Perhaps one of the most interesting incarnations of Godzilla ever seen was depicted via the animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera, which first aired on NBC on September 9, 1978.
Lasting for three seasons (although only the first two seasons featured new episodes), for a total of 26 episodes, the Godzilla animated series went through a format change each season, and the quality of the production is still a matter of debate among G-fans. The source material for this section comes from a combination of my personal observations and the wonderful article in G-FAN #24 by Danny DeAngelo, to whom I am indebted.
Godzilla’s character was changed in many ways for this animated outing, and it reflected the heroic version of the Kaiju King then being seen through the G-films of the 70’s, which were just finished being released in America at this time. In fact, Godzilla’s appearance in the series catered to every popular misconception about the Kaiju King that has ever existed in the Western world. Godzilla appeared to be his regular 1970’s height of 50 meters, although he was described in the opening theme song as being “30 stories high,” which would have made him considerably larger (remember, due to a translation error in the American version of the first G-film, most Americans incorrectly believed that Godzilla was 400 feet tall during this time; he was actually about 160 feet).
Godzilla was colored green (he was actually a charcoal gray in color in the films prior to this series) and he breathed real fire rather than the bluish-white bursts of concentrated atomic radiation seen in the movies. In fact, although an origin for Godzilla was never given in the series, this version of the Kaiju King seemed to have no connection to radiation at all. He also had the new power to project laser beams from his eyes, which, unlike his flame breath, he could utilize underwater.
Also, Godzilla was basically a gigantic super-hero in this series, just as he was portrayed in the G-films of the 1970's.
Disappointingly, Godzilla’s famous Toho roar was replaced by a rather generic sounding growling noise, courtesy of the late actor Ted Cassidy, whose unforgettable voice was best known in his portrayal of Lurch on The Addams Family TV series in the 1960’s. Godzilla retained his trademark dorsal plates, however, and his general phenotype was similar to the movie version. Also, to Hanna-Barbera's credit, Godzilla's appearance in this series looked fairly menacing, and not "cute."
Godzilla was given a regular non-Japanese human cast, something he never had in the original movie series, and he served as the defender of this small group of intrepid adventurers. The aforementioned human cast consisted of the crew of a small ship dedicated to scientific exploration called the Calico, which was headed by Captain Carl Majors. The ship was equipped with hi-tech scientific equipment such as a mini-sub, a helicopter, and various electronic surveillance devices. The ship also boasted hydrofoil struts, enabling it to cruise about the ocean at high speeds when necessary.
The rest of the crew included female scientist Dr. Quinn Darian, her African-American assistant Brock, her young nephew Pete Darian and an infant member of Godzilla’s ‘species’ named Godzooky, who many non-G-fans continue to erroneously believe was intended to be the same character as Minya, Godzilla’s surrogate son from the Showa film series. Like Minya, Godzooky was perceived as being cute by female viewers and annoying by male viewers. Godzooky was much smaller than Minya (about 10 feet tall, for easier interaction with the crew of the Calico), and he also could only blow rings of smoke from his mouth (unlike the luminous energy rings that Minya would emit in his mostly unsuccessful attempts to project searing atomic radiation from his maw). Unlike either Godzilla or Minya, however, Godzooky had membranous wings under each arm that enabled him to fly.
Godzooky’s exact relationship to Godzilla was never elaborated upon in the series, but according to the Hanna-Barbera series bible, the little kaiju was “an infant relative of Godzilla’s.” Other sources have described Godzooky as Godzilla’s “nephew.” The little guy had a very brave heart, often attempting to assist Godzilla in the latter’s battles, but inevitably he only succeeded in getting in the way, and despite the obvious comic relief tendencies of the character, I always had nothing but respect for the Little G.
How Godzilla and the Calico crew first joined forces was never revealed in the series itself, although it was stated in the series bible. The crew of the Calico discovered Godzooky trapped between two huge slabs of coral, and helped free him. Adopting the friendly young creature into their lives, the Calico crew’s kindness was noted by Godzilla, who then became the ship’s protector.
