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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Recap Extravaganza, Episode 3: Tortuna

Well, two down...sixty-three to go. I've decided that I kind of want to see if I have the stamina to last the whole series. I have my doubts, honestly, but you never know. :-)

The third episode of the series is titled "Tortuna", which as we've learned in the second episode, is the name of a planet. I'm going to hazard a guess that this episode will heavily feature that planet.

Since there's a planet involved, I'm thinking robot horses! Yay!

I have the distinct feeling that in a few weeks, I'll be reciting the opening monologue in my sleep. On the plus side, I know what to sing next karaoke night. Heh.

Wherein, a giant gopher gets punched in the face...

Niko actually gets an opening voice-over, explaining that she always gets "a bad feeling" going to this "outlaw planet." I'm not trying to diss the psychic chick here, but I suspect that it may have to do with the fact that you're on an outlaw planet with a name that sounds suspiciously like torture. Just a thought.

Ranger One (the main ranger spaceship) is setting down on the planet. There is no sign of Goose's Interceptor, but maybe it's inside, if it fits. I'm not real good with the relative sizes of the crafts yet, so I don't know.

We get to see an indistinct image of lines on the view screen (I love 80s depictions of "futuristic" computers. It reminds me of the monitors in the Five Doctors. Apparently Gallifreyans have technology advanced enough to travel time, but still have CGA graphics. Heh) while Zach's voice-over explains that "Tortuna City" is past a place called "Dead Man's Desert." I don't remember this episode, so I'm guessing blind, but I'm thinking at some point there is going to be racing through this desert. Possibly with fighting and shooting at people. God willing.

Maybe there'll be a caravan. Can't have a sci-fi western without a caravan.

Zach is wearing some weird over-coat-and-caftan ensemble with a big, face covering blue scarf, and his cowboy hat on top. On the chest for some bizarre reason is what looks like a pink bullseye. He exposits the mission: they have to meet up with a "pendalent" named "Geezy" and get out with a "memory bird" before the Queen discovers it's stolen.

Wow. That explains absolutely nothing. Thanks, Cyborg Jerry Orbach. The camera pans out to reveal the others, also in the coat-caftan ensemble, but sans hat. Goose appears bored with the exposition and is fiddling with a gun, while Doc helpfully provides us with a bit more information by asking why the heck the Queen doesn't just use computers like a sane person.

Niko explains that she does, but she stores her priceless data in those birds. I wonder if you can use the mallet on it and it will reveal sextant coordinates to a secret pirate hideout of treasure.

Sorry. I just had an Ultima VII flashback. Don't mind me. But still 1) how does Niko know this, and 2) what if by "priceless information" we get something like "Dear Diary, today I met the most DREAMY living weapon..."

Niko for some reason is winding purple bandage like cloth around her arms beneath the caftan. Closer looks at the others reveal they have them too. What purpose they have, god knows. But it does add a nice fourth color to the hideous blue, pink, and brown ensemble.

I suppose I should just be grateful that they're attempting some sort of disguise. Ick. That almost makes Shane's coat look sane. Almost.

JV the rolling ball of 3PO promises to "maintain all systems" which pretty much establishes Zozo and Waldo from the previous episode as useless. On the other hand, at least the Rangers aren't dragging important ambassadors on their trips anymore.

YAY! Robot horses!

Anyway, Doc doesn't share my disdain for the costume and admires it in the reflection of his robot horse's ass. This time, he's riding the reddish one and Niko's on Voyager, who is blue. I wonder if they switch normally, or if this means the glitches are fixed. As to the admiring one's self in a horse's ass...well some jokes are too silly even for me. Well played, show.

Niko tells us that "Zanguil peddlers like to create an effect." So now we know that the characters are disguised as some other group I've never heard of, and that the hideous outfit is intentional. I still think they could do without the pink target though. Anyway, because the Queen has quite the garrison in Tortuna City, they can't just walk in.

Doc is skeptical about the whole deal. He also has a very amusing way of saying psycho-crystal. Though we can't see his hands at the moment, I suspect he is wiggling his fingers dramatically. Goose and Doc trade mild quips about wardrobes and/or being stuffed and mounted, and off they go.

Doc makes a good point though: with the bounty on humans, why wouldn't "Geezy" just turn them over. Goose sounds utterly bored as he agrees "he might."

The desert actually looks pretty nifty, with weird, oddly artificial looking rock formations. Niko exposits that the desert was originally suburbs. Doc wants to know what happened, and Goose chimes in with the obvious explanation "The Queen came."

