Ms Ann Reviews BoTP and Gatchaman Episodes 1 by msannomalley
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Author's Chapter Notes:
This review was originally written in 2002 and has been tweeked a bit to bring it up to date. 

First off, this episode opens with completely different credits than what most of us remember.  It's mainly shots lifted from this episode, with a few from a different episode.

After the credits, we go right to a room with a bunch of controls in it.  An R2-D2 like robot tells us, "Somewhere, off the west coast of the United States, 900 fathoms beneath the surface of the sea, is a secret, extremely important world defense base, Center Neptune."  The little robot also tells us that a precious mineral, Vitalumis, is mined there.  This Vitalumis is some pretty amazing stuff, since it renews the nutrients in the soil.  Nothing can be grown without this ore and many galaxies could face starvation if something happened to it.

As the robot is talking, we see five people dressed in bird-like costumes.  They have helmets with beak-shaped visors, winged capes, boots and the like.  There are three guys, a kid, and a woman.  The robot, who has yet to introduce itself to us, says that the job of protecting this base belongs to G-Force, which would be the five people we are watching right at this moment.

Then we see the robot again, and he introduces himself to us.  He is 7-Zark-7, the computerized coordinator for G-Force.  And yes, he's the robot a lot of us love to hate.  Zark explains that everything that comes into the base comes in through him, and it's also his job to watch G-Force every moment of the day and night.  And I'm feeling creeped out already by this remark.  Zark tells us that he doesn't need sleep because he's a robot.

We're saved by a buzzer.  It seems that there is an emergency.  We see a light house on shore and it's a dark and stormy night.  Zark chirps in as the narrator, saying that he's been informed by the Cosmic Space Patrol that a mysterious UFO has been sighted.  And no sooner does Zark say that, than a big mechanical turtle with spiky bits down it's back rises from the water.  Zark tells us that it's a radio controlled attack unit from Planet Spectra, a very advanced planet from a hostile galaxy.  The Space Terrapin takes off, headed for one of the vaults storing the Vitalumis.  Zark is panicky as he's contacting someone.  Who?  I don't know, but as Zark is saying this, the Space Terrapin fries the light house and destroys it.  Then it lands, sticking it's foot inside a building.  The regular army tries to stop it, but shooting missiles at the thing's butt isn't effective.  In an MST3K moment during that bit, I'm going, "Hemerrhoids are like missiles being shot up your ass."  *big evil grin* While it's being attacked, the Space Terrapin is stealing the Vitalumis.  When it's finished, it takes off, hovers in the air, and toasts the conventional army.

Back at Center Neptune, Zark is pacing around.  He's wondering why Spectra would want to steal the Vitalumis when they give it away freely to anyone who needs it.  Uh, maybe because they're the bad guys, Zark?  Bad guys tend to do stuff like steal and pillage.  Zark decides he'd better get G-Force on this and right away.

Next we see a Cessna flying in the air.  Zark is heard contacting this person in the plane and informing him of a "hot scan".  That's nice, Zark, but think there are more important things to tell this guy than about the porn pictures you've scanned. 

We learn that the pilot's name is Mark and Mark responds by saying, "Ears on, Zark.  Ten-two."  And when we were watching this one day, my husband, Mr. Ann O'Malley, goes, "Ten to what?"  And I reply, in full MST3K mode, "Ten to your own damn business."  And Mr. Ann cracked up and started laughing his butt off.  But I digress...

Ah, the Seventies.  A time when people felt no qualms about talking like truckers.  *grin*

Anyway, Zark informs Mark that he'd better assemble his team because Zark's located an invader from Spectra.  He gives Mark some coordinates and says that he'll transmute Mark.  Mark replies, "Big Ten."  Then he swoops down in his plane over the water.  Back in the cockpit, Mark brings his arm around and in front of his face.  Then he says, "Transmute!"  Then we get some swirly bits and Mark changes from his civilian clothes to his G-Force Birdstyle of The Eagle.  He's got the white and blue uniform.  His plane goes from Cessna to fighter jet, too.

