Another episode, another Zark opening. He gives his usual introductory speech on what his job is and where he is, except this time, instead of saying that Center Neptune is many "fathoms" under the sea, he says it's many "leagues" under the sea. Now I'm not an expert on things nautical, but isn't there a difference between "leagues" and "fathoms"? Or maybe one is standard and one is metric? Which wouldn't surprise me, since at the time BotP aired, there was a big push to convert our system of measurement over to the metric system. I remember that they had these "Schoolhouse Rock" type cartoons on NBC on Saturday Mornings with four superheroes who represented the various measurements used in the metric system. I also remember being in the second grade and my teacher telling us that we had to learn how to use the metric system because someday that's all we'd use. Some thirty years later, I'm still waiting for that day to come. I wish we would have changed over, though, because the metric system is based on tens, while our current system is not. It would have been a lot easier to have to divide by ten in my 7th grade science class than it was to divide by 16. But, as usual, I digress...
Anyway, Zark was saying that sometimes when he's monitoring the galaxy, strange things happen. His "long range probes" indicate a swarm of unidentified flying objects headed towards Earth. He says that there could be a number of explanations for this, such as a dirty monitor screen. Then he noisily wipes his monitor. He states that it wouldn't be the first time that a speck of dirt set off an emergency. Maybe they need to change their furnace filters at Center Neptune or something. But Zark says the monitors are clean, which I highly doubt, since he wipes them without using a cleaning agent, such as Windex (with Ammonia D), and you can literally hear the streaks forming on his monitors. Zark says this whole thing is strange because he can't pick up any of the usual Spectra identifications that would be associated with an invading mech. But after further review, Zark determines that the invading swarm is a swarm of insects. He'd better get G-Force on this right away.
Now it's nighttime over the city, and as Zark tells us, Princess and Keyop are "getting down" at the disco. As disco music is playing, Zark tells us that he hates to interrupt their fun, but the current situation calls for it. Then he also discovers that he can't get through to the two. Then we get shots of Princess and Keyop dancing.
Okay, lets back up a bit, here. Disco is probably about as 70's as you can get. And for those who weren't around then, you couldn't get away from it. The small town I lived in (and moved back to) even had one. Now, it's a church. (Talk about your irony.) The People In Charge of Milking Out Pop Culture For Money Until We're All Sick to Death of It even marketed disco towards kids (anyone remember the album, "Mickey Mouse Disco" which featured doctored disco tunes sung by your favorite Disney characters? You had Donald Duck singing, "Macho, Macho Duck."). Of course, at the time, these little kids and their parents had no idea what actually went on in these places (nor did most adults at the time get that the song YMCA by the Village People was a song about men picking up other men. If they did, there would have been all sorts of protests over the fact that I and my classmates were taught the lyrics to this song in my second grade music class.). But hindsight is 20/20, or so they say, and if you watched V-H1's Behind the Music about Studio 54, or saw the movie, you know what happened in those places. I should say that the people who went there knew what was going on, but Middle America, where I live, was blissfully ignorant. But this brings me to this question that I have now. What is a ten year old kid doing in a disco?
Back to the review...
Princess and Keyop are dancing to music that doesn't sound much like disco. In fact, the tune is reminiscent of that old Isley Brothers song, "It's Your Thing." And their dancing isn't even proper disco dancing. It looks more like dancing from the late 60's. I know, Ms. Ann is being picky. But they're dancing and stuff and then the power goes out.
Zark chimes in to say that the city is in the midst of a blackout. The blackout is so bad, even the back up generators aren't working. As he says this, we see an intersection and what happens when the traffic lights stop working. Then Zark, after the five car pile up is shown, says, "This could lead to traffic accidents." Uh, you're a little late, Zark. No points for you.
Who should be near the scene of this, but Jason. Sitting at the wheel in his car (untransmuted, of course), he says, "Jason calling Center Neptune, we've got a crisis on our hands." This line will eventually be sampled and used in the Cuban Boys dance remix of the Battle of the Planets Theme Song.
