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Rage of the Robotoids by Grumpy Ghost Owl
Rage of the Robotoids by Grumpy Ghost Owl
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Gatchaman and Battle of the Planets are the property of Tatsunoko Studios and Sandy Frank Productions, respectively. Copyrighted material is used for the purposes of review, and in some cases, satire (when I think something's really stupid.) All views and opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. The recipe is genuine and has been tried and tested by the writer.

Thanks again to Wyldkat, astronomical consultant extraordinaire.

A Battle of the Planets episode review by Nancy Tang

I flipped through the episode guides to see if there were any summaries that caught my fancy, and Rage of the Robotoids seemed as good an episode to review as any. So, here we go. This is one of those episodes that has been Zarked, and by Zarked I mean that we are shown one thing and told another. It's okay, kids: everyone got out okay.

One really interesting point about this episode, however, is that Zark himself picks up on a possible plot hole at the end. I suspect he does it to distract us from the appalling artwork.

The episode starts in the manner we have grown to expect: a shot of Center Neptune, with fish, and, to my everlasting chagrin, Zark.

But you knew that.

I'd love to skip this bit, you know, but I feel a sense of obligation.

"Down here at Center Neptune, deep beneath the sea," Zark says, while we see the sunlight filtering through the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean, "we keep a close and never ending watch on all of outer space." The 'cute robot' music starts here. "Of course," Zark continues blithely, "I have assistants on distant planets in far out galaxies, but this is the nerve centre. Everything clears through me. Right now, I'm checking on Vega, the brightest star in constellation Lyrae, and it looks AOK."

Ah. This must be edgy-macation.

Only trouble is, the constellation isn't named Lyrae. It's Lyra. The stars in Lyra have the designation Lyrae, indicating that they are 'of' Lyra. So, as the brightest star in Lyra, Vega has the designation Alpha Lyrae.

Wouldn't it be nice if the educational content on this show was, oh, I dunno, accurate, maybe? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you're going to bill something as having educational content, it is a really good idea to get it right, and not feed children erroneous or apocryphal information which may warp their tiny minds.

Oh, well, it must have been legal. I suppose employing an actual science teacher for a couple of hours a week to check their facts would have been too much to ask.

As would borrowing a set of Funk and Wagnall's, or World Book. Way too much to ask.

I am not going to allow my nephews to watch this show unsupervised. I am not having either of those boys go swanning off to school with inaccurate information in their soft and underdeveloped little skulls. Where's Rudolf Steiner when I need him? Oh, right. He's dead.

"You know," Zark says, "the light reaching us from some stars comes from so far away that the stars have faded out and disappeared before the light gets to us!"

This much is true.

"That's what makes my job so tricky!" Zark says. "What looks okay may not even be there, any more!"

And that used to puzzle the heck out of me as a kid: how did Zark actually observe G-Force on missions to far off planets if he was limited by the speed of light? And if he had a work-around (subspace, hyperspace etc) then why was he griping about being limited by the speed of light?

Clearly, I spent too much time in the library as a child.

Zark's communication device thingy goes bloopy-bleepy-thing. "Uh-oh," says Zark, "there's somebody trying to contact me."

Which is usually the case when your phone/communicator/thingy rings. Zark's line there reminds me of a dreadful old Australian sitcom called Kingswood Country which I doubt many people outside of Australia have seen. (This is probably a good thing, because the cultural cringe factor makes Kath & Kim look classy.) One character, Thelma Bullpit, was so thick, that when the phone rang, she'd say, "That'll be the phone." Then it would dawn on her. "Someone must be ringing us up!"

"Center Neptune Control," says Zark. "7-Zark-7."

At least he answers the phone politely, the little tin toad.

A breathy, 'My Other Job is Working a 1900-number' voice introduces its owner: "Zark. Susan here at the Early Warning Station on Planet Pluto."

"Oh! Hi, Susan," Zark says, all overcome with something nasty and anthropomorphic. "No trouble, I hope?"

"Could be," Susan tells him. "There is a very strange unidentified object hurtling through space. It appears headed for the Solar System, and possibly Earth! It was launched from the Crab Nebulae, and you know what that means!"

Yes, it means that neither the actors nor the voice director were aware that the singular of 'nebula' is 'nebula,' and that the plural is 'nebulae.'