Then Zark chimes in, in this kind of confident, cocky, I'm the God voice, "Well that's one of the many conversion phases I control."  Excuse me?  I didn't see you do anything.  Mark did all the work here.  As we see the jet flying, Zark does say that Mark is the real leader of G-Force.  Well I should hope so.  Anyone but you, Zark.

Next, we see a young woman riding on a motorcycle.  She is dressed in white wings, a white swan helmet, thigh-high white boots, and a pink mini-dress.  Zark tells us that her name is Princess.  He is careful to point out to us that she is the only female of the group.

Next, a blue and red ship surfaces from the water, piloted by a large guy wearing a green owl helmet, green wings, and green suit.  He is sitting up in a big, clear bubble.   His name is Tiny Harper and he pilots the command ship, The Phoenix, and assembles the group.  He is also the only member of G-Force with a last name.

Next we see Princess again, and the Phoenix is coming up behind her, ready to pick her up.  As she is being picked up Zark says that he "pays special attention" to her, but he really doesn't know why.  And I'm thinking that maybe Princess should be told about this and look into getting a restraining order, considering Zark's earlier remark about him watching G-Force every moment of the day and night.  *shudder*    We see a ramp come out of one of the wing pods.  Princess drives her bike onto it and some clampy type things catch the bike.  The ramp is drawn back into the wing pod, the bottom hatch closes, and Princess gets off the bike.  She goes over to a chute and slides down it.

Next, is an orange buggy, tracker thing.  The other wing pod opens and some grippy things come out and pick up the buggy.  Once inside, the front hatch opens up and a boy wearing a swallow's helmet, dark blue wings, red boots and gloves, and a yellow suit slides out.  Zark tells us that this is Keyop and he is very special and different.  Keyop is manufactured.  In other words, he's a clone.  Zark tells us that Keyop's speech is a "little peculiar" but his powers are amazing.

Next, and the moment Ms. Ann The Fan Girl (who actually isn't a fan girl, but plays one on the Internet) has been waiting for, we see a blue Formula One type race car driving along with the Phoenix coming up behind it.  Inside the car, we see a guy dressed in a black condor helmet, blue wings, dark blue gloves and boots (well, we don't see the boots), and brown (although some say rust or crimson.  It looks brown to me.) suit.  Zark introduces us to Jason, whom he says is "very capable, but just a trifle eager and hot-headed sometimes."  In other words, he's the Bad Boy, the Cool One, and the one many females like a lot.   As Zark tells us this, a pair of grappling arms comes out of the Phoenix's nose.  They attach themselves to Jason's car and they pull it up against the nose of the ship.  The blue and red nose cone closes over the car.  Jason puts on the parking brake and reclines the seat back.  The back window of the car opens, revealing a chute with some handrails, and then we see Jason pulling himself up this chute.  As he is doing this, Zark remarks, "So emotional.  I do wish he had solid state circuitry like mine."  Uh, he will, Zark.  Except his name will be Joe, the censors will not be around to edit out some of the words he says and things he does, and it will happen in a series called Gatchaman II. 

And last but not least, Mark docks his jet in the back end of the Phoenix.  As he does this, Zark explains that the members of G-Force all have miniaturized cerebonic implants which give them fantastic abilities beyond those of other humans.  As we see Tiny come down from the bubble, Zark explains that G-Force are all orphans who have been trained almost since birth to develop those powers.  Tiny comes down into the cockpit and we get a pan shot of the entire G-Force team.   Then Zark says something about how much he worries about them.

Then Zark tells G-Force that they're right on target.  In the cockpit, Keyop is tossing his bolos in the air and he beeps and stutters (his "peculiar" speech), "My bare hands."  Princess scolds him, telling Keyop that he can't go after the Space Terrapin alone.

