Episode Review: 'Decoys of Doom' by UnpublishedWriter
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Decoys of Doom
Battle of the Planets, Episode Number Three
Gatchaman Episode #63, Snow Demon King Blizzarder
DVD and Veoh episode #53

Review/Summary: Yep, establishing shot of Center Neptune. And Zark starts talking: “Deep under the sea, this is the secret and extremely important world defense base, Center Neptune. Its main purpose is to guard Earth against attacks from space pirates and enemy aliens, like that villainous Zoltar and his evil conspirators from planet Spectra in the Crab Nebulae (sic).” [No mention of mining and refining Vitalumis, or defending that operation.] He introduces us again to G-Force, and [with an inane giggle] himself. All information clears through him. Then there’s some tortured word-play: he’s at the top of Center Neptune, and he hastens to assure us that Mark is the leader of G-Force, and Anderson is chief of security, but he is at the top of the building. Which is way down at the bottom of the sea, so you could say he was ‘bottom’s up.’ [I want a big bag of the Chips Deluxe brand of chocolate chip cookies. Original. Now. And lots of ice-cold milk to wash them down.]

It gets worse.

One of these days, he says, he’s due for a big overhaul and reprogramming, and who knows what heights he will reach. He hopes he will be taller. [COOKIES!]

And he reminds us that he monitors G-Force. They’re on Security Level with Anderson. [Not the security level, but just ‘Security Level.’] Time to check on them.

Ah, Gatchaman footage. Spotlights shine on Mark, as machine guns poke from slots on the walls. They fire, he launches and takes them out with his sonic boomerang. Then Jason wipes out a flamethrower with his cablegun. While watching G1 and G2 in action, it becomes obvious that their wing-capes are resistant to bullets and fire.

Cut to Zark, who can’t believe it [and his antennae spring upright to show his astonishment]: “Our own people, trying to destroy G-Force!” [Yep, faux suspense. For whatever reason, the scriptwriters did not send Zark a memo.] He panics and calls Anderson.

Now to Princess, and what’s up with her mouth? There are lines running from the ends of her mouth down her chin. Like one of those nutcracker dolls [pun not intended]. She uses a yo-yo bomb on the guns attacking her.

A missile launches, and Keyop (also with the nutcracker mouth) throws his bolos around it, then catches it and redirects it back at the launcher. Wow. Let’s not make fun of the kid for talking funny, okay? He’s a badass.

Someone drops a spiked boulder on Tiny (yep, nutcracker), who falls to his knees, gets up (denting the floor under his feet), lifts the boulder and breaks it over his head. Methinks that something is up. Tiny’s strong, but he’s not that strong.

The team lines up on the floor of the training area. Panels in the walls rise, revealing Anderson and – G-Force? Anderson introduces the new G-Force, made in the original team’s exact images. They aren’t impressed. [Oh, darn, Keyop isn’t a badass rocket-tosser, after all.]

Zark is relieved. [Really, would the ‘computerized coordinator’ be unaware of this? Zark receives data from darn near everywhere, but has no idea that Anderson has had these robots constructed? What were the scriptwriters thinking? That this wasn’t exciting enough without Zark yelping in panic?] He wishes that Anderson would tell him these things. He nearly had an electrode failure. [Hm. That, I think, would turn Zark into useless scrap. Cookies. Please, I need cookies.]

According to Anderson, the Cosmic Patrol has warned them that Spectra has established a base on Earth again. All efforts to locate it have failed. [Either Spectrans are very good at infiltrating, or Earth’s security really sucks.] He reminds us that Spectra is dying and its leaders are desperate. They’re planning an all-out attack this time, rather than their usual raids. The robot G-Force is to lure them out of their secret bases.

Mark’s concerned that a robot can do his job better than he can. Princess is creeped out by looking at herself. Mark tells her he’s always enjoyed looking at her (but his tone is all wrong for this to be endearing, and his facial expression is downright serious). He asks Anderson when they start working with their doubles.

Anderson says they don’t. G-Force remains separate. These are decoys. Tomorrow, G-Force will be honored at the Coliseum. [Wow, G-Force became famous pretty fast. Five missions against Spectra, and they’re media darlings. Bet they’re on Facebook and everything.] They will be exposed and vulnerable, and Spectra will jump at the chance to get them.

Mark says Spectra doesn’t fool easy. [Except for one-eyed captains confronted by little kids wearing chicken feathers.] Anderson admits the difficulty, and asks if they’re willing to go along with it. [He’s their superior. They don’t have to be willing, just obedient. Mark could only refuse if the idea was spectacularly bad or unlawful, and even then, he’d have to follow proper procedures.]

