Episode Review: 'Siege of the Squids' by UnpublishedWriter
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Seige of the Squids
Battle of the Planets, Episode Two
Gatchaman Episode #36, Little Gatchamans
DVD and Veoh episode #30

Review/Summary: Open with establishing shot of Center Neptune and Zark burbling. Although it’s obvious that Center Neptune is connected to a fake island floating on the surface of the sea, he insists that it is many fathoms beneath the surface. It’s Earth’s first line of defense against enemies from outer space. He reintroduces us to G-Force, ‘skilful and extraordinary young people, then turns his ‘head’ to introduce himself as a ‘skilful and extraordinary robot.’ [Bleargh, although that’s pretty tame compared to the self-congratulations that follow.] No, I will not inflict this self-congratulatory monologue on you. Suffice it to say that if he detects trouble, he dispatches G-Force to deal with it. Their most common enemy is the Earth-like planet of Spectra, raiding the Earth for resources it no longer has.

He’s getting an alert from one of their security ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Strange things are happening off the coast of Portugal. [Unlike Gatchaman, this show mentions real countries.]

Yes! Zark is gone! We have Gatchaman footage! A lighthouse in the night, its beams sweeping through the darkness.

Then a fishing boat, with a father and his two sons. One of the sons (who sounds like Keyop with an accent and no stutter) says that he’s caught a fish. His father and brother urge him to be careful as he reels it in. Next shot, the father is helping reel in the line, the water churns, and they pull in – a squid. [It’s a rather unfortunate color, prompting thoughts in the hentai-minded.] Dad tells his son, Poco, that sometimes even the best fisherman hooks an old boot. Poco says he’d rather catch an old boot, and tosses the squid into the well on the deck. Ominous music plays as the squid sinks into the well, and there’s a significant close-up.

Back to the lighthouse, then brief shot of the family on their boat, as Zark in voice-over says that the survey ship sent the signal from this area, but he can’t locate it in all that fog. [Right: he can detect a spaceship coming in from outer space, but can’t detect a ship in fog? I think it’s time to review that contract with Quanto Tobor Labs. Or maybe review Quanto Tobor Labs.]

Cut to bridge of the ship. The captain, who sounds like Scrooge McDuck, says that he’s been in a lot of fogs, but never one like this. The man at the wheel agrees that it’s real pea soup. [Keye Luke did a good job with the generic American accent of the helmsman. I didn’t recognize his voice until he had a few more lines (coming up in a bit).]

View of the lighthouse from the bridge, forward over the bow.

Back to our crew of two. The captain orders his helmsman to keep the ship on course. The helmsman acknowledges, and suggests they steer clear of the survey ship dead ahead. (Huh? What ship? I can’t see another ship.)

The lighthouse is gone. What? The two men are startled, until a flash of light reveals that it’s over by the survey ship. The captain says that lighthouses don’t move. They turn the ship to avoid a collision.

The fisherman’s other son says that the lighthouse has moved over by that second ship. (What second ship?) Father notices that not only has the lighthouse moved, but the water is churning by that ship.

Cue the squid attack!

A scriptwriter has the father observe that a giant squid is attacking the ship. The next shot is of normal-sized squids exploding against a ship’s hull. The ship lists, and ---

Is suddenly in the grip of a giant crayfish. The crayfish looks as if it’s indulging in some interspecies mating with the burning ship. The fisherman notes that the ship is sinking.

Zark feels the need to tell us the obvious: that one of their survey ships has been attacked off the coast of Portugal, directly over the spot where their scientists have been extracting solodium (sp?) from the sea and converting it into powerful new energy. [Okay, now this makes no sense at all. If he knows the location of this extraction operation (of which we see no sign), then he knows the location of the ship. So he can’t have lost it in the fog – meaning that the scriptwriter was just trying to explain away something that didn’t need explaining. Or something. How many people worked on any given script?]

