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Monday, March 02, 2009

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Recap Series, Episode 5: Smuggler's Gauntlet

It feels kind of weird to be doing these after posting in favor of plot summaries not violating copyright in my last entry.

Then again, I've never denied that I possess my share of possibly hypocritical bias. So there we go. :-)

If you'd like to alleviate my guilt though, feel free to use my pretty amazon button and buy some Galaxy Rangers DVDs. :-P (This might also be an attempt to manipulate you into giving me referral money. Heh-heh-heh. *shifty*)

Okay, all joking aside, I'm on what my guide lists as episode 05. "Smuggler's Gauntlet."

Everybody's A-Schemin'

Blah-blah-blah, aliens, blah-blah hyperdrive, blah-blah Galaxy Rangers. Blah-blah Annoying song. Okay, let's go!

(Actually, I'm kind of amused by the ass-shot of Zach in the opening theme. It's more support for plok's Galaxy Rangers - Green Lanterns comparison. :-))

This episode starts with some nice wailing guitar and a barren planet, with some kind of factory thing.

There are a lot of barren looking planets in this series. Sheesh.

Anyway, a bunch of unsavory looking types are around a table. A guy with really elongated eye-stalks is playing with some kind of weapon that looks like a cross between a shiv and a pair of scissors. It's comedic looking but I bet it does the job, while some heavyset guy with a saurian face yells at him to put the scissors away as they want to take someone by surprise. The other aliens include a rat guy with an eyepatch, a guy with a weird blue head, and a robot that looks kind of like the guy who had to talk via cassette tapes that Bender encountered on the Isle of Obsolete Robots (or whatever it was called) on Futurama. The last is a heavily swathed humanoid with a vaguely cartoon-Russian-esque accent.

Their ambushee is a very tall figure completely hidden by a white cloak. I'm guessing a Queen robot or Shane Gooseman, honestly. They slam the door and lock her/him in. They're apparently offering something to sell.

Possibly a SPECIAL DELIVERY OF PAIN?! Sorry, I've been watching the Clerks cartoon again. Don't mind me.

Ooo. The unsavory aliens are selling "supertrooper juice" straight from Earth's DNA labs. This is one of those things I recognize from later in the series, but I'm pretending I don't for the sake of this recap. I wonder what that could be.

(I do however think that the name "supertrooper" is a bit too comedic to take it serious. I RHYMES. And there are two "os" I can't take anything seriously that has a double-o. But I guess super-soldier serum is probably copyright. :-P)

Anyway, there's apparently only a handful of this stuff in existence. So W00t. Meanwhile, the cloaked ambushee conveniently taps the door lock, before his cloak is ripped off him.

Wow! I totally called it wrong! It's not a Queen-bot OR Shane Gooseman! It's actually our favorite unbearably cute ambassadors, with Zozo on Waldo's shoulders. This really seems like a dangerous place for important ambassadors! The now-pissed-off unsavory sorts all pull guns (except for scissors-man, who pulls out his scissors.)

The ambassadors look a tad alarmed, but fortunately who takes that moment to appear? The Galaxy Rangers! All of them this time. Gosh, I hope there's a fight scene!

I'm actually kind of disappointed. Zach pretty much finishes things with one shot of the Thunderbolt. He's gotten really efficient with that thing. Damnit. Anyway, he claims they're after "the overboss." The unsavory sorts declare that he'll get nothing from them, and run away.

Zach orders a round up, and I cheer, because I totally watch this show for the fight scenes. :-) It's pretty swift, with the usual elements. Scissor man tries to destroy the evidence, but Niko karate chops him down. Good Niko!

Meanwhile tape-deck robot has been set to blow. But Doc's ready and summons Pathfinder to go extract/salvage any data. I really do think that Doc's powers seem like the most fun of the group. Zach's are pretty one-note. While Niko's seem like a headache, and Goose's appear to require physical damage to function best. I'm not a big fan of pain. In contrast, Doc can do a lot of fun things with cute talking programs, and he doesn't have to get folded, shot, spindled or spaghettified to use them.

The others see that the robot is about to explode and yell for Doc to hurry. Doc delays a bit to let Pathfinder finish up while the others run out, finally Doc runs for it too. They leave just in time, as the robot and place go kaboom!