Up in the sky, over the airport, Mark is flying. Mark tells Zark, "I'm over the airport now. It's looking bad." This line does not get sampled and used in the Cuban Boys dance remix of the Battle of the Planets Theme Song. Zark tells Mark to check on the solar fusion plant.
Ms. Ann has a question. Where's Tiny during all this?
At the solar fusion plant, the ants go marching one by one (hurrah! hurrah! Sorry. *g*) and they wreak all sorts of havoc and do damage. One of them spits something at a wall and then the wall melts.
Then we're back to Mark, and Zark tells him something, which I assume is his orders. I can't understand what he's saying. Mark goes "Big Ten" and the next thing we see is the transmuted form of Mark's jet docking with the Phoenix.
On board, the team receives a briefing from Security Chief Anderson. He tells the team that those "electronic space bugs" came from an alien galaxy specifically to attack Earth. Chief points out that everyone had been evacuated safely. I'm sure the Standards and Practices Lady Listed in the Closing Credits told him to say that. Anyway, G-Force flies out to the solar fusion plant.
At the plant, the swarms of robot ants are still doing some damage. Mark doesn't know how effective the Phoenix's rockets will be against the "zillions" of ants. The ants are making a horrible noise and Princess wants to know where it's coming from. Tiny says, "The question is not 'where do they come from', but where are we going to send them?"
Jason has an answer. "Wrong, Tiny," he says. "The question is how we are going to send them."
Excuse me for a moment...
[Ms. Ann does a Happy Dance because Jason is his normal self again.]
Okay, back to the review.
Keyop wants to know how. Jason says that the answer is to flood them out. He points out on the monitor the aqueduct that goes right past the solar fusion plant. Mark thinks it's risky, but he says that they have to take that chance. So Jason gets to fire the missiles. Today, he actually gets to aim them with the help of some crosshairs that appear on the monitor. He fires the missiles at the aqueduct wall and it blows up. Water comes flooding out, carrying the ants away. Zark, in a voice over, tells us it's working, but he doesn't give Jason any credit for coming up with that idea.
Jason, one. Zark, nothing.
After the flood has cleared away, it's daytime and the team is now on the ground. They are doing a search. After Mark tells them that since they don't know what to expect from "these freaky things", they should stay on their toes. Princess spots one of the robot ants and they take it back to Chief Anderson.
The Chief thinks it's quite an elaborate design and uses advanced technology. He goes on to say that Zark did some checking and discovered that the metals used in the construction of these ants come from the distant planet of Tramulus. Mark goes, "We have a new enemy?" The Chief says yes and explains that someone other than Spectra is invading Earth, but no one knows why. All they know is what a swarm of those robot ants can do as far as damage goes. Keyop stutters, "Bug Spray." Tiny tells him that it's a good idea, but they'll need a mighty big can of the stuff. Jason says, with an "intense" expression, that they've got to go to Tramulus and stop any more from coming. When Jason appears in this scene, right after the bug spray reference, and before he says anything, Mr. Ann O'Malley goes (as Jason), "Napalm." It was funny. But you had to be there. And yet again, I digress...
The Chief thinks that this is a good idea (going to Tramulus, that is) and wishes them good luck.
By the way, that's two points for Jason in this episode. Eat that, 7 Zark 7.
G-Force gets to Tramulus, which looks suspiciously like Zarkadia, Mir, and the innermost planet of Galaxy 30. They are in their civilian clothes and they set the robot ant on the ground. The plan is to follow it and find its base. Princess wonders what they'll do when they find the base. Mark says that they'll cross that bridge when they come to it.
Mark, you're not scoring very many points today, are you? I'm getting the feeling that you don't have a clue as to what's going on.
Jason hopes that they won't be led into some kind of trap. The ant moves its head back and forth until its antennae pop up. The ant goes on and the team follows it, with the Tiny and the Phoenix bringing up the rear. Hours later, they lose the ant, so they take off running. On the Phoenix, Tiny is bored. On the ground, the team come up to two very large ant hills. From the perspective, I'd say that they were the size of the Grand Tetons or something. Okay, maybe not that big. But they're pretty huge. Keyop goes, "Sandcastles." Mark tells him no, they're giant ant hills.