Crowd scene at the Coliseum, a giant sports arena. An announcer who sounds like a nasal Jason says that the Intergalactic Federation has declared next Monday a holiday in honor of G-Force. G-Force is famous throughout the galaxy. Representatives from every planet have made plans to attend. [Interesting implications about who runs things on Earth. Cue the New World Order paranoids. And all those representatives aren’t worried that Spectra would attack them?]

Close-up of the Luminous Spirit (‘Light of Wisdom’, ‘Supreme One’), who is not certain that G-Force would allow themselves to be so vulnerable. [Intelligence in a children’s show villain! Be still, my heart. In the original, Leader X is eager to have the team destroyed.] Zoltar says that Earth has announced it, and they can easily destroy G-Force. The Luminous Spirit warns Zoltar not to underestimate G-Force, and that they are his responsibility. Zoltar promises to destroy them. After this day, Spectra will rule the Earth. [Ah: they’re having this conversation on the day of the ceremony.]

We have our first ‘travel through space’ animation for the show. It isn’t too bad. A couple of galaxies (seen from afar), then Saturn, and then Earth.

Zark tells us that the Cosmic Patrol has warned that an alien craft has entered ‘our galaxy’ and is approaching Earth. He must alert all defenses. [Uh, the Crab Nebula is in the Milky Way. I guess the scriptwriters are using the ‘1950s TV Science Fiction Script Guide’, a very short book. To summarize its contents: ‘Don’t bother with the facts. Just write the script.’ And, if he's alerting all defenses, they can intercept the mecha and destroy it before it even reaches G-Force. Cookies.]

Cut to a parade. Robot G-Force stand in an open car [How that dates this episode!], while the human G-Force watches from inside a tall building. They’re rather impressed by how good ‘they’ look, except for Jason, who thinks his double is acting like a big hero (he needs to have a talk with it). Tiny likes his double: it has his ‘strong macho character.’ [How many readers can remember when the Pope didn’t travel in a bullet-proof car? Or when you could walk through an airport without taking off shoes or getting rid of pocketknives, or while carrying a frikking sword (as my father once did on his way home from Spain with a souvenir)?]

Mark leaves. When Princess asks, he says he feels silly watching himself.

Oh, no: Zark voice-over as we shift to the Coliseum, where a large stage has been built in the middle of the ball field. Seems he warned Mark about the invaders, and wonders why Mark suddenly changed plans without advising him. [Warned Mark, but not Chief Anderson?] As the camera pans around the audience (including Anderson), Zark tells us that the officials are all present, and the decoys are due at any second.

Far below the stage, a conveyor belt delivers the robots to the lift that will take them to the surface. [A stadium was altered that much, for a one-day event?] Mark grabs his double and tells it he’s taking over. The double is programmed to obey, so Mark sends it to G-Force.

Assuming the viewers don’t know to ask this question, the scriptwriters have Zark wondering why Mark would take his double’s place. Mark knows the ‘space invaders’ are coming, and he will be completely alone. [Without even a game console to his name! You can’t play ‘Space Invaders’ without a game console.]

Anderson comes up and shakes the hand of each robot (with Mark coming up last). Before he can shake Mark’s hand, and perhaps discover the deception, something happens in the sky.

A dark cloud blots out the sky, then disperses, revealing a huge, horned, winged, demon-looking mecha. It shoots something from its mouth. As Anderson runs, he calls G-Force on a hand-held radio. They tune in, and see people frozen solid as the mecha looms overhead. Jason says it has to be Zoltar. Anderson, sounding remarkably calm, tells them to head for the tracking room and to await further orders (although his body-language is rather tense). Tiny says they’re waiting for Mark. As the stadium ices over behind him, Anderson repeats his order, with more emotion.

Just then, robot Mark joins G-Force. Although he’s welcomed back, he doesn’t take charge, but merely bows his head. Jason leads the charge out of the room. Princess stops and notes that Mark looks as if he lost his best friend. The robot lifts its head and announces it has no friends. She realizes what Mark did. [Casey Kasem tries for the Standard Robot Monotone, but does not succeed.]

Military vehicles appear, and are destroyed. Zark doesn’t use the words ‘remote control’ or ‘robot’, but I suppose we should assume that they aren’t manned by organic beings. Instead, he fusses about Mark not being there to lead the team. [We get it, we get it: you think his going off alone was a bad idea.]

