Battle of the Planets, Episode Six
Gatchaman Episode #58, Hell’s Mecha-Buttha
DVD and Veoh episode #49
Review/Summary: We open again with the establishing shot of Center Neptune, plainly near the ocean’s surface, yet stated to be deep beneath the sea. [According to Zark, it’s famous. But, in the first episode, the base was described as secret.] Zark starts talking about all the hard work they’re doing, and that he hasn’t stopped working since he started in ‘Program two thousand twenty, code X40, time-phase 90.’ He’s about at the end of his resistors. Humans get to enjoy R&R, but the R&R he gets is rust removal. [Scriptwriters attempting to be cute, again.] He expects to go to the ‘Robot Rehabilitation Center’ for a complete recycle any day now. [Huh? Just the previous episode, he was going on about getting new components and upgrades.]
And there’s trouble. The security perimeter has been penetrated somewhere in ‘B sector’, one of their top research installations. [That’s either a small sector or a very large facility. And what’s with ‘somewhere’? More fog? Federation Security needs to review that contract with Quanto Tobor. ‘Somewhere’ is not precise. How about notifying someone right now, Zark?]
Over Gatchaman footage, Zark says that Spectra has devised an indestructible metal, and the researchers are working night and day for a defense against it.
Shot of a drawing board, and someone finishing a drawing. Then we see a room with scientists and technicians. One orders a test of the jet cutter. Another states that if they’re right, it will cut Spectra’s new metal like butter. [So much for indestructible.]
Cut to the machine, which looks like a nozzle with exciting SF bits attached to it. A metal plate is lowered into place and easily cut. As the scientists congratulate themselves, something gets their attention: a giant, hospital-green hand crashes through the roof and picks up the cutter between its forefinger and thumb. [Nobody noticed the thing approaching?]
The hand belongs to a Godzilla-sized mecha shaped like a four-faced Buddha. Jets open up on its back, and it flies off. Jets scramble.
Zark calls Chief Anderson with a ‘Double Red Alert: alien intruder in B Sector, G-Force has been contacted, briefing readouts on Code 70.”
And back to Center Neptune establishing shot and fish parade.
Mark is astounded: “A flying giant?” [Yeah, Spectra hasn’t used those before. (Sarcasm) And why isn’t G-Force in hot pursuit of the mecha?] Anderson says he can only relay what’s been reported. The reports come from terrified eyewitnesses, but there’s no denying that their most advanced weapon, the jet cutter, has been stolen. From what they’ve been able to put together, the alien giant is the thief.
Mark says it sounds weird. [A giant metal turtle stole vitalumis not too long ago, folks. Just what does Mark consider ‘weird’?] Do they have anything else to go on?
As he shows film taken by remote sky-cameras [Big Brother alert!], Anderson tells them that Zark dispatched fighter planes. (The footage shows explosions in the sky, perhaps from missiles fired by the planes.) The robot had been programmed to anticipate the event. [And? I think we must presume it escaped.] So, now G-Force knows what Security knows.
Which, Mark says, is next to nothing. He doesn’t sound particularly insubordinate or anything, but Princess bursts out, “Mark!” and he apologizes for being out of line. He’s mad that Planet Spectra has their newest and best weapon to use against them.
Anderson says they’re right to think it was Spectra, but there’s a new wrinkle: Spectra may have launched the robot from a new base on Planet Zyr.
Cut to shot of Keyop looking upset for some reason. (More upset than this news should make him.) As Anderson heads out the door, he runs up and chirrups, “Zyr-Zyr.”
Mark says it’s in the Milky Way. [Just like Earth and Spectra, everyone. The scriptwriters really missed the boat on educational content too many times to count.]
Still looking sad-upset, Keyop manages to get out that they better blast off. Mark ruffles his hair and tells everyone that they’re going to outer space.
Stock footage of the Phoenix taking off. Gradual move from original Tatsunoko animation to Sandy Frank space travel footage.
Then the Phoenix bridge. Blue sky and clouds visible. Tiny reports that they’re coming up on Planet Zyr, and wants a readout. [So, there are clouds in space?]