Jason picks this time to remind Mark that they've reached Mark's bridge they're always coming to later and it is now time to cross it.
That's three points for Jason.
Keyop wants to knock down the ant hills. Mark says no. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that idea. It might be fun, too. Mark says that they need to get to the leader somehow. Jason is all for using force, and he's got this kind of devious look on his face. Mark says no, because "sometimes force is counterproductive." At this point, when I watch the DVD, I say (as Jason), "Counterproductive? I'll show you counterproductive." Yes, I MST these episodes as I watch them. I can't help it. I'm a big Mystery Science Theater fan. It's ingrained into me at this point. It's as instinctive as blinking.
Anyway, Mark tells the team that they'll just wait them out.
I still think knocking them down would have been more fun.
So they wait, and wait, and wait, and it's nighttime. As the team watch, swarms of ants come out of them thar ant hills. The team take off running because, since the ants left their ant hill, the leader must still be there. They come to a stop, then the ground starts to shake. Then it opens up and they get sucked into the hole. On the way down, they transmute. G-Force lands inside the base, one by one. Keyop falls on his face, though. A voice greets them with, "How nice of you to drop in, G-Force! Allow me to introduce myself..." And we get to see the enemy for the first time.
Excuse me for a moment...
[Ms. Ann leaves the room to laugh hysterically at this week's enemy. She laughs so hard, she starts crying. When she controls herself enough, Ms. Ann finds that she has to go to the bathroom because she almost wet herself from laughing so hard.]
I think I'm okay now.
This weeks enemy is a guy dressed in an ant suit, wearing Shakespearean garb, and his pecs are HUGE. Dolly Parton has nothing on this guy! His name is Antoff (or Antov), and his mandibles look like giant buck teeth that move whenever he talks. For some reason, he is surrounded by Spectran Green Goons. He takes G-Force prisoner. He orders a goon to pull a switch and the team are encased in a giant glass egg.
I'm beginning to think that maybe G-Force had to go through some specialized training in the area of not bursting into hysterical laughter when they encounter some of these Commanders of the Week. Either that, or Antoff was so bizarre, they were too speechless to even utter a simple "the hell?".
They're trapped in this egg. Jason tries to break it down, but nothing happens. Mark just stands there with his hands pressed against the glass, like a mime when they do that stupid trapped in the box thing. Did I mention that I hate mimes?
That's four points for Jason. He gets points for trying.
Antoff explains that he struck a bargain with Spectra. In exchange for eliminating G-Force, Spectra will make Antoff the ruler of Earth.
Now Mark is sweating and out of breath, and he pulls out his boomerang to break the egg, but nothing happens. Mark gives up. Keyop, however, is not ready to give up and he has an idea. He pulls out a box of powder, opens one of his bolos, pours the powder into it, and sets a timer. Princess tells Keyop not to overload the charges, but Jason says, "Maybe he knows what he's doing." Mark said nothing.
That's five points for Jason (for giving Keyop some credit.). One for Keyop for not giving up.
Keyop tells everyone to take cover. His homemade bomb explodes and then the team makes their escape.
Back at Center Neptune, Zark sums up the action for those who tuned in late. Then he tells us he's worried about G-Force. He tries to contact them, but they ignore him.
G-Force has escaped and are walking down a hall. They come into a room and discover a huge cocoon. I didn't know that ants made cocoons.
Back on the Phoenix, Tiny says, "Gee, at least they could do is call and let me know that everything is okay. I just can't stand silence." Then he spies the giant cocoon coming up from the ground and a giant ant hatching from that cocoon. Tiny gets out of the ant's way as the ant spits something at the Phoenix. Then the ant takes off. Tiny says, "That giant ant is cutting out." Mark hears and asks Tiny to come and get the others and to turn on the sonar to track the ant. The team gets picked up by a giant rope.
Back on the Phoenix, the team is briefed by Chief Anderson. The chief says that Zark has identified Antoff as a "space pirate from the galaxy DQ3." DQ3? Dairy Queen 3? Drag Queen 3? Anyway, Chief Anderson goes on to say that he is allied with Spectra and this is Antoff's first time invading Earth. (Apparently Antoff was an invasion virgin. I wonder if the first time invading is supposed to suck? *evil grin*).