"Planet Spectra and Zoltar!" Zark exclaims, having done this particular crossword before. "Thanks, Susan," Zark says. "I'll get it on my monitor right away!" He turns to his work station and we see that the animators have gone to a bit of trouble over this bit. It's actually very well done, with the matte animation neatly angled into a framing cel.

"I've got it!" Zark declares, as we see a strange, squat, cylindrical object with what looks like rust around its base (how do things oxidise in space?) moving past the camera. "And it's certainly headed this way!"

"It is out of time warp," Susan breathes, "and orbiting toward the solar system!"

"You're right!" Zark agrees. "It's passing Saturn, and definitely headed... for Earth!"

"It is centering on sector nine, azimuth four!"

"Got it. That means it's due to strike somewhere in Metro City! I've alerted the area!"

We cut to a dark street, and a flashlight slowly enters the frame, carried by a uniformed man. He looks like a security guard of some kind.

He's wearing his sunglasses at night.

Wasn't that a hit song in the seventies?

Let's not go there.

Let's just say that he needs prescription lenses and he's probably wearing Transitions and has just come out of a brightly lit area.

I hate it when that happens.

An empty tin can rolls to a stop on the pavestones at the officer's feet.

He raises the flashlight to first floor level, illuminating the windows. "Say! What's goin' on, here?"

As he reaches an intersection with an alley, the flashlight beam shines on a pair of greyish legs.

The camera pans upward and lightning arcs across the sky to the accompaniment of a dramatic music sting!

Clearly, Something Sinister has just happened in Metro City.


Back at Centre Neptune, Chief Anderson is pacing the length of his office, talking into his hand.

"It's happened again," he's saying, and he's holding his right hand as though he's trying to hold his moustache on his face or something. I think it's meant to be a mannerism that suggests he's deep in thought, but it looks like his moustache is trying to escape and... Never mind. You have to be there, okay? "This time to a policeman down on the waterfront," Anderson continues. G-Force watch him silently, planning how they'll deal with it if the Moustache of Doom should leap off of Anderson's face and attack them. "What they found," Anderson says, dropping the hand and revealing that he's managed to glue his moustache back on, "was a badly injured man. He's in the Intensive Care ward."

"That's horrible!" Princess declares. "Do the police investigators have any explanation?"

"They're baffled, and the people are in terrah," Anderson says, betraying his east coast origins. Henry Higgins would have a field day. "They don't know where or when it will strike next. I want you to go there and see what you can come up with. You'd better leave now."

The team salutes with a cry of, "G-Force!" and runs from the room, well prepared and well informed to face a foe they know nothing about, whose weaponry they know nothing about, the effects of which have not been described to them beyond the fact that at least one victim is in ICU.

If knowledge is power, those kids are in trouble.

We cut to a shot of the G-1 on a near vertical ascent into a stormy sky, and Zark will now narrate for us.

"Upon leaving Center Neptune," he says, "each member of the G-Force team takes his own method of transportation. They hope that by splitting up, one of them may be able to find something along the way that would help solve the riddle, and it is not long before Jason comes upon a scene, that he will never forget!"

This is new.

Now we have an omniscient, prescient Zark.

Oh, great, now we have a Zark who not only takes credit for everything but who knows everything before it happens!

Interestingly, though, I don't recall Zark ever taking this 'omniscient narrator' line before. He may well do it in other episodes, but I haven't reviewed them, yet. Usually, Zark's role as chorus is based upon his being a player in the drama, in the same subjective time line. To have him narrate in this fashion, as though dissociated from the drama, is rather unusual.

Jason is driving the G-2 along a deserted road, and he's talking to himself. "There's no traffic on the road at all," he observes, "so I should make good time." He's driving along an extremely narrow and dangerous mountain road with lots of hairpin turns and no safety railings or marker posts. It's nice to know that in our starfaring future, road safety will continue to be a priority... not. He glances down and notices there's a yellow car coming up the road behind him. "Huh?" he exclaims, and brings the G-2 to a halt. "What's a taxi doing out here?"

I should think that it's probably contributing to the plot, but there's only one way to find out!

The yellow taxi, with its brights on (glad to see someone was thinking about getting to point B rather than point, 'Aaaaaagh! CRASH! BOOM!') and we are treated to the driver's point of view as he rounds a corner, and suddenly, what appears to be a naked department store mannequin materialises in the beam of the headlights.

The Department Store Mannequin of Doom.

The driver reacts with shock and surprise (as you might imagine, being confronted with the Department Store Mannquin of Doom) and swerves to try and avoid a collision. He manages to go around the mannequin but slams into the side of the mountain instead.

