Thursday, 15 November 2012

24 A New Beginning For the Galaxy

"Our defences are unable to penetrate their planet fortress!"

Episode 24: A New Beginning For the Galaxy
UK Video: Space Quest for F-01
US Video: Volume 8: Showdown In Space
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 4

X-Bomber & The Skull race towards Earth as The Imperial Master continues his assault. General Kyle calls X-Bomber and tells them it's only a matter of time before they are defeated. Lamia rests in her quarters, unable to remember her encounter with the Imperial Master. The Imperial Master appears before them in space telling them Earth may escape total annihilation if they execute Lamia. Hercules replies by firing X-Bomber's Laser Torpedoes at the hologram. Lamia offers to surrender her life but the crew refuses. The Skull hears the ultimatum and has the pilots attack the Imperial Planet in the Dai-X. Halley has Lamia & Kirara transferred aboard the Skull. The pilots form the Dai-X robot but are attacked by Imperial Fighters. They reply with Dai-X's eye beams, super laser cannon and foot cannon. Fighters are launched at the Skull which comes under heavy assault during which Kirara, acting as a gunner, is shot and blasted into space. Heavily damaged with the majority of the crew dead the Skull is only saved by the arrival of Dai-X which destroys the attacking fighters but is forced to leave the stricken ship floating in space. The Dai-X attacks the Imperial Fortress planet with the X-Tracers and then deploys it's breast cannons. The Imperial Master has the Delta Laser fired at the Dai-X damaging it, knocking out the crew and leaving it tumbling through space. Lamia & Halley stand on the deck of the Skull as the new millennium dawns with a planetary alignment. The Imperial Master starts to celebrate his victory, but as he does so Halley raises his sword and is surrounded by a glowing light before disappearing and merging with Lamia. Lamia too becomes glowing light and travels to the Imperial Master's planet where she confronts the Imperial Master. He defies her and attacks her with a sword but, as the Fortress Planet nears Earth, she flies round the room evading the Imperial Master and replies with energy bolts. He fires energy bolts at her from his eyes but she destroys both him and his Fortress Planet. Lamia bids goodbye to the people of the Earth and crew of X-Bomber before leaving for deep space. The pilots reactivate Dai-X. On X-Bomber Professor Hagen remembers Captain Carter & Doctor Benn, lost in the fight against the Imperial Alliance. Dai-X and X-Bomber head for Star Fleet Command on Earth.

The last episode of Star Fleet has a lot to live up to. In many ways it delivers: we get a decent action sequence involving the Dai-X robot, fighting the Alliance Astro-Fighters for the first time, we get to see the Imperial Master wreaking destruction on Earth on a greater scale than before and we get to see Lamia's transformation, an event that's been hanging over the series for a long while, and the full power of F-01 unleashed destroying both the Imperial Master and his Fortress Planet. But against that we've got some slightly odd pacing: Dai-X launching (and with flipped shots showing Main Body & Leg Track leaving from the wrong sides of the ship) deciding to stay in fighter mode and then five seconds later forming the Dai-X. Yes, it's a reaction to the Imperial Master's manoeuvre but maybe leave them in fighter mode for slightly longer, having said you're going to do that, and maybe engage some Alliance fighters before forming the Dai-X. Then Dai-X sits out the conclusion to the series as does X-Bomber, which serves little function in this episode apart from to deliver Lamia & the Dai-X to the battle. Maybe having Lamia deal with the Imperial Master and then X-Bomber destroy the Fortress Planet using X-Impulse (unseen since episode 7) might have brought the craft into the action a bit more. In it;'s final appearance the only one of it's weapons we see is the Laser Torpedoes and they're just used to fire at a projection of the Imperial Master in space! Dai-X gets a slightly better crack at things using it's super cannon and X-Tracers before unveiling it's eye beams, foot cannon (effectively Leg Tracks' gun, not previously seen used in this mode) before *finally* using the Breast Missiles. (Stop laughing - that's the name given in The Look In Article published at the start of the series. And yes the photo there does show Dai-X's chest open standing on a planet, something we don't see in the English episodes of Star Fleet. It might be from Super Space Machine X Bomber - Takeoff Preparation Complete, the Japanese Pilot which I've never seen)

Having got the end of the series here's the final tally of how many times X-Bomber & Dai-X use which weapons:


Turret Lasers - 8 times: 1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 14, 15 & 23
Laser Blast - 5 times: 2, 5, 7, 14 & 22
X-Impulse - twice: 3 & 7
Shield - once: 4
Beam Cannons - twice: 4 & 22
Laser Torpedoes - 3 times: 8, 21 & 24
Neck Laser Torpedo - once: 16
Rear Laser Blast - once: 22


Fighters - 10 times: 4, 5, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24
Robot - 7 times: 4, 11, 18, 19, 21, 22 & 24
Super Cannon - 5 times: 4, 11, 18, 19, 21, & 24
Torpedoes - 5 times: 4, 11, 18, 19 & 21
X-Ray Laser - once: 19
X-Tracers - twice: 21 & 24
Shield - once: 21
Eye Beams, Foot Gun & Breast Cannon - once each, all in 24

And while we're counting: we see the pilots space suits in episode 5, 18, 19 & 22 plus Shiro's in 12 & 14. And despite seeing the yellow suits hanging in the airlocks on several occasions - episodes 3, 10 & 16 spring to mind!

Kirara is killed during this episode, seemingly randomly by a laser blast followed by a poignant shot of him drifting away into space. He's been there to be Lamia's bodyguard and seemingly the only reason to kill him now is his function has been fulfilled. Maybe they should have had him killed in episode 19 instead of Cyborg and had Doctor Benn, a far better character onscreen than Professor Hagen, continue to the end of the series? Technically Captain Halley dies too when he merges with Lamia and the Imperial Master certainly does when Lamia destroys him. So the final count of named character deaths in the series is 8: Capitan Carter, Doctor Benn, Commander Makara, Captain Orion, Calliban, Kirara, Captain Halley & the Imperial Master. Technically it might be 9, but you can't really be sure about Princess Keeli in episode 11. We've also seen numerous Star Fleet pilots, Pluto Base personnel, Termoids & Skull crew killed. For me the most annoying dead characters are Captain Halley's first officer, who we see in a couple of episodes and reports Kirara's death here, and the Imperial Officers on the Fortress planet because we never find out what their names are!

The explanation of why Lamia's powers emerge (the how I'm not even going to touch with a long barge pole) has been telegraphed throughout the series as being to do with the dawning of the year 3000. OK, it's an arbitrary date, I'll live with that. But now, right at the end, it seems that what actually triggers this is a planetary alignment in the Solar System. The series, via Professor Hagen, had a botched go at explaining this last episode (some mumbled statements about movement of planets which made no sense - I wonder if the Japanese version was clearer). So did Lamia need to be in the Solar System for her powers to manifest itself? Would explain why the Skull was hanging around in Episode 5..... and indeed why Lamia was sent to Earth in the first place. Maybe when Halley gave the crew of X-Bomber his explanation of what was going to happen to Lamia in episode 16 he should have said that it would be triggered by the planetary alignment and that she needed to be in the Solar System by the point the alignment occurred at the start of the year 3000. That would then have given the need to get back to Earth more urgency from that point onwards and added an element to the battle on Carillion..... "we must leave as soon as possible to get Lamia to Earth in time"

The ending always amuses me: Lamia, transformed into a glowy light being, floats about and fires energy bolts at the baddie. The reason it amuses me is that it's very similar to the end of the Doctor Who story The Mutants except there the transformed being is Ky, played by Garrick Hagon (Captains Carter & Halley in Star Fleet, amongst others) the real life husband of Liza Ross who plays Lamia!

I love Star Fleet as a series to bits. But I'm aware the episodes I like the best are the first 12 that I caught on first transmission. When the mystery of F-01 is revealed the series somehow looses *something*. Oddly it's the three later episodes that I didn't see as a child I have the most trouble with. 22 doesn't live up to my expectations, 23 is just not any good and we've outlined the flaws in 24 (admittedly much less obvious than those in 23) above.

Portions of this episode appear on the original version of the UK Video compilation Space Quest for F-01 but how much depends on which version you have. I have two, a 90 min version and a shorter 77 minute version which cuts all of the material between the farewell meal on Carillion and Halley & Lamia standing on the Skull in episode 24, amounting to about 17 minutes of footage and including all of the material from episode 23 and all the Dai-X battle sequences from this episode. Most of the episode was found as the middle episode of US Video Volume 8: Showdown In Space. However I got to see the full version of this episode when, c2000, a friend of mine sent me a video tapes containing episodes 19 & 24. Now I know that episode 24 originally aired in the LWT region in 1983. I'm unsure if it was repeated in that region in 1984: maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. The tape I have features the tail end of the credits to The Chart Show before Star Fleet starts, and the Central television logos which suggests that Star Fleet was repeated in that region on or after January 1989, the date the Chart Show was first aired by ITV.

The episode, like the other 23 episodes of Star Fleet was *finally* released in full when it appeared on DVD on Monday 9th February 2009. To say I had been looking forward to this set was an understatement. All 24 episodes, in full, at last. And yes it looks better than any previously available version of the episodes. But, spoilt by years of loving work by The Restoration Team on the Doctor Who DVDs and the, frankly, beautifully restored HD prints used for the Prisoner & Space 1999 BDs I can't help but feel it could look an awful lot better properly tidied up with the scratches that are seen on some episodes removed.

And, while there's lots of bonus features on the DVDs, much of it amounts to text & photos with just a documentary featuring Go Nagai, Louis Elman, Peter Marinker, the voice of Paul Bliss and a frankly annoying Gerry Anderson who keeps plugging his own products and a framed version of the Brian May music video making up anything like what I would have expected. I think there's room for a definitive release of this series and here's what else I'd include:

The Star Fleet "ad caps" - the Star Fleet logo animations that appear at the beginning and end of each advert break.
The Brian May Star Fleet project in full screen 4:3 ratio
Scans of the Look In Star Fleet Articles & Covers, Star Fleet comics strips (some, but not all, of which were reprinted in a booklet with the first edition of the DVD) and Star Fleet Annual.
The existing UK Compilation videos.