Godzilla could be summoned by the crew of the Calico through one of two methods: a small device that was carried around by Capt. Majors that emitted a long-range sonic frequency that Godzilla could easily hear, and which was activated by the simple pushing of a button on the device, or by Godzooky himself, via the little monster's cry. Illogically, Godzilla always seemed to appear immediately whenever the distress signal was activated, no matter where in the world the Calico happened to be at the time!
Naturally, the series has been criticized for its simplistic plots and dialogue, and it was admittedly created for a young audience. Nevertheless, the series can still be considered enjoyable, since despite the ever-present comic relief offered by Godzooky and the relative simplicity of the stories, those stories were nevertheless serious in tone, and they usually revolved around Godzilla and the Calico crew facing a new and deadly giant monster (no Toho monsters other than Godzilla himself appeared in the series). Although no bloodshed could be shown obviously, the battles were often quite physical, and rather fast-paced due to the fact that the stories encompassed only 24 minutes of air time. Several of the monsters were actually destroyed, one of the very few times that death was ever even implied on Saturday morning shows, except for the original Johnny Quest series (which complimented the Godzilla cartoon quite well when featured alongside it in the second season).
In defense of the series, J.D. Lees has said “at least Godzilla was a serious fighter, and never played the clown.” I concur with J.D. wholeheartedly on that one.
The opening theme song was a classic (despite mentioning every misconception concerning the Big G imaginable) and it went as follows: “Up from the depths...30 stories high...green...breathing fire...his head in the sky...Godzilla! Godzilla!! Godzilla!!! And Godzoo-oo-ky!”
As Danny deAngelo pointed out, considering the standards of Saturday morning animated fare at the time (with few really memorable shows outside of Scooby Doo and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, the only long-term survivors of that decade), the Godzilla series could very well be considered a stand out.
When the series first premiered, it was called The Godzilla Power Hour, and the Big G shared those 60 minutes with episodes of Jana of the Jungle, a sort of female version of Tarzan. The series proved popular, and the second season expanded the show to 90 minutes, and it was thus renamed The Godzilla Super 90. In addition to featuring new episodes of both Godzilla and Jana of the Jungle, the added 30 minutes provided viewers with an excellent treat...the re-showing of Hanna-Barbera’s classic 1960’s run of Johnny Quest, one of the first animated series on TV ever to feature live action style violence and even death on the small screen.
Unfortunately, although the initial episodes in season two were good, the final few were below par, with the last three not even featuring giant monsters for Godzilla to battle.
By season three, Godzilla was paired with Hanna-Barbera’s bionic canine super-hero Dyno-Mutt into The Godzilla/Dyno-Mutt Hour, with no new episodes and a little less dignity (at least his previous two show consorts, Jana of the Jungle and Johnny Quest, were serious in tone).
For those who want to see Hanna-Barbera’s animated version of Godzilla, the series was finally been released to DVD by Sony in 2006. That was quite a long time to wait.
All the episodes of both seasons of the series are covered just below, many of which have comments afterwards, where I considered them to be warrented.
Comments: This was one of the best episodes in the entire series, as the Firebird was an excellent initial foe for Godzilla, and this first episode was given much positive hype in the media at the time. This is also the only episode of the series to be released to video during the 1990's, as it wasn't until 2006 that the series was released to DVD.
San Francisco is threatened as a bizarre, quadrapedal multi-colored subterranean monster appears underneath the city. The creature is called the Eartheater, since it lives by devouring huge amounts of rock, soil, and steel, wreaking much havoc in the process by causing buildings and other man-made structures to collapse; the Eartheater also projects waves of sonic force from two antennae on top of its head to help it dig, but which can also be utilized as a formidable weapon in battle.
As the crew of the Calico travel into the underground tunnels created by the Eartheater to investigate, they’re trapped by the creature. Calling on Godzilla for assistance, the Big G rescues the Calico crew and drives the Eartheater above ground during the ensuing battle. As the earth-devouring monster climbs the Golden Gate Bridge to escape, Godzilla knocks the creature off of the structure with his laser beams. Landing in the water, the Eartheater discovers his fatal weakness as he dissolves into mud.