In the rear seat, his passenger, a slight young woman with long brown hair, recovers and cries, "Oh! Please, no!"

More mannequins drop down onto the road, blocking it.

The driver is horrified. "What? What are those things?"

The Mannequins of Doom (hereinafter referred to as MoDs) point outstretched index fingers at the taxi, and fire translucent coloured blobs at the vehicle.

The blobs are reminiscent of what Zoltar referred to as 'Cell Missiles' in Raid of the Space Octopus, only they don't have that odd little double nucleus. It's not clear exactly what the blobs are, but they are obviously very scary. Some kind of chemical weapon, perhaps?

The windscreen cracks under whatever force is exerted upon it by the blobby weapons, and both driver and passenger dive out of the taxi, bent on making a run for it.

The driver has been hit with the blobby things. He staggers and reaches out to the girl for help, but she backs away from him and he is hit again.

Jason, watching from above, is appalled, and calls out, "I'm coming!"

The girl runs from the MoDs, looking back over her left shoulder as she does so. Not a wise move, when you're running in the dark on a treacherous mountain road with hairpin turns and sheer drops, but she does it anyway.

A group of the MoDs chasing the girl leap into the air, lock together and form a spinning, bladed machine that flings out more of the blobby things. The blobby things land at the girl's feet and she finds herself in a Captain Kirk situation at the top of an outcrop with no place to go but down.

And that first step's a doozie.

Jason, meanwhile, is Springing Into Action. He sends his car hurtling down the steep cliff face at an impossible angle, putting himself in position underneath the outcrop where the girl is trapped. The spinning, blob-flinging thingy flings more blobs, and the girl falls, screaming, from the outcrop.

Jason has it all worked out, however: he pops the canopy on the G-2 and launches himself into the air to catch the girl and bear her safely to the ground.

When they land, she appears to be unconscious, either from the blobby weapons, which we didn't see hitting her, or she's had a patented 'Damsel in Distress' Attack of the Vapours.

At Jason's intervention, the MoDs split up out of their spinning blob-flinging configuration and run away.

Jason watches them go, bemused. "What were those things?" he wonders aloud. The he looks down at the girl in his arms and the camera closes lovingly on her delicate face. And why would they want to hurt anything this beautiful? Jason asks silently.

Poor Jason. It's going to be tears before bedtime.

But Jason poses an interesting question: why would Spectra want to hurt something beautiful? Surely an ee-ville planet bent on galactic conquest would only wish to harm that which is unappealing, ugly and aesthetically lacking. Indeed, it would be sinking to the utter depths of depravity for anyone, even an ee-ville anyone, to harm something beautiful.

Oh, sorry, is my sarcasm showing?

Poor Jason. Even with all he's been through, he's still managed to retain some of his innocence.

Back at Centre Neptune, time has passed, and we look in on the team in the middle of a 'spirited discussion.'

Mark's gloved hand slams down, palm open, on the desktop. "Wait a minute!" he protests. "You're all wrong, Jason. I'm not accusing Tyna of anything!"

The name is pronounced 'Tee-na,' as in 'Tina,' but the DVD guide spells it 'Tyna,' so that's what I'm doing here. I suppose it's like one of those pretentious names you get these days for some poor little child whose name is spelled differently just so its parents can show off about how clever/creative they are while the poor kid grows up having to spell their name for every teacher, clerk, bank teller and receptionist they ever meet in their entire lives.

Tragic. Just tragic.

So, not only is Taxi-girl a target for Spectra, she's also got cruel and uncaring parents who gave her a tragic name.

Poor kid.

Jason has his arms folded and is glowering at his commanding officer. "It sure sounds like it, and it's not fair, Mark. You didn't see what happened! Those robotoids tried to kill her!"

Princess throws in her two cents' worth: "That's what puzzles me. Why did they pick on her?"

Why did they pick on the cop at the waterfront? Why did they pick on whoever they got prior to the start of the episode?

Mark turns away from the rest of the group. "And what was she doing way out in the middle of nowhere, in a taxi?"

Travelling in a taxi is just so suspicious.

"Give her a chance," Jason says. "I'm sure she has a good answer to all of your questions."

"If that's true," Mark reasons, "then she's got nothing to worry about."

"Oh, sure," Jason says. I think he's heard the line, 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.'

"All I'm asking you to do is to keep an open mind about it."