The queen apparently hates anywhere she can't get good Szechuan food delivered at 3 in the morning, I guess.

Doc has a nifty device that looks kind of like the kind of radio my dad pulled out when we had that really huge three day long blackout some eight-ten years ago and detects lifeforms. Niko warns of "savages" and I'm irrationally disappointed in her. You'd think the PSYCHIC wouldn't be so judgmental. Goose merely points out that, going by the flashes of laser gun fire, they're very well-armed.

Fight scene?

Awesome! A bunch of soldier-type people are chasing what looks like a stage coach pulled by robot horses. It's not a caravan, but close enough in my book. Zach's horse does the bucking thing (really he ought to get that looked at) and away they go!

Things that are awesome about the stagecoach robbery: The stagecoach is made of metal and has laser guns mountain on top of what look like little turrets, while the robbers appear to be riding what looks like giant gophers that walk upright.

Things that are not awesome about this stagecoach robbery: absolutely nothing.

The robbers appear to be fairly large and green with long pink or blue hair carrying spears. The stagecoach people look like small humanoids with rat ears and elephant trunks.

Have I mentioned yet that I love this show?

The Galaxy Rangers of course ride to the rescue. Niko notes the stagecoach is out of control, as she shoots a robber off of his gopher. Meanwhile, our man Goose prefers a more direct approach and just shoots his opponent's gopher in the head. That seems kind of mean to the gopher actually and for the first time in this show I'm kind of disappointed in Goose.

Oh well, I'm sure he'll do something crazy awesome and violent soon enough and win back my love. I'm easy.

And there we go! Riding past a demented looking stagecoach horse, he plucks a robber off the gopher thing and leaps on its back instead.

There we go. Welcome back to my good graces, Shane Gooseman.

Not satisfied with just winning back my good graces, our man Goose goes one step further and PUNCHES THE GOPHER IN THE HEAD WHILE RIDING IT. It goes down and he leaps to one of the freaky looking horses.

Well played, show. Shane, if you weren't fictional, too young for me, and two-dimensional to boot, I would possibly spontaneously propose marriage for that one. <3

We'd have to talk about your wardrobe of course.

So he brings the stagecoach horses to a stop, leaps off. On close look, something is off about the freaky-horses's feet, which appear more bird like than hooved. I don't know how that would work, but it looks cool, so I'll buy it. I'm easy.

Goose pretty much runs across the horses and over the nifty tank-like stage coach and takes his place in one of the turrets and starts shooting the bad guys off of the gophers.

Bad guys dead, Zach climbs aboard the stagecoach and opens the top hatch. Inside are the weird pink blobby aliens called "Gherkins" that we saw in the last episode. Apparently they are not as extinct as the Queen thought, or they're a mass of blobby pink zombies. But as they aren't trying to eat Zach's brain, I think we can rule that out.

Zach reassures the understandably scared Gherkin that he is not a Zanguil...apparently the hideous disguises are indeed effective! Yay! He opens the side door where the other Rangers wait. One of the Gherkin panics and says "Oh no! Zanguil slavers have captured us!"

He clearly hasn't been keeping up. But by extension we learn a bit about the type of folk that our boys (and girl) are disguised as, and that's pretty useful. Yay, world building!

Another Gherkin reveals that they shouldn't have trusted the pendulents. Ah! One of the many mysterious words from that briefing now makes sense. This Geezy fellow must be an elephant-thing! With a very irritating screechy voice, I realize, as the elephant driver yells something and pulls out a weapon, which Goose promptly shoots out of his hand.

Hey man, the Gherkin have the right to be afraid, but you were watching them save your ass, so STFU.

Besides, I wouldn't be aiming a gun at a guy I just saw jump ONTO A GIANT GOPHER AND PUNCH IT IN THE HEAD. I'm just sayin'. Though I suppose I can't judge too harshly. The elephant thing IS trying to save the pink blobby things.

Goose is less nice than I am and softly drawls something about hearing how the Queen tortures pendulent smugglers by "wringing their noses"

On closer look, the elephant things have what looks like a pig snout at the end of their trunk.

Zach sounds annoyed as he explains, again, that they're not Zanguil, and tells them they're looking for Geezy. The vocal pendulent (pedulent? Whatever. Elephant-thing) is a great admirer of Geezy. They tell the rangers where Geezy can be found, practically down to the street address.

Niko sees (or senses) company coming, and the stagecoach leaves, the Rangers following on horseback. Aw. I wanted more gratuitous violence.