Comments: The Eartheater was another nifty adversary for the Kaiju King, and the San Francisco setting was an interesting locale for Godzilla.
After discovering the ancient hidden pyramid of Ra-Mal in Egypt, an archeologist named Jarvis is suddenly besieged by two giant, quadrapedal sphinx-like monsters made of stone, who attack the hapless scientist with waves of freezing winds from their mouths.
As the crew of the Calico docks in a small town near the Nile River, they come across the severely frostbitten Jarvis, whom they nurse back to health. Jarvis then describes his ordeal to the crew, explaining that the Stone Creatures are mystical guardians of the pyramid who will attack anyone or anything that dares approach it. Naturally, the Calico crew decides to investigate, and they fly their mini-copter to the area, only to be attacked by the Stone Creatures themselves.
They call upon Godzilla, who engages the rocky beasts in battle, at one point being frozen solid by the combined might of both the creatures' cold blasts. Godzilla finally defeats the Stone Creatures when the two rocky monsters charge him simultaneously, and the Kaiju King side-steps, resulting in a head-on collision that shatters the twin granite kaiju into rubble, thus ending their threat to the citizens of Egypt.
Comments: This episode was mediocre but interesting in that it featured Godzilla in Egypt, a locale I personally always wanted to see him in (the Godzilla of the later Tri-Star animated TV series faced a similar menace in Egypt).
As the Calico investigates a strange electromagnetic power source beneath the sea near the Bali Trench, an oil tanker is sunk by what appears to be a bolt of lightening that originates underwater.
As Dr. Darian, Brock, and Godzooky travel underwater in the bathysphere, they are attacked by the source of the lightening bolt, the Megavolt Monster, an aquatic kaiju that resembles a giant electric eel. The monster severs the bathysphere’s umbilical cord, and the craft ends up landing on an underwater desert that’s protected by an air bubble. There the trio discovers an entire colony of Megavolt Monsters who acquire their electrical power by feeding off an electrolyzed outcropping of stone, which appears to be the mysterious power source that the crew first investigated.
After battling the first Megavolt Monster to a standstill to save the Calico, Godzilla arrives at the underwater desert to save the bathysphere crew, and he penetrates the air bubble, causing the sea to rush in and destroy the rocky power source, thereby rendering the Megavolt Monster colony powerless.
While diving in the sea near the West Indies, Dr. Darian and Brock are startled when they are attacked by a bizarre mutant life form...a creature composed entirely of seaweed, which continues to grow increasingly larger as the plant beast merges with more and more seaweed. The two divers barely escape the plant creature’s two huge tendrils as they frantically swim back to the Calico.
There they call upon Godzilla to deal with the creature, and while the Seaweed Monster is no match for Godzilla, the Kaiju King can’t seem to severely injure the plant creature’s physical substance. As the Seaweed Monster menaces a nearby inhabited island, Dr. Darian notices that a severed piece of the creature completely dried up after excessive exposure to sunlight. Thus, she directs Godzilla to drag the Seaweed Monster onto land, where the searing tropical sunlight eventually causes the plant creature to wither and die.
Comments: The Seaweed Monster gets my vote as the lamest Godzilla foe in the animated series, but the early scenes of the creature menacing Dr. Darian and Brock underwater were quite suspenseful.
After a meteor falls to Earth, an investigating man finds nothing there but a mysteriously glowing tree. After he leaves, the ‘tree’ reverts to its true form, an alien beast that resembles a giant centipede.
Requiring large amounts of energy to survive, the Energy Beast attacks the Mesa City Dam, absorbing energy from its hydroelectric turbines, and growing much larger in the process. Since the Calico crew is (conveniently) in Mesa City at the time, they summon Godzilla, who drives off the alien Energy Beast, but the former appears to have been injured in the process.
A short time later, a mysteriously glowing Godzilla attacks an electrical power plant, and fails to respond to either the crew’s signal, or Godzooky's call. This leads the crew to suspect that Godzilla either went mad after his encounter with the Energy Beast and became such a creature himself, or that there is somehow more than one Godzilla (actually, any 6 year old with half a brain immediately figured out what was really going on). Godzooky puts out a call for the real Godzilla, who shows up and battles his double. After Godzilla subdues his doppelganger in a full nelson hold, the bogus Godzilla transforms back into the centipede-like form of the Energy Beast, who, after returning to his original size, escapes from Godzilla’s grasp.