It's Jason's turn to thump the table. "Boy, that's a laugh. There's Tyna, lying in the hospital all alone, and you act like she's the one that's at fault." Jason has a point. It doesn't make a lot of sense to blame the victim for the crime, but since it's Mark doing it, he must be right, because he's Mark. "Well, I don't like it!" Jason declares, and sweeps off in a huff.

"Jason!" Keyop reproaches.

We cut to a very large hospital building. It's white, for starters, so it must be a hospital. There's an enormous ramp area with one solitary ambulance and no other vehicles around. Good lord, either health care in the BotP universe has been revolutionised, or everyone is going to their naturopath.

Jason pulls up and parks right outside the main entrance. Have you been able to do that in the last decade? I haven't, and I worked at the hospitals!

Jason conveniently blocks the ambulance ramp with his car and gets out. He looks up at the hospital building, probably waiting for a security officer to turn up and ask him to use the visitors' car park.

While Jason is not being issued with a parking infringement notice, we cut to Taxi-girl's room. There's a bowl of flowers on the side table, and she's lying flat on her back with the sheets pulled up to her chin. She opens her eyes, and the light glints off one iris.

A nurse enters Taxi-girl's room and shuts the door behind her.

A moment later, the door bursts open again and the nurse staggers out, screaming. There are coloured blobby-things on her. The blobby things then float back inside the room.

Jason is standing at the corridor intersection, and sees the fallen nurse. He ducks back behind the adjoining wall as Taxi-girl, fully dressed, steps out and calmly walks away.

Jason flashes back to Mark asking him to keep an open mind. "Looks like I was wrong and Mark was right," he says grimly.

We cut to a shot of a small boat tied up to a mooring. A lone figure walks along a canal road, and we see that it's Taxi-girl. She's being followed by Jason, who is in his G-Force battle gear. Taxi-girl's expression seems to suggest that she knows she's being followed, and she keeps close to the wall.

"What could she be up to?" Jason wonders.

Back at the hospital, the ambulance ramp has shrunk, and Mark, Tiny and Keyop are in the morgue, consulting with a medical examiner. There's a body, covered with a sheet, on a hospital bed in the room. Keyop is moving away from the bed, uneasy, while Mark asks questions. Princess is nowhere to be seen.

"What can make a thing like that happen?"

"These severe burns," the doctor explains, "are caused by some intensively applied heat coming from several angles."

"It's mighty strange," says Mark.

"Yes, I know," says the pathologist. "I find it hard to believe, too. There's also an unidentified gaseous element that brings on temporary unconsciousness." So Taxi-girl isn't a delicate little hothouse flower, after all. She was rendered unconscious by the unidentified gaseous element in the blobby things. "That's all I can tell you," says the pathologist (he obviously hasn't watched enough CSI) "I'm in the dark, too. I've no idea if it's important or not, but I found something near the body. Ah, yes." He reaches into his pocket. "Here it is." He hands over a bit of white something. He definitely hasn't watched enough CSI, and you can't really plead that it was the seventies, because even on Perry Mason they used to pick up evidence using the end of a pencil!

The picture shifts, and now the team is back at Center Neptune, where Mark has just tossed the evidence onto the table.

"Zark has put it through a battery of tests," Anderson says, which explains what Mark was doing with it. "That substance is not found on Earth."

"Maybe not on Earth," Mark says, "but I'll bet it's found on Spectra. Am I right or wrong, Chief?"

"Right," Anderson says, "and that means we have Zoltar to deal with."

Now, given Zark and Susan's little song and dance routine at the beginning of the episode, where they determined that their mysterious object was definitely from Spectra and heading for Metro City, should this come as a surprise to anyone?

Mark's communicator sounds and he answers. "G-Force, Mark here."

"Mark, it's Jason."

"Where are you now?" Mark asks.

"Down on the waterfront," Jason says. "I followed -- oh!" Bright light floods Jason's face and he looks up to see the MoDs all lined up on a ledge above him.

Looks like our boy has found himself some trouble! So, this seems like a good time to go to Recipe of the Episode.


These are a change from the usual sweet muffins, and they're absolutely delicious with soup. Oh, and here's a general muffin-making tip: if you want your muffins soft and moist, half-fill one muffin cup in the tray with hot water before you bake and only make 11 muffins instead of 12. The water in the 12th cup will keep the muffins from going too crispy on the outside.

