Battle of the Planets, Episode Thirty-Eight
Gatchaman Episode #9, The Devil From the Moon
DVD and Veoh episode #9
Review/Summary: Center Neptune establishing shot, with the three fishies, and Zark VO: “Here at Center Neptune, deep beneath the sea, we keep the galaxy safe from all alien invaders.” [I think, even when I was watching as a kid, I questioned the whole ‘deep beneath the sea’ thing, because of that island and the sunlight filtering into the ocean.]
Zark is motionless in his Nerve Center. He doesn’t do anything while he tells us, “Today, I have my articulators full.” [Nope, can’t think of a joke, and that is just begging for one.] “I’m busy checking out reports of unusual radioactivity, seismic soundings, strange bursts of light like solar flares coming from the vicinity of planet Jupiter.” [Seismic soundings from Jupiter? The planet is a gas giant. Where are those readings coming from?] “My finely-tuned dinodes (?) tell me that could mean trouble.” [Because Jupiter regularly produces phenomena that resemble solar flares and bursts of intense radiation – even if Zark isn’t telling us what sort of radiation.]
Now the cape flaps, and he flies the handful of feet to his favorite console, while continuing the sentence, -- “and trouble usually means Zoltar, evil ruler of planet Spectra.”
“I think I’d better forget Jupiter for a moment, and try to look in on Zoltar.” And not tell anyone what he’s just seen, as usual.
Sparks sizzle and his antennae straighten. “Yes, something’s going on up there, all right, and it’s too hot for my scanners to handle.”
Gatchaman animation. The Luminous One is on screen, and a calm Zoltar is saying, “I am listening, O Luminous One.”
“Listen well, Zoltar. We have made an ally of Commander Typhon. Now, all we have ever wanted for Spectra is within our grasp.” The LO isn’t sounding as annoyed as usual. “As an exile from his own planet, Scorpius, he will aid you in your conquest of Earth, with the understand that you, in return, will help him defeat his rivals on Scorpius.” Hm. Seems to me that might not be such a good idea. Once Typhon gets what he wants, he could turn traitor. Unless there are ways to keep him loyal. “He possesses a weapon that we must have, and so, I have given my promise.”
Zoltar: “I bow to your will.”
For once, Zoltar was not ripped a new one by the Almighty Butane. Not called incompetent, or stupid, or anything else. Should we be worried?
Shot of the ocean, and a submarine-like vehicle rises from it. Panels retract, revealing circular openings. Rockets rise into position.
And then we see Typhon of Scorpius.
He was apparently exiled for wearing a long black oil funnel on his head and a Bozo wig. No, really: his hairstyle (and color) looks like the hair in an old Bozo the Clown cartoon. (And I have so dated myself.) And his mask is rather goofy, also. It’s gold, and with the pieces over the nose and along the cheekbones and jaw, the whole ensemble should have looked sort of like some types of Dark Age warrior helmet with face protection. Instead, it looks ridiculous. The one-piece red outfit with the beyond-elbow-length gloves and the black cloak doesn’t help at all.
Rapid-fire, he tells Zoltar that they’re ready to launch their weapon onto one of Jupiter’s moons. Zoltar should ‘prepare to celebrate.’
Zoltar cautions him. There will be plenty of time for that when Earth has been conquered. Hm. Is Zoltar being a bit calmer than usual?
Typhon pushes a button, and the rockets launch.
Where is Zark? Isn’t he supposed to be watching this?
The original animation shows us the rockets heading from Earth to the Moon. But this is supposed to be from – where? – to one of Jupiter’s moons.
A shot of the rocket fleet. The nose of one opens up, and the head of a mecha comes out. Next few shots are of the individual pieces of the mecha, then it assembles itself into a giant scorpion.
The scorpion mecha lands and immediately burrows under the surface, leaving a trail the way Bugs Bunny used to.
Then it surfaces again, throwing rocks into the air that do not fall back down to the surface. If the scene were done today in live-action, it would be spectacular.
Its tail curls over until it partially separates, revealing twin launch tubes.
And the animators screw up. It’s supposed to be sucking up the loose rocks into its mandibles, but instead, it looks as if it’s spewing them out.
