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.

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