2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 tbsp basil pesto
1/4 cup of either - finely chopped ham or bacon, mushrooms, Kalamata olives, fresh chives, corn kernels, a mix of the foregoing, or anything, really, that you think might go well in savoury muffins. Use your imagination!

Mix all wet ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients together. Mix wet and dry together and stir lightly until combined.

Bake in a standard muffin tray for 15-20 minutes at about 190-200 degrees. Should make 12 muffins. Serve warm or cold

Now let's go back and see how Jason's doing.

Standing beside the floodlight is a girl with a mask and a blonde ponytail. "Ha! Curiosity killed the cat!" she taunts.

"When the cat's away, the rats will play," Jason parries.

A rocket powered hand -- not hand grenade, just hand -- fires at Jason. It hits him in the back of the neck and he's laid out flat on the ground.

"Jason!" Mark calls into his communicator. "What is it? What's happened?"

Naturally, there's no reply.

"Chief, I think he's in trouble," Mark deduces in a stroke of brilliance.

"What's he doing down on the waterfront?" Anderson asks.

Keyop shakes his fists and warbles, "Following Tyna around!"

"You make it sound so romantic," Princess says, as you do when you've just heard your colleague get dropped over the radio.

"Maybe it is," Keyop speculates.

"That's enough of that stuff," Mark says. "Now what?" He picks up the bit of white stuff the pathologist found. "If Zoltar's got his hand in the pot, anything could have happened."

"Well, maybe it's nothing to worry about," Princess says. "The radio could've just conked out."

"You don't believe that any more than I do," Mark says, and tosses the artifact in his hand.

"That Tyna is a very pretty girl," Tiny muses, then catches himself. "But that's not what we're supposed to be talkin' about, are we?"

"We've got to find out what's happened to Jason," Mark says. "So let's get on it!"

"G-Force!" the others reply, and they start to leave, but Anderson stops them.

"Wait," he says. "You don't know what you're getting into, so keep your eyes open." Good point, Chief. I reckon going out there with your eyes screwed shut could be occupationally hazardous. "I suggest that you travel to Metropolitan City separately. It makes you less accessible as a target. Other than that, well, it's your baby."

It's your baby?

'Scuse me Mister I'm-So-Clever-I-Managed-to-Keep-my-Moustache-on-Today, but they work for you, and they're off to try and retrieve a team-mate, who also works for you, and it's not their baby at all. It's yours. You collect the salary, you get to keep the responsibility.

Anderson walks over to a big glass fronted contour map and folds his arms, tapping one finger nervously. Zark narrates for us: "Chief Anderson sends the G-Force team on their way, but not without grave misgivings. It is never easy for him to put them in situations that could become very dangerous!"

Erm... I thought that every time they went to work it could become very dangerous. Never mind. It's just me.

"But, time and again, they have proved themselves, individually, and as a team! And when one of their numbers is in danger, you can be sure nothing will stop them! It's one for all, and all for one!"

When you have a Zark, you have our own personal cheer squad, don't you?

He doesn't even have to be able to construct a sentence properly. 'Proven' is the correct usage, here, not 'proved,' and 'numbers' should be singular. Again, this was an odd little interlude, and I wonder where that bit of dialogue actually came from?

After the fade-to-black that heralds what would have been a station break, we return to Zark, who is pacing up and down in Nerve Center. "Imagine! Robots being programmed for evil! It gives me a chill in my trigotron just to think of it, and Spectra's robotoids are swarming all over Metro City! I've never been there, but I know one of the most dangerous parts of a big city is its waterfront! There are so many big empty buildings where the Spectra invaders could hide." Zark activates his horrible little flappy cape and does the horrible little flappy cape thing to fly over to his work station. "I'd better get the waterfront on my monitor and see if I can pick up anything that might help G-Force. They're all on their own down there, right now."

Which explains why he's been wasting time pacing up and down in front of 1-Rover-1, lamenting the fact that someone's programmed robots for evil.

Down on the waterfront, rubbish is bobbing up and down with the gentle motion of waves. A skinny stray dog is rummaging in an upturned rubbish bin. At the sound of approaching footfalls, it turns and snarls. It's one of the Mannequins of Doom, and the dog backs away. The MoD extends a hand, index finger outstretched, and we know that it is truly ee-ville, because it is being Cruel to Animals.

Princess, who is never cruel to animals, is riding the G-3 motorcycle down the middle of an otherwise deserted street. She brakes and looks down. We don't see what she's looking at, but she says, "I wonder what scared him, so?" I think we are meant to assume that the dog has just run in front of her, and we are not, under any circumstances, to even begin to speculate that she might have stopped because she saw -- and smelled -- a dead, badly burned dog.

