boomerang. Sigh. Beat a joke to death, why don’t you? [And Vega is a star in the constellation of Lyra.] And he gets so angry about Spectra picking on little planets like Vega that it almost melts his condensers.
Now he floats over to his favorite console. “If they sent me after them, I’d show those space pirates a thing or two.” [Good thing it never happens. Why do I get the feeling Barney Fife would be of more use in a fight than Zark?] His antennae straighten and shoot off little jags. “Emergency signals from Vega. That can mean only one thing: Spectra! But is it just another threat, or a full-scale attack this time? I’ll set my receptors for a possible Red Alert.”
And now we get the good animation. The camera pans over a wooded, mountainous landscape, while Zark identifies this as Vega and says the signals are coming from a small island with a very important defense installation. Said installation is not visible until the image suddenly develops a red tint. Is this Zark’s sensor system, (a reasonable assumption, since he’s talking), or someone else’s machinery?
The camera pulls back to reveal this is a Spectra ship, and the installation is on their screen.
And another interestingly-dressed Captain makes his appearance. Beefy fellow, wearing a few more colors than might be necessary. Red cape. His sleeves and mask are a greenish color, his torso is a two-tone of a sort of grey-brown and grey, and his neck is covered with a ribbed grey thing. And he has what looks like yellow fuzzies above his eyes.
He reports that they’re in position. Zoltar tells him to destroy all of Vega’s vital installations. He tells his soldiers to prepare for Phase One.
They don some spiffy protective glasses [yes, even over the red-covered eyeholes on the soldiers’ masks].
Now we get a look at their ship. An intimidating-looking flying wing, with a cylindrical projection from the bottom.
Back in the control room, the leader presses the button – on what looks like a portrait photographer’s camera control. It has the cable and everything. This should be interesting. To say the least.
The cylindrical projection has a shutter like a camera. It opens twice. The second time, the installation is blown to pieces.
Cut to an underwater complex, as Zark tells us that Spectra has successfully attacked several defense installations. Now they’re switching to an electrical plant.
Then they hit rocket launch sites. According to Zark, they’re softening Vega up for immediate occupation.
How quickly is all this happening? Zark natters some more about how Vega will surrender if help does not arrive from Earth. He must contact G-Force.
But first, we have Zoltar asking the captain for the plans on the projected assault on Vega. The captain explains they’re programmed into the master computer, and then we have red-tinted views of everything they’ve destroyed. Zoltar approves. If Vega does not submit, they will proceed with the attack.
When told of their success to date, the Luminous One warns him against overconfidence. They will have success when Vega falls. Can Zoltar be certain that Earth will not come to Vega’s defense?
Zoltar says that Earth lacks the will to aid Vega, but if it does, they are ready.
The Luminous One reminds him that they must have Vega at any cost and signs off.
Zoltar says to himself that they will accomplish two goals: taking Vega and splitting the Alliance.
Back at Center Neptune, Zark has given the data on Spectra’s sneak attack to Anderson. He and the team are in conference.
Mark asks why Spectra is so interested in Vega. According to Anderson, if Spectra takes Vega, they will be practically right next door to Earth.
Some more expository dialogue. Earth is obligated by treaty to help Vega, and in any case, by doing so, Earth is helping itself.
Princess asks for information on the ray machine. All Anderson can tell her is that it’s powerful to level an entire city at one blast. [Apparently, Zark’s sensors are plot-dependent.]
Mark wants to know where to find the enemy. Anderson points to a spot on a wall-map of Vega, saying that’s the ‘hot spot.’
A reused bit of footage, starting with Mark asking if anyone is for outer space, ending with transmutation.
Then stock footage of the Phoenix taking off.
And Sandy Frank space-travel footage. Why are they passing entire galaxies if Vega is almost next door to Earth?
And they end up at the chocolate-turtle planet. [We’re going to see a lot of that place.]