Mark wants to know what the latest emergency situation is. Chief Anderson says that the giant ant landed and is now underground underneath Civic Center.
Oh no! You can't let that be destroyed!! Where is the local TV station going to hold their annual home and garden show? Or the RV show? Or the sale where you can buy electronics and brand name clothes dirt cheap? Or World of Wheels? Or wrestling? Or Sesame Street Live?
Anyway, since the thing is underground and nobody knows when the thing will attack, Mark decides that G-Force better get back to Earth right away.
No points for Mark. Getting back to Earth is a given and, as commander, he should have known that.
Well, as they are making their way back, the ant attacks and trashes the city. Those Fighters from Mir from Episode Five show up again, and apparently Antoff is afraid of them because he orders the goons to go back underground. The ant goes into a tunnel, kind of like the Lincoln Tunnel, and stays there.
Actually, it's the Breslin Tunnel. That's what Chief Anderson calls it when he briefs G-Force again. The ant is trapped. It can't get out unless it digs its way out, and if it does that, then it will get wet, and these ants don't seem to like water. So G-Force goes up higher as the ant is crawling through the tunnel. The sun is coming up.
Okay, does Earth and Tramulus go through the same 24 hour day/night cycle? Or does this involve light years and things like that? Are they in the same positions relative to their respective suns in their solar systems? I know that one Earth day is 24 hours, but if you go out to, say, Uranus, their day is longer than ours is. Or is that years? Hell, I don't know.
[Ms. Ann excuses herself to go pop some Advil® to get rid of the sudden headache she now has.]
Okay, I'm back now. Continuing this review...
The Phoenix is overhead at the tunnel entrance, waiting for the ant to come out. Also at the tunnel entrance, is a conveniently placed observation tower, where Chief Anderson is. Some might say that this is a toll booth, but it's too high up for a toll booth.
Mark orders Tiny to stand by for electron blast. Then he asks Keyop to check the sonar. Keyop says that it's right at them. Mark says that their new weapon will be useless without sunlight.
New weapon? When did they have time to go and get a new weapon installed? I don't remember that part. Or maybe it was in Gatchaman, but it was so violent that the Standards and Practices Lady had to edit it out. I'm confused.
Then we see the sun behind some clouds, and then we see Chief Anderson in his observation tower watching the tunnel entrance. Someone or something is coming and they're flashing their high beams.
On the Phoenix, Mark orders the solar refractors to be positioned. The nose cone of the Phoenix opens and there is a fan there. Not an electric fan, but it looks like one of those folding fans.
Excuse me for a moment, but where is Jason's car? That's where his car is supposed to be, but it's not there.
The fan unfolds itself and it's now a big satellite dish. Okay, I know what's going on here. The best man at Ms. Ann's wedding and Mr. Ann's friend, Groan, has this theory that Tiny has various things stashed aboard the Phoenix to entertain himself when he's left behind. A beer fridge came up in the conversation. Other things also were mentioned, but I'm not going to mention those here. So I guess Tiny also gets to watch satellite TV, too. But again, I digress...
The Phoenix is hovering over the tunnel entrance, with Tiny's satellite dish aimed at the entrance. They're waiting for the ant to come out.
Hmmm... Big shiny metal thing, sunshine...I know where this is going.
By the way, where is Jason's car?
The ant finally comes out and it gets fried. That is, until some clouds appear again. Then the ant has another chance. Antoff takes advantage of that break. "Now to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee," he says, fist raised in the air. The ant sprouts wings and takes off.
Antoff, you are not Muhammad Ali. Not in a million years.
Those "Fighters From Mir" show up again and shoot at the ant, buying G-Force some time. Soon the clouds disappear and the mechanical ant is fried. Antoff escapes and Chief Anderson was sweating bullets. Earth is saved once again, thanks to G-Force and the sun. Or as Princess says, "Our friend, the sun."
