Thursday, May 8, 2008

Battle of the Planets

I suppose it's my intrigue at the prospect of a "live action" version of the famed Japanese television show, Speed Racer, but I've lately been flashing back on a cartoon from my youth, Battle of the Planets. Of course, I'm referring to the 1978 American version of the Japanese show Science Ninja Team Gatchaman which was apparently a much darker and more violent series than the one that appeared in the States.

Since so much had been edited from the original Gatchaman series, Sandy Frank Productions saw fit to integrate new footage featuring a strikingly R2-D2-like robot named 7-Zark-7, who would move the plot along, providing exposition to cover the holes left from the show's Americanization. No matter, most of my friends started off being jazzed about the series that promised to provide at least a facsimile of Star Wars, with its rockets and spaceships and cool hardware.

While the show aired in afternoons, I remember the first episode running in the evening. As soon as the show ended, I called my friend, Billy: "Did you see those missile launchers?" I shouted. "Did you see that amazing ship?" And the character named "Princess" was appealing in her own way, too. Yep, the show caught our attention.

But episode after episode, we began to notice the same footage being used. And while G-Force -- "Watching, warning against surprise attack by alien galaxies from beyond space" -- possessed some cool abilities, the whole concept simply got old after a while. I guess there are only so many times you want to see a ship transform into a giant flaming bird to fight robot monsters. Eventually we lost interest in Battle of the Planets. The stories never seemed to change, the characters were kind of bland, and Zoltar was a little too, well, ambiguous for us ten year old boys.

Still, you've gotta love that intro...

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