Now they’re flying over the ‘Sea of Vega’ according to Mark. As some sort of port comes into view, he identifies their target. Vega’s scientific research center. According to Zark’s VO, the next logical place for Spectra to attack. [We could debate this. Defense and energy installations are better targets.] I will spare you the blather about luck and the two 7s in Zark’s name.
The Phoenix has landed. G-Force waits.
And here comes the Spectra machine.
Mark orders Tiny to take off.
Jason (big surprise) wants to shoot missiles at it. Mark tells him to let the Spectrans make the first move. [Why?] G2 notes that it could be G-Force’s last move. Tiny says they’ll find out in about three seconds.
The mecha gets above them, and fires its ray. Aside from a bit of shaking, not much seems to happen. When the Phoenix clears the ray, the pilots again get above the ship, and the captain tries again.
This time, Tiny is blinded by the light, and the Phoenix seems to sustain some damage. He can barely pilot the ship.
The Spectrans see this and move in for the kill. Their captain announces that their ‘infra-ray’ is too powerful. Pursue G-Force.
Tiny says he can’t work the controls. Since he’s trying to rub his eyes through his visor, it’s hard to tell if he still can’t see, or if there’s something wrong with the controls themselves.
Eventually, things work out, and Tiny tries to evade the larger Spectra ship. The Phoenix should be more maneuverable, but they can’t shake the Spectrans. The beam clips their tail section.
Now Tiny really has problems. Tired of being chased, Jason presses a button and the ship spews dark smoke as it crashes into the ocean.
Both the captain and Zoltar think G-Force defeated.
At the ocean floor, Keyop gets up from where he’s sprawled. He’s had enough, and he runs for his buggy. [I really don’t want to use the silly name the show gave his vehicle.]
And now to Zark’s ready room. He feels he can take a ten-second oil break while Keyop is off tracking the Spectrans. [No, you can’t, Zark! The Phoenix is damaged and the threat to Vega is not yet over.]
Rover’s hungry. Zark gives him a wrench to chew on, commenting that the last time he did so, Rover unscrewed his own nose.
Then he says he hopes he gets a report from Vega soon. He’s worried about Keyop. [Then what is he doing taking an oil break?]
And now we have the Spectra machine flying over a desert landscape. A tornado whips up, and it’s camouflage for the entrance to a Spectra base.
Keyop sees this.
Now it’s night. The rest of G-Force is on the scene. Keyop uses the drill on his buggy to burrow down to the base.
Such a noisy entrance does not go unnoticed. Soldiers enter the scene.
G-Force arrives, and nobody comments on the lack of Keyop. Princess asks if they see the welcome committee, and Mark says they must be close by.
A vehicle approaches, and they cling to the tunnel ceiling. The vehicle stops for some reason, and they jump the guards. Next thing, we see the vehicle in motion again, with the team holding up the unconscious (?) guards.
Apparently, this vehicle has an autopilot, since they don’t need to steer it on their unexpected tour of the base.
Mark notes that they have every type of weapon except slingshots. Which, Jason says, they’re going to throw at Vega.
G2 leaps out of the automatic vehicle to a good hiding place. He apparently has plans for those weapons.
Tiny hops out at another location.
Now it’s just Mark and Princess propping up four men. [Who aren't dead, but pining for the fjords or unconscious. Really.]
The ‘tour’ ends at a missile silo, with a missile under construction inside.
Mark suggests that this might be the control center, and they can do some damage. Princess says they’ll need help. Maybe Tiny and Keyop are setting something up. [Now a mention of Keyop. Sloppy. Sloppy.]
They’re illuminated by a spotlight, and someone demands their surrender.
Zoltar is there. He greets Mark and Princess, and tells them they’ve reached the end of their tour.
Mark tells him they’re going to shut the place down.
Confident in having the upper hand, Zoltar points upwards and says that they may have been concerned about one of their comrades.
On a gantry high above, Keyop struggles in the grip of a couple of soldiers. Our Heroes blurt his name as he’s taken into the missile.
The captain tells them he’s a passenger in the ray machine they will launch at Earth.