And now we have Zark in his control room, poking at his controls in front of his four-screen array. His sensors have told him that Spectra is behind this attack. For the benefit of new viewers, he also tosses in that it is ruled by Zoltar. Spectra knew that the solodium formula was on the survey ship, and that they would stop at nothing to get it. He must warn Security Chief Anderson at once. [Those are some smart sensors! Their data didn’t have to be analyzed before reaching that conclusion. Why do we need Zark, again?]

Pan right to left across G-Force, as a new adult voice informs them that Zark has declared a red alert. The back of the speaker, a man with longish brown hair and a very light blue jacket, is revealed at the end of the pan.

Close-up on Mark, who says it has to be Spectra again.

Next shot is – Geraldo Rivera? No, wait, it’s Chief Anderson. Eye-candy for the women who may want a little more maturity when the youthful hotness of G1 and G2 gets overwhelming. Unfortunately, he’s given lines that recap what we were just told by Zark. [What, they thought the audience had ADHD?] Spectra has the formula, but it will take time for them to decode it. G-Force has to get the formula back before Spectra can do that. [Since when are scientific formulae encoded?] More stating of the obvious, as Mark notes that the longer they talk, the more time Spectra has to do that. Anderson sends them off.

Stock footage of the Phoenix launching.

Lest we think G-Force is flying blindly around, Zark informs us that he gave them the precise coordinates of the attack. Their assignment is to find anyone who may have seen it.

[The supposed second ship, captained by Scrooge McDuck, is never mentioned again. This is because it was the ship that was attacked in the Gatchaman episode.]

Our fisher-family is adrift. The motor is dead. The father says that someone will be along soon. Poco spots a spaceship.

The Phoenix flies out of the sky, and Father says, ‘See, Poco: I told you.’ They wave their arms to attract attention.

Aboard the Phoenix, Mark spots them, and orders Tiny to splash down. As their craft lands, it kicks up water over the stranded family. Father says he’ll do the talking.

G-Force glides over onto the boat. Father and sons hide behind the wheelhouse and peer around the corner. They have no idea who the newcomers can be. [Which, initially, seems to make sense: this is the second episode, so maybe G-Force isn’t so well known. Until we get to the next few minutes.]

Mark calls to them to come out, and identifies his team as G-Force. Poco runs out and happily tells him that he’s heard of them. [We can only assume that they don’t have photographs or video with the news in BotP-universe Portugal.] Father and his other brother also come out of hiding.

When Mark tells them that G-Force is investigating a mysterious incident, they deny seeing anything. Oddly, the older brother sounds like Poco for these few seconds. Mark assures them there’s nothing to fear.

Meanwhile, Poco is stroking someone’s white wing-cloak. He says the owner looks like an eagle, then tells Keyop he looks like a sparrow (to Keyop’s dismay, even though it’s true). The older brother is getting an eyeful of Princess under the skirt, but says she’s a ‘beautiful lady with wings, just like a real angel.’ For some reason, Princess looks dismayed, but her words are, ‘That’s sweet.’ The boy apologizes: he should not speak to an angel. [Yeah, just peer up her skirt. Angels can be vengeful, kiddo.]

Cut to shot of Phoenix framed in binoculars. Cut again to the owner of the binoculars, a beefy fellow in a suit. He sounds like Jason with a really raspy throat as he tells his fellow goon that they’re in trouble, and to get Zoltar on the monitor.

Car goon obeys, and Zoltar tells him things he no doubt already knows: G-Force must not be allowed to stop them, or to find the secret base. [Time to remind the viewers that they’re the bad guys.]

Now, the Phoenix is afloat at a pier. Zark tells us that G-Force has returned the fisherman and his sons to their village. Because we can’t figure this out ourselves from the events of the next several minutes.

Mother is squishing her boys to her (Venus of Willendorf) ample bosom as she coos over them. One of the other villagers asks the identity of the five strangers. Nobody believes the fisherman when he says the newcomers are G-Force, and accuse him of making up stories. The evidence is right there in front them! How can they not believe? More understandably, the villagers don’t believe the claim that they are old friends of G-Force. Then the boys claim to be in G-Force, which doesn’t help their credibility.

