Friday, July 21, 2017

007 Blogathon - James Bond Jr.

International super-spy.  Crazy gadgets.  Intrigue and suspense.  Gratuitous sex and romance.  All the ingredients of a massively successful film franchise. For adults.  But how do you make it kid-friendly?  You turn James Bond into a high schooler, cut down on the violence, and turn the gadgetry up to eleven. 

Such is the formula for James Bond Jr., a 90s cartoon centered on younger versions of a number of 007 characters.  The show's main character, the titular hero and James Bond's nephew, fights the evil S.C.U.M. (Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem) while going to the prestigious Warfield Academy with the grandchildren of many of Bond's colleagues.  Even though he's considered the new generation of super-spy, he's often pitted against his uncle's villains, including Jaws, Oddjob, Nick Nack, and Goldfinger, all working under the command of Scumlord, a criminal mastermind hidden in shadow throughout the whole show.

The show take a number of steps to update the movies and bring in a younger audience, to varying degrees of success.  The gadgets, mostly invented by IQ, Q's grandson, are levels above Bond's, including a car that can turn into a plane and a watch with a built-in tracking device, hidden saw blade, and retractable grappling hook, among other things.  The car it turns out is a gift directly from 007 himself, though it looked a lot different from the flying car in The Man with the Golden Gun, that's for sure.

The recurring villains from the movies have also been updated, though I wouldn't call it an improvement.  Jaws's lower face has been completely replaced with a mechanical mandible, and Oddjob's suit have been traded in for wraparound shades and a garish red and purple tracksuit, fitted with a giant gold necklace (the hat remains, at least).  For others that make appearances, they have their own kids, like Goldie Finger, Goldfinger's daughter.
Missing from the movies of course is all the deaths.  The romantic interests have also been toned down significantly, and while the two female leads have crushes on Jr, he doesn't reciprocate at all.  Numerous other females with punny names show up throughout the series as well, filling the role of "Bond Girls," but again, he doesn't show any interest.  It seems attending classes and thwarting SCUM is the only interest he has.
The villainous schemes are your typical cartoon fair - which fit perfectly in with 007's story.  Searching for El Dorado with seismic vibrations and melting giant gold statues with a laser, that kind of thing.  And it's no surprise that the similarities are this big, considering the show was made in collaboration with United Artists and Danjaq, the license holders of the movies.  The only big difference is how big a role the supporting cast has, usually taking part in the whole episode or, at the very least, coming to Jr's rescue.

Overall, it's a passable effort, introducing a new generation into one of the longest running and most famous film series.  The animation's decent, the designs are ugly but fitting with the times (this is when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was going strong, after all), and the cast does a good job, though Corey Burton's English accent is pretty horrendous. My only real problem with it is the kid's name.  If James Bond is his uncle, how is he James Bond Jr?  We may never know.

This post was made as part of  maddylovesherclassicfilms's 007 Blogathon.  Make sure to check out all the thrilling espionage and witty one-liners there.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Top 5 Fan Theories

I talked last year about how much I loved the idea of crossovers between the various cartoons I used to watch.  While the Revolutions comic event by IDW comics is far removed from the actual cartoons and the quality of the crossover can be debated, there was already something that linked the shows during their original run.  Hector Ramirez.
The news reporter made appearances in GI Joe, Jem and the Holograms, and most notably in Inhumanoids. Transformers had a reporter matching his description, though he wasn't named.  By showing up in all these cartoons, it conceivably connects all four shows in one universe.  Obviously there are a lot of things keeping them from taking place on the same planet, but still it's pretty cool to figure out how some shows could share a world.  So I'm looking at a few other odd connections that could be made between completely different cartoons.

1. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe/She-Ra and Starcom - Queen Marlena was in the US Space Force.
Prince Adam and Princess Adora's mother, Queen Marlena is shown through the series to have been an Earth astronaut whose ship went off course and caused her to crash on Eternia.  It's not a far reach to make a connection to Starcom, which focuses on space travel and exploration.  While Starcom does have a main villain in the Dark Emperor and his evil empire, many of episodes centered around the Starcom pilots flying to different planets and just kinda looking around.  Marlena could easily have fit in with their crews and during a solo mission, her ship could have been damaged, leading her to crash on Eternia.

