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Friday, February 27, 2009

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers Recap/Review: "New Frontier"

Well, since no one seemed to hate my experiment yesterday, I guess I'm going to continue with my recap/review of Galaxy Rangers. Blame plok. :-P

Where we last left off: Cyborg Jerry Orbach lost his wife (aw) but gained a team (yay!) who we know pretty much nothing about yet, but seem pretty neat.

As a conceit, as I write the recap, I like to pretend I haven't watched any future episodes. Unless I feel like indicating otherwise, of course.

This Recap Is Very Long, Be Warned

Anyway, this is the team so far:

Doc Hartford, the techno wizard -

galaxy_rangers_doc

Niko, the team psychic -

niko-2

Shane Gooseman, the...guy who shoots stuff, I guess -

goose-2

(I stole the doc picture from this German site, and the Niko and Gooseman pictures from here.)

By the way, this episode is "New Frontier." As usual, we begin with the annoying intro. Having watched the first episode, we can now realize that the two impossibly cute mascot-y ambassadors are actually the same guys that approached Earth in 2086 to begin with. This gives us something of a timeframe. Unless Waldo and Zozo are extremely long lived, we can probably assume that the events of the series take place not too long later. This fits somewhat with the idea that the Queen has heard of humans but hasn't caught one yet.

Clearly Zach's mission in the first episode then was fairly important, if he was escorting these guys. God knows why he brought the kids along, but there ya go.

Yay, robot horses! I hope they're in this episode!

Okay, as the episode starts, we're introduced to BETA (or the Bureau of Extra Terrestrial Affairs for long) and Dr. Owen Nagata who is the "tactical commander for the World Federation Board of Leaders." This is something of a mouthful. The important thing to notice is that Owen Nagata...is a brain in a BOX.

Seriously, he's a little floating metal rectangle thing with green goo visible beneath a slightly clear dome thing. Ew. And kind of awesome. It's a touch I like in my sci-fi: when we get to see technological advances that are really useful and cool, but also kind of creepifying and disgusting too.

The obscenely cute ambassadors are also mildly befuddled by the whole brain-in-a-box thing. Though Waldo (the andorian who looks kind of like an old guy with weird eyes) explains to Zozo (cute big eared thing) and us, that Nagata's actual body died ages ago.

Nagata drifts past the Galaxy Rangers as he talks, which is not particularly notable except that Doc's wearing an entertainingly "o_O" expression as Nagata goes by.

Nagata explains that a Captain Kidd of the outlaw planet Tortuna (that name isn't ominous at all!) wants to exchange information. We also learn the name of the awesome mustached commander (Commander Walsh) who happens to be standing next to a robot that appears to be wearing sunglasses and a pharoah-beard.

I love this show.

Anyway, now that the Galaxy Rangers "are go" as Walsh grumbles it (he's the sort of commander that's always grumbling), the team charge up on their nifty platforms with the themesong playing in the background. Apparently that thing has verses. Neat.

And as is compulsory for 80s sci-fi, they're borrowing the Star Trek: The Motion Picture slow, so the audience can fully appreciate it, ship-boarding thing. This is much less interesting animated than it is live action, as I'm sure you can imagine. On the minus side, there is no Persis Khambatta, but on the plus side, if this crew encountered V'ger, I suspect Shane Gooseman would have blown it the fuck up already.

And of course, Zach and Niko buckle their seat belts as they settle in. Heh, gotta be good role models for kids and all. Joking aside though, I've always thought people on the Enterprise would really benefit from seat-belts.

We also discover that the unfortunately named Shane Gooseman has the even more unfortunate nickname of "Goose". He doesn't seem to mind though. He doesn't get to ride in the big ship and instead gets one of the compulsory Star Wars/Galactica rip-off fighters (which is called an Interceptor, in this show). Fitting with his vaguely Clint Eastwood theme, his AI is named Alma, and has a kind of sultry female voice.

Zach's personal AI "JV" is apparently the AI for the big ship now. I suppose that's a privilege of rank. He still sounds like C-3PO. Also, interestingly, the AI's vaguely eye-like graphics are different shapes too. Zach's JV is a rolling sphere whose eye part reminds me a bit of Mogo's lantern. Goose's Alma is pink and and more elongated. Neat!