Edited fight scene. Princess glides up the missile, while the only thing that seems to happen is Mark gliding around with his boomerang in hand and Jason and Tiny coming from whatever they did. Zoltar and the captain escape into the ray machine.
Inside the missile, Princess rescues Keyop. Before they leave, she makes a few non-standard connections in the control panel and sets a bomb.
As the ray machine takes off, Jason and Tiny fire their guns. Really great suction cups at the end of cables latch onto the mecha, and they’re taken up, along with Mark.
Using the tornado, the mecha leaves the base.
Mark has a little present for Zoltar.
Realizing that three members of G-Force are below them, Zoltar orders the captain to fire the ray.
Down in the base, Princess and Keyop escape in his buggy.
Zoltar pushes the button this time.
The shutter opens, and shuts.
Mark throws his sonic boomerang, which lodges in the shutter, preventing it from opening again.
When they realize what’s happening, the Spectrans abandon ship. Apparently, there’s no way to shut down the ray if it can’t fire.
Mark, Tiny, and Jason glide clear. Keyop’s still trying to fly his buggy in the tornado winds.
In the base, the bomb counts down. Everything is destroyed.
The mecha also explodes.
Keyop loses control of his buggy. It crashes, and he’s thrown head-first into the sand while Princess has a more dignified sprawl.
A chunk of the ray machine has survived, and Zoltar uses it to escape. Strangely, this is the same chunk that had the shutter Mark jammed shut.
(Interesting weapon design.) As it flies off, the boomerang drops free.
As the team shake off the sand, Jason asks who destroyed the base. Tiny figures Princess planted a couple of her bombs.
They hear Keyop’s distress, and rush over. Mark helps Princess up, while, Jason and Tiny tease Keyop about his predicament before freeing him.
Bit of silly dialogue to fill out the animation.
Now, for some reason, Princess’s motorcycle and Jason’s car are off the Phoenix as everyone heads into the sunset. Keyop is stuck flying his damaged buggy. For some reason, Tiny’s with him.
Zark voice-over, telling us again that G-Force won. He’s also given them a flight plan and clearance to Earth.
Now to Zark. If Keyop’s buggy is laid up for repairs, he wonders what they will do for a replacement. Which is Rover’s cue to spin his tail and fly over. But Zark says he couldn’t let him go. There’s only the two of them to watch over the home front for G-Force.
Fic Alert: What’s so important about Vega that Spectra wants it ‘at any cost’?
Why would taking it over split the Alliance?
Bizarreness alert: So what were Jason and Tiny doing when they weren’t with Mark and Princess?
Gatchaman plot: Galactor has invented a large, flying, combination of camera and weapon. It can photograph every detail of a target, and then destroy it. Various International Science Organization facilities are then attacked.
The Science Ninja Team is sent to find the weapon. Dr. Nambu thinks Galactor will attack the Green Water reclamation facility next.
Shutterkiller appears as anticipated, and comes close to defeating the SNT. They fake a crash into the ocean.
Jinpei leaving in his helicobuggy is actually part of the plan.
The BotP and Gatch scripts are similar until the team enters the base. In the Gatch script, the team notices that Jinpei and his buggy are missing.
Yep, those guards who approached in the automated car are now dead. The team is on a tour of the base, where they see exact copies of the destroyed facilities. When Joe and Ryu jump out, they’re intending sabotage. Jun and Ken kill another car full of guards who detect them.
At the missile site, the Captain of the Week tells them the plan: they intend to launch a satellite that will allow them to direct the Shutterkiller’s attention anywhere on Earth. (Modern technology has gotten there, at least as far as photographing locations on Earth. Treaties forbid weapons in space.)
Berg Katse points and tells the team he’s found a pilot for the rocket. Two goons muscle Jinpei into the capsule.
Meanwhile, Joe and Ryu cause some spectacular damage before rejoining their comrades. There is a most exciting fight before Jinpei is rescued.
Again, BotP follows the original plot, although in Gatch, Berg Katse is the only survivor of the destruction of the Shutterkiller.