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.

1 comment:

  1. I need to do a bit more research (in my copious free time!), but I get the idea that the "ghost episode" is quite a common inclusion in anime series. "Tenchi Universe" (1995) episode 18 ("No Need for a Ghost!") is the best example I can think of - in that series, it served as a "breather" (or a diversion, if you like) before the series story arc went back into high gear.

    Come to think of it, this episode almost acts a bit like that for "Star Fleet"...