It makes sense to have a fighter, sorry, "Interceptor" flying separately from the main ship in case of attack, but I can't help think that, as they enter warp, that its only a matter of time before we get a "oh no! Goose is lost!" episode. God willing, it will involve a black hole. (I may be being a bit tongue in cheek here. :-P)

They go to a nifty planet with really large rock formations and a red sky, that might actually be a moon, if the giant planet in the sky is any indication. Once there, we see that the unbearably cute ambassadors have actually accompanied them (why? I have no idea) but they're going to wait in the ship. I guess it's good to have back-up, but wouldn't it be better to just recruit a few more expendable team members to wait behind rather than two fairly important ambassadors?

Fortunately, the show has decided to distract me from my ponderings by introducing the robot horses! Yay! Well played, show! I'm suitably distracted.

I was misremembering in my last review. For some reason I thought the AI for the ships and the horses were the same. They're not. They're still cool though.

Doc helpfully informs us that one of the horses, "Voyager" has a few kinks in her system, so he'll be riding her. I anticipate that this is set up for some comedic robot horse hijinx. But it also tells us a bit, fairly subtly, about Doc's character too. He might seem a bit flighty, but he'll gladly assume the risk of a glitchy robot horse. (Granted, he's also the one most likely to be able to fix her on the fly.)

Goose, who is wearing a ghastly ankle length blue coat with a white cowboy hat for some incomprehensible reason, activates his own robot horse, Triton, who is very pleased to see him.

The blue robot horse, Voyager, seems friendly enough, but her glitches are already apparent, as when Doc introduces himself as "Walter" (a first name! Yay!), she starts calling him "Wilbur." Ah, a combined glitchy robot joke and a Mr. Ed reference. Very droll, show. Neither Niko's reddish robot horse, nor Zach's tan robot horse say much, though Zach's horse does do that charging up on its hind legs thing as they ride off. Which makes me think that Voyager shouldn't be Doc's first priority, because I really don't think a robot horse needs to buck like that.

By the way, to make Goose's coat even weirder, Niko's dressed normally, while Doc and Zach both are dressed normally with cowboy hats.

Our intrepid heroes arrive at the town of "Sorry End." It is the appropriate mix of Western and futuristic influences, including buildings apparently made of rotting wood, with neon signs, and guys in cowboy hats with jet packs on their back. Doc gets the "It's quiet, too quiet" line, just as fighting aliens burst through the window of one of the nifty high tech taverns.

Voyager volunteers "Wilbur" to stay behind with the horses while the other rangers go inside. I'm hoping for a shoot out, personally. :-)

Goose is the first through the door, and his outfit is even more bizarre from the front, as it has lapels like a coat, but appears to be one piece like a dress below that. He's also wearing a neck scarf. I really don't understand this, but the sheer cognitive dissonance of the outfit may mean that he is my favorite character. It's a masochism thing.

The bar scene goes pretty much as expected. The bartender recognizes them as Galaxy Rangers. A bar occupant gets offended by their presence and pulls out a weapon, and Goose shoots a chandelier down onto his head. Because Goose likes doing things like that. Soon everyone is pulling out guns. Yay! Bar fight!

Unfortunately the fight is broken up by Captain Kidd, who is the antlered bird pirate thing from the first episode. This does not bode well. Also, he interrupted the bar fight. Jerk.

But he makes up for it by causing evil robot soldiers to suddenly crash the place! Yay! Fight scene! The bartender wisely hides. And Goose ditches his hideous coat pretty quickly. Which does not answer any of my questions at all, but hey, it did seem to make a good projectile. Anyway, Niko earns my love for the first time by picking up a pipe-type thing and bashing one of the soldiers with it.

Soon robots that strongly resemble the evil queen and speak in her voice show up, and the Galaxy Rangers are surrounded. But at Goose's whistle, his horse leaps through the window, followed by the others and Doc as well! Yay for robot horses!