Poor robot.

Zozo chides Doc for cutting it pretty close, but Doc is uncowed. They're after the overboss after all. Goose, who's sitting on one of the unsavory type plucks him up and with a demented expression, suggests they try "[his] method." The expression looks even more demented because his voice doesn't actually change out of the soft Eastwoodian drawl. Calm voice, scary eyes.

The way they all turn to stare is pretty entertaining. Shane's a fairly violent fellow, granted, but the level of bug-eyed craziness currently visible in his expression is somewhat uncharacteristic. Zach kiboshes the suggestion.

That's okay, Doc has an idea, but he'll have to get Commander Walsh's okay. We get star-badge related scene transition.

Walsh is sitting at his desk. He not only has an awesome bushy handlebar mustache, but greying temples as well. By 80s cartoon law, he's automatically the awesomest guy in the whole damn show. He gets a teleconferance with an attractive, slightly-butch looking lady senator with short, slicked back blond hair and square glasses.

Actually, in an amusing coincidence, she kind of looks like Hillary Clinton to me. Anyway, she exposits a bit of information on this whole "Supertrooper" thing. Apparently it was a program that ended years ago, but illegal DNA samples are being smuggled about. She's worried that this could mean the end of the League of Planets.

Walsh attempts to reassure her but the Senator is not having it. She says she's putting Walsh and the Rangers on notice: the Board is willing to "chop heads" on this one. She's kind of a bitch. And Walsh looks like he has a headache.

On the plus side, he seems willing to at least listen to Doc's idea. Doc displays what Pathfinder learned: the Queen wants supertrooper juice to make mutant armies, and a batch is on the way to Tortuna. A weird purple guy wearing lots of jewelry named Brappo has been hired to hijack the shipment for him. Doc's plan is to hijack the shipment first and use the samples to get to the Overboss. Since he wants them so badly, he'll HAVE to deal with them.

It's a pretty decent plan. Or at least it's a plan that promises to lead to lots of violence, so I'm for it. :-) Walsh also thinks it's a win/win, they stop the Queen AND trap Overboss.

Walsh does insist that Waldo and Zozo remain behind because they might endanger the Rangers' cover. Which doesn't completely make sense to me, considering that humans are supposed to be pretty fucking rare in the Queen's neck of the woods. But okay. They did well enough on Tortuna after all.

Yet again Waldo and Zozo prove better than pretty much any other mascot in an 80s cartoon by reluctantly agreeing with Walsh. Competent and intelligent as well as being unbearably cute. I love Waldo and Zozo.

Walsh tells "Zachary" that they'll need some juice detector from "Longshot". Zach also decides how the team will split up: Doc and Niko take care of the station where the shipment will docked, while Zach and Goose go juice-hunting.

So we get Doc and Niko sneaking around. Doc's got what looks like two Ioun Stones circling his head. I'm having Dungeon Hack flashbacks and I hope one is the stone to prevent starvation: finding rations was a pain in the ass in that game.

Actually, the two glowy things are more constructs. The pink one is Tripwire, who's assigned to go deactivate any alarms. The yellow is Firefly, and it's assigned to take out weapons. (Pathfinder is blue, by the way, but isn't here right now.) Like I said, Doc has the best powers. Anyway Doc and Niko come to a door with a manual lock. Doc looks bemused at the "primitive" door.

Now anyone who's grown up watching Escape to Witch Mountain knows that if you need a lock opened, you find a telekinetic. (Whereas if you need to beat the ass of an evil sheriff with a possessed broom, you find the telekinetic with a harmonica.) Doc apparently doesn't know that. But Niko does. She smirks and tells him to step aside.

She does her own badge tap (for the record, where the men keep their badges on their chests, hers is currently on her belt. I suppose that cuts down on people staring at her rack. I don't actually remember if it's always like that, or if it's different each episode. I'll try to remember to keep an eye out for that later. It'd be pretty cool if it were different.)

Anyway, Niko Witch-Mountain's the lock and tells Doc that he can applaud. Doc suggests they knock out the beacon first. The door opens into a shaft that extends upward for many stories, with a ladder leading to where some uniformed folk are tapping away at a computer. That's going to be a tiring climb.