And now the Captain of the Week, and – words don’t do the costume justice. He’s a skinny, gangly type wearing a hospital-green one-piece with red Spectra symbol, and a blue cape with a pink lining. His mask looks sort of like a fish with orange compound eyes and pink antennae, with a sort of beak over the nose. Alan Young is having fun being an evil villain again.

Captain Fish-Bug gloats that Zoltar will be proud of them, and that Earth would soon be theirs to plunder. A goon warns him to beware of G-Force.

As if on cue, Captain Fish-Bug sees something on a monitor. Yep, there’s a car fleeing down the road. He orders pursuit.

The doubles and Mark are in the car. Mark’s driving like he’s Jason, as the mecha follows and tries to freeze him. However, he’s not Jason, and crashes. The mecha freezes them (Mark does not look happy), picks up the car, and flies off (surrounded by a dark cloud).

Anderson, seemingly unaware of what Mark did, tells technicians to track the mecha. As a squiggly line appears on the screen, Princess calls and tells him that Mark is with the robots. [This is in contrast with Gatchaman, where Jun starts to reveal, then falls silent. I think she’s trying avoid causing her leader any trouble.] Anderson says that he knows, and while that threw them for a curve, Mark is sending them a signal. [And he found this out, how?] Jason will command the Phoenix. Princess says the robot is with them, and Anderson orders them to take it along.

Stock footage of the Phoenix launching. [When did they get to Center Neptune?]

According to the track, the mecha landed in the Arctic Circle. They’ve searched that area before. Anderson says that Spectra must be using an antimatter shield. [What?] They’re only hope now is Mark. [Why? They’ve tracked the mecha. All they would have to do was saturate the area with people and ordnance.]

Zark is pacing. I think this is the first time we’ve seen him move across the room. It looks as if he’s sliding with every forward step. [Quick, attach something to his feet so he can wax the floors while he paces.] He’s worried about Mark. That was a brave thing, putting himself in danger with the robots, but those robots aren’t very intelligent. Now that he’s in the base, Mark can send signals that will lead G-Force right to them.

Now an overhead shot of a large chamber with a frozen car on the floor and a strange-looking device aimed at it.

We’re at floor level and, oh, dear: the device looks like a gigantic shower head. Something yellow is dispensed, as goons and Captain Fish-Bug watch. It’s melting the ice.

Now unfrozen, Mark uses his bracelet to send a signal. Princess receives it. When Tiny asks what the message says, she tells him that Mark sometimes sends her very personal messages. [Bleargh. And unprofessional. Nobody will take time out from finding a secret base to send a love-note. Honestly: what were the scriptwriters thinking?] Then she tries to flirt with the robot, who obviously can’t play along. When Jason gripes about the robot, she says it makes it seem like Mark is there with them. Tiny wants to know where to fly. Keyop seconds that.

Oh, thanks for reminding her. [Agh!!] Princess removes her bracelet, fits it into her console, and soon they have a trace on Mark.

Cut to the car, where robot G-Force attacks the Spectrans. Before it can get really good (although robot Tiny tosses the car), Captain Fish-Bug throws a switch and the robots are fried by electricity. Only Mark, lying on the floor, escapes, covered in robot parts.

Zoltar praises Fish-Bug, and orders him to attack Earth’s great power complex (although he looks more angry, with fists clenched, than happy).

The captain orders all personnel into the spaceship (the mecha). Only security guards will remain. In his instructions, he orders something that sounds to me like ‘powdered kryptolite’ loaded onto the mecha. Another giant device sucks up this substance (which actually looks like the remains of the destroyed robots). [Why didn't they admit these are the remains of the robots?]

Mark enters the mecha by gliding into the giant vacuum head. While riding up, he loads his sonic boomerang and throws it into the nearest control console of the base.

The Phoenix flies over the Arctic. G-Force is tracking Mark’s signal. As they come upon it, the boomerang blows up, revealing the base. [One heck of a boomerang bomb.] A black whirlwind catches the Phoenix. As if that isn’t enough, the mecha confronts them.

On Jason’s order, Tiny gets them the heck out of there. The mecha gives chase, and fires a freeze ray. Ice forms on the Phoenix, and Princess orders the Fiery Phoenix started. Keyop jumps into her arms and lap as the ship cracks. Jason says there’s no time. They need a diversion. [And how is there no time for the Fiery Phoenix to start?]

Princess goes to robot Mark, and tells it they need its help, but that it might be destroyed. She’s more concerned about that possibility than the robot, which immediately goes out to distract Spectra. She and Tiny feel bad about doing this, but Jason says there’s no time for sentiment.