These are the most obvious UK special features that could be included, but the Japanese and French version of the series, both called X-Bomber, would give us a wealth of extra materials

French & Japanese title sequences
Japanese pilot/promo Super Space Machine X Bomber - Takeoff Preparation Complete
Trailer for Japanese episode 18
Japanese episode 18, a clip show missing from the UK run. (see here and here on YouTube)
Any cut Japanese footage

The absence of Cast & Crew Commentaries is also noticeable compared to The Doctor Who DVDs. A fan commentary might have been nice too.... In fact if there's any Special Edition DVD producers reading this I'd love to come in and do one for episodes 4 & 5. Of the entire series it's those two episodes that really stand out for me. When I think of Star Fleet it's Moonbase, asteroid belt, Dai-X rampaging on Jupiter, the snow falling on Pluto and Lamia seeking the Skull while the others search for her that I think of.

Thanks for watching Star Fleet with me these last few weeks. I hope you've all enjoyed it. And don't forget to buy the DVD if you haven't already so you can watch them again!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

23 Earth in Desperation!

"To catch an Iron Fish we'll use the electric solar energy net!"

Episode 23: Earth in Desperation!
UK Video: Space Quest for F-01
US Video: Volume 8: Showdown In Space
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 4

X-Bomber is surrounded by a fluctuating energy field which Lamia's emerging powers have created. Professor Hagen attempts to help Lamia with the pain she is experiencing as she starts to change. The Imperial Officers report to the Imperial Master they will reach Earth a few days before the New Year and X-Bomber is far behind them even though it is travelling faster. Earth Defence Forces detect the Imperial Home Planet and speculate it's a UFO. General Kyle asks if they have managed to make contact with X-Bomber yet. X-Bomber tries to call Earth but fails. Lamia flees the bridge as she has more pains and the ship is surrounded by light again. She has a vision of the Imperial Master who communicates with her. She tells him to stop his advance on Earth but he refuses and swears to destroy her. The Imperial Master fires Laser Torpedoes at the distant pursuing X-Bomber. X-Bomber takes evasive action but the torpedoes turn with them. Hercules opens fire with the turret lasers. X-Bomber is damaged but are saved when the Skull arrives and Captain Halley destroys the Laser Torpedoes. The Imperial Master retaliates by launching the electric solar energy net. Star Fleet command tries to contact the UFO but the Imperial Master refuses to reply. X-Bomber becomes ensnared in the Space Net turning the electrical system haywire and causing PPA to malfunction. X-Bomber is out of control and the Skull's attempts to rescue it fail. The Imperial Master contacts Earth Defence Forces and taunts General Kyle and orders them to surrender before firing it's missiles. X-Bomber slows, regaining computer control and raises it's shield, escaping the net. The Imperial Master tells Star Fleet command that they will be annihilated. Under attack Earth scrambles it's astro fighters to attack but they are destroyed by the Imperial Master's planet. X-Bomber regains contact with Star Fleet command and is updated on the status of the attack. Shiro tells General Kyle that Lamia is the F-01, that Doctor Benn has been killed and reveals that they have been joined by his Father to the General who is pleased at his reappearance. General Kyle urges them to make all speed to Earth as the Imperial Master promises to make Earth burn!

Push me on my least favourite Star Fleet episode and I'll probably go for this one. It just doesn't work for me and there's a a load of reasons for it. Primarily I think the problem is to do with the lack of Commander Makara and Captain Orion, the primary protagonists for much of the show. Somehow the Imperial Master, being loud and shouty, and his unnamed assistants just don't do the job. The Imperial Officers, who appeared from nowhere last episode, might have worked better if we'd have seen them before on previous visits to the Imperial Master's planet. The Imperial Master himself doesn't feel like too much of a threat in this episode. Yes he's attacking Star Fleet command but Commander Makara didn't do too bad a job of that in episode 3 and somehow the threat posed by him doesn't feel sort of magnitudes higher which it should do for a series' big bad. The Laser Torpedoes fired at X-Bomber are physical projectiles as opposed to the laser blasts seen previously and their pursuit of X-Bomber is similar to the first death ball seen in episode 19. The Space net however.... deary me what a silly idea. Maybe as a close range weapon for ship to ship combat but to fire it at a ship so far away and achieve a direct hit? No. And when PPA, disorientated by the effects of the net, starts singing It's a Long Way to Tipperary and Underneath the Arches I can't help but think of Bender from Futurama whenever he gets exposed to a magnet. Professor Hagen's annoying me coming over as little more than a watered down knock off of Doctor Benn..... and as for his poor explanation of why Lamia's powers are emerging concerning the way the planets are moving..... ugh. Actually now I think of it this might make some sense when you see the next episode but could have been explained a lot better here. I wonder if the Japanese version made more sense? The way this episode is physically cut together looks sloppy & rushed too, like bits of it are actually missing. Examples include the suddenly appearing energy effects too and the quick cutting between shots of the moving Imperial Planet, not giving time for the musical cues heard throughout the series. No I'm sorry it just doesn't work for me.

On the plus side: General Kyle and Earth Defence forces *FINALLY* make their return appearance, their first since episode 6. If you've joined the series since then you'll have no idea who they are as we've not seen them, bar flashbacks in 9 & 13, since. Maybe an occasional scene set in Star Fleet command in the meantime might have been in order? I do wonder about why Star Fleet has curved launch ramps for their fighters, as seen in the tunnel launch sequences, won't they achieve a greater speed being launched off a straight ramp? We also get to see X-Bomber's turret Lasers, or rather the one operated by Hercules, used for the first time since episode 15. It's their 8th use here.

I said in the previous episode I had concerns about how that episode crammed too much in. I think both episodes would work a lot better if some of the material was swapped round giving the Imperial Master more to do earlier and continuing Commander Makara's involvement in the series for longer:

Episode 22:

Imperial Master's planet exits the Thalian Zone while X-Bomber races at twice hyper speed to Earth. Makara's damaged battleship attempts to pursue but is far behind. The spacenet fired at X-Bomber slowing it down. X-Bomber escapes from the Spacenet but Captain Orion makes his suicide attack on X-Bomber crippling her in space.

Episode 23:

The Crew work to repair X-Bomber as the Imperial Master closes in on Earth and Earth defends itself. Commander Makara attacks X-Bomber in her repaired battlecruiser. Dai-X destroys Makara's spaceship. X-Bomber contacts Earth and promises it will be there as Imperial Master continues his attack.

Portions of this episode appear on the original version of the UK Video compilation Space Quest for F-01. However I have two copies of this video: a 90 min version and a shorter 77 minute version which cuts all of the material between the farewell meal on Carillion and Halley & Lamia standing on the Skull in episode 24, amounting to about 17 minutes of footage including all of the material used from this episode. Most of the episode was found as the middle episode of US Video Volume 8: Showdown In Space.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

22 Board The Imperial Battlecruiser!

"Long live the Imperial Alliance!"

Episode 22: Board The Imperial Battlecruiser!
UK Video: -
US Video: Volume 8: Showdown In Space
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 4

X-Bomber is travelling towards Earth but the Imperial Home Planet is ahead of them and will get to Earth first. Professor Hagen comes up with a way to override the computers so X-Bomber can travel at twice Hyper Speed and get to Earth faster. Meanwhile the disgraced Commander Makara is attempting to pursue X-Bomber in her crippled battlecruiser. Captain Orion lies in the sick bay, mortally ill after being struck by a falling beam. The injured Calliban, miraculously having survived the the destruction of the death ball, tells Orion he has suffered severe cerebral damage and cannot resume his command. Orion has Calliban take him to his drone craft and launches in pursuit of X-Bomber. Commander Makara thinks he is deserting but Calliban tells her that he has gone to make a final suicide attack on X-Bomber. Lamia wonders how she can demonstrate the powers that the prophecy tells her she will have. The Drone craft's approach is detected and X-Bomber tries to negotiate with it's Captain but Orion is set on his goal and challenges X-Bomber to fight opening fire on it. X-Bomber is forced to slow down to fight opening fire with it's rear laser blasts and taking evasive manoeuvres before opening fire with it's twin beam cannons severely damaging Orion's craft. Declaring "Commander Makara this is your true Orion - Long live the Imperial Alliance!" Orion rams X-Bomber, crippling her but destroying himself and his ship in the process. Repairs completed Commander Makara closes on X-Bomber as the crew work outside repairing X-Bomber. The Battlecruiser opens fire on X-Bomber as the crew come try to come inside the ship, repairs not quite completed leaving the ship unable to use X-Impulse. Hercules is knocked into space but Lee pulls him back in by his tether. X-Bomber uses it's laser blast against the Battlecruiser but the Alliance ship raises it's new shield and returns fire further damaging X-Bomber. The Pilots leave the ship to Professor Hagen launching the Dai-X and immediately forming the Dai-X robot which they plunge towards the battlecruiser penetrating it's shield and entering it through the launching bay. Dai-X rampages through the ship towards the engine room. Calliban attempts to escape but is crushed by falling debris. Dai-X heads for the cruiser's bridge. Commander Makara attempts to flee too but Hercules crushes her using Dai-x's fist. Dai-X flies out of the battlecruiser as it explodes behind the the Dai-X. The Imperial Master's home planet emerges from the Thalian Zone and heads towards Earth........

Any opinion I have on this episode *has* to be taken in some context here..... In August (?) 1983 Star Fleet returned to the LWT region running on Saturdays and Sundays. I saw episode 20 on one Saturday, missed episode 21 the next day because I was at church and then..... the following Saturday I was faced with a choice: Do I watch episode 22 having missed the previous episode or do I go to Bentalls in Kingston to meet Darth Vader? Aged 10 and at the height of rabid Star Wars fandom following Return of the Jedi I chose the latter..... as we wandered round town afterwards I ran into some neighbours (in the brand new just opened Waterstones store) who told me what happened and I immediately knew I'd missed a complete classic episode. Fast forward to 1990 and I'm picking up cheap Star Fleet compilations. None (or very little) of this episode appears on either compilation: indeed as I remember it the end of Space Quest for F-01 is *very* rushed. There's portions of episode 23 and most of episode 24 but no episode 22. So the first time I got to see this episode was in 2000ish when I got a copy of the US video Volume 8: Showdown In Space....