Meanwhile Zach and Goose are in spacesuits on a sizeable rock, setting up some kind of antenna. Goose is skeptical, but Zach thinks it'll last long enough before quickly overloading. His wrist thingy beeps, apparently that's Doc's signal, (I am kind of sad that we didn't get to see them wallop the uniformed guys, but well, that's life.) Zach and Goose get the ship into position. (It's the same kind of ship that Goose flew last time. Not Ranger One or an Interceptor. Someday I will catch the name.)

On the Queen-ship, one robot notes that the beacon doesn't match the profiles. The commanding robot is unconcerned. It occurs to me that so many plots would get foiled real quick if badguys actually listened to their subordinates. Then again, incompetent subordinates tend to outnumber the competent ones in most cartoons, so I guess I can't blame them.

Anyway, the Queen-ship gets whapped by the rocks in the planetary ring.

Zach is one of those really annoying backseat drivers too. Heh. Anyway, the Queen-ship's shields are failing, and the teeny tiny ranger ship slips right against it. Zach and Goose do some space walking to a hatch and shoot it open. Yay, hijackery!

They end up sneaking aboard a conveyer belt and riding their way to where the supertrooper juice is about to be offloaded. They shoot and tackle the guards and swipe it. Meanwhile, the robots' security spots where the little ship is waiting. Uh oh.

The dynamic duo are walking in a hallway, too bad conveyer belts can't go backwards, where they're met by robots. Aw. So cute. They think they can win!

Goose shoots the leader into the other two, but as it falls, it drops something explosive at his feet. Zach pushes him out of the way, but in the process is blasted into a wall. Poor Zach. And...uh-oh! His helmet is cracked! He shakes it off as Goose shoots the robots down.

Heh, the Crown robots have one HELL of a security system. They detect both humans AND that one of them has a cracked spacesuit. The commander orders decompression.

Hmm, thinking about it, why would a ship of robots even need oxygen anyway?

Anyway, Zach tells Goose to go on ahead with the juice, seeing as how his helmet's cracked. He'll try slowing them down. Aw. Goose is having none of it, and pulls his own helmet off, claiming that he can get along without one... he thinks.

Aw. I love the whole buddy cop taking stupid risks to save each other vibe during this episode. :-)

Zach points out the whole "I think" factor and that Goose doesn't know one way or another if he can. But Goose will have none of that, and tells him to take it while there's still time. Zach reluctantly does, and Goose gets all glowy. Then the airlock blows open and starts sucking them into space.

Goose's biodefenses activate, forming nifty silvery-metallic skin and for some bizarre reason sunglasses. Apparently his bio-defenses have a sense of style. Actually, considering some of the outfits our Shane's worn so far, I think it's safe to say that his bio-defenses have a better sense of style than he does.

On the downside, his arm appears frozen in the corridor grabbing position and he doesn't actually seem to be responsive. That's okay, Zach grabs him by the shoulders and zooms them both to the ship where Goose goes fleshy again (and puts his arm back down), apparently none the worse for wear and asks what's next. The answer: Tortuna rendezvous. seems like there ought to be a better place to meet up then on the Queen's favorite planet, but okay.

Apparently Tortuna's undergone some rebuilding since Goose and Doc blew its space ports the fuck up. Niko and Doc have resumed their hideous Zanguil disguises (yay, continuity!) and make their way to a surprisingly official looking locale called the "Executive placement agency." They walk past some not-quite humanoid fellows in purple cowboy hats wearing orange bandoliers and into a tent.

No one can dress on Tortuna. Sheesh.

Brappo, who has an entertainingly bad fake-Italian accent, gives them a location outside town and tells them to tell the boss he's expecting his commission. They run for it, with some unsavory types chasing after them.

Brappo, while comedic and purple, is no fool. He opens a communicator and tells the boss that he smells a trick of some kind. The overboss, who is in a weird metal suit with a liquidy helmet, declares that he has a trick for them.

Anyway the unsavory type catches up to Doc and Niko, all "hold it right there, uglies." Niko apparently doesn't like to be called ugly, and she high-kicks the shotgun out of the leader's hand.

I officially love Niko now.

