Battle of the Planets, Episode Twenty-Four
Gatchaman Episode #74, The Secret of the Birdstyles
DVD and Veoh episode #63
Review/Summary: Establishing shot of Center Neptune and the three fish that lead the Fish Parade. Then Zark VO: “Center Neptune, hidden from prying eyes deep beneath the sea, is the tireless guardian of our galaxy, protecting the universe, and keeping a watchful eye out for alien invaders” –
And then we see Zark. Sigh. And he’s pacing as he continues speaking: -- “who try to plunder it.” Then he faces the camera. “This has been my home ever since the first day I was manufactured. I’ve never left it.” [Guess he wasn’t in that parade at the end of The Thing With 1000 Eyes.]
And now a medium shot of the nerve center. Zark’s cape lifts and – Oh. My. God.
It’s flapping. It looks a bit like it has feathers, and it’s flapping. Making little flappy sounds in the bargain.
He lands in front of his favorite console, which reacts by sparking. [It must not like the flapping cape.]
“Uh-oh. I’m getting a Red Alert.” [So sparks are now the Red Alert signal?] “An emergency signal from a remote spot right here on Earth.” [How precise. Not.]
Cut to Gatch footage of snow-capped mountains. And Zark VO: “Something strange has been sighted.”
Down into a valley, where something heaves up from the ice and snow. It looks like a mammoth. Actually, it looks like that mammoth mecha from Space Safari. (Which was set on Leucadia.) Zark identifies it as an Imperial Mastodon, (despite the artificial-looking trunk) and says those went extinct in prehistoric times. They’ve been gone from Earth for millions of years. [No, Zark: just thousands of years. The how is still debated, but homo sapiens has been implicated.] This has to be a practical joke: they might as well send him a picture of a dinosaur. [Mechanical trunk, Zark. It’s really obvious this is a Spectran mecha. And it looks a lot like that mecha G-Force destroyed on Leucadia.]
[I think science has marched on since this episode, as my current encyclopedia of prehistoric animals does not mention Imperial mammoths or mastodons. But if memory serves, the term at the time was Imperial mammoth.]
Back to Zark, who tells us his job requires him to check out every report. But a mastodon? If he believed that, he would believe in fire-breathing dragons. [That’s coming, Zark. Episode 49.]
And now to Zoltar and two goons. He’s being a backseat driver, telling them the new Earth resources center is the white structure behind the amusement park. People will be so terrified that they can destroy it before anybody realizes what’s happening.
Damn, but the man is a total buzzkill.
Camera pans over a coastal view of said demolition target and amusement park.
Looks like a fun amusement park.
Princess and Keyop are on the Ferris wheel, enjoying the view. Princess asks if he’s ever wanted to be a soft white cloud, drifting in a warm blue sky. What? [Okay, scriptwriters, the little sample cups are over there. Mr. Jones will monitor your contributions and take them to the lab.]
Guess what comes out of the ocean. Keyop remarks that it’s an elephant. Princess tells him no elephant is that big. He calls it a ‘giant economy size’ in a normal tone (yet looks angry when he does so).
Princess calls Mark. Red Alert at the park.
Mecha continues to surface.
Now Mark, calling Tiny and telling him to pick up Jason and get to Joyland Park. When Tiny asks why, Princess is the one urging him to get there fast.
Zark again. Alerting the Earth Resources Building, and sounding quite professional about it. Except he’s calling them a ‘prime target for attack.’ [I think they know, Zark. The mecha is right outside the frikkin door.]
The mastodon takes position and opens its mouth.
Zoltar orders the goons to open fire.
Yep, missiles launch from the mouth. And I can’t think of a good joke for this.
The building is destroyed.
Zoltar gloats. “That should teach them a lesson. If these defiant Earthlings will not share their resources willingly, we have ingenious ways to make them change their minds.” Earth’s more than willing to share, Zoltar. You should have asked nicely begin with, instead of attacking. You sound like a mugger bitching about your victims not giving you money willingly. “Perhaps our little pet would like a stroll through the amusement park.” [Nice one. See? The scriptwriters could do better with dialogue.]
The mastodon enters the park.
Keyop and Princess exit the Ferris wheel. Poor Keyop does a face-plant into the ground, while Princess manages a decent landing.
Mastodon looks threatening.
Shot of Princess’s legs, running.