To me the episode is a bit of a game of two halves: Orion's suicide run and Dai-X's attack on the Battlecruiser.

Firstly: what on Earth is Calliban doing there? He was on the Death Ball when it was destroyed towards the end of the last episode. He should be dead! OK he's injured here with a stick and a bandaged arm but he's less injured than Orion is. And Orion.... we never even saw him get injured in the previous episode yet here he's in a much worse state than Calliban. Right got that one out of the way.

You get the feeling that Calliban is manipulating Orion during their conversation in the sickbay. There's been some antagonism between the two in the previous 3 episodes that they've been in but nowhere near as bad as between Orion & Carter previously. Here Calliban seems to be actively manipulating Orion into the course of action that will cause his death. And so, bandaged and wearing the medal the Imperial Master gave him, Orion goes to his doom, calling out to Commander Makara and proclaiming his loyalty to the Alliance. Makara's been nothing but cruel to Orion on screen apportioning blame for all the failed attacks to him. Yet here at the end it's her he's trying to impress again......

Now I have some issues with the pacing of this and the next episode.... lets just say I'd have ended the episode with Orion's crash, leaving X-Bomber crippled as the Imperial Master's planet approaches Earth leaving the destruction of Makara's Battlecruiser for episode 23.... More later .....

Orion's attack gives X-Bomber a chance to use two of it's weapons: the first we've not seen before, a rear mounted laser blast identical to that first seen fired from the cannons within X-Bomber's neck in episode 2. We also get to see the twin blue beam cannons for a second time, first seen in episode 4. Commander Makara's Battlecruiser finally gets it's own shield and we get to see X-Bomber attack it with it's Laser Blast, it's 5th following episodes 2, 5, 7 & 14. The Spacesuits are back for the pilot's EVA repair work. It's the fourth time the pilots all wear their space suits (episode 5, 18 & 18) but the sixth time for Shiro (above plus 12 & 14). And still nobody has worn one of the yellow suits in the airlock!

Then we get to Dai-X's rampage on the Imperial Battlecruiser. The shot of it trying to penetrate the shield looks a little dodgy but flying into the launch bay with us looking out for the first time is a lovely shot, strangely reminiscent of some of the model work on the original Battlestar Galactica which had similar shots of shuttles landing on the Galactica's launch bay. We then get to see the Battlecruiser destroyed from the inside out which somehow fail to live up to what my ten year old mind imagined it might. Nevertheless there are some lovely shots in here. I do wonder about the wisdom of killing both Makara and Calliban off in this sequence especially as we've already lost Orion earlier in the same show. Again the pacing. If Calliban had died in the previous episode and Makara in the next (see above for when I'd have had this episode end) that might have worked a little better. And, at a crucial stage in the story, The Skull & Halley are missing for the entire episode. Still more next episode when I have issues with that......

So after twenty years this episode couldn't really live up to what my brain had imagined it to be. And perhaps because I'd never seen it till I was an adult that makes me be a bit more critical of it than some other episodes.

So it's farewell to Commander Makara, Captain Orion & Calliban. Farewell to to the magnificent Imperial Alliance Battlecruiser and the drone fighter carriers but we'll see the fighters again in episode 24. The three deaths then create a vacuum in the enemy ranks filled by the two Imperial Officers briefly seen at the end of this episode who I think are voiced by John Badderly (PPA) and Sean Barret (Captain Orion). Sean Barrett started his career in the fifties as a child actor before appearing in a number of recognisable shows such as Z-Cars, Softly, Softly, Father Ted, Holby City, Brush Strokes, Minder & Poldark. He got into voice over work in the early 80s and has performed this role in several films including of Tik-Tok in Return to Oz, a Goblin in Labyrinth and UrZah the Ritual-Guardian in The Dark Crystal.

The Japanese name for this episode is Board The Gelma Mothership! It doesn't appear on either of the UK compilation tapes but featured on US Video Volume 8: Showdown In Space.

Monday, 12 November 2012

21 Collinian Limitless Battle!

"and now we'll celebrate with a bonfire!"

Episode 21: Collinian Limitless Battle!
UK Video: Space Quest for F-01
US Video: Volume 7: Attack of the Bionic Robot
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 4

Commander Makara has her battlecruiser fire laser torpedoes at X-Bomber but X-Bomber replies with it's laser blast. The carriers on Collinian deploy more fighters against the palace and the city. Halley wants the rulers to flee but the refuse and will not reply with violence or use Professor Hagen's laser cannon which he constructed without their knowledge or permission. The Skull launches and battles the Alliance fighters as Calliban's Death Ball approaches the palace and attacks, demanding Lamia surrender herself. Halley calls X-Bomber for help, revealing the Alliance's trap. The pilots leave X-Bomber in the hands of Professor Hagen & PPA launching the Dai-X fighters. They form Dai-X in space and travel to Collinian where they land and confront the Death Ball. Calliban has been waiting for the Dai-X and attacks it first with missiles. The Death Ball's shell is impervious to Dai-X's physical attacks but when Dai-X physically pushes the death ball back Dai-X gets electrocuted by it. Dai-X uses it's laser beam and torpedoes but the death ball is undamaged. The Death Ball closes in on Dai-X as the Skull is attacked by the fighters. Dai-X jumps over the death ball but it turns round firing magnets attached to chains at the robot and then electrocuting it again, forcing the robot to the ground and injuring the pilots. Lamia is appalled by the suffering her friends are enduring and urges the Collinian royals to use the Professor's cannon. Death ball retracts it's chains and uses a flame thrower against Dai-X and the city. The pilots recover and Dai-X regains it's footing projecting an energy shield which deflects the Death Ball's flames. Dai-X fires X-Tracers destroying the Death Ball, but collapses, it's energy cells depleted. As Makara's battlecruiser attacks the palace fires the cannon causing the cruiser to flee in flames. The rulers of Collinian thank the crew of X-Bomber for helping defend their planet. Lamia bids goodbye to the -Bomber crew as she prepares to leave with Halley. As Commander Makara plots to destroy Collinian they are interrupted by the hologram of the Imperial Master who strips her and Orion of their command and tells them he will attack the Earth himself. Makara refuses to take this disgrace and resolves to attack and destroy X-Bomber. Collinian intercepts the transmission from the Imperial Master and informs Captain Halley & Lamia. Lamia rushes to tell the X-Bomber crew as they pay their respects at Doctor Benn's grave before they leave. She tells them that the Imperial Master will attack the Earth and they prepare to return to Earth. Lamia pleads with Shiro to go with them. The Imperial Master's planet moves out of the Thalian Zone and commences it's journey to Earth. Shiro asks his Father if they can take Lamia with them. After she argues that she must return with them the pilots vote to take her with them and Professor Hagen accepts the decision. Hagen informs Captain Halley as X-Bomber launches for Earth he prepares to following the Skull.

On the Star Fleet DVD X-Bomber creator Go Nagai expresses a desire to have an Imperial Alliance mecha foe for Dai-X. Well that's effectively what you get here with Calliban's death ball, a machine loaded with weapons which gets turned on Dai-X. It's a fab piece of design right down to it's screw thread tracks for moving it. It really is a match for our heroes robot, knocking it flat on the floor at one stage. But Dai-X has a few new tricks for it too: we saw X-Bomber's shield back in episode 4 now Dai-X reveals it's shield: a rectangular red panel projected in front of the robot. The shot of Death Ball's flame hitting it and being halted, but just lapping slightly over the top of the shield is one of my favourite effects shots in the entire series. Dai-X then deploys it's X-Tracers, white energy blasts fired from the X-Crest on his head. This *might* be the same weapon used to destroy the first Death Ball in episode 19 but the effect is very different, more a series of pulses than a constant blast.

X-Bomber meanwhile fires what is termed a Laser Blast here but was called it's Laser Torpedoes in it's only previous outing in episode 8. There the four blast were pink, here they're yellow/orange.

The destruction of the Death Ball is pretty spectacular and just watching this episode in isolation you'd think Calliban has perished with it. But the next time trailer reveals he's still alive and back on the Alliance Battlecruiser. Yes we get to see the Imperial Master and his home planet this episode as seen in the previous next time trailer but they only appear fleetingly and right at the end of the episode.

The first run of this episode in the UK (in the LWT region at least) occurred on a Sunday so I missed it as I was at church. The LWT 1984 repeat run either never got this far or aired in on a Sunday morning when I couldn't watch. But when I went to secondary school in 1984 one of my new friends there had recorded this episode and still had it on tape so in 1985 it became the first episode of the series I saw after the original run had finished. I wouldn't see any more Star Fleet footage until finding the videos in Woolworths c1990 and none of the 3 episodes I'd missed until c2000!.