Doc and Niko make a good show, but outnumbered. They begin to get cornered, just as a flying land-speeder type vehicle approaches. Yay for cavalry. Niko and Doc break free and dive into the "car". They also very visibly buckle their seatbelts. Heh.

God willing, there will be a car chase, I say just as a group of scary black "cars" emerge onto the freeway after the rangers. Doc doesn't share my enthusiasm as he declares with a laugh that this is reason 62 why he's sorry he became a Galaxy Ranger.

Niko demands to know if the car can go any faster, but Goose, who is driving, says no. He compliments the mileage though. I wonder if that's a sly dig at Japanese cars. This was the 80s after all. :-P

Anyway, the cars are now shooting at them. Niko pops out the top to fire back. Heh. While Goose hangs a sharp left into a tube thing. (One of the pursuers isn't aligned right and crashes.) Now everyone's shooting out of the vehicle, as Goose speeds up and takes a sharp turn UP through a new pipe. Liar!

The car chase is officially underway! :-)

Goose by the way has emerged them onto another freeway tunnel, and is flying counter to traffic. Much to Doc's dismay. Goose, it seems, drives like he does everything. With great skill and very little sanity. There's flying headlong toward other cars, then upside-down, and the usual sort of stunts that are very entertaining to watch but less fun to describe. Zach commands another barrel roll and uses the opportunity to throw a grenade into the other car.

It must be noted that the car that the rangers are in is essentially like a convertable. There is no roof. And they are upside down. Heh.

The evil car stops and the inhabitants run for it. The other evil car crashes into it. YAY! Mass destruction!

Anyway, the rangers now go to meet overboss. As the robot guard leads them, Doc summons another program, this one yellow-white, named "Lifeline" and sends it to find Overboss.

The rangers are taken to a fairly massive liquid filled metal suit. Niko gasps and Shane growls. The Overboss just wants to know how much for the juice. Zach wants 3 million crowns for it. (Remember the bribe from the episode Tortuna was 500, and the bounty on the rangers was 1000. 3 Million is apparently a LOT of money.) Then threatens to destroy the serum juice when the Overboss threatens to refuse.

The camera pans on the Overboss's robot sidekicks. They all look the same except one with a massively elongated head. I wonder if that's significant.

Wait, it's a cartoon. Of course it is.

The Overboss gets oddly sparkly and agrees to make a deal. (Zach is as boggled by this as I am.) Anyway, lifeline returns and Doc confirms Zach's suspicions. This Overboss is a robot and the orders come from...elongated henchbot! GASP! EHB commands that the other henchbots take them.

Zach, annoyed, unscrews the canister. Which actually, he reveals, contains a neutron bomb. Heh. EHB calls them fools and says his henchbots are fanatically loyal. And then they try to run away. Heheh. EHB grabs one poor fleeing SOB and orders him to take them prisoner. Zach presses a button and says if they shoot, he lets go and they all go boom.

I'm actually kind of in suspense! The henchbots all flee. Shane catches and unmasks EHB! EHB is not actually a bot at all! It's not!Hillary!

She tries to fuss and say that they can't prove a thing and that she was doing her own investigation. Zach says she can confess at home, and if she doesn't...well, Tortuna's not League, they would have to leave her there.

I'm not sure that confession would hold up in court, but oh well. The rest of the evidence is pretty damning anyway. :-)


As episodes go, I think this one was the best so far. Lots of fun action, and a fairly intriguing plot. Lots of scheming from all sides.

The characters each got moments to shine and we learn a bit more about each of them.

Doc and Niko were the characters that needed this episode the most and it didn't disappoint. We got to see more of Doc's collection of powers/programs including:

Pathfinder (general data collection)
Tripwire (security alarm disabler)
Firefly (weapons sabotager)
Lifeline (life-form scanner)

That's a pretty nice grab-bag of useful tricks right there. Doc got some good character moments too. First, he got the heroic "wait until the last moment so as to get the data needed to complete the mission" moment with the bomb, then he got to make the nifty plan to take down the overboss. Good show, Doc!

This episode establishes Doc as fairly subtle and sneaky, behind the wisecracking asides. He's also very sensible and probably the least likely of the group to take lunatic risks. He complains a lot, but sucks it up when it counts.