Mark says they’re not sure the giant is even on Zyr. Jason says it better be. That burned-out planet certainly isn’t fun city or a vacation wonderland. Mark tells them that’s where Zark told them to look, and they have the whole planet to cover. [More of the all-knowing, all-seeing Zark. Who can’t tell a bug on his screens from an alien armada.] And where does a 50-foot giant hang out, anyway? [Don’t know about you, but that thing was more than 50 feet tall.] Keyop (still bummed) replies, “Anywhere it wants to.”
As they come up on coastline, Tiny reports they’re coming up on Planet Zyr, and follows it with some technobabble.
They land amid ruins and leave the Phoenix. Mark comments on the dry and deserted appearance of the terrain. Princess calls their attention to the giant, whose head and shoulders are visible above foothills. Tiny landed them right on target. And it seems they were expected. [Uh, explain that, please?] Mark calls Tiny and tells him to stand by.
As they prepare to leave, Princess wonders how they can get up to the giant. Keyop suggests a beanstalk.
Brief shot of a damaged Buddha statue. [Yes, it is a Buddha statue. On an alien planet. Were the scriptwriters even thinking when they wrote this? Did they think none of the audience would know what they were?]
Mark orders Princess and Keyop to form a diversion. He and Jason head off.
Close-up of Buddha eye, revealing a surveillance device. Cut to a couple of Spectra soldiers in a room. One says, “It’s G-Force”, while the other says, “Welcome to Planet Zyr.”
Tunnel, presumably in the side of a mountain. Mark and Jason enter. Jason says it looks as if they stumbled into some sort of old wax museum. More [Buddhist] statues, in various poses [and of various deities], are shown. As he and Mark walk among them, Jason wonders what they’re doing there. (Ominous music and sounds in the background.)
The statues’ eyes start glowing. Mark says the old statues are about to be activated. Then their mouths open, and also glow, as the heads launch at the pair. Mark and Jason dodge the oddball missiles. Jason doesn’t sound quite as breathless and stressed as he should when he comments that the statues have really lost their heads. Mark says they should split. [70s slang. Gotta love it.] As the heads continue attacking, Jason athletically dodges. [No counterattacks?] Then fire gushes from the headless statues.
Mark reaches the other end of the tunnel, and looks out at the launch area for the four-faced giant. He steps forward, and triggers a mechanism. A grating interlinks before he can get past it. He grabs it, and is shocked into unconsciousness. After he passes out, a bug lands on the grate, and is fried.
Zoltar finally appears in the episode. They have Earth’s new weapon, and G-Force as well. He walks out of the base.
Oh, the Captain of the Week is another oddity. In keeping with the rest of the ep, the Gatch artists gave him a semi-Buddhist-mythological-character look. It’s hard to describe. Brownish head, with a sort of yellowish set of markings on the face and what look like pink pointed ears. He asks if they should begin the attack.
Zoltar confirms, and orders the giant to destroy the base. It served its purpose, and must be abandoned. [How about the fact that G-Force found it? That would be another good reason to destroy it. Make sure the enemy can’t find any useful intelligence.] “Let the operation begin. Giant Gautama will lead us to victory over Earth.” [Keye Luke read those lines. Wonder what he said before and after.]
The soldiers board the giant, which then strides forward a few giant paces, stops, and begins slicing up chunks of mountain to walk through the breach.
Mark wakes up. But not in Spectra custody. [What happened to Spectra having the jet cutter and G-Force?] He’s on the Phoenix. Jason tells him he was hit with an electrical charge meant to delay them so that Zoltar could launch his giant back at Earth. When Mark orders them to launch, Tiny says they launched while he was out cold. Mark wants them to reach Earth before the giant.
Sandy Frank space footage.
AGH! Zark! We were free of Zark for so long, and now he’s back. Worse, he’s back with crappy headshot Mark on his large screen (which had been four smaller screens not so long ago). He tells Mark that they’re on target and cleared for re-entry. Mark says they’re just passing Orion and will commence de-orbit. [Somebody get a star-chart. Or ask the scriptwriters what they were doing.] Zark tells him the situation is urgent.
Now Zark tells the audience that the giant has already landed on Earth. What his ‘gyro-activators’ do not tell him is what target has been fed into the giant’s computer. [Why should he know that?] He can only put G-Force on an approximate course and hope for the best.