Mastodon’s foot now has a shoe caught between its toes. [Editing for content removes context yet again.]
Princess demands to know what’s keeping G-Force.
Mark, in Birdstyle. He thinks, That’s one of Zoltar’s lovable pets. And deploys his laser (or whatever that weapon is). [Another nice line. Very sarcastic. They’re making up for the goop about being a cloud.] He destroys the mastodon’s left ear.
Zoltar’s annoyed. How can G-Force respond so quickly?
Dude, you’re on Earth. Home base. Their back yard. [He has a case of the stupids this morning.]
The Phoenix arrives. Jason comments that they arrived too late to do any good, but reaches for his favorite button anyway. Then suddenly, Tiny is asking where the mastodon came from. Jason slams his fists on the console and says it came from Spectra. [More bad editing.]
Smoke pouring from its ruined ear, the mecha submerges.
Mark calls the others and says he’s heading back to Center Neptune.
We’re at Center Neptune. Where the Fish Parade is in full swing.
Anderson is reassuring viewers that everyone at the Earth Resources Center and Joyland Park escaped safely. According to Zark. [Because, you know, none of the target audience watched Japanese and American giant-monster movies or the old Universal or Hammer movies. So they don’t know about fictional death and would be horribly traumatized at the deaths of unnamed cartoon people.]
Zoltar was responsible for the attack, and he is determined to harass them until Earth gives him what he wants. Which will be never.
Princess has some bad news. She doesn’t know how to tell him, but she lost her shoe. [At the time, it sounded so damned silly. Maybe it’s just that there’s no way to make ‘I lost my shoe’ sound like a catastrophe.]
And everyone freaks.
Anderson is blunt: Without the complete uniform, she cannot transmute. She’s useless to G-Force. Go find that shoe. If anything, he sounds like he’s scolding her. Give her a break: she was trying to rescue people [even if some nitwit edited all of that out].
I’m guessing nobody thought to make extra shoes.
Meanwhile, the mastodon is being repaired. Zoltar is pitching a fit and falling in it, demanding that repairs be completed AT ONCE. [They really didn’t need that, since it’s all voice-over. His Purpleness now sounds like a brat.]
Little montage of the repair crew at work. One goon finds Princess’s shoe and tosses it into the incinerator. Where, despite intense heat, nothing happens to it.
Back at Center Neptune, Anderson has another worry: if that shoe is subjected to atomic radiation, it would produce a copy of the wearer. [Yeah, that’s bad. Something that couldn’t be corrected, huh? But why would they bathe it in radiation?] If her shoe is in the wrong hands, her cover could be blown. [On the way to it. They’d still have to find a name to go with the face and body.]
Cut to a peeved Zoltar: “Why do you bother me with such trivial things?” Do they expect him to believe claims of an indestructible shoe?
The goon on the monitor tells him to see for himself. Zoltar says that if it’s true, it’s made of an element of which he knows nothing. [Scriptwriters failed science class again. They could have written ‘material’ or ‘substance’, but chose ‘element.’]
At the goon’s renewed invitation, Zoltar says he’ll come to the lab. Prepare to test the shoe for its resistance to all destructive forces. [Well, since the Gatch original did the same thing, we can’t fault these folks. But you don’t test a one-of-a-kind object in a potentially destructive manner, no matter how tough it is.]
Cut to the shoe, securely fastened in place, apparently so that they can be certain it’s actually resisting damage, and not merely thrown clear.
The first test is a drill. For some reason, Zoltar thinks it’s damaging the shoe, snarks about the waste of his time, and turns away. The goon at the controls calls him back.
Next test is subfreezing cold and a device that hammers the shoe. The hammer breaks. [It would take considerable cold to make anything brittle enough to break. And what sort of lab is this that has a testing chamber like that?]
Next, some type of laser beam. For some reason, the machine explodes.
Now we get to the radiation. Which is generated with a very nasty high-frequency sound that makes my ears hurt. They crank it up to eleven –
And get the image of Princess in her Birdstyle.
Cut to a rainy night outside Jill’s. Princess opens the door and looks out, thinking. She doesn’t know what to do. She’s useless to G-Force. Maybe she should resign.
As she steps out, we see her feet, and the brown shoes she’s wearing. Yep, the geniuses of Galaxy Security did not think to make spare shoes for G-Force.