Tortuna city, from the outside at least, breaks away from the whole Western motif. It's encased in domes on rock formations with long walkways across what looks like a chasm. There are also landing platforms. Swanky! The Rangers ride up to a station manned by "crown agents" which look like fairly standard evil law enforcement robots. The lead crown agent sounds like an old school Cylon with a pronounced Southern accent, and demands to see their entry permit. Zach bluffs that they were forced to make a crash landing out in the badlands.

Landing off field is apparently a major crime, which seems unfair considering they supposedly crashed. But what does one expect from evil law enforcement robots? Other guards come up to admire the robot steeds, which are "the best looking horses [they'd] ever seen."

Niko asks if there's SOMETHING they can do, which the southern cylon robot takes as a bribe. Dick. That totally wouldn't hold up in court.

Oh, wait. When the robot snarls that attempting to bribe an officer is punishable by death, carried out immediately, Doc chimes in that it "sounds fair". The southern cylon robot is amused and tells them that for 600 crowns, they'll forget they saw them.

Since 1000 crowns was the bounty that the Queen initially placed on the Galaxy Rangers' heads last episode, 600 seems like a lot indeed. But more information is needed to be sure. Zach is certainly aghast, but as they're surrounded by robot guards, Doc strongly urges him to give the sergeant what he asked for.

Sadly this doesn't involve shooting it in the face (though I suspect, had Doc been talking to Gooseman, it might well have.) Zach reluctantly pays up.

Tortuna is indeed swanky. With tall coruscant-ish sky scrapers and walkway/skyroad type things in the air, above more rundown Western style buildings at ground level. The Rangers however are more interested in watching a red Queen-ship land.

At least until the oddly dressed valets (who are somewhat human looking, if lipless and eyelid of whom is wearing a pink bowler hat, pink turtleneck and beige jacket. The other is dressed sanely) come up declaring that they've NEVER seen "robosteeds" like these. Goose loads his gun.

Tiny little robots, "spy droids" float around the valets' heads as they shout "Thanks be to the Queen".

We then get a walking montage with lots of Vegas-esque neon signs. Even more swanky. Goose is first to find their destination which he pronounces to be his "kind of place."

God willing, there will be a bar fight. <3

This version of a Mos Eisley Cantina has a couple of weird looking guys playing high tech harmonicas while lots of other aliens litter the tables. Among them are a fellow that looks a lot less elephant-y than the caravan folk, though he still has an elongated nose and the weird rat-like ears. His nose seems more canine than pig-like, but he's carrying something in a jar, covered by a sheet and looks paranoid. I'm calling that to be Geezy.

The robot barmaid recognizes him and grouses about his lack of tip. Geezy wants to know why he ought to tip a robot (which is a fair question) and the robot barmaid (who's wearing pink cat's eye glasses and what looks like a baby bonnet...I love this show) points out that robots have to make a living too. Fair enough. She's also working her way through drama school.

The calm atmosphere is broken up by crown agents. Geezy hisses to his canister to "Keep Quiet, stupid bird." While a slightly nasal voice retorts "The Queen is going to tweak you good, you hoser." Geezy seems very enthusiastic about the Galaxy Rangers taking it away.

The crown agents go up to Geezy and demand the bird. Geezy runs for it. The Galaxy Rangers lend Geezy a hand and they flee.

Niko proves her worth as a psychic by pointing at a door, "That way out." This door, by the way, has a neon green exit sign. I'd judge, but stating the obvious is a time-honored psychic art, so well...

The Rangers lose their robot pursuers through the time honored technique of turning right when they leave the building, while the robots all run left. The robots kind of suck.

Niko takes the canister from Geezy, who at first thinks he's being robbed, before Zach identifies them. Geezy immediately scolds Zach not to say such "dreadful words" as "Galaxy Rangers" as this is Tortuna City and you never know what might be listening to you. Around this time a flying crown ship thingy shines a spotlight on them. There is running. Geezy calls them scrawny, because he hasn't seen Goose punch a gopher in the head. I'm just sayin'. That doesn't exactly establish strength, sure, but it does effectively establish insanity.

Geezy calls them "Hummings" and mentions that the Queen is offering big rewards for them. Zach retorts, asking about the reward the Queen would give for a memory bird. Geezy shuts his pie hole, because he's not a complete moron. Zach offers 500 crowns for the bird.