Cut to dismayed reactions from G-Force as the boys claim to have just joined the team. Soon, they’ll be leaving for outer space. The older brother’s name is mentioned, but I can’t make it out.

Cut to the villagers, who tease the boys about their claims. The two goons from before are in the back of the crowd, and they leave.

Too soon, as it turns out. As the derision mounts, Poco runs up and says he almost broke a bone reeling in a giant squid. His father, nervous, backs him up, and says they also saw the lighthouse moving in the fog. The villagers laugh and leave them alone.

Tiny disgustedly comments they’re wasting their time in this village. Jason says they should investigate the boat. Nobody calls out the fisherman on having lied to them initially.

Mark calls the team to the boat. He’s holding up the unfortunately-colored squid by the tip of its head [and I will not apologize for the yaoi images I have just put in your head, because I certainly did not intend to put them into mine]. Jason notes that it’s a squid. Mark says it’s no ordinary squid. Princess takes the squid [okay, now the animation puts hentai images in my head!], and says that it’s too heavy. She yanks on the tentacles, the squid comes apart, and a missile falls out. [Not going there. Really.]

Cue the upwards-pointing shot of the team standing in a dismayed circle, except that Keyop looks like he’s trying to keep from barfing as he says, ‘Bomb’ in between burbles.

Mark says the squid is electronic, and is somehow connected to the lighthouse. Jason agrees they should check it out.

Zark voice-over, agreeing with Mark that if a ‘squid isn’t really a squid, then maybe a lighthouse isn’t really a lighthouse.’ Okay, so the audience has ADHD and is as dim as the Watson of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies.

Cut to the woods near the lighthouse. Some bushes start moving, then Keyop (bareheaded) pokes his head out of them. As he continues to sneak closer, the scene cuts to G-Force, in civvies, watching him. Princess hopes he’ll be okay. Mark assures her that Keyop is small, not easily seen. Tiny still doesn’t see how a lighthouse can move around.

All goes well for the plan until a goon walks right past the concealed Keyop, who then sneezes. The goon turns, and spots Keyop’s blue-and-white striped butt sticking out of the bush. He grabs Keyop and demands to know what he’s doing. Keyop says he’s hunting butterflies. The goon says the property is restricted, and to get out. Keyop shakes his fist and calls him a butterfly-hater.

Tiny now agrees with Mark that there’s something going on.

And now we have Zark again. Again. We can never, ever escape Zark. His antenna are drooping, then perk up a bit as he speaks. He was as nervous as the team. If he had a heart, it would be in his mouth. If he had a mouth. [Bleargh!]

Now he has some heavy work in front of him. When he finds out what happened to the command ship, he will have to design a whole new Phoenix. What? When was there a problem with the Phoenix in this episode? Then he wonders when he will be redesigned with all the latest components. [I watched this on the Veoh site, so I don’t know what happened with the episode, if anything.]

Keyop throws himself onto a couch. He burbles something about things could be worse, and then –

A glitch in the episode. Was it the fault of the person loading the episode to the Veoh site? Or a fault in the DVD used?

Suddenly, the two boys, wearing chicken feathers and cookware, are running through the woods, playing G-Force.
Back to Zark (unfortunately). He has called Mark about these two. Mark is the leader of G-Force (thanks for reminding us, Z-egg: we almost forgot that little detail), and should be able to handle two small boys. [Parents, is there a flaw in Zark’s logic? I think there is, but my children go ‘meow.’]

Without warning or setup, an overhead shot of G-Force and the boys. There’s something on the ground, obscured by Mark’s body. Mark and Jason try to get the boys to tell what they saw last night. Jason says the village could be in danger. The boys won’t tell, unless they’re made members of G-Force.

Jason says they never take new members. Especially, Mark points out, anyone who withholds information. The older boy offers to show them the secret way into the lighthouse.

I hope Jason is merely playing along when he asks Mark if they should sign them up.