The alien beast scampers back to the meteor, which turns out to be a spherical spacecraft. Godzilla hurls the craft back into outer space, thereby removing the threat of the Energy Beast from Earth.
Comments: This episode had the potential to be good, but was stymied by the ridiculous, overly obvious “mystery” of the second Godzilla.
As the result of a violent undersea earthquake, the long-lost city of Atlantis reappears on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. As the traveling Calico encounters the futuristic city, which appears devoid of all human life, they are captured by a tractor beam. Although they summon Godzilla to save them, the Kaiju King fails to do so and is abducted by a teleportation beam.
The Calico is quickly destroyed after being taken into the city, but the crew escapes and explores the fantastic metroplex. They soon find the inhabitants of Atlantis, who are all in a form of suspended animation in a stasis chamber. Discovering a time travel device, Capt. Majors, Dr. Darian, and Brock are accidentally transported back in time thousands of years, just prior to the sinking of the great city. To escape death, they go into stasis with the rest of the population, and are discovered there by Pete and Godzooky in the present.
The youthful duo then discover the cause of the city’s technology attacking them for no apparent reason: a giant, ultra-sophisticated robot called the Colossus, who was designed to protect Atlantis from invading forces. The robot malfunctioned in the Atlanteans' absence, taking over the operations of the city and automatically treating any visitors as enemies.
After Pete and Godzooky locate Godzilla, who is kept in an enormous stasis chamber, they manage to awaken him, and the Big G engages in a fierce battle with the Colossus. Although the robot comes close to defeating the Kaiju King with its vast technological might, Godzilla, after much effort, ultimately prevails, and hurls the giant robot into the sea.
As the Atlanteans are finally awakened from stasis, they return the Calico to the crew via a time travel trick, and after parting on friendly terms, the peaceful Atlanteans reveal their great city to be a huge spaceship, and they return to their home among the stars.
Comments: This was easily one of the best episodes of the series, as the Colossus was perhaps the most formidable foe that the Big G ever faced in the animated series. The time travel twist was also a very interesting plot device, an idea that elevated this series well above almost all other Saturday morning fare in the 70’s. This was also the first of two attempts of this series to "explain" a real life mystery (in this case, Atlantis) within the context of the fictional reality of the series.
A long time ago, a friendly alien race deposited a gigantic Cyclops on an uninhabited island for unknown reasons (the creature actually resembled a one-eyed cross between a human being and a crustacean, rather than the much more humanoid Cyclopes of Greco-Roman mythology), but they constructed a force field around the entire island to protect the people of Earth from the creature.
However, the force field is accidentally de-activated during a freak magnetic storm, and the Calico docks on the island to repair damages that occurred during the storm. The force field soon re-activates, and the crew find themselves trapped on the island and menaced by the Cyclops. Although they call Godzilla, the King of the Monsters is unable to penetrate the force field to come to the crew’s rescue. Dr. Darian discovers a stone monolith on the island that controls the force field, and she de-activates it, thus allowing Godzilla to enter the island and battle the Cyclops.
Although the one-eyed kaiju initially befuddles Godzilla with its ability to turn invisible, after the crew drops large amounts of paint on the Cyclops from the mini-copter, rendering the beast partially visible, Godzilla easily defeats his foe, and using a timer she created, Dr. Darian re-activates the force field after they all escape, trapping the Cyclops on the island once more.
After an ancient Greek island re-appears in the Earth dimension after 1,000 years, Capt. Majors is hypnotically induced to bring the Calico there by a mysteriously beautiful singing. Upon arriving, the crew discover that the island is the home of the Sirens, three deadly sisters from Greek mythology who entrance male sailors with their hypnotic singing, luring them to the island where they meet their doom. Although the leader of the Sirens, Morphea, initially seems to welcome the crew, they soon learn that they are to be kept on the island after it disappears at sunset by being turned to stone (an idea the Sirens possibly stole from another trio of deadly sisters from Greek mythology, the Gorgons).