Now the Luminous One, stating the obvious: they can reconstruct G3’s civilian appearance from her image, trap her, and bring her to Spectra. It wants ‘that pretty thorn in our side removed.’ The Almighty Butane has taste.
It warns Zoltar that it will not tolerate another failure.
Montage of scientists at work. And Zark telling us that Spectran scientists are working night and day to produce another mannequin of Princess. [How does Zark know?] This will allow Zoltar to identify a member of the G-Force team, and by association, the others. [In Race Against Disaster, they seemed to know Jason.]
Now to an old-fashioned slide projector. Okay, not slides. It is projecting a lighted outline of a woman. And Zark is still talking: Zoltar’s men, slaves to his will, must achieve success – or else. [Or else what? Get sent to bed without supper? This show barely admits people die.]
The result is a blank-faced mannequin. Which is dressed very much like Princess in civilian clothes. Zoltar is pleased. And he has an idea.
We all know what happens when Zoltar has an idea. As Jeff Goldblum said in the sequel to Jurassic Park: ‘There’s running, and screaming.’ And not necessarily by Zoltar.
And now a blimp with a very colorful covering. Way cooler than the Goodyear blimp. Just hope that’s not a weapon underneath it.
On the ground, an announcer (Alan Dinehart having some fun, I think) shills ‘Tomorrow’s Woman’ cosmetics, announcing the opportunity for every woman passing by to become the next model. This causes a considerable stampede. Hey, it was the 1970s. [So, either people really will crowd around for a product that doesn’t exist, or Spectra has a controlling interest in a cosmetics company? If so, do they know that Zoltar is using their lip gloss?]
As women line up, we’re shown a cut-out that even has the same hair silhouette as Princess.
A definitely overweight woman tries to squeeze through, then a thin one. All are watched through a window by a very evil-looking woman.
I do believe it’s time for a commercial.
Now for Zark in his tube. Things are quiet right now. He can take time out to relax and recalibrate his strobitron resonators against his strobometric potentiometer. [Oh, dear: I can’t think of anything suitable. I mean, it doesn’t sound quite kinky enough.] In other words, he’s going to take a 10-second oil break. [Where’s my tool-box? I have tools. I’ll recalibrate him gladly.]
And he barely lies down when Susan calls, giving him an antenna erection. She has an urgent problem. Could she help him find a girl?
Oh, I will spare you the verbal fumbling on Zark’s part. He doesn’t want to find any other girl.
Susan corrects him: Princess is missing. G-Force hasn’t seen her all day. [So, the scriptwriters could not have had her just say that? They had to go for the innuendo, first? Damn, but Sandy Frank’s secretary must have been HAWT if they couldn’t give Susan even one line that didn’t sound like a 1-900 phone-sex script.]
More Zark floundering, then he says he’ll get on it right away.
And now, for some reason, Chief Anderson is reading the paper. [They have newspaper delivery at Center Neptune?] He lowers it, and asks G-Force if they’ve seen it. He does not look pleased. Princess has entered the contest. (And she would be specifically mentioned because -- ?)
Keyop chirps that she’s in the finals.
Anderson wants to know what’s got into her. He’s so annoyed that his eyes are now very dark grey, instead of the brown of other episodes.
Mark says, “You were rather hard on her.” And Keyop says she was depressed.
Anderson says there’s something wrong with this contest. He checked into the company, and the woman who runs it, a Madame Dumaine (sp?) has shady connections. [Yep, she’s Zoltar’s lip gloss source.] She’s rumored to be a Spectra agent. Princess has gotten herself into big trouble, and G-Force must help her out of it.
Now to the evil-looking lady Madame Dumaine, who’s reporting to Zoltar. They have all the women who fit the cut-out. It won’t take long to bring them to him.
She goes to another room, and tells the young women that they’ll go upstairs for the final judging. Princess does not look thrilled to be there. Could she suspect that something’s wrong with this contest?
In the elevator, and purple vapor spews through a vent. Next thing, we see the elevator doors open and Madame Dumaine wearing a gas mask. The camera pans down to unconscious victims.
Wait: Princess has her hand over her mouth and nose, and she’s conscious.
Now, somehow, the elevator car becomes a transparent module that is raised into the bottom of – something – overhead. Our cosmetics queen steps out and tells the goons at the controls that they can leave, now.