How do I know it’s supposed to be inhaling the rocks? (Aside from having seen this episode before, I mean.)
Rocks launch from the tail. Its pooping rocks.
The camera closes on Earth, and now we hear Susan. She doesn’t sound so ‘$3.99 for the first minute’ this time. “This is Susan, out on planet Pluto, calling 7-Zark-7, on planet Earth.” In the ‘Musical Mummy’ episode, she mentioned being in a tall building somewhere. This is the very first episode in which Susan mentions being on Pluto.
Zark: “Go ahead, Susan.” Sounds chipper, but not creepy. [See, they could have done it right, if they’d really wanted to.]
“I have detected a shower of flaming meteorites hurtling toward Earth.” [They’re only ‘meteorites’ if they hit the planet, and they don’t ‘flame,’ even when falling through atmosphere. Nothing on them to burn. They do get hot from friction.] “They will fall directly on Capitol City.” By this time, the scene is of a lit street-grid at night. No real clue to the location of the city. [Wait: I thought Zark had been watching all this from the moment Zoltar and the Luminous One had their conversation. What’s he been doing all this time?]
“Big 10, Susan. I will order the entire area to be evacuated at once.” [Good luck with that, Zark. Oh, right, I forgot what show I was watching.]
As the meteors strike, Zark tells us he’s ordered G-Force to stand by in their ready room, while he tracks down the source of the meteorites. Not like they can do anything while rocks rain out of the sky. But if Susan detected the meteorites, she should have some some idea where they came from. Calculate their trajectory, using available knowledge, and back-track them from the moment Susan picked them up.
We see a few buildings struck by the rocks, and then –
Next shot is the Ready Room add-on. Right onto horse-faced, man-shouldered Princess. She looks up from her whatever-that-is and comments that the meteorites falling on Capitol City ‘must be terrible,’ and hopes Zark can deal with it. Then she returns her attention to her instrument.
Tiny comments he’s so shook up he can’t eat his last two Spaceburgers. (And we hear knocking sounds while he speaks.)
Then the eternal Ping-Pong game between Mark and Jason. Mark figures they won’t be called in. “You can’t fight Nature.” Jason thinks it’s just the sort of thing Zoltar would do.
[Zark didn’t tell them? Or did his scanners burn out? He did say the situation was too hot for his scanners. But if that’s so, then how can he even backtrack the meteorites?]
Now to a slightly-better close-up of Princess. She’s sure Zark has his attention in Zoltar’s warped mind.
And because no Ready Room sequence is complete, Keyop on drums. Preceded by sounds and “Sick, sick.” Yeah, you know how it goes.
Then Zark on the screen, calling for the team’s attention. “I have an emergency readout on the meteorite problem. My space spectrometer has discovered that the meteorite bombardment is coming from Callisto, one of the 12 moons of planet Jupiter.” [Science marches on. We now know there are 63.]
Mark (in a close-up that looks better than Crappy Headshot Mark and Ping Pong Mark) comments that it’s weird. Jupiter’s moons make Earth’s Moon look like a vacation spot. [Uh, not so weird. If you’re going to chuck rocks, you want a place full of rocks, not scenery. And uninviting, so that nobody will come nosing around and find you.]
Princess asks why there would be activity there. [Oh, let me guess: because of the rocks available on Jupiter’s moons?]
Hm. Zark tells them that Commander Typhon has landed there with some strange device. [Then his sensors weren’t damaged? I think a scriptwriter forgot to include a line or two while typing the script.] His ‘mercury vapor sensor’ informs him that Typhon is in league with Zoltar. [Zark, you’d better check your gear. You have the lamp for a street light in your sensor array.]
The Sandy Frank people show off their new animation close-ups with ones of Jason and Keyop. Jason is ‘I knew it’, and Keyop has an absurd grin on his face. He merely repeats ‘sick’ three times. With stupid noises.
Back to Zark. [No close-up for Tiny?] Who says the Moon was too close: the Spectrans would have been detected immediately. [Someone screwed up. Should have had some eyes on the rest of the Solar System. Zark, any explanations for how you can ‘watch the universe’ and miss something happening on Jupiter?]
Princess asks if they’re defenseless. Zark says, “Not if you’re ready to take off for Callisto.”