2. Inspector Gadget and COPS - Inspector Gadget was either a predecessor or successor to COPS.
Considering the wide array of abilities through out the COPS characters and Inspector Gadget's own enhancements, it's pretty easy to make the connection between them.  I think Inspector Gadget could be the first prototype of a cybernetic officer, but it was determined his gadgets worked better split up among multiple officers.  On the other hand, he could be the natural progression of cybernetics, an officer loaded with every conceivable modification available.

3. Bravestarr,  Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, and Silverhawks - Planetary Marshalls and the Silverhawks all fall under the Galaxy Rangers.
Okay, so this one is pretty tenuous - I'm just basing it off of looks.  Bravestarr and the Galaxy Rangers are both cartoons based on space cowboys.  Bravestarr says he's a Planetary Marshall, so I see that as the assigned arm of the law vs the traveling role the Rangers played.  I'm including Silverhawks in here as well because of Lt Colonel Bluegrass, who's a cowboy at heart.  Not to mention, he probably played his guitar with Shane Gooseman.

4. Dino Riders and Sectaurs - Sectaurs learned to communicate with other creatures.
Let's look at the similarities here: you had people who possessed telepathic powers to create a bond with unusual mounts.  the Sectaurs took place far in the future, and Dino Riders started there before going back in time to prehistoric Earth.  Granted, Sectaurs takes place on another planet, but I consider it really Earth since they looks so much alike.  Anyway, the Sectaurs regain technology, try space travel, go back in time and are able to apply their telebonding to another species.  Besides, Questor and Dargon look almost the same (minus the antenna), and are both performed by Dan Gilvezan.  They could even be ancestor/descendant.

5. Challenge of the Go-Bots and Transformers - The Transformers caused the Go-Bots' shift from organic to cybernetic.
I'm taking this from the IDW comics.  Before I get to that though, I need to say it here since I forgot it mention it in Cy-Kill's Villain Retrospect post and barely touched on it in his Bad Guy Beatdown fight - Go-Bots have organic brains.  They originally were fully organic beings called GoBings, and after the destruction that split Gobotron, they took on robotic bodies to keep themselves alive.  Now for the IDW comics - during the early days of IDW, there was s story about a crew of ancient Transformers lead by Nova Prime who found a planet called Gorlam Prime, populated with organic beings.  Because of Nova Prime's manipulation of the planet, the population slowly became technological, and transformable, beings.  It's a huge stretch and takes inspiration from a different medium, but considering how close the two concepts are - robots that can turn into vehicles - it doesn't take much to bring the two stories together. 


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Swashathon - Pirates of Dark Water

When I saw Movies Silently was running a pirate-themed Swashathon, my mind went immediately to the Pirates of Dark Water.  I've never been a huge fan of pirate stories, but one set in such a fantastical world is right up my alley. 


Pirates of Dark Water is set on the alien planet of Mer, a world besieged by a thick black ooze that is spreading over the oceans and threatening to devour everything.  Only bringing together the Thirteen Treasures of Rule could destroy the plague, but they have been spread to the far reaches of the globe by King Primus.  Just before his death, he tells his son Ren to collect them, but the pirate overlord Bloth is after them as well.  Ren enlists the help of Ioz, one of Bloth's former minions; Tula, an ecomancer; and Niddler, a monkey-bird with a ravenous appetite.
 
The story had it all, with Ren and his companions racing across the seas, searching for each treasure aboard the Wrath, pursued the whole time by Bloth's Maelstrom, a ship so huge it's a sailing fortress with its own dungeon.  The history and breadth of the world is massive with many fantastical creatures, including the aforementioned monkey-birds, dagrons (that's not a typo), and a massive, multi-mouthed worm-like serpent in Bloth's dungeon called the Constrictus.  People have incredible and varied powers, like Bloth's super-human strength and Tula's elemental powers and animal telepathy.  It even has some of the best curses in it with original language, particularly Ioz's "Noy Jitat." (I can't find a reliable spelling of the quote unfortunately) 

The character and ship designs are creative, the wide sails on Ren's ship allowing for short burst of flight while Bloth's Maelstrom and it's smaller ships all looking like they're assembled from of leviathan skeletons.  And in the middle of it all, the living ooze Dark Water, which engulfs anything it touches.  I loved every aspect of the world of Mer.