Back to Zark, who says "It's from Spectra!  This is the third time we've been invaded!"

Cut to the Phoenix, where Jason goes, "Just let me get a laser bead on it.  This will be their last attack."  And Jason's voice sounds different from what I remember.

Cut to Zark.  Zark says dryly, "I believe that's what you said last time, Jason."   

Bite me, Zark.

Back to the Phoenix.  Jason turns around in a defiant way, as if to say to the little tin can, "F--- you."   Now you see why I like this guy?

Back to Zark.  Zark lost the Space Terrapin from his monitors.  Zark's not so competent, now, is he?  He tells G-Force that they're on their own.  On the Phoenix, Mark goes, "Big ten."  Zark is now breaking contact with G-Force, and I'm sure they're all happy about that.

On the Phoenix, Mark goes, "Good old reliable Zark says it's invaders from Planet Spectra again."  I wonder how much Zark paid Mark to say that.  As Mark is talking, the shot pans across the Phoenix.  We see Mark standing up, and Princess and Jason sitting at their stations, next to each other.  Princess goes, "I wonder what they'll look like this time."  In a blurb we didn't get to see, Mark somehow changed places with Jason and he is sitting next to Princess.  Mark replies in a Commander type voice, "Probably two-headed."  Then Princess goes, "Well, they say two heads are better than one."  Groan!  Then Mark goes, "Not on the same body!" He says this kind of sarcastically.

I guess Mark and Jason did change places, because Jason is now where Mark was standing.  Tiny, speaking in a voice different from what I remember sees a whirlpool.  Jason and Keyop move in closer for a better look.  Then Keyop is playing with his bolos, and he goes, "The ocean."  And he says it like he's saying, "Well, duh!"  Then Mark, in a patronizing voice I have come to loathe and despise, replies, "We know it's the ocean."  Tiny goes, "We're going for it." He takes the ship under the water.  They come across a trail of brown smoke, coming from some cave that is only partially submerged.  Tiny takes the Phoenix through this cave, following the trail.  Mark goes, "It may be attacking our underwater base."  Princess says that there's nothing on the scanners and Jason backs her up.  Then Princess tells Mark she thinks that they should have stayed above.

Meanwhile, somewhere above the ocean, the Space Terrapin shows up and starts trashing another base of some kind.  The regular military shows up and can't do squat against the Space Terrapin.

The Phoenix comes out of the underwater cave and Tiny starts taking her up.  Mark wonders aloud that the Space Terrapin has got to be above.  He gives Tiny the order to surface, but Tiny is way ahead of him.  The Phoenix is more than halfway to the surface.  Once they reach the surface, they see the Space Terrapin trashing things.  Keyop goes, "Alive?"  And Jason replies, "Yeah, it's alive, but ugly aliens."  Huh?  Or maybe he meant "Butt ugly aliens".  I don't know.    Then Jason wants to "give it a laser blast."  And he tells Tiny to dive at the Space Terrapin.  Mark, in a bit of Acting!, tells Jason no.  He does this by coming towards Jason and laying an arm across him.  And I really think Jason should tell Mark not to touch him like that, because Mark does this a lot in the series.  I don't think it's because Mark swings "that way", but rather it's how Mark boosts his own ego and shows that he's In Charge.  But Jason goes, "Believe me, I can."  Mark goes, "It's only one attack vehicle.  There may be more.  We've got to follow it and find its base."  Jason replies, in a really sarcastic way, "We're gonna play tag!  Isn't that fun, Tiny?"  Then Jason gives Mark a look that says he's challenging Mark.  It's really cool.  And Mark stares at him right back.