Yeah, through the floor again.
They run to the Phoenix and leap up to the dome, because they still don’t have a boarding ladder to that side hatch used in Prisoners In Space.
Their ship takes off, and this is the only time we ever see the team suffer the effects of launching into outer space. Mark gives the order and Tiny pulls the lever. Everything turns blue, and they look stressed. Occasional add-on space animation as the Phoenix leaves atmosphere.
(Yeah, in the pre-launch dialogue, Keyop mentions ‘green cheese.’ Wrong moon, kid.)
Mark comments that he’ll never get used to those first hundred million miles. [Anyone out there doing a report for science class? How far to Jupiter, and what would it take to get there?]
And now the add-on space-travel animation. Zark tells them they’re in a perfect orbit (even as the little dot that is the Phoenix leaves said orbit). For Mark, it’s good to hear the tin can’s voice: they feel a little out of touch up there. [They do? Except when the plot requires it, they don’t have much trouble contacting Earth in any other episode.]
They leave the ‘inner Solar System’ and approach Mars. Zark warns them about ‘thousands of flaming asteroids, shooting comets, and meteors’ between Mars and Jupiter. [No, there aren’t. There’s an asteroid belt, which is actually easily navigated – the asteroids are not close-packed, and they all follow predictable orbits at about the same speed – and it’s impossible for a comet to enter the Solar System without being noticed. Meteors are the only potential troublemakers, since some can be quite small.] And now they’re supposedly closing on Jupiter’s fifth moon. [Except that Wikipedia calls Callisto the fourth moon.]
Mark identifies it as Callisto. Princess smiles, clasps her hands, and says that it looks pretty.
Then cut to reaction shots of the team. They all look distressed.
We see why: a huge mass of rocks leaving Callisto. For the benefit of the audience, Princess says, “Meteorites.”
Mark orders ‘Scramble,’ and their ship dodges the meteors. This is added footage.
To make sure we get the point, Jason reminds us that they’re headed for Earth, and will be balls of fire when they get there.
Somewhere on Callisto, the mecha is now using its pincers to feed itself rocks. Mom must have scolded it for bad manners in sucking up boulders.
As the rocks circle a planet, Mark says the enemy has control over the meteorites and can control where they land.
Typhon (still wearing the oil funnel) and some goons watch the show. G-Force, he remarks, arrived as Zoltar predicted. They must be mystified by the flaming meteorites. He has a few more tricks in store for them.
Definite commercial break.
And Zark. [I just noticed that he’s not wearing that stupid yellow helmet. No, I will not go back and try to find out when he stopped wearing it. Let us be thankful that he did.]
Anyway, I predict he’ll clean off that upper right monitor screen.
“Those meteorites are still showering down on Earth, and the Phoenix is hanging up there in space above Callisto, unable to land, and do anything about putting Typhon’s evil machine out of business. I wish I had a clearer picture of what’s going on.”
I was right.
“There’s a horrible new monster machine on Callisto now. I didn’t see That before.” Yeah, right. It’ll be dirt on the monitor.
Worse: it’s his reflection. He says it’s the first time he’s ever startled anybody.
“Typhon,” he continues, “is doing something to the Phoenix transducer radar system, and I’ve got to find a way to stop it.” Is this why the team can’t land and break out a can or two of whup-ass?
Now to a goon operating what look like knife-switches on a console. Except that such switches are usually mounted so that they lie flat when the circuit closes. They don’t stick up through slots.
Another one punches buttons and checks meters and dials.
“Here’s a little present from me that will knock out your detector instrumentation,” Typhon says.
Another shot of the ocean, and the submarine surfacing. A dish antenna deploys. [Animation blunder: it looks as if the dish and the sky remain in place, while the submarine is lowered. Or perhaps as if the dish and sky rise while the submarine remains in place.] A green-clad hand pulls a lever, and there’s a brief zap of what looks like lightning.
Princess announces that they’re in trouble. Their ‘electronic detectors’ are malfunctioning. [So Typhon could do this all the way from Earth? Wonder why Spectra doesn’t use it more often?]
Typhon has a laugh, imagining G-Force’s predicament.
On Callisto, the scorpion mecha curls up and takes off.