Behind the scenes, the show was just as impressive with a fantastic cast including George Newburn (Batman: The Animated Series), Jodi Benson (The Little Mermaid), Brock Peters (Galtar and the Golden Lance). Tim Curry (Gargoyles)and Roddy McDowall as Niddler (later replaced by Frank Welker).  The cartoon had an ongoing storyline, unlike most episodic cartoons at the time, who maintained a status quo.  Ioz slowly grew to like the idealistic Ren, while Tula discovered her magic abilities. The storyline was also dark and bleak, and it had some of the only cartoon deaths at the time - a guard died by being devoured by Dark Water and a witch aging quickly by a misfired spell until she withered away. 


Unfortunately, as with many of the best cartoons, the show had its problems.  The original 5-episode miniseries, called Dark Water was bleaker than most and the rest of the series, under the full Pirates name, lightened its tone a bit.  It might not have been enough though, because the show only lasted twenty-one episodes, ending abruptly before the Thirteen Treasures of Rule could be gathered.  It's been said that the cancelation was a result of animation problems making the final four episodes miss its scheduled airdates.  They were shown six months later, but most of the crew had already moved on, so the show never continued.  It's such a shame, because Pirates of Dark Water had so much promise and will always be remembered fondly.


This post was made as part of Movies Silently's Swashathon.  Make sure to check out the rest of the swash-buckling, booty-plundering posts there.

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 7/12/17

It's another busy week with a lot of updates.  I'm going on vacation next week to celebrate my son's first birthday, and I've got a lot to get done or started on at least before I go.


First, I've got a few blogathons coming up.  July 14th-17th, I'm taking part in Movies Silently's Swashathon, where I'll be looking at the incredible 90s cartoon, Pirates of Dark Water.
July 21-23, I'm checking out another 90s cartoon, James Bond Jr., for maddylovesherclassicfilms's 007 Blogathon.

This week, I'm going to be speeding my way through a few episodes of each of them and pushing out a few posts.  I'm also trying to write a post now about voice actors after the sad passing of Wally Burr, the casting director who assembled some of our favorite casts.  In addition to his work behind the mic, he played a few roles as well, and I want to pay tribute to him.


Bad Guy Beatdown is still going strong with Round 3's results just coming out.  Scorch kicked T-Ray's ass and still gives T-Ray more credit than he deserves.  I made a mistake in my last wrap-up post and said the fight was going to be Megatron vs. Miles Mayhem, but that fight is actually Round 4, so the respect thread is coming up next week.

Work is progressing with Old School Evil 1 and 2 novels as well.  I've submitted OSE 1 to the finisher group and should get some feedback on it in the beginning of August, so I'll have some changes to make in it when I go through it for the final draft (again). I'm also going to submit a chapter from it to my regular critique group.  It's one that has the most recent changes so there hasn't been a single eye on it, and I need it to be perfect!  Speaking of that group, I got feedback on the third draft of Old School Evil 2's first chapter, and this time it got a better reception, which is totally getting me amped up to write some more.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 3 Results

“Wall-eye, bring us down to the planet.” T-Ray watched out the window as the Mantanna slipped out of orbit above the giant blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean.  “The Tigersharks were fools for leaving this planet.”
The Manta-shaped ship descended through the atmosphere and was suddenly rocked to the side.  Wall-eye slumped forward onto the crystals that controlled the ship then fell back onto the floor.  T-Ray nudged his minion with his foot out of the way and took over the controls.  Wall-eye had been the main pilot of the ship, but T-Ray had enough knowledge to bring the ship under the sea.
During his last battle, stuck between the Tigersharks and Captain Bizarrely, left most of his crew dead and battered.  T-Ray was the only one to make it out unscathed, taking the Mantanna on the planet before dropping depth charges to destroy the Sark and taking Bizarrely’s with it. 
The ship glided through the sky, dropping down towards the water’s surface and passing under the great solitary shadow of a hovering fortress.  A lone jet took off from their hangar access bay, a black Saab 37 Viggen emblazoned with red and orange fire.  The plane shot through the sky and took residence next to the descending spaceship.  “You are in Skull Squadron air space!” the pilot shouted over the open channel.  “Follow me to the fortress or you’ll be shot out of the sky.”
T-Ray looked at the primitive airplane and scoffed.  That vehicle couldn’t survive the void of space, much less deep sea pressure.  He placed his hand on slender crystal and slid it deeper into the console, dipping the ship closer to the ocean.  At the same time, he jerked a short fat crystal up and to the left.  The ships long tail swung to one side slightly before swiping fully to the other side and catching the jet’s wingtip, electricity arcing through the metal appendage. 
The jet’s pilot cursed as his instruments popped and sparked.  He shook his hand at T-Ray, his face in a snarl half-hidden behind a black mask.  Before the jet, a pink wormhole popped open and the jet flew directly inside before both flashed out of sight.
T-Ray watched the portal’s appearance and the jet zooming through it with awestruck amazement.  As soon as the jet and portal disappeared, this T-Ray ceased to exist.
 