A MoD runs away, and Princess takes off after it.

The MoD leaps across a canal, and the G-3 takes it in a jump. The MoD runs into a junk yard, and Princess follows. She stops the bike, gets off and looks around. "That's the same kind of creature Jason saw on the mountain road," she says to herself. The junk yard is populated with old vans, car bodies and empty 44-gallon drums. Princess walks around, leaving herself wide open to attack.

The door of an old van falls open, and a department store dummy falls out. Its left arm detaches at it hits the ground. Princess gasps in horror. "Not a creature, a thing!" She looks around, and sees no sign of movement. "That fragment we found came from one of them," she realises. She approaches a pile of old mannequins, all in pieces. A shadow falls across her back and Princess turns to see one of the MoDs reaching for her. She is frozen with horror as it closes in.

We cut to the exhaust of the Phoenix. Tiny is flying over the city. "Hmmm," he says. "No sign, yet." He notices the G-3 parked in the junk yard. "That's funny. No sign of Princess, yet. She shoulda bin... Hmm." Tiny lands the Phoenix next to the G-3, ignoring the fact that there isn't enough room in the junk yard to land an aircraft the size of the G-Force command ship.

Tiny exits the ship and looks from side to side. "Princess! Princess, where are you?" he calls. A flash of light catches his attention. "Was that something moving over there?" Tiny walks into the junk yard, watched by a MoD.

A MoD is in Tiny's path. "Well, hello, there," he says. Suddenly, more of them leap down to surround him. "Hey, wh-what was that? Listen," he protests. "I was just passing by!"

The MoDs don't seem to be buying his explanation, and Tiny activates his bracelet. "Mark, do you read me? I need help, right now! I'm at the waterfront junk yard."

"Mark, from the G-1, responds. "Tiny! Activate your direction finder!"

There's an odd gurgle, but the face of Mark's bracelet begins to flash. "Good boy," Mark says. "If he's in trouble, what about the others?"

We cut to an interior shot of a well appointed room with an expensive looking chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

A set of double doors opens, and in walks Taxi-girl.

On the other side of the room, contemplating a work of art, is a tall, thin, blonde woman.

Taxi-girl ventures a greeting. "You wanted to see me, Mala?"

For anyone who hasn't seen The Galaxy Girls, Mala is Zoltar's sister, and we just know that she's ee-ville.

"I hope you're not still angry," Taxi-girl continues. "It was foolish of me to try to run away. I know that, now."

"Ah, yes," says Mala, and as she draws on her cigarette, the light illuminates the glass front of the frame on the painting, showing us her reflection. That's clever. "My brother Zoltar would never allow such a thing, but I am more generous. I'm going to give you another chance."

Taxi-girl rounds on Mala. "Generous! And all the while, you hold my parents hostage on Spectra! What other choice do I have?"

"Absolutely none, my dear, and I hope you understand once and for all. Now that's settled, and I shall expect only your best efforts from now on."

"Thank you," Taxi-girl grinds out, and leaves.

Mala watches her go, similing the quietly confident smile of a woman who knows she's holding all the aces.

The camera now pans over the exterior of the mansion, which looks as though it has sustained damage in an air raid. Mark and Keyop stand at an entrance to what looks like a wine cellar, and begin to descend the stairs. Mark accidentally kicks a loose bit of mortar with the toe of one boot, and it bounces down the stairs with an echoing rattle. There are cobwebs, and the masonry is badly cracked.

They stop at a trail of sooty footprints on the floor. "Let's see where these lead us," Mark says, and they follow the footprints into a large room containing a sculpture of a bald, naked woman and some very expensively framed paintings. Two galleries above run right around the room, with lots of little dark alcoves, just right for hiding people who might have shady intentions.

The doors creak shut behind them and Keyop leaps for the handles in dismay. He tugs on them, to no avail, and warbles angrily: "Outta here!"

High pitched feminine laughter interrupts Keyop's tirade. "Welcome, G-Force," says a girl's voice.

"Who're you?" Mark demands.

In response, the floor drops and Mark and Keyop find themselves in another room. Interestingly, the wall panels are decorated with Greco-Roman-style frescoes depicting women wielding swords. Sparta, perhaps? Or possibly the famous Amazons? A lot of attention has been paid to detail in this scene.