Back at Center Neptune, Zark babbles on about the missing monster and wonders if he should wear glasses.  Then the Space Terrapin shows up again.  It's flying from all the wreckage it has caused.  Mark breaks away from his staring contest with Jason, and over Mark's shoulder, Jason is giving his commander a dirty look.  ("Hah!  I won, you dolt!")  Anyway, Keyop remarks that the Space Terrapin is ugly and Princess goes, "It's a good thing we have ears on, Zark."  Well, I should hope so.  Zark goes, "Yes, Princess" and something about him always keeping his sensors on.  Then he says something unintelligible and then giggles.  The giggle is really creepy, icky, and annoying.  Zark should never giggle.

Then Tiny is shown, wiping his nose for some reason.  A cold?  Allergies?  I don't know.  But as he does this, he goes, "It's headed for Storage Vault Number Seven."  Then Keyop goes, "Wipeout."  Princess replies, "You're not in charge Keyop."  As she says this, the camera pans over to show Mark in front, and Princess is over his shoulder.  She's the Angel.  Jason is over Mark's other shoulder, and we know what he's supposed to represent.  But I don't care.  I just thought it's an interesting shot.  Anyway, Jason goes, "Keyop's right.  I say wipe it out!"  Then he reaches for the Big Red Button.  Mark grabs Jason's hand, and I'm thinking that Jason really needs to have a talk with Mark about all this touching.  ("Mark?  Do you know what bad touch is?  You touch me; it's bad.").  Mark goes, "Hold it Jason."  Jason goes, "Or what?"  Jason's really milking the bad attitude thing today.  *grin*    Then Mark goes, "I think I know the answer."  Jason asks, "What's the question?" as a wicked grin appears on his face.  Then Mark says that they haven't been able to find the ship's base because the ship is the base.  Jason thinks that's pretty weird, and Mark says he'll prove it if they can get inside.  Mark spotted an open ventilator shaft on the Space Terrapin.  Keyop remarks, "Itsy, bitsy.  Teeny-weeny."  Mark goes, "I know, Keyop.  This isn't your bag.  You'll get your chance later."  You gotta just love 70's slang.  *grin*

Jason goes, "Okay Mark, let's try your kooky idea."  Then Princess goes, "Hey!  It's my turn!  If you don't mind, I'm going with Mark."  Oookay!  Jason just turns his head away.  Then Keyop teases Princess.  "Oh!  Lovey-dovey!  Marky-warky!"  Princess blushes and Keyop giggles.

Mark and Princess are up on the bubble and they jump up towards the Space Terrapin.  They flip over a couple of times and I'm sure all the boys who watched this back in the day and all the guys who watch this now are paying special attention to Princess as she is flipping because we see her underwear.  Yes, it's that famous shot from the opening credits.  They land on the enemy craft and find the opening and sneak inside.  Once inside, they go their separate ways.  Mark goes looking for the Vitalumis and Princess goes above, looking for the phaser controls.  Princess starts rigging up a bomb to put on the big laser gun thing that the Terrapin has.

The Phoenix is flying around the big spiky turtle, and the Commander of the week, surrounded by Green Guys spots it.  The commander has an octupus head mask on and his voice sounds like Scrooge McDuck.  Octopus Head orders the goons to shoot at the Phoenix.  Meanwhile, Princess is still working on that bomb and she finishes her task and gets away.  Octo Head pushes the button to fire his laser cannon/prismatic ray thing, but it blows up instead.  Octopus Head is not a happy camper.

Back on a lower level, Mark opens the landing bay so the Phoenix can come aboard.  It does, and then Jason, Keyop, and Tiny come out.  They jump out of the bubble and they land on the floor, in those poses we see in the opening credits.  All three look ready to fight.  While this is going on, Zark babbles something.  G-Force meets up.  Mark can't find the Vitalumis.  Tiny thinks this mission is "nowhere", but Mark is sure that this is the base.  "We just haven't looked hard enough."