The Japanese name for this episode is M13 Limitless Battle. Some of the episode appears on the UK compilation tape Space Quest for F-01, but how much depends on what version you have. On my earlier version we get Halley learning of the intended assault on Earth, Lamia warning X-Bomber's crew and X-Bomber leaving for Earth. On the latter version all this material, plus all the material taken from episode 23 and a good proportion of that taken from episode 24 is missing. A more complete version of the episode appears on the US videotape Volume 7: Attack of the Bionic Robot.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

20 Collinian: All-Out Attack Begins!

"an amazing weapon for a planet that has renounced war"

Episode 20: Collinian: All-Out Attack Begins!
UK Video: Space Quest for F-01
US Video: Volume 7: Attack of the Bionic Robot
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 4

X-Bomber approaches the planet Collinian, with the crew haunted by the recent death of Dr Benn. Touching down they are reunited with Captain Halley and inform him of Dr Benn's death. Shiro and the pilots ask Halley's permission to bury Halley on Collinian. Commander Makara orders Captain Orion to attack Collinian. Shiro demands answers from Halley causing Lamia to run away, tortured by the knowledge that people have died because of her. Halley goes to find her and attempts to explain their destiny together. The crew of X-Bomber decide to attack & destroy the Imperial Alliance on their home planet to ensure a lasting peace. They decide to request help from the people of Collinian. Halley tells the X-Bomber crew that there's someone he wants them to meet. He takes them to a building containing a huge weapon. The pilots wonder what a planet that has renounced war is doing with such a weapon. They then meet Professor Hagen, Shiro's father, Lamia's guardian and the designer of X-Bomber. Calliban announces he has created a new weapon to destroy Lamia and leaves the battlecruiser bound for Collinian. Professor Hagan reveals he went into deep space seeking answers about Lamia's origins. His ship malfunctioned and he was was rescued by the Skull then taken to Collinian where he constructed the laser cannon in anticipation of the day that the Alliance would attack the planet seeking Lamia. They are summoned to the palace for an audience & dinner with the king of Collinian. Makara decided to lure X-Bomber into space while Calliban attacks Lamia and launches the drone carriers. During the dinner the Alliance attack begins. Halley stays behind to protect Lamia as X-Bomber launches into space. On the surface of Collinian Calliban's new death ball stands ready as Captain Orion's fighters attack the palace and the Battlecruiser retreats luring X-Bomber further away from the planet.

A quieter episode after the previous one, a moment's reflection which is probably what was necessary after the death of Doctor Benn. But crucially this episode properly introduces (after flashback appearances going back to episode 3) Professor Hagen, Shiro's Father, who I think is voiced by Garrick Hagon, the man credited as playing Captain Carter but who also voices Captain Halley. Effectively he now fills Doctor Benn's role in the series..... which almost reduced the impact of the character's death if he's immediately replaced with a similar one. Maybe killing Doctor Benn in the same attack that Lamia gets captured and then having the crew without a leader for a few episodes may have worked better....

Couple of interesting visuals in this episode. Dr Benn's tombstone confirms his name to be Ben Robinson which is a little odd. The spelling is different from the titles and the English use of the word Doctor typically follows with the first name and not the surname. The other comes as X-Bomber is launching: sitting there on the launch pad beside it is the same ship that Professor Hagen was in when he was rescued by the Skull.

Ooh a big cannon that the peace loving planet have never used: do you think that is that going to get fired in the next few episodes??

Last episode we got to see Calliban's Death Ball in the next episode trailer even though it only appears right at the end. This episode's next time trailer treats us to shots of the Imperial Master and his home planet and we won't see those until the end of the following episode.

The Japanese Name for this episode is M13 All-Out Attack Begins!

This was the first episode since episode 13 that I saw on original transmission. Episodes 14-19 aired on a Sunday while I was out but following a lengthy break this episode was shown on a Saturday with the following episode (21) the next next day and the one after that (22) the following Saturday. It was also, for various reasons we'll explore later, the last episode of the original transmission run that I saw. I didn't see it on the 1984 repeat run and indeed can't even be sure it was shown.

Significant portions of this episode appear on the UK compilation tape Space Quest for F-01 as well as featuring on US Video Volume 7: Attack of the Bionic Robot.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

19 F-01 Assassination Plot

"My friends we will soon reach our destination"

Episode 19: F-01 Assassination Plot
UK Video: Space Quest for F-01
US Video: Volume 7: Attack of the Bionic Robot
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 4

Commander Makara is angry at X-Bomber's rescue of Lamia her scientist Caliban comes to the bridge to show her the bionic assassin he has developed to kill F-01 against the Imperial Master's orders. Lamia recovers from her ordeal on X-Bomber weakened and struggling to communicate with Captain Halley on Collinian. X-Bomber detects a deserted spaceship. The pilots visit it in the Dai-X fighter and find nothing there but the Cyborg assassin hides in Legtrack returning with them to X-Bomber. X-Bomber encounters a spherical object in space approaching them. They take evasive action but the sphere follows them at hyper speed and opens fire on the ship. X-Bomber is damaged and launches the Dai-X fighters which immediately combine into the Dai-X robot. With the ship all but empty the Cyborg stalks the corridors finding Lamia's room and attacking her. Kirrara defends her enabling her to sound the alarm summoning Dr Benn who orders PPA to recall Dai-X. Dai-X fires a laser beam from the X crest on it's head destroying the sphere and the pilots set out for X-Bomber. Dr Benn shoots the assassin wounding it, but it makes another attempt to kill her catching Dr Benn with it's serrated claw before he kills it. The pilots return to the ship and X-Bomber resumes it's course for Collinian. Makara is angry at the failure of Caliban's assassin and he begs for one more chance. X-Bomber nears Collinian, and are contacted by Captain Halley but Dr Benn collapses in his chair mortally wounded by poison from the Assassin and die. The pilots vow to continue their mission as Shiro states that there will never be another man that could take the Doctor's place.

Huge, huge episode for the series. You have to start with the ending though: killing one of the lead characters? In sight of his goal? Harsh by itself and very harsh for a children's series. Yes Dr Benn died heroically defending Lamia but you can't help feeling that if he'd sought medical help immediately he might have lived..... I've got some thoughts about the timing of the death too, but that relates to a huge surprise in the next episode so I'll save it till then.

Then we have the series new character Caliban, the silver skinned Imperial Alliance scientist Caliban. He's got a bionic lens covering his right eye but it seems to be a piece of machinery rather than the creature like implants seen on other Imperial Alliance officers. I'm not 100% sure but I think Caliban is another character voiced by Garrick Hagon, previously Captain Carter and now Captain Halley.

The first of Caliban's ball like Death Machines appears in this episode (and the second appears in the next time trailer despite not appearing till the end of the next episode!) which gives us the first opportunity to see Dai-X fighting in space as opposed to on the ground. We've known it can fly since it's first appearance in the Jupiter battle where it forms in the air then lands but this is the first time it's engaged in combat while flying. With the arms stretched out in front it can use the missiles and Super Cannon (pink blasts again) but here it needs to be upright to deploy the constant laser blast from the X shaped crest on it's head - a mini version of X-Impulse? It's the only time we see this weapon used though they;ll be a very similar one in two episodes time.... This is the first time we see the two halves of brain con coming together to form the head of Dai-X: we've previously seen it in two halves as a fighter and then together as a head but not as it transitions through the two states. It's the third time the pilots all wear their space suits (episode 5 & 18) but the fifth time for Shiro (above plus 12 & 14).

This episode is the first to appear on US Video Volume 7: Attack of the Bionic Robot. The back cover here is interesting as it shows Shiro meeting one of the staff at Star Fleet command. An enlarged scene (but smaller image) can be found here (top right) which shows Lee & Hercules in the room too. Publicity image or one cut from the Japanese promotional episode 0, presumed also to be the source of the shot of PPA flying in Braincon with Shiro seen at 2m50s into this video (screenshot here)? Sadly this promo is another item missing from the UK DVD which would have added value to the set.

The bionic assassin segments of the episode (but not the death ball sequences) appear on the UK Video Space Quest for F-01. When I started obtaining Star Fleet episodes on video from people I knew this was one of the first complete episodes I saw. This was also the last episode of Star Fleet to air in the Sunday morning run of episodes in 1983 at around the end of February/start of March (I can't be precise because I don't have airdates for later episodes)

As well as being the last episode in which his character Dr Benn appears, Peter Marinker is credited in the interview by voice director Louis Elman on Star Fleet - The Complete Series as effectively taking over the direction of the final half dozen episodes of the series when Elman is called to another project. Peter Marinker's extensive CV goes right the way back to working on Z-Cars in the 60s and includes an episode of the Professionals which I've seen and own. His first credited voice over work was on Monkey providing a number of supporting roles, although I've seen it claimed he worked on The Water Margin prior to this. This has led to a career in voice over work - if you're watching an English dub of a Japanese Manga production then he's probably involved - but he's also appeared on film in Event Horizon, the Sylvester Stalone Judge Dredd and Love Actually. Dr Benn isn't his only role in Star Fleet, although it's the one he's credited for, as he also provides the voice of the narrator.

Friday, 9 November 2012

18 Destroy The Prison Planet!

"Lamia, where are you? Keep on communicating!"

Episode 18: Destroy The Prison Planet!
UK Video:
US Video: Volume 6: Lost in Space
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 3

X-Bomber searches in space for Lamia. Kirara tampers with X-Bomber's controls and has to be tranquillised again. The Imperial Master dispatched Commander Makara & Captain Orion to the Collusion Star Cluster to decimate the planet Carillion. Lamia trapped in the Ice Planet prison struggles to contact Captain Halley telepathically. The pilots suggest searching for Lamia in the Dai-X fighters to cover a wider area. Halley reports he has heard from Lamia and has traced her to the glacial planet. X-Bomber sets off for the planet but their course is detected by the Alliance Battlecruiser which changes course to intercept. As X-Bomber nears the Allurian star cluster Kirara awakes, calmed knowing that Lamia is near. X-Bomber remains in orbit round the Glacial Planet while the pilots fly the Dai-X fighters to the surface to rescue Lamia. However as they near the prison they come under heavy attack from ground based defences. X-Bomber detects the Battlecruiser approaching and warns the fighters so they unite the Dai-X robot and destroy the ground defences. They locate the prison and enter in spacesuits, freeing Lamia from the chamber holding her. As they leave quakes start to rock the planet which they deduce is a nuclear reaction caused by their attack. X-Bomber moves to a wider orbit to avoid damage as the pilots carry Lamia to the Dai-X. The Alliance detect Dai-X launching but are caught in the blast as the nuclear explosion goes off, damaging the ship and destroying the planet. Lamia is taken to X-Bomber's sickbay to begin her recovery.