Sandy Frank animation of Earth. And then the Phoenix flying through clouds.
Jason says they’re coming up on the projected target. Mark looks at some aerial maps and says the giant could be closing on any of the energy plants in the area.
Shot of the giant striding into a city with onion-domed towers. Zark in voice-over tells us that he’s ordered all the cities in the area evacuated. [Yeah, right: entire cities can be easily evacuated, without panic or gridlock. On what planet?]
Tiny reports that they’re hitting turbulence, and wants to rise a few thousand feet for a faster ride. Mark approves.
Meanwhile, the giant is walking through buildings on its way to its target. A stretch of water appears, with an energy facility in the distance.
The giant strides into the water, on its way to the plant, and submerges.
Aboard the Phoenix, Princess reports a strong signal coming from the ocean. Jason quips that ‘Bigfoot’s gone surfing.’
The giant walks along the ocean floor. [A very clean ocean floor. Not so much as a sunken ship.] Jason is poised over the Big Red Button.
The giant surfaces and walks onto land.
Jason fires the missiles, but doesn’t damage the giant. It stumbles to one knee once, then gets back up. It returns fire, rocking the Phoenix. Tiny says it clipped their wing. Mark comments that they’re being knocked out with their own weapon.
A game of tag, as Tiny dodges the beams fired from the giant. Some of them strike the ship. He suggests they retreat, which Mark vetoes. They’ve never retreated yet.
He orders Tiny to circle, spot his opening, and give them ‘full jet.’ But, basically, they’re still dodging and circling. Keyop chirps ‘Goliath’, and Mark reminds him that a little guy named David took out Goliath. Jason says that if Mark knows any little guys named David, he should call him. Mark says he knows a little guy named Zark, and that’s all they need. [Bleargh.]
Princess receives an emergency transmission from Zark. The giant is a walking time bomb. When the cutter heats up to 1000 degrees, it will explode and cause tidal waves. [The explosion will be that powerful?]
Mark says they will have to be very careful how they hit it. He orders Tiny to take them up. To judge by the expression on Tiny’s face, he knows what’s on Mark’s mind already.
Tiny takes them up. Mark orders everyone to get ready for Phase Three. Jason is astounded: Operation Fireball. They all take their places in their vehicles. Princess gets a transparent shield over her motorcycle and herself.
On Mark’s order, Tiny dives, and the ship transmutes to Fiery Phoenix.
The giant stops at the edge of the power plant. Someone sees the Fiery Phoenix and calls it a fire devil. The captain says it’s only G-Force in one of their many forms, and orders the men to keep firing.
As the Fiery Phoenix dives, the giant deploys the rockets from its back. Just then, Mark, Princess, Jason, and Keyop separate from the Phoenix, equally aflame.
The giant takes flight, and the Spectra gunners fire.
Princess slashes through the starboard rocket and comes out of fire mode just as she hits the ground and sheds the transparent shell.
Jason slashes the port rocket.
The giant lands in the water, feet first (which might be intentional), as Mark and Keyop cross its head (and avoid hitting each other).
Then comes the Phoenix to destroy the head.
The giant sinks. And explodes. No tidal wave.
As chunks sink, we’re treated to a view of the gun room, where the Captain of the Week is fighting to stay above water.
Shot of the Phoenix, with the team beneath it. Mark, sounding rather smug, says the giant is now as burned-out as the planet it came from. He wonders what planet Zoltar will strike from next. He doesn’t want to return to Zyr.
Princess says she doesn’t mind trips to far-off planets, because she’s always glad to be back on Earth again. [Does that grate on anyone besides me?] Everyone agrees. Jason says there isn’t a decent place to hang-glide between Earth and the Big Dipper. [Really provincial attitudes the scriptwriters gave G-Force this time. Did they even think about the message they were sending? Would you want to be defended by people who only really care about their own little part of the universe? Not unless you came from that part.]
Zark burbles in voice-over that he’s glad to see G-Force all back safely. Spectra will never give up.