Then Octo Head finds them.  He cackles something about Earth sending children to stop the most powerful ship from Crab Nebula.  Mark yells, "We're getting tired of your invasions!"  Keyop goes, "Pain in neck!"  Then Jason goes to Mark, "We've got to use the Rotor Force."  Mark goes, "Jet Spiral on minus two."  Octopus Head goes on about G-Force surrendering and how his supreme ruler will be pleased to see this, or something.  Mark goes, "Hate to disappoint your ruler..."   Then Jason and Tiny come together, linking arms at the shoulders.  Then Mark and Princess jump on Jason and Tiny's shoulders and they link their arms.  Then Keyop jumps on Mark and Princess's shoulders.  Then Mark continues, "But you can take him this message just for laughs."  Then Keyop goes, "Buzz off!"  The group spread their wings, and they start spinning.  It's the Whirlwind Pyramid!

Goons start flying around and Octopus Head is about to get blown away.  The Whirlwind Pyramid goes up in the air, and then it breaks apart.  G-Force takes on the goons, but we only see Keyop, Princess, and Mark actually taking out goons.  I wonder why we don't get to see Jason and Tiny doing this?  Maybe standards and practices knows.  As Mark launches off his Sonic Boomerang, it make a noise that sounds like the Jetson's space ship.  Zark chimes in to say that even though this boomerang is hitting goons, it's only giving them concussions and they will wake up soon.  Sure it is, Zark. 

Octo Head has escaped into a room and is talking to someone on screen.  He is wearing purple and has a pointy-eared mask on.  It's Zoltar.  Zoltar calls Octo Head a fool.  Octo Head's excuse for his failure is that G-Force possesses strange powers.  Zoltar must report this to Oh Luminous One.  Oh Luminous One is a giant blue chicken head or a butane flame with eyes that appears in a screen with this neat swirly lava background.  The Almighty Butane says that the Space Terrapin has outlived its usefulness and it must be destroyed.  Zoltar lays on the titles of respect rather thick.  Oh Luminous One says that Spectra needs better weapons and strategy against G-Force.  The commander, Octopus Head, is to return in the escape ship with what he has.

Mark sees the head of the Terrapin detaching and G-Force runs like hell to get back to the Phoenix.  What they don't know, although they run past it, is that there is a cleverly hidden time bomb set to go off.  G-Force gets into the Phoenix and the ship takes off.  The body of the terrapin starts falling towards the ocean, causing the Phoenix to be jerked back.  As this is going on, Zark tells us that if G-Force can't get out in time, they'll have to resort to their Last Resort, The Fiery Phoenix.  The Phoenix is almost out of the terrapin, when the doors close on one of the wing pods.

Can you just stand the tension?

Mark says their stuck.  Jason says that Tiny should give it full power to break it loose.  Mark agrees because they don't want to go to the Fiery Phoenix unless they have to.  They give it a good old college try, but it doesn't work.  As the terrapin is falling, Mark gives the order to go to the Fiery Phoenix.  Everyone takes their seats.  The lever is pushed up and the ship goes into Fiery Phoenix mode.  The cockpit glows and there is much grimacing among G-Force because it's taking all of their cerebonic implants to make this go, not to mention that it has to be just that darn hot!  The ship melts the door away and escapes just in time.  The bomb on the terrapin blows up and mechanical turtle pieces go splashing into the ocean.

Zark chimes in to tell us that in twenty four hours, the Phoenix will be back to normal and that G-Force is all right.  Then he babbles some more about whatever.  An alarm goes off because there's another emergency.  I guess Zark will have to call in the B-Team for this one, seeing that G-Force is going to be in that firebird for the next twenty-four hours.

Then it's the end credits.  The sequence is different, but as I'm reading the credits, I notice that there is someone listed as "Standards and Practices".  Hmmm...

Thoughts From Ms. Ann:

What can I say?  This is the episode that started it all for me, and for many other people.  It started this fascination with a show about five people dressed as birds who save the world.  And for many of us, that fascination grew by leaps and bounds, and made us into anime fans.