The bird is unveiled. It's tiny and purple, and wearing a collared purple dress shirt and striped tie. It also appears to be a lunatic. It's good with insults though. Doc wants to study it. He opens the canister to scan it, but they are interrupted by crown agents. One of whom tears a patch off of Doc's uniform, revealing his ranger badge. The crown agents decide to take them in for "routine torture."

Goose doesn't like this idea and shoots from the hip, while Niko pulls out a double barreled shot-gun type thing from her skirt. I knew there was a reason I liked her. Zach just punches a robot. When they're free, they look around, but Geezy is gone!

Doc, for his part, picks up the canister where the memory bird is doing a headstand. He suspects there's something funny about it. The bird reveals that he's one of many birds, and Doc realizes that they've been had. The bird is also christened "Bubblehead."

The bird reveals that Geezy has the other, working, memory bird and begs them to take him with them.

The bird apparently leads them to an empty house, with stairs leading ominously downward. There are more Gherkin hidden below. The Gherkins explain that they are the last survivors of their race. One of the Gherkins had been on the stagecoach and recognizes them. Goose identifies the team this time, and unlike when Zach does it, it actually seems to convince them. I suppose when a seven foot tall blond who's willing to PUNCH THE GOPHER HE'S RIDING IN THE HEAD tells you something like that, you have to listen.

No, I'm not letting that go for a long time.

The Gherkins, pleased at meeting fellow fugitives from the Queen, invite the Rangers to take shelter with them. Zach wants to find Geezy, though the Gherkins plead not to harm him, since he's their only way out.

Zach assures that they *probably* would not do him any harm, and the Gherkin points to a curtained off section that we, the audience, weren't privy to before, but anyone who has ever watched Wizard of Oz would have checked first. Zach opens the curtain to a room where Geezy is holding ANOTHER memory bird canister.

Unlike the generally amiable Bubblehead, this bird is metal and evil and apt to threatening people with pestulence and death. Even Bubblehead looks mildly bemused, as he tells "Bagel-Beak" that the Queen always liked him best.

Geezy tries to bluff that he knew they'd follow him, the Rangers are skeptical, but Geezy reminds them that there is no time and that they need to get the Gherkins out of there. The memory bird continues to rail threats at them with sadistic glee. Goose wants to know how "Q-Ball" will get anything out of it. Doc tells him to leave it to the tech guys, "Mr. Muscle Master."

Ah, Doc begins his slew of many nicknames. I suppose the fact that Shane has yet to actually kill him is probably an indicator of their growing friendship. :-)

The bird continues to threaten slightly comedic, though unpleasant sounding, torture methods, while Doc pulls it out to start tinkering. Unfortunately, this bird is a wily chap, and heats himself up real good, forcing Doc to drop him. They are about to chase it, but Geezy is adamant about getting the Gherkins to his ship at once.

Geezy leads them down a tunnel, explaining that the elephant people built them and have saved many refugees. Unfortunately, with the memory bird free, the Queen will know about it soon.

And indeed, as they reach the end of the tunnel, they are met by a Slaver Lord and a bunch of crown robots.

Fight scene! Yay!

The Queen, through the Slaver Lord, orders them to seize them. Goose takes umbrage to this and shoots while the others charge through like a football team. They race along the walk way, the crown agents right behind.

Zach, who's caftan is ALSO ripped at the badge (though god knows how? Maybe their clothes are linked symbiotically?) doesn't need to be reminded he's got a cannon for a left arm this time. And he blasts a nice path through their pursuers.

More follow soon though, riding creepy tusked robot horses. Goose charges, but takes what looks like a laser to the chest. Oh no! If only he had super healing! Fortunately, Niko gets over to him and taps his badge. Yay superhealing!

Actually, on retrospect, I think he was shot in both arms. Either way, it doesn't look like just superhealing, as both arms are now glowing with nifty gold energy. Deus ex Machina powers activate! (Err. Not in the literal sense like Doc's. But... Hell, you know what I mean. :-P) Punching things has suddenly gotten a lot more efficient for our young Mr. Gooseman. Not that he really needed the boost.

He and Doc intend to create a diversion. They charge a watch tower and ride up to the control room, where they aptly and admirably wreak havoc. Doc sends Pathfinder to take over the defense programs, and unlock the weapon controls. Of course Goose gets to play with those. Let's face it, if you're stuck with an opera singer, it's probably best to let her sing the aria. Mass destruction is totally Goose's aria. Doc leaves the artiste to his craft and goes to hack/blow up a fuel thingy.