And – Zark at his console. He just knows that Spectra is plotting new mischief. [As if the audience can’t figure it out for themselves.] If he were a betting robot, he would bet that his next alert would be another attack from Spectra.
Fic Alert: How did those Buddha statues get on another planet? What happened to Zyr, and how long ago?
Science question: What sort of metal could be considered as good as indestructible? What’s the range of any sort of energy beam used for cutting?
Bizarreness alert: Four faces, energy beams from each, but only one jet cutter was stolen. Why would Spectra want to use it? Don’t they have weapons of their own.
Gatchaman plot: We open at some type of facility, and cut to a couple of security guards on duty. They wonder what the techs are working on, and complain that they’re never told anything. As they start their round again, one falls into a hole. That wasn’t there the last time. He and his partner wonder at it, and then a giant hand plucks up the other guard. The giant Buddha-mecha is on the scene. [Unfortunately, security on Gatchaman is only as effective as the plot demands.] It drops the one guard, and there’s an implication that it steps on the poor bugger that fell into its footprint.
Inside the lab, they’re testing the Jet Cutter Prototype One. No mention of enemy super-metals. This is apparently a simple tool being developed by the ISO. As it cuts the metal plate, one scientists orders the experiment terminated. Before he can explain, the Buddha-mecha reaches through the building and grabs it. As it pulls its hand out, the mecha destroys a walkway, sending several people plummeting. Then it deploys its rockets and flies away.
UN fighters are scrambled.
At Crescent Coral Base, Dr. Nambu briefs the SNT on the jet cutter. It can generate a beam of 40,000 degrees Celsius (hot, hot, HOT!). It was intended to get to new energy sources. If an enemy got hold of it, it would be a powerful weapon.
Ken asks why the jet cutter wasn’t better guarded, and Dr. Nambu admits that he didn’t think anyone would steal it while it was still in its prototype stage. [Plot-based security.] The mecha disappeared at Point RX, where the UN planes were shot down. The SNT must either recover or destroy the jet cutter.
Ken’s annoyed. They’re cleaning up the ISO’s mistakes again. He’s not here to catch Galactor’s rejects, but to crush Berg Katse. The rest of the team try to calm him down, and Nambu reminds him that the SNT is not his instrument of revenge. [Ken’s father, Red Impulse, died several episodes earlier while saving the Earth from the V2 plan.] If Ken doesn’t want to do it, Nambu will ask Interpol for help.
As Nambu leaves the room, Jinpei runs up and begs him not to be mad at Ken. G1’s not himself today. Ken says he’s just making it worse. Jinpei asks if the SNT won’t be in just as much danger as everyone else from the jet cutter.
This proves to be the jumpstart Ken needs. He orders the team to move out.
They fly to Point RX, and find not only the wreckage of the planes, but old Buddha statues and the Buddha mecha. Yep, the existence of Buddhism is admitted in the dialogue. From here, the BotP episode follows the original, except it’s more obvious that the flying Buddha heads are dangerous. Ken rushes ahead, and the flames gushing from the statues block Joe from following him. Cut from the episode are some traps in the tunnel that Ken disables or avoids, except the electrified grillework.
There’s no ‘destroy the base’ order from Berg Katse. The jet-cutter has been installed, and they use it to clear the way so that the Buddha mecha can walk through. They will attack the ISO’s largest uranium facility [Katse does notice that they caught something, but there is no follow-up, or any scenes of the team rescuing Ken.]
Ken awakens aboard the God Phoenix. He kicks himself for being stupid, and Joe tells him it took some doing to rescue him.
The mecha walks through a city and into a lake. A lake, not the ocean.
Again, there’s not much difference between the BotP and Gatch eps here, except that Joe gripes their missiles don’t work on anything. Ryu plays tag. Ken feels too embarrassed to get help from Dr. Nambu.
Then Ken orders them 500 meters up, and for Ryu to keep circling. It turns out the beam has a range limit, which Ken had measured. When Jun consults the data, she finds that over-use of the jet-cutter could trigger a nuclear explosion.
The mecha attacks the uranium facility.
Ken orders the God Phoenix to 3000, and tells them they’ll use the Shadow Separation to deal with the giant.
Which they do. Successfully.
Unlike the BotP version, there is a body count.