After the crew open the doors to a chamber against the warnings of Morphea, they release a Chimera, a gigantic fire-breathing mythological monster that is a three-way cross between a lion, a goat, and a serpent. After Morphea exclaims that not even the Sirens can control the Chimera, the crew summons Godzilla, who easily defeats the Chimera by shoving her back into her chamber.
However, the Sirens then combine their power to send Godzilla into an hypnotically induced slumber, and then likewise trap the adult crew members in stone. Only Pete and Godzooky escape, and to re-capture them, Morphea brings a 12 foot statue of the Minotaur to seemingly organic life, and she sends the vicious creature after the escapees. Pete and Godzooky manage to outwit the Minotaur, however, and succeed in freeing Godzilla and the other crew members.
Determined to make the crew stay on the island, Morphea engages in an elaborate plan to gain control of the Chimera: physically merging herself and her two sisters into one giant being, Morphea then merges them with the Chimera, finally gaining control of the fire-spitting beast and causing her to grow larger than Godzilla. As Godzilla and the Chimera/Siren hybrid grapple with each other, the Kaiju King manages to make the mythological beast fall off of a huge cliff into the water below, and the crew escapes with seconds to spare as the island disappears for another 1,000 years.
Comments: This slick episode made excellent use of the Sirens, who were depicted as being every bit as malevolent as the Greek legends described them (although here they turned their victims to stone rather than devouring them, as they did in the myths). The usage of other mythological kaiju such as the Chimera and the Minotaur was also welcome and well done, and the scene of the Sirens merging themselves together and then with the Chimera was a genuinely eerie and spectacular sight.
A drilling outpost in Antarctica is attacked by an enormous amphibious sea creature that resembles a giant sea turtle who rises from the depths of the Antarctic Ocean, and the monster absorbs the energy from the facility’s oil pump. The creature is dubbed the Magnetic Monster, since it has the power to generate waves of magnetic force from its beak that can either attract or repel objects, and it needs to feed on magnetic sources of energy to survive.
As the crew of the Calico investigate the creature, they call upon Godzilla to counter the Magnetic Monster’s next target, and he easily drives the creature away. However, it’s discovered that the aquatic kaiju is growing increasingly larger as it absorbs more magnetic energy, and the beast uses its power of polarized attraction to swallow the mini-sub containing Capt. Majors and Brock, trapping them within the beast itself.
Upon Dr. Darian’s suggestion, Godzilla chases the Magnetic Monster to the South Pole, where she believes the beast will absorb too much magnetic energy to survive. As the monster arrives there, it becomes so large that it makes Godzilla look miniature by comparison, and it takes on a bipedal stance. The monster even unsuccessfully tries to swallow Godzilla with its magnetic waves of attraction.
Ultimately, Dr. Darian’s theory proves correct, and the Magnetic Monster absorbs so much magnetic energy from the South magnetic pole that it explodes, freeing Capt. Majors and Brock from entrapment within its body.
Comments: Although the Magnetic Monster was a more or less lame foe for the Kaiju King, the climax was interesting in that we got to see Godzilla facing an adversary that was as much his superior in height as he is to human beings.
As a result of the pollution caused by a nearby oil spill in Chesapeake Bay, a huge gelatinous monster is spawned (perhaps inspired by Hedorah) that survives by feeding upon various metals. The ameoba-like kaiju, referred to as the Breeder Beast, begins heading towards the U.S. Mint for its stores of gold, silver, and platinum.
Godzilla is called by the Calico crew to stop the beast, but the creature’s jelly-like substance appears invulnerable to Godzilla’s physical attacks. Dr. Darian believes that the Breeder Beast’s glowing nucleus may potentially turn it into a living nuclear bomb due to all of the gases and metals the creature has fed upon, so she urges Godzilla and the National Guard not to attack it. However, when Godzilla disobeys and blasts the monster with his laser beams, the beast doesn’t explode, and Dr. Darian now believes that the creature has learned to control its rampant energies. Thus, she directs Godzilla to project his laser beams into the Breeder Beast’s nucleus, which crystallizes it, causing the protoplasmic monster to shrink in size and to be rendered harmless.