The latest mass of rocks heads for Earth and gets hot.
G-Force spots the floating, curled-up mecha.
And suddenly, it’s entering Earth’s atmosphere, pursued by the Phoenix. How did that happen? What did happen?
According the dialogue, they aren’t at Earth yet. Mark’s talking about following it all the way to Earth.
Jason’s all for shooting it. When Mark objects that they don’t know if their missiles will work, Jason points out that they’ll just be in even more trouble. [It’s not like they’re doing a whole lot of good right now.]
You guessed it: the missiles don’t work. [I think the best scientists on Spectra figured out how to beat those missiles.]
Keyop throws some sort of incoherent fit, and his helmet drops over his eyes.
Mark asks Jason if he knows what the target is. [What? The scriptwriters couldn’t think of another way to use up mouth-flaps?]
Princess gasps that the target is Earth. [Yeah, that was pretty much a given, since the Spectrans threw rocks at the planet, first.]
Jason says the next best thing is to alert Zark.
So now we have some Zark on the monitor, even though nobody’s called him yet. He’d already detected the ‘alien invader approaching’ and thanks them for thinking of him. [Maybe he used his ‘thought probes.’ After all, he’s apparently read their minds in the past.] Anyway, the mecha is targeted for Earth’s largest energy development center.
And, because this is BotP, we’re assured that everyone was evacuated, and that robot defences have been set up.
Zark tells them to stay there and look for Commander Typhon.
[I must have missed something. Is Typhon also on Callisto? Because there was no ocean on that cratered sphere.]
Jason protests that their instruments don’t work.
“According to message from my thermocouple (barometer?), you should reverse the polarity.” [Reverse the polarity of what? Which part of the system? Don’t try technobabble without context, people.]
Mark tells Princess to remove the ‘magnetic tape probe.’ Princess tells him that it was replaced, and she doesn’t think they can reverse polarity on the new one. “If there’s a will, there’s a way,” Mark tells her, and she says she’ll try it and see what happens. [No! No! There’s a reason that component was designed that way. You go messing with it, and you could screw up a whole lot more than just that one component.]
Princess removes the unit and hands it to Mark. He pulls out the end of the tape and feeds it back into the device, while saying, “Reverse the polarity, like Zark said,” as if he were telling Princess to do so.
Looking rather worshipful, Princess comments that it might work.
Brandishing the device (with the loop of tape hanging out and vulnerable), Mark wonders why he didn’t think of this himself. [Because the show won’t let you: you are nothing without Zark, do you hear? Nothing!] Then he praises Zark, as does Keyop. [See?]
He hands the ‘magnetic tape probe’ back to Princess, who evidently replaces it in her console.
Well, there’s a shot of space on her screen, with pinkish or lavenderish lightning-like bits flashing across it.
Mark goes to the side console (starboard, since we never see any action at the port side of the Bridge) and punches some buttons. A reticulated screen, with what looks like a simplified topographical map, comes up, and nicely lighted ‘X’ to mark the spot. “We’re back in business,” he announces.
The X is Typhon, and he’s on Spectra. [Good. I didn’t miss anything. But how in the hell could their sensors reach all the way to Spectra? They’re still in the Solar System.]
Tiny, looking angry, says rather calmly, “Let’s go for Spectra,” and set the course.
Some new space-travel animation, as if they’re passing through some nebulae.
Then into Spectra’s atmosphere. They fly over at least one major city before reaching the ‘Spectra ocean.’ [Unless that ocean is really small, there’s still a lot to search. Good thing they have a location.] They dive.
When they get close enough, Tiny says he’ll cut the jets. Mark agrees it’s a good idea. They’ll coast in. [Unless someone’s asleep at the monitors, it’s too late. They made all kinds of noise under water.]
They glide in, and come up on the submarine, sitting on the ocean bottom. Jason wonders how they’ll get in. Mark suggests skin diving. If they can find the entrance, they’re in. [Then that sub isn’t very deep. You can’t skin dive at the bottom of the ocean.] Tiny wants to go along, but Mark tells him he’s staying on the Phoenix. The big guy isn’t happy about that.