Doc bluffs that the city is surrounded by rangers and quickly asides to the others to hurry up. As they flee, Kidd runs after them insisting that the Queen forced him to lure them there and begging them to take him with them, promising that he knows where the humans are. Goose permits him on, but looks like he'd rather just shoot him. We also get the first real hint of his ability when he gets a blaster bolt to the leg. Super-healing! That promises many insane physical stunts in the future! Hooray!

One of the robots suddenly wears the Wicked Queen's face and promises "1000 crowns for their capture." Yay, currency! We're learning more about the universe!

Waldo and Zozo make useful cavalry again and they lift off. Zach hands Zozo a gun and tells him to watch Kidd. Kidd thinks it's funny that he's being guarded by a Kiwi. But my money's on Zozo. That little guy is scrappy!

Kidd reveals that the Queen took "the humans" to an asteroid belt called "the Queen's Graveyard." We learn also that there are no planets there. Oooo.

On the plus side, figuring out which of a thousand asteroids houses a secret hideout is much easier with a psychic on the team. In a kind of neat effect, Niko's eyes actually change color when she's using her powers. In a less neat effect, she keels over after having a vision of Eliza turning into a robot with a transparent overlay of the Queen's face.

I am so tired of the keeling over psychic thing. But on the plus side, she did whack someone with a lead pipe, so Niko's still breaking even for me right now. She recovers quickly though and pinpoints the right asteroid. It actually looks like a fortress made of rock, which really makes a girl wonder why the psychic thing was necessary at all.

"Let's see, rock, rock, chunk of rock, rock shaped like a castle...oh wait..."

I'll grant though that the vision was nicely done. Creepy.

As they get close, they realize the rock is hollow and contains a massive power source. There are a lot of "Crown Destroyers" around, but fortunately, they haven't been noticed. (Crown Destroyers are red, and look suspiciously like other sci-fi crafts. But who am I to judge. :-P)

The crew suit up in spacesuits and drag Captain Kidd along for the ride. Meanwhile the crown ships leave. We also get an amusing glimpse of the main Ranger ship from the back, and I notice there's a section on the top that suspiciously looks like a place to stick batteries. Merchandizing, anyone? :-)

Doc pretends to be the Imperial phone company sufficiently distracting the bad guys in time for Goose to shoot them. I have no idea how Goose is there, or in a space suit, considering that the fighter doesn't really have changing room but I'm sure there's a sufficient explanation if I think about it long enough. Maybe he's a contortionist.

Doc uses his badge to conjure/summon "Pathfinder" which is a little ball of light that opens the mechanical lock. Doc really does have the best powers, I think. :-) The falsetto might get annoying though.

Doc then takes off his helmet, takes a breath and says "How convenient! Air!" Which seems like the sort of thing you want to find out BEFORE you take off your helmet. Especially if you're the tech genius of the group and actually need your braincells. Hell, if you ARE going to test the atmosphere that way, why not get the guy with super-healing to do it?

Anyway, the crew stumbles across a bunch of aliens in stasis tubes. Creepy. And probably not a good sign. Meanwhile, the Queen enters, looking even MORE like she ought to be querying a talking mirror. We find out that the alien that the Rangers found is a "Gherkin" and the "last of its kind" and that "humans are so much stronger." Probably not a good sign.

The Gherkin is put into a tube where it looks like it's screaming in agony, but there's no sound (a nice touch) while a weird crystal glows. One of those veiled faceless Queen-resembling robots appears. It's called a Slaver Lord.

Suddenly the ground opens beneath Doc first, then the other three Rangers, who manage to fall about forty feet and still land on their feet. Heh. The Queen greets them and monologues. A lot. Also, they are in uniform, as apparently they'd ditched the space suits in the stasis room.

Yeah, that's what I'd want if I were a weird pink alien in stasis, a bunch of people disrobing right next to me.

Eventually she reveals something significant: she knows Zach's name. And indicates a particular Slaver Lord, whose crystal, lodged in its chest, bears Eliza's image. Don't you hate when your wife gets turned into a zombie robot?

