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.

No comments:

Post a comment