The swirling energy of the portal spiraled into reality in the upper atmosphere and spat out the Scorch’s smoking jet.  He felt a surge of luck that the jet’s time jump device wasn’t damaged in the shape-ship’s electric attack.  Although he wanted the ship’s space-capable design, there was no way he would allow that fish-faced monstrosity to continue to live after taking a swipe at him. 
As if on cue, the ship dropped into the atmosphere a few miles ahead of the Scorch’s Torch.  Scorch checked the weapons systems and found that the only one still functional was the only one he needed – the incendiary missiles.  He punched the button on his consoles and launched a barrage of them towards the spaceship.
The missiles struck the ship at the base of the tail, the explosion severing the appendage from the rear of the vehicle.  The ship rocked side to side and angled down towards the water.
Scorch surmised a fish-shaped ship would be right at home in the water and refused to let it land there.  He fired another volley of missiles at the surface of the water below the ship, forcing it to stay aloft or risk blowing up.  He steered the ship towards a small rocky island off the approaching coast.  Another missile fired at the rear of the ship caused it to flip in the air and crash into the tiny island.
The small hatch on the top of the ship popped open and a tiny white flag slid out.  T-Ray made his way out of the ship, wearing a water-filled helmet over most of his wide finned head.  “Come down here and meet me,” T-Ray said over his intercom.  “I think we have some business to discuss.”
“What business?” Scorch asked.
“Evil! What other kind of business is there?” T-Ray answered with a toothy grin.
“I’ll let my weapons speak for me,” Scorch said to himself, firing his last missile at his fishy foe.  The explosion hit at T-Ray’s feet and sent the top half of his body flipping through the air.  His torso landed on the white flag, impaling himself on the tiny pole.
“How’s that for evil?”
Click here for respect thread. 
While T-Ray's ship is obviously more capable than Scorch's Torch, there's one weapon that the Mantanna just cannot compete with - the Skull Squadron's time jump device.  I mean, technically, this deus ex machine should be able to let him take out every villain here.  So far as I saw, there's no limitations to it.  It can go all the way back to the dinosaur age.  It's something he can turn on with a flip of the switch, and doesn't even have any conditions to be met for it to be used.  It makes him practically invincible.
The Winner


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 3 Scorch vs. T-Ray

This is going to be a weird one - I'm only looking at a total of ten episodes for this round.  Ring Raiders was a five episode mini-series and I can only find about that many episodes of Tigersharks.  I know it had a 65-episode run, but there's hardly anything available on all the cartoon sites I've searched.  So I guess it's a little fair for this round, right?

First we're looking at Scorch.  Now, it's almost impossible to separate him from Scorch's Torch, his jet, so I've got to look at its abilities as well.  Scorch's main power, of course, is time jumping.  Every one of the Skull Squadron fighter planes is equipped with a time jumper, which allows them to travel to different time periods, including the future (well, at least the Ring Raiders are able to do it, so I assume they can too).  Apart from that, though, his jet is a basic fighter equipped with machine guns and generic missiles. 
Sure it's a pretty impressive jet, but besides flying through a time portal, it doesn't do anything other jets can't do.  It's grounded squarely in modern aeronautics.  Scorch himself has been said to be the subject of an experiment using special rays to make him "invulnerable," something that is only vaguely shown once when his flying ship is electrocuted but not really injured, unlike Hubbub who yowled in pain.  So that's about it for Scorch, who doesn't even have any personal weapon.
His opponent, T-Ray, shows even less abilities. T-Ray can breath underwater (and uses a water tank to go on land) and carries a whip.  Just a regular whip, which he either lost or got cut in half in the two times he's wielded it.  I'm tempted to give him access to the Mantanna, which is T-Ray's and his Mantannas' ship, which is armed with a whipping electric tail, a heat ray, a lightning rod which shoots electricity, and missiles that look and move like metal eels. The ship can fly through space and underwater, which gives him a lot more accessibility than Scorch's Torch.  Unfortunately, he doesn't ever control it - he barks orders at Wall-eye to do most of the stuff. 

What can I say, this round is going to be boring as hell.