Battle of the Planets is one of those warm, fuzzy childhood memories of mine, along with Star Wars, Saturday Morning Cartoons, Little House on the Prairie, and Trixie Belden books.  Even watching this show as an adult, I still have a warm place in my heart for it, despite the choppy editing, the campiness, and the explanations given for the stuff that was cut out.

It's also one of those things Mr. Ann O'Malley and I have in common, as he loved this show to death as a child, too.  :)

And I have to say something about Jason.  As a child (and to this day), he is my favorite character on this show.  Jason is probably responsible for the "bad boy" complex I have.  He is certainly not the first "bad boy" I've admired, and he is certainly not the last.  Jason was my first Condor.  What is it about him that I like?  Well, as a child, Mark always struck me as a "goody-goody" type, always right and always perfect and kind of a wet blanket.  Jason is not perfect.  He has emotions, he questions things, and he stirs things up a bit.  The whole Zark spiel about being "a trifle eager and a bit hot-headed" always came off as sounding like "Well, kids, you shouldn't be this way.  You should be like Mark."  Well, Mark was boring, the typical American pop culture superhero type who was perfect.  Jason was anything but boring.  It also seemed to me that despite what Zark said, Jason wasn't bad.  In spite of what Zark says, Jason was always stomped down by the others before he could really do anything to live up to this reputation he had.  But I guess if you had Mark and his "I'm always right because I'm the commander" attitude, you'd probably be like Jason, too.

American television, especially children's television, has this annoying tendency to be heavy handed in the morality.  The hero is always right, does the right thing, and always does as he's told, never questioning it even if he may disagree with it.  And if he does disagree with it, we, the audience, are never told this.  Our heroes are supposed to be perfect, and Mark is portrayed as such.  I am trying not to get into a rant about why I don't care for Mark here.  Really.  This show is no exception to this, but it's nice to have someone like Jason around who stirs things up a bit, even if Mark usually wins in the end.

I do have to thank all the fan fic writers who have taken Mark and made him likeable to me in their stories.  

As I mentioned before, Jason was my first Condor and responsible for my G-2 obsession.  Then I found Joe when I saw the original Gatchaman.  However, they are not the only two Condors.  There's a few more to go along with the different incarnations of Gatchaman that came to the US.  There's G-Force:  Guardians of Space's Dirk Daring.  While he looks like the others, I really can't get past the name without rolling my eyes.  There's also a guy by the name of Joe Thax, from Eagle Riders (Eagle Riders was produced by Saban, who gave us Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers .  That show was a splicing of episodes from the second and third Gatchaman series.).  I've never seen that show or that incarnation, but from what I hear, Mr. Thax is fond of internal voiceovers.  But I can't really comment on him.  And then there's OAV Joe, from the Gatchaman '94 OAV.  While OAV Joe is nice to look at (He gets a few gratuitous fan service shots in that one, the Infamous Shower Scene, for one.  And those "Abs of Steel" we see because he's not wearing a shirt underneath his leather jacket), he lacks the personality of both Joe and Jason.  I blame that on the OAV creators trying to cram 105 episodes of the original Gatchaman into three forty-five minute episodes.  They tried to get so much into those episodes; there was no time for character development.  I have to admit that there are times I wonder what would have happened if Sandy Frank had bought the rights to the OAV, retranslated it, redid it, and gave us Battle of the Planets '94.  Hmmm...OAV Jason.  *grin*  But then again, OAV Zark.  *shudder* 

As far as the episode goes, it was mainly an introduction to the show and its premise.

As you know, I can't stand 7-Zark-7.  I couldn't stand him when I was 8 years old (the age I was when BoTP debuted in 1978).  I may hate on Zark, but I mean no disrespect to the actor who voiced him, Alan Young, who seems like a wonderful person.  He actually was the voice of Scrooge McDuck. 

There is a little continuity thing I didn't mention above.  When Mark gives the order to go to Fiery Phoenix, Jason goes to sit down, but Mark is speaking.  So Mark can throw his voice?

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