"Oh, wow," says Keyop.

An electric chandelier snaps on and illuminates the room while the hidden girl laughs again.

"Hey," Mark says. "Who's that?"

It's the blonde girl with the mask again, and she's standing in front of a lovingly detailed fresco. The backgrounds are really amazing.

"Now we have all of G-Force here," the blonde lass says, and another wall panel lifts away to reveal Jason.

"Jason!" Keyop breathes. Another panel rises to show Tiny and Princess. They're all shackled to the walls.

"What a grand reunion of G-Force," the masked girl gloats. "Appearing together for the very last time."

"Maybe that's what you and Zoltar think," Mark tells her, "but I can guarantee you, this is not our farewell performance."

"Very brave words for someone who stands here my prisoner," the girl points out. She raises one hand, index finger outstretched. "Robotoids!"

Abruptly, the MoDs are in front of the chained G-Force members, firing their blobby weapons at them. Tiny grimaces under the assault. "No!" he cries. "Don't!"

Keyop glares at the MoDs, which have formed a circle around himself and Mark. "Glad you're not people," he tells them.

The MoDs leap into the air, form the rotating bladed blob-hurling thingy and carve a slice in one wall at the top of an arch before breaking up again and attacking individually. Keyop is hit with a blobby thing.

"I'll get 'em!" Mark says, and grabs a handful of tiny charges from a compartment on his belt. He throws them at the MoDs and several of them are blown to bits. "How are we supposed to fight against machines?" he asks no-one in particular. Meanwhile, the MoDs put on a little gymnastic display, leaping and arcing around them, but not actually doing any damage.

"Take... that!" Keyop tells them, throwing his bolas.

Mark lets fly his boomerang, and breaks the shackles holding Jason and Tiny. Jason joins them in the fight, and Mark calls to Tiny, who is still caught by one wrist. There's no sign of Princess, who we last saw hanging from the wall next to Tiny.

"Gotta get loose!" Tiny grunts, and uses his main strength to pull the shackle from the wall. Jason is taking the MoDs on one by one, smashing them with elbows, hurling them to the floor with a sense of highly focussed rage.

They don't seem to be making a lot of difference, however.

"As fast as we knock them out, more come!" Mark cries.

The MoDs are racing around in a circle, now, forming an impenetrable barrier. As Keyop laments the loss of his bolas and Mark throws more of the small charges, Princess' yo-yo arcs across the room and destoys quite a few of the MoDs. Princess now joins the rest of the group, and Mark calls out, "Come on! Let's make our own whirlwind!"

The team assemble and Keyop stutters out, "Whirlwind Pyramid!"

They do the whizzy flying thing and, um... make wind.

Yup, that's what they do.

The MoDs are hurled around the room and smash to little bits against the pillars and walls. As G-Force separate, a tiny fragment of shrapnel hits the masked blonde girl in the temple, and she runs away.

Jason and the rest of the team take off after her.

The masked girl runs, looking back over her left shoulder. Not a wise move, when you're running in a damaged building and being pursued, but she does it anyway.

Just like Taxi-girl did when she was fleeing from the Mannequins of Doom on the mountain road.

Jason is racing after in hot pursuit (and let's face it, there's more than one female fan out there who considers Jason a hot pursuit. You know who you are. Me, I believe there is possibly something to be said for younger men, and it's most likely to be something along the lines of, 'Was that it, then?')

The team pauses to take their bearings. "This way!" Mark declares, and they take up the chase again.

On the floor they find a mask and a blond wig.

Taxi-girl, she of the pretentious spelling, is lying on her side nearby.

"Hurt!" Keyop infers, and the team race over.

Jason is horrified to find that it's Tyna, and goes to her assistance.

"I hurt my leg," she explains. "It's a small price to pay for all the wrong I've done. We'll have to get out of here quickly! Zoltar will blow up everything to destroy you! We haven't much time. Help me up, and we'll go. Please."

There's a massive explosion, and we see Mark, Princess, Tiny, Keyop and Jason fleeing the building.

There's no sign of Taxi-girl.

But dont't let that worry you, because there's always Zark.

With multiple detonations, the mansion blows up and burns. Jason watches, sweat trickling down his face.

"Luckily," Zark says, "G-Force was able to escape the inferno, taking Tyna with them!"

Uh, yeah, right.

We see G-Force -- just the five of them -- watching the building burn.