This is a good episode for Niko too. She doesn't get as much character development as Doc, and is a bit of a cypher still, but she's definitely demonstrated her share of badassery. I particularly liked the bit where she stood up in the car and started firing back. Awesome.

She got some nice bits during the station sabotage with Doc too. She's got a sense of humor and can volley back as good as she gets.

Zach and Goose didn't suffer though. The entire juice heist was pretty good for buddy cop moments. I also liked that in the end, Zach was practical enough to take the helmet. Zach doesn't LIKE letting someone else take the risk for him, but ultimately, he probably recognized that Goose wasn't going to put the helmet back on (and probably, if Shane felt like forcibly jamming it onto Zach's head, he probably could do it) and that ONE of them had to make it back with the juice. And Goose did have a lot better chance of surviving in space than Zach.

I like Zach's level of pragmatism.

We get another hint about Shane's backstory in this one as well, though it's a bit of a "blink and you miss it" kind of thing. Goose's reaction at the very beginning of the episode is uncharacteristically vicious. It's definitely not sloppy writing either, the stares of the other characters make it clear that this was definitely meant to be an aberrant moment for our man Goose. In a few episodes, the reason for it will become pretty clear. :-)

This is another episode filled with competent badguys. The Commander of the Queen's ship was a bit dumb when he ignored the beacon warning, but the efficiency of the ship security system made up for that. Zach and Goose didn't do anything wrong or clumsy to get discovered, either. It's just that the Queen's soldiers are apparently very vigilant. That's a good thing.

I liked that Brappo, though cartoonish, was clever enough to sense something was off. While the Senator had some good plots too. Of course, she did make two pretty big blunders: 1) pushing Walsh harder to solve this whole problem, and 2) hiding in a costume clearly different from the henchpeople around her.

I also kind of wonder why a senator from Earth had to go to such trouble to obtain illegally smuggled Earth technology. You'd think there'd be an easier way to get her filthy scheming paws on that stuff. :-)


  • At March 02, 2009 11:12 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    This was indeed a good episode. I've always found the car chase to be hilarious as well as exciting.

    It was nice in that they actually gave the main characters some personality. Heck, even the Queen has personality, albeit a bad one.

    A fabulous review as always.

  • At March 02, 2009 2:16 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    They're pretty good about subtly reinforcing characterization too. :-)

    The best part was probably when Doc started declaring that he had no pulse. :-)

  • At March 03, 2009 11:25 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I like Doc. You have to admit that they give him some of the funniest dialogue. Zach is probably the crankiest, but even he gets off a zinger every once in a while.

  • At April 11, 2009 8:38 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said…

    I love the car chase scene. It has some of the best one-liners of the entire series. "You don't look bluish!"

  • At May 03, 2009 10:40 AM, Blogger Delora said…

    I'm rewatching some old episodes myself, and 'Smuggler's Gauntlet' is definitely a good one.
    It's also a good source for Doc - Niko banter (that can be construed as flirting ;)
    And the Supertrooper juice really seems to be in high demand all over the galaxy (even though I have no idea how one type of juice could create all the different type of Supertroopers we will see in later episodes).

  • At May 03, 2009 11:22 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I don't think they all come from the same juice. When the queen does get some after all, it turns out to be the sort that grows a giant plago.

    ...which is a really weird thing for BETA to have anyway.

  • At May 03, 2009 1:01 PM, Blogger Delora said…

    In 'Birds of a Feather', the Queen got the formula for an early version of the S juice (so she had to make her own concotion, which may have introduced additional errors); in 'Smuggler's Gauntlet', the outlaws were coveting a ready-made smoothie of the final version.
    My impression was that you just add the S juice to whatever DNA you have and get a mutant soldier -- but we may be trying to read to much logic into the whole thing anywyay.
    But the idea that there are different flavors of the S juice is actually good.

  • At September 29, 2009 1:00 AM, Anonymous Skymouth said…

    Of all the Rangers epis I'd watched in the 80's, this is the only one that stuck in my mind if only because of Doc's lines, "I used to have a pulse!" I just loved that!

  • At September 17, 2011 1:36 PM, Anonymous Joseph said…

    This won't succeed in actual fact, that is what I believe.

  • At November 23, 2011 6:44 PM, Anonymous Reynold said…

    It can't succeed in fact, that's what I believe.
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