Eliza's body is in some sort of stasis tube, wearing another crystal, and Zach is PISSED. The Queen, in true villain "Let me explain how to defeat me" style, reveals that her life can be fully restored by joining the crystals.

For the record, Eliza does NOT look old enough to be the mother of a teenaged boy and a pre-teen girl.

Another significant reveal is Doc, now standing in a tube himself, sweating nervously.

For the second time in the episode, Zach uses his implant. (The first was to throw a table Captain America style in a bar fight.) This time however, he's not throwing any table. Instead, his arm starts glowing, and he blasts the crap out of the machine holding Doc. This is called the "Thunderbolt" and it is awesome. I would totally get a cyborg arm if I could cause mass destruction with it. Goose does what he does best: shoots robots and/or people, and passes the now free Doc a weapon, while Niko frees the human prisoners.

(In typical badguy fashion, the Queen decided to hold her confrontation RIGHT NEXT to where she kept the humans prisoner. She totally deserves to be overthrown, sheesh. The proper thing to do is keep the prisoners FAR AWAY. That way, if the good guys do escape, as they are wont to do, you have time to make more badass robots!)

The prisoners, awesomely, start tackling robots. And Zach extracts Eliza's body from its stasis tube. The Queen adds insult to injury though, by having the zombie robot appear right behind him, only to disappear, with its crystal flying straight into her hand. That's just petty.

I want her ass overthrown soon. Hmph.

Of course, then there's a space battle. Yay! Wherein Goose gets to shoot bad guys, because that's his job on the team. It occurs to me that they must have left the space suits behind. That just seems wasteful. Those things must be expensive!

Anyway, there's a "road block" which doesn't seem as though it should work in three-dimensional space, but I suppose they have lasers, and getting shot would still suck. However, cavalry arrives in the form of Captain Kidd's awesome umbrella-making underling and spaceship!

Back on Earth, awesome mustached commander speechifies that Eliza has to go into stasis until her "psycho-crystal" is found. Congratulations, Eliza, you've just been literally fridged.

There is much crying and sadness, and Zach vowing to find it if it takes his whole life. There is more speechifying about the Rangers "bringing justice" and all that as they all board fighters and fly off.

And thus ends what I guess is part II of the origin story, though both parts stand alone pretty well. A lot more happened in this episode, I think. It was a fitting introduction to the main characters as well.

I do feel a little cheated out of a "first meeting" type scene though. The dynamic in the episode is fairly tentative (as compared to later episodes, where they settle in nicely) and it gives the impression that they're fairly new to one another. Though they've clearly been briefed on one another's abilities.

There's a bit that I almost harped on in the recap, which is when Zach uses his Thunderbolt. What actually happens is that Goose leans over, whispers about it, and asks if Zach "can tap." Zach promptly taps his badge, does his thing, and frees Doc. I was going to mock him for it, since it has some similarities to the Family Guy episode where Stewie holds the family hostage and ties them up. They spend hours trying to pass time until rescue, then say something funny and Chris starts clapping, revealing that he'd been free and could have let them out the whole time.

But thinking about it, I think it's a nice character touch. Zach isn't actually stupid (usually), but he is VERY new to his powers. He wasn't bionic an episode ago, after all, and thus he needed the reminder.

(In a nice bit, Doc also seemed to recognize what happened, as he thanks GOOSE for the rescue when he's handed the weapon, even though Zach did the blasting.)

Actually, the way each character uses their abilities reveals bits about their character that hint at aspects that will become significant in later episodes. (The fun of a series that doesn't reveal all of each character's backstory right away is trying to piece the clues together as you go, or retroactively fitting them together after the fact.)

Doc and Niko use their powers like tools. When Doc calls up the program Pathfinder, it's with the same expression and attitude, as when he was manually tinkering with Voyager earlier in the episode. He's essentially doing the same thing, but switching tools to suit his needs at the time. Niko, for all that I bitch about the fainting psychic stereotype, is very deliberate in the way she uses her power. She uses it in the same manner as a Star Trek character would pull out a tricorder or run a sensor sweep.