Ah: they’re in the blimp. Or, rather, in that orangey thing suspended below it. The jets fire up, and it starts moving.
Aboard the Phoenix, Tiny comments that Princess could be a million miles away by now. Mark tries to reach her again.
His bracelet is silent, then lights up with the G-Force symbol.
Back to Princess, who’s tapping her bracelet against the bars of the elevator-turned-cell.
In the control room, Dumaine tells the goons there’s nothing to worry about. Even though they can see the Phoenix.
And the Spectra blimp and the Phoenix pass right by each other.
Jason asks what happened to the signal from Princess. Mark says it faded, and wonders why she answered in code instead of voice. [Come on, Mr. Perfect, take a guess that she’s been captured.]
Keyop brips that she might be a prisoner, and Jason agrees. They have to find her, fast.
Mark orders Tiny to return to the area where the signal came through, and try again. Because the plot demanded that he not think of this when he first lost it.
They turn, and Mark tells Keyop to put his ‘Cosmic Communicator’ on the detector panel. (Which we saw in Decoys of Doom.) Keyop obeys.
Cut to a large, museum-like building with dinosaur skeletons outside. [Since no museum will have actual skeletons on display outdoors, these must be copies.]
Inside, we see the blimp, on the floor beside the mastodon mecha (which now looks like an ordinary mastodon – if mastodons were ever larger than blimps).
Inside the mecha, all the women are in a cage. Madame Dumaine, holding a whip, stands outside with Zoltar. [No, no, I won’t say anything. Not a thing. At all.]
Zoltar wants to see if one of these ‘pretty creatures’ looks familiar, now that he can identify his ‘lovely adversary.’ [Right about now, if I were Princess, I’d be hoping like hell that my teammates were just outside the door. And if I were one of the women, I’d be hoping that Zoltar wasn’t the type to take out his frustrations on others – and that I did not look anything like the aforementioned ‘lovely adversary.’ Oh, and that he was not into using whips.]
Madame Dumaine uses her whip to lift the head of one girl, then grabs another by the hair. No dice. Zoltar gets grouchy.
“If the girl is here, we’ll find her,” she of the whip assures him.
Princess slips her bracelet into her pocket.
Aboard the Phoenix, Keyop says they have a blip. I think. Hard to tell, but he detected something.
Right. Time to go down and investigate. Keep the Phoenix circling. Jason, Mark, and Keyop fly down to investigate a possible Spectra base.
Just as it’s Princess’s turn to show her face. She resists as much as she can without blowing her cover. Zoltar wants a good look at her.
And someone calls for him. Intruders.
Zoltar figures it’s G-Force, and rushes out. In the mecha’s control room, he orders the anti-aircraft missiles deployed.
Yep, the ‘museum’ is a Spectra front. The weapons are hidden in the skeletons. Tiny dodges the missiles.
Inside, Mark, Jason and Keyop break through the skylight.
In the mecha, Princess leads the other women out of their cell. Someone edited the escape to make Spectrans look too stupid to lock a door.
They rush down a corridor to a room where a shoe is displayed under a dome. The dome obligingly opens, and Princess picks up the shoe.
Removing the shoe sets off an alarm. Zoltar heads back to his prisoners.
He meets them with guards. Going somewhere?
Suddenly, there are Mark, Jason, and Keyop above them, looking down through what looks like a hole blown in the intervening floor. Which means more editing to satisfy the moral guardians. We get the usual heroic dialogue, and Zoltar snarling about G-Force.
Princess, in full Birdstyle, joins Mark. [She was carrying around its mate all this time? And none of the bad guys noticed?] The team rescue the girls, and a suddenly-alone Zoltar flees.
Mark chases him, throws his sonic boomerang. Zoltar ducks through a closing door, leaving only a corner of his cape to be caught. Mark shouts at him to keep running and never come back.
Tiny calls: he’s coming in to pick up Mark.
Mark leaves one last little present: the same type of little homing beacon he used in Attack of the Alien Wasp to attract the Spectran missiles. [This is a nifty thing about the show: some of these gadgets appear more than once.] But just in case viewers missed that episode, Mark has some helpful thoughts about the device’s purpose.