The second half of this episode is just what the series needed at this minute, a good bit of action. *Finally* we get the Dai-X robot back for only its third appearance (episodes 4 & 11) so far in the series! For something that appears every episode on the end titles it's absent for a huge portion of the series. However this is the start of it's real starring role in the series and it's in all bar two of the remaining episodes. Yes the battle is essentially a rerun of the one in episode 4 on Jupiter, even down to the same two special weapons being used but so what? Sometimes a big red robot smashing things is just what you need!

Note that the pilots are wearing spacesuits on the surface of the glacial planet.... but Lamia isn't when they bring her outside. Can she now breath other atmospheres? We also get to here the Asteroid theme from episode 4 again.

Missing from all UK compilations due to the elimination of the Lamia kidnapped plot this is the final episode on the US video Volume 6: Lost in Space.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

17 Asleep In The Ice Prison

"Can you already feel the changes in your body? When your powers are fully grown they will be harnessed by the Alliance!"

Episode 17: Asleep In The Ice Prison
UK Video:
US Video: Volume 6: Lost in Space
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 3

The X-Bomber crew start to repair their damaged ship. The Alliance Battlecruiser arrives at the Allurian Ice Planet Prison where Commander Makara confirms to Lamia she is the F-01, tells her of her origins and how they will use hers powers to control the universe. X-Bomber launches from Malphane. The Imperial Alliance Battlecruiser lands on the Ice Planet and Lamia is taken by Captain Orion onto the surface. Captain Halley attempts to contact Lamia telepathically but she is taken to a chamber bellow ground. Kirara goes berserk on the X-Bomber bridge disrupting operations and is tranquillised by Hercules. Lamia is subjected to a candlelit ceremony in the prison as a gift from the Imperial Alliance. Commander Makara arrives and watches Lamia be sealed in a glass electro magnetic capsule preventing her from using her powers. As they leave the prison chamber snow begins to fall burying the entrance to the chamber. Commander Makara contacts the Imperial Master and confirms Lamia is imprisoned. The Imperial Master summons them to his base to celebrate their success. X-Bomber looses their trace on Makara's ship and is forced to rely on Captain Halley to trace Lamia. Lamia, trapped beneath the surface in the dungeon, fears she is going to die.

Hmmm, after the action in the last episode this is a much slower episode. There's some nice stuff in it though especially the Ice Planet Dungeon and the reappearance, for the first tie since episode 9, of The Imperial Master. I think this is the first time we've got see a clear shot of the underside of X-Bomber and it's certainly the first time we've seen inside the Skull.

None of this episode was used on a UK compilation tape but it appears on US Video Volume 6: Lost in Space.

The next time trailer for episode 18 promises much including Dai-X on the Ice Planet, but this isn't the next time trailer Japanese viewers saw. Theirs was very different and you can see that here on YouTube. Why so different? Because the next episode in Japan wasn't the next episode in the UK. Japanese episode 18 was a third clip show, the third in 10 episodes after eps 9 & 13, with a minimum of new footage involved. Called "Bloody Mary's Promotion!" (so what would have been Commander Makara's promotion in the UK) it features 3 brief new sequences: the pilots in their quarters wondering where Lamia is (note the pictures of Thunderbird 2 and the Fireflash from Thunderbirds on Hercules' wall), followed by a condensed version of episode 14 where Lamia meets Captain Halley, cutting back to the pilots before cutting to the Imperial Master congratulating Makara & Orion before reviewing their operation to capture Lamia in episodes 15 & 16, returning to the Imperial Master and then to X-Bomber as the pilots continue the quest for their missing comrade. You can see the entire episode on YouTube: Part One and Part Two. This is the first Japanese episode I've seen: I've watched Transformers Masterforce and Victory in the original Japanese so I'm used to Japanese soundtracks but it's odd watching this with different music and voices. There's bits where I think "NO, this should be that noise...." and it isn't. And yet in the middle of this the main X-Bomber door noise sounds exactly the same.

Right next episode, finally, it's Dai-X time!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

16 Lamia Kidnapped

"Lamia is to dominate the universe using her great power in the year 3000"

Episode 16: Lamia Kidnapped
UK Video: Space Quest for F-01
US Video: Volume 6: Lost in Space
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 3

Termoid soldiers board X-Bomber but are resisted by the recovering Hercules & Shiro. PPA uses a built in laser to drive the Termoids out of sickbay. Lamia is captured trying to escape and Kirara is injured as the Termoids use a grenade to cover their escape with their prisoner. Lamia is taken to the battlecruiser where Commander Makara has her imprisoned. The Battlecruiser lays mines which drift towards the planet as it retreats. Captain Halley calls X-Bomber and comes to meet them on Malphane. He explains that Lamia is F-01 and is a princess from the planet Esper. At her birth it was foretold that she would possess a tremendous power in the year 3000. The Imperial Alliance then attacked Esper to try to seize F-01 and the elders of the planet fled. Hearing of the research institute on Mars they sent Lamia there to be cared for by humans. Doctor Benn introduces Shiro to Halley as the son of the man who found Lamia. Halley can't join them in fighting the Alliance as he cannot expose his protectors in the Collinian Star Cluster to the Alliance. Halley explains that he and Lamia are to become one so he can guide her. He explains how the pendant has awoken some of Lamia's powers and communicates with her discovering she is in the Aurelian rainbow coloured star cluster, but the Alliance attach her to the Laser Memory Dissimilator to contain her powers. X-Bomber tries to trace her location as the Skull leaves for safety. X-Bomber launches from Malphane but find themselves obstructed by the mine field which further damages the ship. They attempt to detonate the mines using Laser Torpedoes but the damage proved to much for the ship causing it to crash onto Malphane again....

Good episode: a gun battle in X-Bomber to open with, some answers in the middle, a fab space sequence with the minefield at the end and another wonderful crash sequence. The answers we get from Halley fill in a lot of the gaps in Lamia's past and there's a particularly interesting reaction from Halley when he's told Shiro is the son of the man that found Lamia: "So you're the one...." As well as knowing everything about Lamia, Halley would seem to know something about Shiro too.....

Captain Orion is a lecherous so and so in this episode when confronted with Lamia "what a pretty little thing, how old are you child?" Ugh.... Lamia is attached to the Laser Memory Dissimilator to limit her powers, last seen being used to interrogate Captain Carter in episode 2.

We get to see X-Bomber's yellow space suits again, hanging in the airlock as the Termoid soldiers come aboard. The weapon used to destroy some of the mines needs some comment: it's described as Laser Torpedoes, and looks a lot like the Imperial Alliance Laser Torpedo effect. However where as previously (episode 8) X-Bomber's Laser Torpedoes were four converging blasts from the wing tips here it's a pair of blasts from the top of the neck, previously the location of the blue beam cannons seen in episode 4.

This episode was the first one on US Video Volume 6: Lost in Space and oh look Lamia's been kidnapped! That's the clincher to the arguement I've been highlighting for the last few episodes: the covers and titles for volume 6 (which seem to show a scene from episode 14, on volume 5) and Volume 5: Kidnapped have been accidentally swapped in pre production!. A brief excerpt from this episode, the meeting between X-Bomber's crew and Captain Halley was used on the UK compilation video tape Space Quest for F-01 and the full episode is on Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 3 where a brief snippet of the program's ad cap can be heard at 8:44 into the episode. Sadly the Ad Caps don't appear in full elsewhere on the DVD. I'll be returning to what else is missing from the DVDs at a later stage....

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

15 X-Bomber Dies on Planet Malphane!

"We must take the girl Lamia away from X-Bomber somehow"

Episode 15: X-Bomber Dies on Planet Malphane!
UK Video: -
US Video: Volume 5: Kidnapped
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 3

Lamia is contacted by Halley telepathically over the vast distance of space. Her response is detected by X-Bomber's crew and she insists that they should make for a planet which Halley is on. The Imperial Alliance believe they have tracked the Skull to the Collusion Cluster and decide to intercept X-Bomber on it's way. Lee notices the differences in Lamia but Hercules dismisses it as her being distressed by her encounter with the Skull. Shiro believes the beam fired at Lamia has triggered her powers and Doctor Benn agrees. Lamia detects the Alliance warship approaching but Hercules dismisses her concerns and storms out. After he leaves the Battlecruiser is detected by X-Bomber's instruments but Hercules refuses to return to the bridge. The ship is shaken by the Alliance's assault and the Oxygen system severely damaged causing the crew to collapse. PPA activates the auxiliary system but finds that's damaged too and attempts to repair it. Lamia & Kirara come to the bridge and find the unconscious crew. Captain Halley contacts her and tells her to set a course for the planet Malphane. Lamia manages to land X-Bomber by herself but Commander Makara demands her surrender as the Imperial Alliance battlecruiser traps them. PPA refuses to let her surrender and gets her to help treat the crew. When Lamia does not surrender Makara has fighters attack X-Bomber. Lamia and Kirara operate the turret lasers and repel the fighters. Makara recalls the remaining fighters and has the carriers land ground vehicles crewed by Termoids who start cutting their way through X-Bomber's hull....

Lamia's sudden telepathic powers emerge from nowhere but Shiro's assumption that they've been triggered by the energy blast fired at the Lamia's pendant the previous episode would seem correct. Hercules is especially sceptical here, but there's little to explain quite why especially as he has seen the lengths the Alliance have gone to to seize Lamia in previous episodes.

Weapons: turret lasers for the 7th time, but it's the first time we see them used by someone other than Shiro & Hercules as Lamia & Kirara use them. This isn't the last time we'll see Kirara's gunnery skills either.

I have to ask how is Lamia breathing OK in such a thin atmosphere in X-Bomber? Is this another change as a result of the exposure to the ray Halley fired at her.

Barry Hercules is voiced by actor Constantine Gregory. He's not got many roles you'll have seen him in, the most prominent being as the Computer Store Manager in James Bond: Goldeneye. He was also in CI5: The New Professionals, Space Race & Spooks. I'm not 100% sure but I believe he also provides Kirara's grunting noises for Star Fleet.

This episode's Japanese title is X-Bomber Dies on Planet M! None of the episode appears on the UK Compilation tapes but it is on the US Video Volume 5: Kidnapped which we've got to the end of without seeing a kidnapping.....