Now we're back at Center Neptune, and Zark's "all's well that ends well" speech. He tells us that Antoff was sent to prison. He says that those robot ants had more modern circuitry than Zark does. I believe that. I bet those ants had surface mount parts on them. Zark is purely through-hole components. I work in the electronics industry (and no, that's not a euphemism for having a $9.00 an hour job at Circuit City, either. I actually work in the electronics industry. The company I work for builds circuit boards for other companies), so I know something about this stuff. The more modern boards I work with have all these tiny little surface mounted resistors, capacitors, BGA's, and IC's. (And they were a bitch to hand solder, too.) Zark's circuit boards all had to be made on a stuffing line where people place the parts in holes and they go through the wave to be soldered. (And I'm willing to bet that the person who was line leading didn't catch the missing parts, if that line was like some of the times I've line led at work. The line leader makes sure that all the parts are in, placed correctly (especially if they are polarized parts), and prepares the board by taping certain things down so they don't pop out or tilt or putting a stiffener bar on the board or connector covers to keep solder out of connector pins before it goes into the wave, the machine that applies the solder.) If you ever crack open an old piece of electronics, you'll see mostly through-hole components. New stuff like video cards or the cards that go into your computers are all surface mount. Just a little peek into the life of Ms. Ann O'Malley. However, Ms. Ann traded being a floor monkey for being a cube monkey for the same company a few years after this review was originally written.
Moving on, Zark goes up to his ready room and Susan from Planet Pluto calls him. Their conversation is rather icky. Susan goes, "You buzzed me, sir?" Zark's antennae are all popping up when she says that. "Oh, Susan," he says. "No, I didn't buzz you, but I certainly wish I could." Rather icky, considering, as Mr. Ann points out (and I'm sure that many of you out there have noticed) that Zark is shaped like a pocket sized vibrator.
Mr. Ann and I are both sick little monkeys who think alike and that's why we get along so well.
Zark continues, "I mean, I'm glad you called, anyway." Susan says, in that breathy phone sex operator's voice, "What can I do for you, sir?" Zark replies in an icky voice, "Oh, so many things." [Ms. Ann is visibly shuddering at this point.] Susan says, "I think we should talk about G-Force." What about G-Force? Why don't you leave them out of this conversation, PLEASE! I beg you, in the name of all that is good and decent!
Zark goes, "You really know how to hurt a robot." I guess this is where we learn that Susan is a FOSDIC tease. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. *big evil grin*) Susan just laughs, and when she laughs, even that sounds dirty. She says that they're back home and they are in their ready room disco dancing. Excuse me for a moment....
ENOUGH WITH THE 70'S REFERENCES! I know this show was made in the 70's, but enough is enough! And the only members of G-Force I can picture "disco dancing" are Mark and Princess and I'm sure Princess had to wheedle Mark into doing that.
Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, disco dancing. Susan asks Zark if he'd like to disco dance some time on one of Zark's oil breaks. Zark says he'd love to (and his antennae pop up when he says this). He says that they'll do the "Funky FOSDIC". Then Zark explains what FOSDIC means. F ilm O ptical S ensing D evice for I nput to C omputers. Zark then goes on to say that "it really turns him on."
Ms. Ann needs to take a very long, and very hot shower now.
A Few Thoughts From Ms. Ann:
Ms. Ann was very happy to see Jason as his normal self in this episode. His coming up with most of their ideas was nice, too. Jason is not stupid, but I wish he'd get some credit for the things he does. Instead, Zark chooses to point out his flaws to everyone.
About the villain, I really don't know what to say other than he was hilarious. Words fail me at this point.
A tally of the score shows the following:
Jason has five points that he earned for coming up with all the plans the team used, calling Mark on it when he had no idea what to do (crossing that bridge when we come to it), giving Keyop some credit for using his bolos as an explosive device, and for trying to bust open the glass egg when Mark just stood there, hands on the glass like a freakin' MIME. (I despise mimes.)
Keyop has two because I decided to retroactively award him a point for the bug spray idea.
Mark has zero because you'd think as commander, he'd have a plan when they were on Tramulus.
And Zark has Negative 35, 372 because of his icky conversation with Susan. If not for that, he'd be tied with Mark.
Oh, and I still want to know what happened to Jason's car. ;-)