Next shot is the team (minus Tiny), wearing scuba gear but no wetsuits (they do have swimsuits – well, Keyop’s wearing something a little different), swimming through the water. These are old-fashioned scuba tanks, with regulators you hold in your mouth. Yet Mark has the line, “Let’s hitch a ride.”
‘Hitch a ride’? On wha – Oh, now there’s a ray-like machine (something of a mini-sub) cruising past their hiding place, briefly obscuring them. Now they’re gone.
We see the team clinging to it – and Keyop either has one heck of a wedgie, or he’s lost his swimwear. [In the original, G4 wears a Japanese garment called a fundoshi.]
The mini-sub enters the main submarine. Goons exit through the hatch while the team swim elsewhere. As the soldiers walk out of the docking area, they pass over the hiding place of G-Force – now in full Birdstyle. [Does this mean they have other clothes that can transform? Then what about the big to-do about Princess needing both shoes to transmute a few episodes back?]
Hapless goons enter elevator. G-Force follows.
Cut to scorpion mecha rampaging on Earth.
Typhon manages a halfway decent villain laugh. “They’ve exhausted their arsenal, and nothing has been able to stop the scorpion, the ultimate weapon.”
A soldier walks in behind him and begs his pardon. Typhon demands to know why he’s being disturbed. The soldier falls over, revealing Mark. “G-Force!” Typhon cleverly observes, then tells a goon, “Emergency 9.” The fellow backs up to a button and pushes it.
“It’s all over now,” Mark declares. “You and your scorpion are finished, Commander Typhon.”
“It may seem that way, but the game still goes on,” Typhon replies.
“Princess, hit the control panel.”
One yo-yo strike, coming up. The panel explodes nicely, and we see the scorpion thrash a bit and fall down to her voice-over: “That’s the end of that nightmare.”
Typhon reminds them that the meteorites are still on the way. As the team gapes in dismay at the screen, he apologizes for leaving. He has an important meeting with Zoltar.
And we see the rest of his outfit. Pale, olive-green tights. I think the people of Scorpius take the concept of ‘fashion police’ just a little too seriously, although Typhon seems to demonstrate why.
A trap-door opens up at his feet and under Mark’s. As G1 leaps clear, Typhon jumps in. It’s an over-large trap-door.
Mark orders everyone back to the Phoenix. They have to stop Typhon.
I think the meteorites are more important. But they’re on Spectra. Even with time-warp travel, they might not return in time.
Keyop jumps to the doors of the control room and tries to open them. No success.
Shot of rocks in space.
Then the submarine, as the ray-shaped mini-sub leaves it. Tiny spots it, and figures he’d better follow.
Except the Phoenix is too large to fit between two underwater rock outcrops. It gets stuck.
On the sub, G-Force actually takes a couple of minutes to figure out what to do. Jason suggests that Princess use one of her yo-yo bombs to destroy the door. Mark agrees. Princess sets her explosive. Then the team strikes some nice poses with their wings and arms raised. Mark says there will be a lot of shrapnel, and to form the Whirlwind Pyramid on his count.
No pyramid, but they do spin like crazy as the bomb explodes. (To be fair, their separate whirlies do merge just before the shrapnel is deflected.)
Then it’s into the corridor and out of there. They’ll signal Tiny to pick them up.
Guys, Tiny’s stuck.
The last batch of flaming meteors is in the air, and the Phoenix is flying through them. Princess comments that they’ve been reversed. Jason says the destruction of the scorpion turned them around. [Impossible. Unless every last rock was fitted with a full set of maneuvering jets, those things aren’t turning anywhere except under the influence of gravity.]
Mark calls Earth to declare mission accomplished.
Chief Anderson, who has been absent all episode, gets to recap what they just said about the mecha’s control of the meteors. Interestingly, on the other monitor, we see the mecha under attack by what looks like the Red Ranger squadron.
Okay, now they’re just using up Gatch footage. Mark reminds the viewers that Zoltar had another scheme fail, even when he teamed up with someone as crazy as he is. Jason gets to tell us that it was a perfect example of two wrongs not making a right. [Not really appropriate, as anyone who really thinks about that saying will agree.]
And now to some add-on footage of the Phoenix against the stars (and it is stylistically different from the original). G1 tells Zark they’re on their way, and requests re-entry clearance.