Monday, 5 November 2012

14 Lamia, Girl Of Destiny

"If one of you wears the special token have that person transferred to our ship"

Episode 14: Lamia, Girl Of Destiny
UK Video: Space Quest for F-01
US Video: Volume 5: Kidnapped
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 3

X-Bomber searches for the Skull, but Shiro is showing remorse for killing Captain Carter. The Imperial Alliance find the Skull but don't attack, waiting for X-Bomber. The Skull contacts X-Bomber asking if one of them wears the special token that they should be transferred to the Skull. Doctor Benn, suspecting another trap, refuses. Lamia shows Shiro how her pendant resists a laser and persuades him to take her to the Skull using a space chopper. X-Bomber follows at a distance, with Hercules angry that Shiro has risked Lamia's life. The Alliance sights the space shuttle and prepares to launch a mission to capture Lamia. Lamia wonders if the Skull was the ship that took her to Mars as they find the ship hanging there in space as the Cruiser launches three drone craft carriers. Shiro & Lamia go the the Skull where they are greeted by it's commander Captain Halley who fires a weapon at Lamia's pendant. The pendant absorbs the energy into her body. She dons a spacesuit to transfer to the Skull but Imperial Fighters attack and she is knocked into space. Shiro pursues her while Halley opens fire on the fighters. Orion orders the Skull destroyed. Shiro rescues Lamia from fighter that has seized her but more pursue them and they are only saved when Lee arrives in Leg track and destroys the fighters. Lamia & Shiro return to X-Bomber and Shiro & Lamia are taken to sickbay. X-Bomber transfers power to it's shields and uses the main laser blast to destroy the fighters, and then attacks the carriers with only Captain Orion's escaping. Lee return to X-Bomber as Hercules punches Shiro for risking Lamia's life. In Sickbay Lamia dreams of Halley and hears him telling her not to die, before waking to see Shiro who is bundled out of sickbay by Kirara.

Finally after nine episode pursuing it (OK 7 really) X-Bomber catches up with the Skull. Twice since the initial contact the Skull has fled from X-Bomber and they're rather cautious here too as is X-Bomber having been tricked by a fake Skull once already. But thanks to Lamia's determination contact between the is finally made and we get to meet Captain Halley, who's voice we first heard way back in episode 5. I'm pretty certain that Garrick Hagon, who played Captain Carter, is voicing him here which makes sense as Carter's episodes were in the first half of the series and all of Halley's, bar the initial message in 5, are in the second. However in Japan the two roles are voiced by different actors.

The opening scene in this episode bothers me, it doesn't really fit and feels like it belongs in previous episode closing events there. Hercules is playing his guitar at the start.... it hasn't come from nowhere, he was seen bringing it with him when the pilots arrived at Moonbase in episode 1.

There's some decent character work in this episode: Hercules, who has shown an interest in Lamia all along, is angry at Shiro for endangering her. But when a pilot needs to rescue them it's Lee that Doctor Benn sends instead. This then gives us the only appearance of a lone Dai-X fighter, Leg track in an episode by itself. Yes Shiro flies Braincon solo against Captain Carter in episode 12, but you saw the other two fighters earlier in the episode.

We see some new kit in this episode, the space chopper that Shiro flies Lamia to the Skull on. Effectively it's a space motorbike with an enclosed side car! And it looks very silly.... at least until the pod on the side gets blown off later in the episode! We also get to see Lamia in a spacesuit for the first time, a red and grey affair with a similar helmet to Shiro's original spacesuit helmet.

X-Bomber weapons: 6th use of the turret lasers, and 4th use of the Laser Blast (previously seen in episodes 2, 5 & 7)

There's a lot of the original music from episode 5 reused here: obviously the Skull's theme but also the "searching" music, originally used when the pilots hut for Captain Carter, as Shiro & Lamia try to find the Skull.

Since there's a solo role for Lee in this episode it's probably a good point to look at Mark Rolston who voices him. This is his first credited television role but if you're a science fiction/genre fan the chances are you'll have seen him in something. Probably his most recognisable role is his first in 1986 where he played Private Drake in Aliens. He then has a lengthy career in television and films in the US appearing in Star Trek: The Next Generation (Lt. Walter Pierce in Eye of the Beholder), Babylon 5 (Karl Mueller in The Quality of Mercy), Star Trek: Enterprise (Captain Magh in The Augments / Kuroda Lor-ehn in Canamar) and 24 (Bruce Foxton in Day 3). IMDB has an amusing coincidence in consecutive entries on his CV: In Cold Case he played Ari Gordon while in CSI: Miami he was FBI Agent Glen Cole Gordon Cole was of course Dale Cooper's boss in Twin Peaks.

This is the first episode of the series I didn't see on it's initial broadcast: the series had switched to Sunday mornings and for the next six weeks I had to rely on friends at school to tell me what had happened. Likewise I would have missed this episode on it's repeat transmission but for one thing: it was broadcast in the first week of the 1984 school summer holidays when there was no Sunday school at church. So this week and for the next five weeks I caught episodes I had missed on their initial transmission and was a very happy boy.

The episode features, nearly in full, on the UK compilation tape Space Quest for F-01 and as the middle episode on the US Video Volume 5: Kidnapped. As of yet nobody has really been kidnapped in that video tape but the image of Lamia plunging through space as she falls from the Skull does rather look like the cover to US Volume 6: Lost in Space..... No, I'm not done with this one yet!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

13 Battle To The Death: X Bomber Vs. the Imperial Alliance

"I didn't expect to be eating soup on New Year's Day at the far end of the Universe"

Episode 13: Battle To The Death: X Bomber Vs. the Imperial Alliance
UK Video:
US Video: Volume 5: Kidnapped
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 3

Shiro, Hercules & Lee spend New Years Day together eating soup together and reflecting on their time together & Captain Carter.

Ladies and Gentleman: My least favourite episode of Star Fleet. By some distance. And for a variety of reasons:

Firstly it's another clip show, just 3 episodes after the last one. AGGGGGH! And what's worse is that it reuses some of the same footage. How short a memory do they think we have? The previous clip show, episode 9, at least gave us The Imperial Master and his home planet in the original footage, here it's just the three pilots sitting around and you only see them briefly....

Then there's the opening narration which indicates this episode is taking place on New Year's Day..... OK. The problem here is the opening narration for episode 1 makes it clear that the year then is 2999 and later episodes make it crystal clear that events of the closing episode is centred round the dawning of the year 3000. So how have we got another New Year's day in between?

My gripe about different dialogue from the actual episodes repeats itself here as per episode 9. Here a far worse error is made. The footage used is:

Captain Carter training Shiro from episode 5
The Imperial Alliance invasion, X-Bomber launch & shooting down from episode 1
Lamia driving out to X-Bomber from episode 2
X-Bomber crashing from episode 1
More driving & the laser blast from episode 2
X-Bomber take off & X-Impulse from episode 3
X-Bomber rendezvousing with the transport cruisers & arriving at Pluto from episode 4
The pilots search for Captain Carter, Lamia going to the Skull, being rescued by the pilots, The Skull being attacked by the Alliance & defended by X-Bomber using the Laser blasts from episode 5
X-Bomber at Jupiter & Dai-X destroying the base from episode 4
X-Bomber sucked into the black hole from the end of episode 6
X-Bomber attacked in the black hole and defending itself with laser blasts & the X-Impulse from episode 7
The Sea of Trees & Captain Carter from episode 10
Laser torpedoes setting off the volcano from episode 8
X-Bomber breaking free from the trees in episode 10
X-Bomber attacking with laser torpedoes from episode 8
Shiro shooting Captain Carter in episode 12
We're jumping around all over the place with the events of episode 4 taking place after episode 5 and episodes 8 & 10 merged together into one. I suppose you could put it down to the pilot's memory having jumbled things up but....

I think perhaps this episode lacks a bit of focus in it's flashbacks too: it's a sprawling mess taking in brief snippets of most of the first 12 episodes. Episode 6 is represented by a shot that might as well been ripped out the recap in 7 and episode 9 is completely missing but seeing as that's a clip show set on the Imperial Master's planet and the pilots weren't present perhaps that's understandable. Episode 11 is missing as well: the only reason for it's absence I can think of was it was so recent and has the Dai-X smashing things so is rather similar to episode 4 and Episode 12 only has the shooting scene.

Here's what I'd have done instead, focusing on Captain Carter:

Opened with the training sequence from episode 5
The Alliance attacking Pluto in episode 1 and Carter seemingly killed
Pilots searching for Carter on Pluto in 5
"but what we didn't know was Captain Carter was a prisoner of the Imperial Alliance"
Interrogation scene from episode 2
Lamia flying out to the Skull, being rescued, Skull being attacked and fleeing from 5
"while searching for the Skull we received a transmission that lured us to the Sea of trees where we met the Alliance's new Commander"
Sea of Trees from 10
"The New Commander seemed familiar...."
War Planet conversation with Carter & Dai-X battle from 11
"We realised it was our old tutor Captain Carter"
Deserter, duel, crash & shooting from 12 Finish with reflection
In fact the end of it is part of what's wrong with the episode, it sort of ends abruptly without any cut back to Shiro, Hercules & Lee to reflect on events.

Shiro provides most of the narration for this episode and he's played by actor Jay Benedict who I definitely have seen in other productions and I'll wager you have too. Sadly two of his most high profile appearances ended up on the cutting room floor: Firstly he appeared as Deak in the Tosche Station scenes in Star Wars which also featured Garrick Hagon (Captain Carter in Star Fleet) as Biggs. He's also the first of two Star Fleet actors to appear in Aliens and although his role as Newt's Dad, and the first Face Hugger victim on the colony was cut from the theatrical edition it was reinstated for the special edition. He was later Alan Kalanak in the 2001 Jonathan Creek Christmas special Satan's Chimney (alongside recently deceased Doctor Who actress Mary Tamm) has had a recurring role in Foyle's War and recently appeared in The Dark Knight Rises.