Goose's use of his power is also revealing. When he does so, it's absent and automatic. Like it's been trained to the point that he doesn't even think about it: shot in the leg -> tap badge -> shoot badguy -> go. It's a level of ease beyond Doc's and Niko's, because his powers have, to him, become completely unremarkable. Heck, he doesn't even use them in the opening credits! It's also probably notable that I had to rewind a little to figure out why he used his power at all, as that was his ONLY reaction to getting shot in the leg.

The way Goose reminds Zach of the Thunderbolt reinforces the implications. He asks if Zach is able to get to his badge. It's a subtle encouragement, not a reminder. Essentially, he's assuming that Zach is being restrained somehow from using his power. (He's also standing a bit behind Zach, so he can't actually see the badge himself.) It doesn't occur to him that with the shock/rage of finding Eliza, Zach had simply forgotten.

The whole set-up is fairly elegant. I enjoy when writers use tiny little touches to say a lot.

This also starts up an interesting set of parallels between Zachary Foxx and Shane Gooseman. Both have names associated with animals. Both are more combat/militarily inclined than the other two. They're set as opposites in the group dynamic. The oldest member, but least experienced with his powers versus the youngest member, but most experienced with his. Zach is fairly straightlaced and restrained in personality, though he tends to shout. Goose never speaks above a soft-spoken drawl, but shoots chandeliers on people's heads.

I really do feel cheated out of a "characters meet for the first time" segment. But I guess this way preserves the mystery of the other members at least for a few more episodes.

That aside though, I think it's a fairly decent second episode. A lot more happens than in the first. The other three characters get more established. We see more of the depths of the Queen's evil, as well as the origins of the Slaver Lords.

And as much as I gripe, I really do adore the notion of the Queen as a villain. She's not hunting humans out of vengeance or greed. Hell, we're not even food to her. All humans are are a particularly efficient fuel source for her evil robots. That's it. This is someone who's committed genocide just because it's convenient. That's pretty scary.

Finally, I love that after the initial trap, Captain Kidd actually did not even attempt to turn them back over to the Queen. It's been a very long time since I'd seen this episode, so I was honestly expecting him to do so. That he didn't makes him a more interesting character, and I wonder (genuinely, because I haven't seen many episodes in order) what side he'll be on next time.



By the way, if anyone actually decides to get interested in the show based on my reviews or just wants to see what the hell I'm babbling about, I do have an amazon thingy over in my sidebar. :-)

6 Comments:

  • At February 27, 2009 9:54 AM, Anonymous plok said…

    MORE MORE MORE MORE! I'm enjoying these reviews a lot, they're delightfully in-depth. Also your prose has gotten a lot snappier -- law school maybe? Anyway you have to go at least until Doc calls Shane "my Gooseman" for the first time, I mean SURELY that is some kind of a watershed for this show...and, um, for these reviews too?

    Sigh.

    Alright, email me your mailing address and I'll send along a box of chocolates. Milk or dark? Caramel or creme? Fie.

    And why the hell do I love this show?

     
  • At February 27, 2009 9:57 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Heh, I'll keep an eye out for it. :-) (I listened fairly carefully in this ep, but only heard him call him Gooseman. No "My" yet. :-P)

    I kind of want to see if I have the stamina for 65 episodes. :-) Though probably not one a day. I don't have the stamina for that. :-)

     
  • At February 27, 2009 12:01 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    This really was a very well-written show, and it holds up surprisingly well, considering it is at least twenty years old by now.

    Funny you should mention Goose falling into a Black Hole. Heh heh.

    It's also nice that the various characters backstories are indeed covered in subsequent episodes.

    I'm with Plok. I could read these all day.

     
  • At February 28, 2009 7:48 AM, Anonymous KdS said…

    Niko has boob socks!

    I wonder if the robot horses were inspires by Schristopher Stasheff's "The Warlock In Spite of Himself" and its sequels

     
  • At February 28, 2009 10:05 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Probably. At the very least, I'm sure that's where I got confused about the AI thing. :-)

     
  • At March 29, 2011 1:10 PM, Anonymous viagra online said…

    What a memories when i WAS A CHILD AND I watched those series, it was perfect because in that time it was my favorite series even they being really bad.m10m

     

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