Cut to the lighthouse, and the team below on a narrow ledge on the cliff. The boys lead the team to a vine-covered passage into the cliff. They creep through tunnels until a thread of light attracts Mark’s attention. He pushes on some rocks, enlarging the opening. They look through.

Below is a GIANT CRAYFISH MECHA, which the boys identify as the ‘giant squid’ which attacked the ship.

The back of the mecha opens up and a sort of elevator (lift) rises out of the back. Inside is a Captain of the Week who’s wearing a black mask with a single eye in the middle and two horns drooping to either side. [Casey Kasem – I think it’s him -- adopted a very peculiar, sort of Irish-y sounding, accent for this guy (and needed a throat lozenge).] He’s carrying a briefcase with the solodium formula. He says that his goons have done a fine job, and that Zoltar will be very happy to have the formula placed in his hands.

The lift enters a portal in the cavern ceiling. Poco jumps up and says the lighthouse is above. Mark pulls him down while telling him to be quiet, and they dislodge a small rock. The goons are alerted. Captain One-Eye [he doesn't have a name in this ep] tells his main goon that he will be leaving in the main rocket, and to join him in or by the giant squid (the giant crayfish mecha) later.

The boys are still in ‘G-Force mode’, and run after Captain One-Eye, all the way up to his rocket. Then they run inside. Before he launches, he congratulates himself on obtaining the formula and G-Force’s failure to stop them.

Cut to Mark, who says that the rocket is launching.

Cut to the lighthouse, which shakes, spews exhaust, and takes flight before it crumbles to pieces around the rocket.

As Mark and most of G-Force realize the boys are on the rocket, Keyop continues the general zoological blunders of the episode. The ‘squid’ is escaping, and visible under the water is the CRAYFISH MECHA!!! He even says ‘squid.’ [Honestly, how the scriptwriters could do that is beyond me. Any child of reasonable education could tell the difference between a squid and a crayfish.]

Mark says they’ll tail it to the main base.

Cut to the Phoenix, hauling ass over the ocean. The mysterious malfunction Zark mentioned does not seem to have hurt it much.

Zark calls, and our next scene is Zark in his nerve center. The usual four screens are gone, replaced by one large screen showing an absolutely wretched head-shot of Mark. [I guess the technology of 1978 didn’t allow the Sandy Frank animators to borrow a head shot and use it. The Zark animation is not up to the rest of the show, anyway. This just makes it obvious.]

Crappy-headshot Mark reports that Spectra has the energy formula and is rocketing off with it. Zark asks what else could be wrong.

Gatchaman head-shot Mark reports that two boys are on the rocket. He asks how they can zap the ‘space pirates’ without hurting the kids.

Zark says that doesn’t compute, and that he needs to be reprogrammed. Wow! Zark doesn’t have an answer. He doesn’t know what’s going on! Yay! [No, I don’t know if I’m being happy or sarcastic. Why do you ask?]

The chase continues.

Captain One-Eye spots the kids, and thinks they’re G-Force. [This actually makes sense. This is early in the G-Force/Spectra conflict, and all many commanders would know is that G-Force had winged capes. A flash of motion could be easily mistaken. On the other hand, they do catch the boys, and should have figured it out within about two seconds after that.]

The rocket dives into a concealed water-entrance.

Next scene is One-Eye entering Zoltar’s presence. Zoltar asks for a report. One-Eye tells him he has the energy formula. Zoltar praises him, and says that the ‘Supreme One’ [aka, the Almighty Butane] will be pleased.

One-Eye then tells Zoltar that he also captured two members of G-Force. This pleases Zoltar, who says he will recommend One-Eye for a medal when they return to Spectra. He also advises One-Eye to be careful, since the rest of G-Force will attempt a rescue. Have the giant squid [crayfish mecha] decoy them into the sea.

Now it’s foggy and dark, with an apparent lighthouse. Mark wonders what a lighthouse is doing in the ocean, and orders Tiny to buzz it. Then he orders Tiny to turn on the lights. They see a crayfish mecha’s tail instead of a lighthouse, but it’s just the giant squid again. The CRAYFISH TAIL swings at them, and they dodge.