No I think the real reason I look back on this episode with such disdain is that it was the last regular episode of Star Fleet I saw from the first run on the television. From it's start till this episode it had run on Saturday mornings and I'd seen every one. With episode 14 it moved to Sunday mornings which meant I, as part of a church going non video owning family, would not get to see it. And what's worse the trailer for episode 14 made it look fab! The Skull is back and we get to meet it's Captain? wow, finally some answers and I wouldn't get to see them :-(. For the next episode of Star Fleet that I actually saw in the first run see episode 20.

This is another episode whose title I've modified from the Japanese name which was Battle To The Death: X Bomber Vs. the Gelma Army. It's the first Japanese episode to use the new credits sequences, on which the UK end titles were modelled. The opening sequence can be seen on YouTube and runs from 1:11 to 2:22. The closing sequence is the same visuals as the opening and to the same music as the original closing theme heard from 2:22 on the video.

Obviously there's no reason to include it on the UK compilation tapes but it's the opening episode on the US Video Volume 5: Kidnapped....... And now I see that cover & title for the first time in AGES I'm wondering if the US video distributor may have made a slight mistake with the covers for volumes 5 & 6. For why see the next episode & episode 16.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

12 Our Mortal Enemy Is Captain Carter

"You are now our enemy, an enemy that must die!"

Episode 12: Our Mortal Enemy Is Captain Carter
UK Video:
US Video: Volume 4: The Search for the Skull
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 2

Lamia sits with Kirara on X-Bomber's bridge wondering where they came from. Shiro, Hercules & Lee are now convinced that it was Captain Carter who was commanding the Alliance forces recently. Alliance fighter aproach X-Bomber pursuing one of their own, a Termoid deserter. The pilots rescue him in the Dai-X fighters and bring him aboard X-Bomber. The Alliance identify the soldier as crewman 0171 from the carrier. Captain Orion blames Captain Carter but Carter tells him he is emulating the wooden horse of Troy by having someone working from the inside. He is taken to the sickbay for treatment but awakens and captures Lamia taking her to the engine room as a hostage and planting charges to destroy the ship. The pilots begin to cut their way in. As the Termoid prepares to detonate the bombs he is jumped by Kirara giving the pilots enough time to gain access. The Termoid is scanned in sickbay and a bomb is found embedded in him so he is ejected from the ship in a capsule before it explodes. The pilots become convinced Captain Carter briefed the Termoid and Shiro challenges Captain Cartern to a dual. Shiro flies Brain Com to attack Captain Carter flying an Imperial Alliance astrofighter. Shiro finds himself unable to fire on his former tutor, but overcomes his reservations and shoots Captain Carter's Fighter down onto an asteroid. Shiro lands Brain Com and ventures out onto the surface in a spacesuit where he finds the injured Carter lying on the rocks. The Alliance lobster control devices falls off him and Captain Carter regains control of himself. Seeing his bionic arm he smashes it infrustration at what the Alliance have done to him and made him do. He commands Shiro to kill him for what he has done and when Shuiro refuses he counts to 3 forcing Shiro to open fire on him, killing him. With his dying words he congratulates Shiro on his good shooting.

A game of two halves: we open with the Imperial Deserter coming aboard X-Bomber and holding Lamia hostage. We finally get to see a Termoid up close but as this plot ppoint is over in half an episode it doesn't get any time to develop. Maybe having the traitor on board for a few episodes skulking in the background before revealing itself may have given this thread a bit more substance. The second half of the episode is taken up with the Shiro/Carter dual. Carter's been around as an enemy officer for 3 episodes but he was hardly in the second one and just a brief appearance during the first part of this one. All over in three episodes.... I wonder if it might have been worth extending the storyline for longer, six episodes say, giving the mystery of who the Alliance's new captain is more time to play out. And so the saga of Captain Carter comes to an end as pre-empted twice previously in the series in episodes 5 & 11 with flashbacks and dream sequences of the two shooting at each other.

Hardware: after looking at the same Imperial Alliance fighter designs for eleven episodes we get to see not one but two variants in this episode: The Deserter is flying a fighter with an extra set of tubes on the outside of it's laser guns while Carter's fighter has a different canopy and a longer nose. We never see what happened to the Deserter's fighter: it could well be on X-Bomber still. Carter's menawhile gets wrecked on the Asteroid.... Carter seems to be breathing the Asteroid's armosphere ok after the crash but Shiro puts his spacesuit on: have the Alliance augmented his body in other ways other than the arm which he destorys here? On the other hand there is some confusaion later in the series as to who can breate what when. Shiro's spacesuit is a little different to when we last saw it: he's wearing a plain silver helmet which is now missing the red coloured flashes it had when we last saw it in episode 5.

I am wondering if there's a little Star Trek referrence in the deserter's given identity number 0171, a numerical anagram of 1701, The Enterprise's registry number....

On it's Japanese broadcast this was the last episode to use the original X-Bomber opening credits, which you can see here at the start of video and the original closing credits, which can be seen from 2:22.

I saw this episode on it's first transmission and I'm pretty sure I remember seeing the LWT repeat in 1984 the Sunday after I got back from my camping trip in Wales (see episode 9 for the camping trip's other impact) when I was too shattered to go to church that day. It's Japanese name is Our Mortal Enemy Is Captain Custer, using Carter's Japanese name. None of this episode appears on a UK video tape but it appears on US video Volume 4: The Search for the Skull.

This is the last episode of Star Fleet to include new music, in particular the death theme over Captain Carter's final moments. The incidental music, as well as the opening and closing titles was provided by keyboard player Paul Bliss, who has played with numeroud bands over the years including The Moody Blues. For many years fans wanted a Star Fleet music album and finally in 2009 a CD was released which is available at You can hear Paul Bliss interviewed on Star Fleet - The Complete Series DVD Disc 3

At this point we are halfway through the UK run of Star Fleet.

Friday, 2 November 2012

11 Farewell, Eternal Battlefield!

"At night they return and begin again: they fight endlessly"

Episode 11: Farewell, Eternal Battlefield!
UK Video: The Thalian Space Wars
US Video: Volume 4: The Search for the Skull
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 2

Shiro dreams of Captain Carter, a nightmare which ends with Carter shooting him, and is late for his duty shift. As an ailing John Lee retires to bed, Shiro tells Dr Benn that he thought the new Alliance commander was his old instructor Captain Carter and finds that Hercules agrees with him. X-bomber receives distress call from a nearby planet and sends Dai-X to investigate. They find a ruined city on the planet surrounded by the remains of a battlefield with destroyed and half buried tanks and fighters. They trace the distress call and find a young woman imprisoned in a cellar in a spider's web with an iron mask over her face. The pilots free her, killing the spider guarding her. She tells them she is called princess Keeli and they take her to the ruins of the palace. She tells them the war on her planet has not ended. Many years ago the Imperial Alliance attacked the planet without warning. Commander Makara had her imprisoned in an underground chamber and had the planet cursed to be an eternal battlefield by night. The tanks and fighters are sleeping at the moment and will awake soon and start fighting again. An Imperial Alliance carrier arrives and they are spoken to by the new Alliance Commander who refuses to identify himself. He demands Lamia handed over and the search for the sailing ship The Skull terminated. He sends fighters to attack the tanks and fighters on the ground bringing them back to life. While princess Keeli shelters in the dungeon the carrier leaves. The pilots return to Dai-X defending themselves against the reactivated tanks and fighters. When the individual fighters are overwhelmed with Mainbody damaged they form the Dai-x robot and destroy the tanks & fighters, bringing peace to the planet. Keeli returns to the surface and thanks them, disappearing and leaving just a rose behind. The pilots return to X-Bomber in the Dai-X wondering if Princess Keeli was ever really there.

Hurrah! Finally a second Dai-X robot episode! We're at episode 11, nearly half way through the series and, barring the flashbacks in the clip show, we've not seen the Dai-X robot for SEVEN episodes, since episode 4. And it'll be another 7 (ish) before it's back again. After that however it's almost a constant presence.

We get to see the pilot's bunk room for the first time in this episode..... and an interesting question is raised: what is Shiro doing sleeping in his helmet? We're then treated to an attempt to show a puppet with a cold as John Lee blows little bubbles from his nose while in bed! Gross.

This is the first episode so far not to feature Captain Orion, and Commander Makara is only in it very briefly in flashback. In fact the Imperial Alliance presence in the present is minimal, just a brief visit from Captain Carter, commanding a carrier for the first time and accompanied by the most prominent use of his theme to indicate his presence. And you could argue that his presence is unnecessary as Princess Keeli seems pretty sure that the tanks and fighters would come to life again anyway at night so wouldn't have needed the Imperial Alliance to wake them up.

It's nice to see some new hardware in the show: the last new vehicle we saw was the Skull in episode five. Here we get the Weevil like tanks with glowing eyes and the Pterodactyl fighters. Keeli describes her planet as peaceful so I'd always assumed that his was specialist Imperial Alliance equipment used to assault the planet..... now I'm not so sure.

Last time we saw the Dai-X robot it assembled in the air before landing to fight but this time we see it fighting in the air too. It uses just the missiles and the Super Cannon again but this time the bolts from the super cannon are pink. There is a last in this episode too: It's the final time we see Leg Track's tank mode.

Then there's Princess Keeli herself. Is she real? Is she a ghost? We just don't know, she seems real enough until the very end of the episode when she turns into a rose. There's been a vague background plot for a while of both Shiro & Hercules harbouring affections for Lamia so it's Lee's turn here to fall for the beautiful girl. I'm reasonably sure, just like Lamia, that Keeli is voiced by Liza Ross who in real life is the wife of Garrick Hagon, who plays Captain Carter and others in Star Fleet. I've got two of her film appearances on DVD: Tomorrow Never Dies (where she plays Mary Golson) and Batman (where she's Mom opposite Garrick Hagan's Dad). She's not had many television roles, At Home with the Braithwaites as Dr. Ornstein being the most recurring one as an onscreen actress, but has performed opposite her husband as a voice artist in many radio and dubbing productions including several Dirk Maggrs productions in the 1990s.