Now we have the Phoenix racing along on its wheels towards the museum, where it rams through the wall and stops at the base of the mecha. Given that it’s propelled by jets, the ship either has really good braking thrusters, or some other braking system. The rest of G-Force, and the former captives, slide down the head and trunk to the ship.
In the mecha control room, Zoltar orders preparations for an all-out attack.
As per the standard operating procedure for Spectra mecha monsters, the ‘mastodon’ reveals its true nature by shedding all its hair.
Tiny launches the Phoenix just in time. The ‘mastodon’ is ready to fight.
Zoltar orders an attack.
The mecha fires its missiles, which seem to head right for the Phoenix.
Zoltar gets to gloat for about two seconds before a goon reports the missiles are coming back. Then it’s everybody to the escape ship.
Another Spectra base destroyed. You can bet there isn’t an insurance company anywhere that will insure anything from Spectra.
Some congratulatory dialogue about the rescue. Keyop tells Princess to stick to G-Force, ‘Tomorrow’s Woman.’ She grabs him and tells him to stop needling her, or he’ll be ‘yesterday’s Keyop.’
And – yes, boys and girls, we have Zark in voice-over again. Because episodes can never end with the original Gatchaman animation. As the Phoenix returns home to Center Neptune, carrying the young women, preparations are underway to welcome Princess home. [The young women don’t need to go to Center Neptune for debriefing. That can happen at any Galaxy Security facility.]
Now to Zark in his ready room, or whatever you want to call it, reclining on his slab. He’s still going on about the big party. He’s invited! He knows robots look funny in those little paper hats, but he’ll risk it. Susan might be there. [Bleargh.]
And he’s standing, now. He tells Rover to keep an eye on things and let him know if there’s an alert. And he might just bring a little treat from the party. A knife or a fork to chew on.
And the episode mercifully ends.
[Had they gotten this episode later, I suspect the Sandy Frank folks might have decided the evil lady should be Mala or S-9.]
Fic Alert: Why only one pair of shoes?
And by what legal authority could G-Force intervene in the contest? Mere rumors of Spectra involvement?
How did they get the mecha into the museum? And how did the blimp get inside? Does a Spectra operative own or control the museum?
With Spectra popping out of nowhere all the time, people must be getting rather freaked out and nervous.
You know the other prisoners wondered who Zoltar was after, and if they figured out it was G3, they each wondered which of their number was her.
Science question: Not many that can actually be answered. Except maybe this one: what sort of material could be as good as indestructible, and fashioned into shoes and clothing?
Bizarreness alert: Besides turning G3 into a whiner who runs off when yelled at?
Gatchaman plot: This episode was a sequel to Pursue Katse! Hence the mammoth-shaped mecha. The BotP episode followed the plot, with the obvious differences in the details.
The mecha comes out of the water and attacks. Jun and Jinpei, who had been relaxing at the unnamed amusement park, rush to help the civilians endangered by the attack. It’s while saving some children that Jun loses her shoe.
In the Earthbound original, the lack of extra shoes makes sense. Dr. Nambu may not have had the resources to make more of them. He is also not as much of a bastard about the loss of Jun’s shoe, but makes it clear that Galactor could use it to discover the secrets of the Science Ninja Team’s transformations.
They edited out my favorite moment: Jun figures that Galactor is looking for her, so she’ll lure them out herself. Two guys force her into an alley. We hear smacking sounds, and she walks out unharmed and disgusted: they were just street thugs.
Galactor holds a contest, just for sixteen-year-old girls, for a makeover. Two of the first contestants do not fit into the cut-out.
The two women from the start of the contest are talking in Jun’s Joint. It’s a strange contest. One girl said they looked at her feet and said she could leave. Realizing this must be the Galactor trap, Jun goes it alone.
Later, when the team tries to find her, they spot the blimp and Ken recognizes it as a Galactor blimp rather than an ad balloon. (In a marvelous display of nerve, the Galactor blimp cruises right past them in the opposite direction.) Ken calls Jun and gets a Bird Scramble. When they lose the blimp, Jinpei has the idea of investigating the museum. Joe agrees. What better place to hide a mammoth-shaped mecha than a museum full of replicas of prehistoric animals?
Much more fighting, of course, including Jun taking out the whip lady in the escape. She does recover her shoe (leaving us with the same question of where she kept the other one).
Although I wonder if the other four girls ever got together and compared notes, and now know what the Swan looks like out of Birdstyle.