As robot Mark emerges from the Phoenix, Captain Fish-Bug orders the use of the ‘cosmic laser’ to bring him down. The freeze ray fires. Robot Mark avoids it, getting their attention.

Jason orders the Fiery Phoenix. The freeze ray takes out the robot Mark.

Captain Fish-Bug is astounded that G-Force is out there. He tells Zoltar that he saw G-Force destroyed. Zoltar tells him the obvious: they were tricked. Destroy them now.

Mark is in the engine room. He must destroy it to save his teammates.

The mecha is closing on the Phoenix, and firing its ‘cosmic ray’ (the freeze ray). So far, the Fiery Phoenix effect prevents it being effective.

Mark empties the giant vacuum into the power plant, which causes some sort of problem. The Spectra gunner is ready to fire again. In the Phoenix, the team realize they have to come out the transmutation. Captain Fish-Bug orders more power, and this seals the mecha’s fate. There’s something wrong with the gun, and the captain goes to check things himself.

The door opens on Mark. He and Fish-Bug trade insults, followed by an over-edited scene that ends with Mark sliding towards a closing doorway to the outside. When Fish-Bug tries to operate the freeze ray, he starts his mecha’s destruction.

The mecha crashes as the Phoenix returns to normal (in much less than the 24 hours stated in the first episode). G-Force recovers, and Tiny flies around to see if he can find Mark. Keyop is in Princess’s arms and lap again. Fire and smoke rise from the crash site.

Suddenly, Keyop is crying, as Princess says that’s the end of the Spectra spaceship, but she’s certain Mark is all right.

They spot Mark, swathed in the robots’ wing-capes, dropping to safety. Everyone is quite relieved to see him, and Tiny moves in to pick him up.

When Mark arrives in the Phoenix, Princess runs up to embrace him, then pummels him because he had worried them so much.

Zark voice-over. Unnecessary voice-over, since he recaps what just happened. Then he wonders how his grids will hold up under strain like this.

Not a lot of Zark in this episode, but he made up for it by being a real twit. And now he puts his hands on what passes for his hips in an attempt to look badass. [Cookies. Milk. Stat.]
***** ***** *****

Fic Alert: The Federation orders a holiday to honor G-Force. What sort of government does it have, and how much authority does this government have over Earth?

Science question: How does G1 survive being frozen? Last I heard, certain conditions have to be in place to survive freezing temperatures. Was it the bird-suit or the implant?

Anti-matter shield? As a cloaking device?

Bizarreness alert: The vitalumis mining operation is not mentioned.

Rather than allow G3 to remain a professional, the scriptwriters decided to be cute with the transmission from G1.

How does Anderson know what Mark did? Maybe he’s more perceptive than we thought.

Anti-matter shield? As a cloaking device?

Gatchaman plot: No Zark. The BotP version pretty much keeps to the plot of finding the base, and what happens afterwards. Many of the differences are about motivation or to keep the kiddies from being traumatized. Opens with the decoys in action in the training room. The team at first thinks they’re being replaced. Dr. Nambu tries to explain that the robots are decoys, and has to hammer it into Ken’s head that this is not a no-confidence vote in the Science Ninja Team. The team are now to make their first public appearance as part of the scheme to draw out Galactor and learn the location of their base. Leader X orders Berg Katse to deploy the new mecha (which has not undergone performance tests) to destroy the SNT.

Ken takes the robot’s place because he knows the robot decoys will be discovered as soon as they’re captured. Body count (of course). Nambu orders the team to stay where they are during the attack, so they won’t jeopardize the operation. When they run out to get ready, Jun discovers that ‘G1’ is a robot. After the robots are captured, Jun calls to get permission to deploy the team, but realizes she can’t tell Dr. Nambu about Ken. No edits on the action.

Instead of a ‘personal message’ from G1 when he contacts her, Jun reveals that Ken took off on his own and that they’ve been flying with a robot (she didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t want the team members to go haring off on their own in turn). Much more professional.

When the robots are destroyed, the Captain of the Week tells Berg Katse the SNT are robots, and Katse tells him that these robots are decoys to locate the base. The remains of the robots are sucked up to throw at the team’s ship, the God Phoenix.

It’s Jun’s idea to divert attention to the Ken robot so they can use the Firebird (no sentimental rubbish: she’s willing to destroy the robot for the good of the team).
Jinpei is crying and the team is concerned because they think Ken might have died when the mecha exploded.
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