Zark says they’re all clear.
And because the producers had no faith in the intelligence of the viewers, while the space-travel footage displays, Zark tells us that G-Force is returning home.
Agh! Zark! In his ready room, wearing that ridiculous sweater, lying on his slab, and hoisting an oil funnel. “For the first time in very hectic day, I can take a 10-second oil break.” [A busy, crisis-filled day hasn’t stopped you before, Zark.] He squirts some on his antennae. Then he gushes about how incredible and heroic G-Force is.
Rover yarps. Yes, Zark admits, he told them how to reprogram their sensors to find Typhon, but ‘they’ programmed him for genius like that. [Bleargh.] “We just have to bask in reflected glory.”
And now the episode ends.
Fic Alert: How is Zark seeing these things on Spectra in any episode?
What’s Typhon’s story? Why was he exiled from Scorpius?
What happened to Typhon afterwards? He failed. Neither Zoltar nor the Luminous One have any reason to honor any agreements.
Science Question: Seismic soundings? Is that even a valid term?
I’m pretty sure those meteorites would do a lot more damage after falling from outer space like that. Unless they weren’t large enough to do more than lower real estate values.
Bizarreness Alert: First, there’s launching the missiles from Spectra. And why doesn’t anyone detect them on their way across the galaxy?
Then there’s the mecha on Callisto. Launching rocks from so far away makes no sense at all. There would be a very small window of time and position to shoot those meteors, and it would take a very long time for them to reach Earth. Months, at least. With an asteroid belt and the Moon in the way (not to mention the planets in between). Such a mass would not get very far before being detected. After all, there are starships flying around the Solar System, and supposedly some sort of surveillance system (according to Zark).
Gatchaman Plot: (No exiled alien allies. This is the only episode of the original series in which the team leaves Earth.
The BotP episode managed to remove Dr. Nambu almost completely.)
Leader X announces that it’s time for Galactor’s conquest of the Earth (leading me to wonder what they’d really been doing for the previous 8 episodes).
The missiles launch from a submarine on Earth, and the resulting mecha lands on the Moon, where it starts crapping Moon rocks back towards Earth.
A lot of destruction and loss of life, completely edited out.
The ISO, with the cooperation of various space programs, launches rockets to find the source of the meteors. Every one of them are destroyed, and Nambu is there for it all. He’s convinced an outside source is responsible, and he’s analyzing the meteors.
Nambu’s analysis reveals that the meteors are Moon rocks. The base on the moon, and various space stations, have been destroyed.
The SNT goes to the Moon. They spot the latest mass of rocks on its way down.
The Galactor captain doesn’t knock out the team’s instruments. He sends a short radio signal calling the mecha to Earth and feeding it energy to make it grow in size. Which is what happens. Jun sees a short burst of EM on her screen, but doesn’t know what it is.
Our Heroes don’t yet know there’s a scorpion mecha involved. They see what looks like a monster-sized meteor heading for Earth, and chase after it.
Joe, as always, wants to use the Bird Missiles, and there’s no time to ask permission. Even when the missiles don’t work, he keeps firing.
The mecha lands in the middle of a refinery and reveals itself.
Dr. Nambu calls them with new orders: leave the mecha to the security forces, and find the Galactor base to destroy it.
That transmission earlier was so short that the SNT can’t trace it back until Ken gets the idea of looping the tape. [I don’t think that’s feasible, but I’m not an electrical engineer.] He’s rather condescending about the whole thing.
Still, Jun uses the looped tape to find the source of the signal.
Keep everything on Earth, add in more death and destruction (and both the Red Impulse squad and military forces shooting at the mecha), and Ken manhandling a goon, otherwise, BotP follows things to the control room.
Fight in the control room. But Jun doesn’t destroy the control panel with a yo-yo bomb. It’s Joe, with a machine gun.
But there are still meteors on the way, and according to the badly-dressed captain, they will fall on the submarine. Then he makes his getaway.
BotP kept the escape as is.
The meteorites strike, obliterating the submarine.
Meanwhile, the security forces were able to destroy the scorpion mecha. Said forces include the Red Impulse Squadron, but no mention of Big Red himself.