The crew of the Calico journey into the Himalayan Mountains with a scientific expedition led by Dr. Darian’s old friend and colleague, Dr. Rourke, in search of a reputed source of geothermal energy.
After approaching an area near a dormant volcano, which they believe to contain the energy source, a gigantic abominable snowman at the top of the nearby mountain range attempts to crush the intrepid crew by setting off an avalanche. Godzilla is called and arrives just in time to shield the group from the falling snow with his own body.
Entering the volcano, the Calico crew discovers a sophisticated village ruled by a race of very intelligent human-sized hominids covered with white fur who call themselves the Watchuka. The Watchuka were obviously the source of the legends of the abominable snowmen reported by the people of Tibet for ages, and their village is powered by a remarkable steam engine that turns out to be the origin of the geothermal energy source the party was searching for.
As it turns out, the Watchuka resent the human race who dominate the world, and they plan to conquer the surface by releasing an army of larger, warrior snowmen who have been kept in frozen storage until war is declared [obviously, the Watchuka haven’t done their research on the human civilizations adequately enough, or they would realize that even their army of snowmen warriors would be quickly shot down by the surface world nations' tremendous military might]. The crew obviously oppose the Watchuka’s plan, and when they summon the village’s guardian, the gigantic Great Watchuka, to squelch the humans, Godzilla is summoned.
After grappling with the Great Watchuka, Godzilla ultimately saves the crew from an oncoming volcanic eruption and seals the volcano shut with a huge rock, thereby denying the Watchuka further access to the surface world.
Comments: This episode, which featured an interesting foe for Godzi in a giant abominable snowman (possibly inspired by an early 60’s amateur film short, which also pitted the Big G against an equally big version of Tibet’s legendary hairy humanoid), was the second attempt by the animated series, after the “Colossus of Atlantis” episode, to provide a fictitious “explanation” for a real life mystery.
When the Calico is about to be struck by a falling satellite, Godzilla is called to the rescue. Although the Big G saves the crew by catching the satellite, energy emissions from the device create a freak time warp that sends Godzilla and the Calico back one million years in the past.
There they are soon attacked by a Diplodocus, who the much larger Godzilla easily drives away with a few spurts of his fiery breath [actually, the Diplodocus, a prehistoric herbivore which resembled the Apatatosaurus in body form but was lighter and much longer in length with a somewhat elongated head, was a peaceful creature and shouldn’t have attacked the crew; for that matter, dinosaurs of that type became extinct before the end of the Jurassic Period, over 100 million years ago, and shouldn’t have co-existed with either the Tyrannosaurus or the cavemen seen later in this episode].
While exploring the prehistoric terrain, the crew meet and befriend a tribe of cavemen who they teach to defend themselves against the dinosaurs by building a catapult [since Dr. Darian, a scientist, isn’t surprised by the dinosaurs and cavemen co-existing, as any 5th grader from our reality would be, it can be presumed that the prehistoric history of the animated Godzilla’s reality is much different from that of our own history; further, the cavemen speak perfect English, including a contemporary dialect, yet another blatant indication that the writers were more interested in telling an entertaining story than providing the viewers with historic accuracy, despite the realistic depictions of the cavemen drawing events in their lives on the walls of the caves, as Cro-Magnon man actually did...it appears that this episode couldn't decide whether to educate or mislead the viewers].
When the crew and the cavemen are later attacked by a vicious Tyrannosaur-like dinosaur equal to the Big G in height, Godzilla is called upon once more, and he engages the giant carnosaur in battle [yet another example of an historic inaccuracy provided for the purposes of dramatic entertainment; no real-life carnosaur was anywhere near as large as Godzilla's 160 foot height, not even the dreaded "super-predator" from Jurassic Park 3 known as the Spinosaurus, but as I said before, this is an alternate reality here, so I digress].