Footage from this episode was used in the promotional video for Brian May's Star Fleet Project a cover of the song used as the end titles. Over the years the existence of this has led to many people believing that Brian May composed the song and indeed the music for Star Fleet. He didn't, as we'll see next episode. I saw the video for this song once on an ITV Saturday morning show (Saturday Starship?) and then forgot about it until I found a copy on record years later..... which has long since gone, leant to a friend who kindly never returned it! The video can be found on Star Fleet - The Complete Series DVD Disc 3 but is horribly framed instead of appearing in full screen.

As well as appearing on the US video Volume 4: The Search for the Skull, this episode is the latest episode of Star Fleet to be included on the UK Compilation The Thalian Space Wars. The episode is mostly complete just cutting all footage featuring Captain Carter although a small amount of his dialogue broadcast over loud speaker from the carrier remains. However it isn't the last episode on the tape as the order is a little odd. The episodes on the tape are (in order of appearance):

1 Scramble, X-Bomber (until just before X-Bomber is shot down)
5 The Mysterious Ship Skull! (from the point the Black Hole is detected)
6 X-Bomber Goes Forth!
7 Mortal Combat In The Gravity Graveyard!
8 An Attack Beyond Tears!
11 Farewell, Eternal Battlefield!
4 The Transport Fleet Annihilated!

Footage from episodes 2 The Gelma Fleet's Surprise Attack! & 3 Find F-01! feature on the other UK compilation Space Quest for F-01 while episode 4 features again with episode 5 The Mysterious Ship Skull! on the The Thorn/EMI Video.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

10 The Drifting Galaxy

"Put me in command and I guarantee the destruction of X-Bomber"

Episode 10: The Drifting Galaxy
UK Video:
US Video: Volume 4: The Search for the Skull
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 2

As X-Bomber travels through space Shiro wonders where the Skull is now. On the Alliance Battlecruiser Commander Makara berates Captain Orion again when a new officer arrives on the bridge: the brainwashed & cybernetically enhanced Captain Carter. He takes over the operational command of the Battlecruiser to Captain Orion's disgust as being sidelined. On X-Bomber Lee discovers he is no longer able to contact Star Fleet command because they are now too far away, but they do pick up a signal from The Skull summoning them to the planet Zeenith, a green forested world where the find the Skull floating on a sea of trees. The Skull instructs X-Bomber to land but when they do the Skull doesn't respond and vine tendrils reach up from the forest, attaching themselves to X-Bomber. The Skull summons Lamia but Doctor Ben is suspicious. The new Imperial Alliance Commander, his face obscured, appears on the monitor screen and berates X-Bomber. X-Bomber tries to launch but is trapped by the vines. The Skull fades in front of them and the Imperial Cruiser emerges from behind a waterfall. The new Commander demands Lamia is handed over to them and she agrees, but Doctor Ben stops Lamia from leaving in the airlock. The Imperial Cruiser attacks X-Bomber, but Doctor Benn realises that the attack is freeing them. X-Bomber tries to launch again but still is tangled in the vines. On the Alliance Battlecruiser Captain Carter orders the Delta Laser used, the Imperial Alliance's ultimate weapon, but before it can be fired the Imperial Battlecruiser is assaulted by the real Skull, diverting the Cruiser's attention. X-Bomber finally escapes as does the Skull which is unsuccessfully pursued by the Imperial Cruiser. Commander Makara is impressed with Captain Carter's tactics but the sidelined Captain Orion isn't. On X-Bomber Shiro wonders where Commander Makara was during the attack and is reminded of something by the new commander's voice...

This episode is the first of three where X-Bomber is pitted against Captain Carter, the former tutor of Shiro, Hercules & Lee. Captured by the Imperial Alliance in episode 1 and interrogated in episode 2 we've not seen him since, except in flashbacks in episodes 5 & 9. He's now brainwashed by the ultra solar rays and turned into a Cyborg with his left arm replaced by an Imperial Alliance claw, similar to Captain Orion's, and a Lobster like device covering the right side of his head and his right eye. Oddly his left eye is still covered by half of his sunglasses..... Cool maybe, but not exactly practical. All the Alliance officers seen so far appear to have cyborg parts and an eye device: Makara has a cyborg left arm & hand with a face, which speaks in a male voice, over her left eye while Orion has a cyborg right arm & hand, a cyborg left arm & claw and a Caterpillar like eye piece which goes back over his helmet. Captain Carter's theme music, last heard in episode 1 as the pilots decide to fly X-Bomber in his memory, returns as well being heard as X-Bomber struggles to escape from the sea of trees.

The Sea of Trees is some lovely model work again in the series as is the shot as the Imperial Cruiser emerges from under the Waterfall. But imagine how big that waterfall must be to conceal a ship that size! There are some amusing shots of X-Bomber shedding the last of the vines as it takes flight at the end of the episode.

The only weapons X-Bomber uses this episode are it's turret lasers (6th occurrence) but we're nearly treated to the Imperial Alliance's ultimate weapon: the Delta Laser that emerges from the launch bay of the Alliance Cruiser.

Yes, PPA's voice is still wrong here. And yes, there's those Yellow spacesuits again in the airlock that nobody's worn yet. Since we've last seen them it's become apparent yellow might be X-Bomber's colour: it's also used on Lee's headset (those at Star Fleet command are white) and PPA.... Actually PPA is Moonbase personnel which used yellow inn the design of the main building.... is the yellow equipment inherited from X-Bomber's home base?

I haven't passed any comment on the episode titles yet but "The Drifting Galaxy" ? What relevance has that to the episode? Surely something like "Trapped in the Sea of Trees" would be better. And again the title of the US Video "The Search for the Skull": there's not a lot of Skull searching going on here. In fact US Volume 4 contains all 3 of the Captain Carter episodes on one tape (what I wouldn't have given for that in the UK) so maybe something like "Attack of the Traitor Captain" would have been better? Sadly this episode appears on none of the UK compilation tapes.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

09 The Targeted Captain!

"Commander Makara, that's the entrance to the execution chamber"

Episode 9: The Targeted Captain!
UK Video: -
US Video: Volume 3: Space Lava of Death
DVD: Star Fleet - The Complete Series - Disc 2

Commander Makara & Captain Orion return to the Imperial Master's Fortress Base in the Thalian Zone. There they are put on trial for their failure to capture F-01 with execution their fate if found guilty. As Commander Makara tries to explain the Imperial Master appears before them and projects images of the battles they have fought in. He shows their attack on Pluto and interrogation of Captain Carter followed by their attack on Earth and shooting down of X-Bomber. But X-Bomber shoots down the carriers with it's laser blast. When the Imperial Cruiser goes to SF command and attacks X-Bomber launches and use X-Impulse to damage the battlecruiser. The Imperial Master blames Commander Makara for underestimating X-Bomber. He shows them the asteroid belt ambush, and praises Captain Orion's bold tactic of ambushing X-Bomber at the Methane Sea, but shows them how the base on Jupiter was destroyed by the Dai-X. Commander Makara blames defeat on the Dai-X and says that the Imperial Master's intelligence system should have warned them of it, which enrages the Imperial Master. Commander Makara tell him that she is convinced Lamia is the F-01 and that she has a new plan to capture her. The Imperial Master tells them that they have just six more months to find F-01.

Ladies and Gentlemen: the clip show. Or rather the first Clip Show. Clip shows can serve a function, beyond their cheapness. There's relatively little new footage here but what there is introduces us to the Imperial Master's base for the first time, a structure so huge that the Battlecruiser, which dwarfs X-Bomber, fits into a tiny little bit at the the bottom of the base, which really gives you some idea of the scale of the structure.... the only thing like it I can think of is seeing the Enterprise fly into the Star Base in Star Trek III. Inside the Master's base is a nightmare landscape of desert, bones and a Guillotine (an illusion, like the projected images?) which he appears towering over with the previous stories from episodes 1-4 retold in images in the sky. Here the images follow what happens in pretty much the correct order but now Captain Carter's interrogation now takes place en route from Pluto to Earth rather than after X-Bomber's crash. This is nothing compared to some of the liberties taken during the next clip show in Episode 13. Yes, two clip shows in five episodes!

What's interesting here is that a different dub script is being employed for the English speaking voice actors to that which was used in the original episodes 1-4 so you get some differences in lines being delivered. Similarly the same backing music isn't always used behind the scenes most notably as X-Bomber approaches the Imperial Base while flying over the Methane Sea.

As well as introducing the Imperial Master properly and his home planet this episode places a time limit on Commander Makara's mission adding some urgency to what they're doing. It also reminds us of the existence of Captain Carter and that he's an Alliance Prisoner, something that will become very important shortly. And by spending nearly half the episode concentrating on reviewing the Jupiter battle we get a good look at the Dai-X robot which we haven't seen since.

Like the previous episodes PPA's voice isn't right here and I'm at a loss to say for definite who's voicing it. Likewise Commander Makara's male voice, heard from the moulded face covering her left eye, when she addresses the Imperial Master, is identified in the cast list and I can't work out who it is. The Imperial Master, on his first lengthy appearance after two brief visits to the Battlecruiser Bridge as a hologram, is played by Jacob Witkin, another of the Star Fleet cast to be missing a Wikipedia entry. In a lengthy CV the only thing I've seen him in is The Professionals Season 3 episode Stop Over. Going to have to dig that out to watch now..... There's a few names I recognise in that: Morris Perry, W Morgan Sheppard and Alec Linstead, all with Doctor Who connections.

This is the first episode we've seen not to be included on any UK compilation video, for fairly obvious reasons. (although, obviously, footage from it shows up on other tapes) It can be found on the US video Volume 3: Space Lava of Death. I'm reasonably sure I saw this episode on it's 1984 repeat: I was due to go on a school trip to Wales in the summer and one Sunday morning they took us out on a practice hike through Richmond Park to break our brand new walking boots in. The walk was early and finished c11:30 so I missed church and managed to get home in time to see most of this episode. I'm pretty sure it was the first episode in the repeat run I saw.....