"She was only serving Zoltar to spare the lives of her captive parents," says Zark, "and now, maybe G-Force will be able to free them from the Spectra slave planet where they're being held."

Oh, we're being given a Zarking today, aren't we, boys and girls?

"I'll put all my components to work on it!" Zark declares.

For our sins, we must now endure the horrid add-on animation, which, after the lush detail of the Tatsunoko work on this episode, is truly, truly awful.

Mark and Princess have come to play the sycophant for Zark.

"Hi, Zark," Mark says.

"Just wanted to let you know we're all back home safely," Princess adds.

"I'm certainly glad you dropped in," Zark says. "I have some very good news for your new friend Tyna!"

"Tell us, quick!" gushes Princess, and I'd like to slap her at this point.

"Well, I put all my interstellar probes to work," Zark says, "and I learned that while you were rescuing Tyna, her parents escaped from the Spectra slave planet, and are now safe and secure on the friendly planet of Tolak."

"Zark," Mark says, "I've said it before, you're a genius!" Yeah, you'd think he went and fetched them home all by his nasty little metal self, wouldn't you?

"You always come up with the most beautiful answers to everything!" Princess says.

Yes. Yes he does, doesn't he?

Little toad.

"Is there anything you don't know or can't do?" Princess fawns, disgustingly. "You're wonderful!" she declares, and kisses Zark's hideous little head. "We've gotta tell Tyna right away! Thanks, Zark!"

Exeunt, Mark and Princess, stage left.

1-Rover-1 yaps at Zark. "Yes, 1-Rover-1" Zark says. "It's nice to be appreciated." The dog yaps some more. "What? Oh, I'm sorry! You have a puzzling question you'd like me to answer! Of course. Ask it." The dog yaps again. "You know," Zark says to camera, "that's a very interesting question. Why weren't our G-Force people burned like the others? Er, yes, that's... very interesting. Well, I'd say it had something to do with the fact that, uh, tha- tha- tha- or maybe it was their transmutation configuration, or it could've been molecular cell, ah, eh, er... Well it's much too technical to explain. It's best in these cases not to question the incredible abilities of... G-Force!"

I'm so glad I skipped lunch today. I wouldn't have liked to have to see it (lunch) again so soon.

As it was, it was a near thing.

Oh, yes, that brings back some memories, doesn't it? Someone is so obviously dead and Zark just keeps prattling right along, labouring the point that they're right here, and they're fine, boys and girls, honest, and everything is just coming up roses (as opposed to pushing up daisies.)

Children are not nearly as stupid as the people on the BotP production team thought we were. We had it sussed back in the seventies, and we've certainly got it sussed now. I think that's one of the reasons so many of us hated Zark. Sure he looked like he might be fun, but he so obviously told Patronising Grown-Up Lies To Children that it quickly became apparent that he wasn't at all cool, not like R2-D2 who made bloopy noises and could hack in to the Death Star systems and shut down all the garbage compaction systems on the detention level.

It's a shame that the beautiful work done by the artists at Tatsunoko Studios was overshadowed by the cheap nasty add-ons and the Zarkiness that pervaded this episode.

It's notable that we didn't get to see Zoltar in this episode, but Mala did put in one of her rare appearances (the family that invades together, stays together!) and it's nice to see that she's keeping the old hand in.

The imagery in this episode, the mannequins, stripped of fripperies, the frescoes, the female antagonists, seems to me to be about the underlying strength of woman. Take away the pretty hairdo, the makeup and the frills, and you get something raw and dangerous. You'll notice that Princess, pretty in pink, was easily defeated by the Mannequins of Doom. Confronted with that shadow image of the dark, primal side of woman, like the goddess Inanna facing her shadow-sister Ereskigal in the underworld (for which the junk yard is quite an effective allegory) Princess doesn't even try to fight back, and like Inanna, she is taken and hung, albeit not upon a hook, but by shackles from a wall.

Unlike Inanna, Princess is not forced to offer up her son and lover to Ereskigal as a substitute victim in order to return to her rightful place as Queen of Heaven. Princess is rescued, resuming her damsel in distress role, but only for a moment, because it is her return to the team that saves the rest, and it is only when she takes up her rightful place as G-3 in the whirlwind pyramid that G-Force is able to overcome the robotoids and emerge triumphant.

Or, maybe the guys at Tatsunoko just sank a few beers and said to each other, "Hey, I got an idea..."

Anyway, this was the episode that was Zarked: Rage of the Robotoids.

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