As the two monsters continue their fight, a sudden earthquake opens a fissure in the earth that releases a large pocket of liquid uranium. Curious, Godzilla picks the substance up, and the energy from the uranium somehow reverses the time warping effect around the Big G and returns him to the present. Now in danger once more, but formulating a plan, Dr. Darian directs the cavemen to fire a huge gob of the uranium at the carnosaur, who catches it, activating the time warping effects once more, this time whisking both the Calico crew and the carnosaur himself back to the present, a few moments before they were originally sent back in time (for some reason, they didn’t encounter temporal duplicates of themselves, obviously a story error).
Godzilla and his carnosaurian adversary then continue their battle in the present, when the crew notices the satellite falling. In order to avoid being sent back in time again, and to get rid of the carnosaur, the crew has Godzooky communicate to Godzilla not to catch the satellite this time, but merely to push it away. He does so, and this time the carnosaur catches it instead of Godzilla, and the time warp carries the bloodthirsty dinosaur back into the past.
Comments: Despite all the errors and incongruities in this episode, it was still a standout in the series, as the carnosaur featured here was one of Godzilla’s toughest adversaries, despite lacking a power commensurate with the Kaiju King’s flame breath or laser beam eyes, and this was the second episode of the series to utilize the ever-popular sci-fi plot device of time travel.
The idea of an alternate reality where cavemen co-exist with dinosaurs has always been extremely popular, as indicated by movies such as One Million B.C., animated TV series such as the classic Valley of the Dinosaurs, and comic books such as YOR and DEVIL DINOSAUR.
In Marvel Comics’ Godzilla comic book from the late '70’s (published during the same time period as the animated series, but not based upon it) the King of the Monsters (recently reduced in height) was also sent into an alternate reality where dinosaurs and early man co-existed side-by-side via Dr. Doom’s confiscated time machine, and he fought first against, and then alongside, Marvel’s carnosaurian hero, Devil Dinosaur, for two memorable issues.
An archeological expedition in India is attacked by a giant golden animated Oriental statue, and this incident prompts an investigation by the Calico crew.
Arriving in the Indian city of Kali-Noor, the crew discover that several giant golden guardian statues are being animated and controlled by a xenophobic Indian high priest utilizing a supernatural power object called the dreamstone, who is determined to scare away any outsiders to the sub-continent, whom he believes will covet the city’s ancient treasures.
Godzilla is called upon to battle one of the Golden Guardians, only to be immobilized by mystical beams of energy from the living statue’s eyes, which encase the King of the Monsters in a shell of gold, thereby placing him in suspended animation.
Although the Calico crew manages to shatter the dreamstone, this doesn’t simply cause the Golden Guardians to become immobile once more, but instead results in the statues running amok. When the crew realize that the energy beams from the statue’s eyes have the exact opposite frequency of Godzilla’s occular laser beams, Brock comes up with the plan to project the Calico’s communications laser at the insensate kaiju with the aforementioned reverse frequency. When this is done, Godzilla is freed from the gold encasement, and the King then utilizes his fiery breath to melt each of the Golden Guardians into liquid slag.
Comments: This episode, the first of season two, featured some of Godzilla’s worst adversaries in the series, and was an early precursor of the decreasing quality of the series’ stories to be seen towards the end of season two.
When the Calico is sent on a top secret mission to a government controlled oil field, the crew is captured by an evil scientist called Votrang [why the government sent the Calico crew instead of the CIA or the Navy SEALS is beyond me, as is the fact that they would take Pete and Godzooky on such a dangerous mission in the first place, considering society's current attitude against youth as helpless innocents; this made about as much sense as all of those token women characters added into period film adaptations of various novels written in the 19th and very early 20th centuries simply to allow for romantic tension with the male characters in the script, including the several film versions of The Lost World produced through the decades; then again, this series was geared towards younger audiences, which may explain this conundrum].
Votrang utilized his scientific genius to create sentient but subservient clones of the entire crew, including Godzooky, to replace the real crew in the hopes of learning the location of the oil field. Upon discovering Votrang’s plans and escaping, the crew covertly switch places with their clones and are placed aboard the Calico, and they quickly head for the oil field.