Jason figures out that it flashes like a lighthouse and lures ships into trouble.

Mark orders Tiny to follow the ‘squid’. Princess warns of danger ahead, even as missile-squids (still unfortunately colored) attack. Tiny tries to dodge them, and does a pretty good job of it. Princess still warns him that the squids could sink them.

Briefly cut to One-Eye’s control room, where he informs Zoltar (who’s sitting right there and can see and hear everything) that he’s managed to trick G-Force into following him.

The Phoenix follows the rocket into what looks like a kelp forest. The fronds curl around the warship. Said metal fronds have metal suckers on them.

Mark announces that they’re trapped by magno-electric kelp. Tiny tries to obey his order to escape, but the magnetic kelp is preventing it.

The Phoenix starts cracking. The ‘giant squid’ (crayfish) attacks from one direction, and missile-squids attack from another. Just before the Phoenix is destroyed, Mark orders ‘superjet’, and the ship tears free. Instead, the Spectra machines destroy each other in a collision.

Mark spots the underwater base. He calls it Spectra’s main base, and orders Tiny to ram it.

Zoltar orders the two hostages brought in. When he sees them, he sees right away that they’re children and chews One-Eye a new one. The poor sap’s only defense is that he has only one eye.

Before much else can happen, the Phoenix breaks through the wall. Mark announces that he won’t let Zoltar have the energy formula. As Zoltar grabs it, Mark throws his sonic boomerang, and Jason fires his cable into the case. [Okay, they apparently rammed through the walls of an underwater base. Where did the water go? What did I miss?]

Zoltar hauls ass, G-Force hot on his heels. Jason’s breathing down his neck. A transparent barrier prevents Jason from grabbing Zoltar.

Now that he’s safe, Zoltar taunts them. They will never defeat the superior forces of Spectra. Spectra’s supply of weapons is inexhaustible, and their genius unequalled. [I thought Spectra’s resources were used up? It could just be bluster and bravado.] With his trademark evil laugh, Zoltar escapes.

Princess asks the boys if they’re hurt. Poco says they aren’t hurt: they’re G-Force.

Zoltar escapes, but the self-destruct is ticking away.

Back to the Phoenix, and they get the heck out of there. Flying debris knocks the ship around, and the boys get tossed to the floor. Jason teases them that they can’t get hurt: they’re G-Force.

The Phoenix surfaces and takes to the air. Mark says that Zoltar will be back.

When Keyop puts an arm around one of the boys and calls him ‘Real G-Force’, the boys decide they want nothing more to do with being G-Force.

Agh! More Zark. He says it was a narrow escape for the team, but ‘We got the job done.’ He can say ‘we’ because he considers himself part of the team. A few more inanities, and he says the Zoltar will turn up like a bad penny. Then he wonders if they have pennies on Spectra.

Look, I know they added Zark, and have to try to fit him in, but they could have done a much better job of it. And let’s not get into his personality. Please.

Fic Alert: What is solodium, and how is it extracted from the sea? What does it power?

Who wants to reconcile the appearance of a giant crayfish with the statement that it’s a squid?

Science question: Is there anything that can be extracted from the ocean and used to produce energy?

Bizarreness alert: Why didn’t they just call the ship with the captain and helmsman the survey ship? Throw in a later line about rescuing the crew, and they’d have been fine with the censors.

The mecha is plainly a huge crayfish. But it’s called a squid. Why? More falling down on the educational content.

Fog defeats Zark’s sensors? WTH? No radar? No infrared? No sonar?

I know it’s a children’s show, but the scriptwriters could have acknowledged the existence of maps and charts, and that such an important facility and its attendant vessels would have been under constant surveillance.

Gatchaman plot: In the original, the ship was carrying information on the locations of underground uranium resources. Galactor wanted that data. The plots are similar, with only the few differences required by the change from ‘location of uranium resources’ to ‘solodium formula’. Nobody dies, of course, and they edited out a scene in which the boys are menaced by a wildcat mecha and saved by G-1.
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