Doc is very pleased by this turn of events and remarks that it's always a pleasure doing business with Goose, who he calls "my Gooseman" for the first time. Aw. <3

Geezy's ship takes off, while the Rangers flee to their horses and the spaceports start exploding around them. The city itself seems okay though, which is good, since it's hard to cheer for mass murderers.

The Rangers get back to the ship and speak to Geezy on the commlink thingy, who promises to spread word of their courage far and wide as he takes the Gherkins to somewhere safe. Doc starts tinkering with Bubblehead, who tells him that he knows the secret of the universe... but can't tell him because it's a secret. Heh.

So at the end of episode three, we get to see more of what life is like for fairly normal people under the Queen's rule, saw a bit more of Goose's abilities, met a few new alien races, and Gophers were punched in the process.

Something I find fairly interesting in retrospect is that the Rangers didn't completely WIN during this episode. Well, they did in that they got to free a bunch of innocent aliens and lived through the process. But they never got what they came for. The memory bird they DID obtain is glitchy and useless. They did get to cause a lot of property damage (always a plus) but with very little to show for it in the end.

It's an interesting contrast to most 80s cartoons, where the characters tend to be more straightforwardly victorious.

Still, it's hard to be too disappointed at helping to save a bunch of innocent people from mass slaughter.

This is also the second episode in a row where a character that initially comes across as obnoxious and self-interested turns out to be better than we first assume. Though Captain Kidd at least did partially cause all the chaos to begin with, he did come through at the end of New Frontier, and despite whining, stuck through with the Rangers until the end, with his own ship serving as the cavalry.

In this case, Geezy, who comes across as greedy, untrustworthy, and deceitful, and tries to con the Rangers with the wrong bird, turns out to be part of the group sheltering the Gherkin refugees. Heck, the entire Pendulent/Pedulent/whatever race has a very unsavory reputation as smugglers, but instead had apparently been rescuing folk in their nifty underground tunnels for ages.

Granted, I'm only three episodes in, but it's nice to see a series that started a trend of having characters turn out to be BETTER people than we originally expect, rather than worse. I'll take that kind of moral anytime over the stupid preachy "In this episode, you see..." segments at the end of He-Man, She-Ra, Bravestarr, GI Joe and so on and so forth.

I also like that characters don't have to be human, or attractive, to be good people either. It doesn't seem like that should be an issue, but it really is.

As for the characters, well Tortuna isn't really as informative as New Frontier was. They do seem a lot more comfortable with each other though. Zach, in particular, seems to be a lot more settled in his own skin. His temper however does seem to get the better of him. Things could have gotten messy at the checkpoint if Doc hadn't stepped in.

Shane Gooseman and Doc Hartford seem to have the best rapport with one another so far. This episode contains the first use of "My Gooseman" as well. So far, Goose seems to be tolerant of Doc's quirks, likely because Doc's expertise allows Shane to cause even greater levels of mass destruction. They make a good, complimentary team.

We see more of Shane's bio-defenses this time: while they're clearly reactive, they're definitely not limited to self-healing. Which is good, because we also get to witness for the first, but not last time, exactly how little regard Goose has for his own personal safety. Finally, we also learn that Niko has the biggest gun on the team. Yay.


  • At February 28, 2009 8:35 PM, Blogger Jeff said…

    I have fond, but vague memories of this show.

  • At March 01, 2009 2:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow. And I thought the 90's X-Men was cracky :P

    word verification is cortorec, which may be an alien, or possibly a gadget

  • At March 01, 2009 3:25 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    Are you mocking The More You Know? You better not be. Millions of children had their initial morales molded by The More You Know? Because Knowing is Half the Battle. I forget what the other half is. Probably gopher-punching...

  • At March 01, 2009 4:59 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    That would explain whack-a-mole.

  • At March 01, 2009 12:02 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I always liked this show, because it really was pretty far ahead of its time. Every episode dropped more hints, and introduced new characters...and by gosh,those characters weren't one-shot wonders, the would frequently show up in subsequent episodes.

    Besides, it had something of a sly sense of humor, and it wasn't preachy.

  • At March 02, 2009 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't know if I just missed this being mentioned elsewhere, but the name Tortuna for an outlaw planet is probably referencing pirate safehaven Tortuga.

  • At March 02, 2009 4:01 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Ooo, hadn't thought of that. Good point! :-)

  • At March 02, 2009 11:55 PM, Anonymous plok said…

    To coin a phrase: yay!

    I'm reading three of these in one go tonight. Why is it so fun? I have no idea why it's so fun. I am also eating ice cream.


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