Uncovering the counter-deception, Votrang sends his pet giant squid after the Calico, who summon Godzilla to battle the huge cephalopod. Godzilla swiftly defeats the squid by cruelly tying its tentacles into knots, and for his trouble Votrang is captured by the U.S. Navy.
Comments: This uninspired episode was worth nothing except for Godzilla’s brief battle with the giant squid at the climax, and further underscored the superiority of the previous season over this one (until the very pleasant surprise provided by the next episode).
With storylines like this, adult viewers are forced to ponder such questions as "why does the U.S. government tolerate a small scientific crew having sole control over such a powerful force as Godzilla?" (children, of course, would just assume the oft-repeated myth that the U.S. government [or any national government, for that matter!] is a benevolent force for good).
In real life, the Calico crew would likely be killed in a rigged “accident,” the control device stolen, and Godzilla promptly made into a bio-weapon for the U.S. military.
As the Calico sails through a strange pink mist, a tiny fly is affected by the mysterious cloud and begins growing larger. When Godzilla is called to their aid, he drives the giant fly away but is also exposed to the mist himself in the process. Godzilla begins to grow smaller and smaller, and the crew also realize that wherever the fly is, it must be growing increasingly larger.
To save Godzilla from shrinking into oblivion, and to protect themselves from the repeated attacks of the giant fly, Dr. Darian struggles to come up with an antidote by analyzing small samples of the pink mist. Godzilla eventually shrinks to the point that he is attacked by a mouse aboard the ship (how did it get aboard, and didn’t the Calico crew ever see it before?), and as he continues shrinking even further, the crew loses track of his whereabouts.
Later, the miniaturized Kaiju King is forced to battle a spider who ultimately webs him up (this arachnid, unlike Spiega, accurately spins its web from its posterior region, something the animators should be commended for not skimping on, though I strongly doubt a real spider can use its webbing in so versatile a fashion!). Luckily, the now extremely small Godzilla is found by Pete, who saves him from becoming the spider’s next meal.
Godzilla is placed in a beaker of fluid after shrinking to microscopic size as Dr. Darian continues to look for an antidote, only to be menaced by the bacteria that is also in the water, thus requiring the Big G to battle for his life against the hostile microorganisms.
Finally, after applying an electrical charge to her antidote serum, Dr. Darian concocts a reversed version of the gas that returns Godzilla to his original height. This happened just in time, as the giant fly, now larger than ever, launches another attack on the Calico. Godzilla battles and subdues the fly long enough for Dr. Darian to expose it to her antidote, and the insect immediately shrinks back to its normal tiny size.
Comments: This is undoubtedly the best and most exciting episode of the entire series, as Godzilla faced death at the hands of organisms that he ordinarily wouldn’t even notice existed. The battles were numerous and entertaining, and the strange size-altering mist (never explained in the episode) was obviously inspired by the nuclear created cloud of mist that affected the title character in the classic late 1950’s sci-fi film The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Once again, this episode mirrored a fairly lengthy storyline in the Godzilla comic book from Marvel Comics (released at about the same time as the animated series was premiering), which featured Godzilla shrunken in size, also by exposure to a shrinking gas, although in this case the shrinking agent was courtesy of the Pym Particles, the size-altering substance created by the famous Marvel Universe scientist Dr. Henry Pym, a.k.a the super-hero Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Goliath/Yellowjacket.
This episode definitely saved the second season from being considered completely tepid.
While sailing the Pacific, the Calico crew discover what appears to be a World War I submarine encased in ice, and they summon Godzilla, who frees the old vessel by means of his fiery breath.
The crew of the submarine is discovered to be alive and in suspended animation, and after 60 years on ice, they are awakened by the Calico crew. The submarine crewmen incorrectly believe that the war is still going on, causing them to inadvertently release a torpedo, which heads towards the Calico. Godzilla intercepts the torpedo and brings it underwater, but it explodes before he can safely dispose of it, stunning the King of the Monsters in the process. The resulting shock waves disturb a giant octopus, which comes to the surface and grabs the submarine in its tentacles. Godzooky manages to revive Godzilla, who grapples with the octopus and returns it to its underwater cavern, and then sealing it inside with his laser beam vision.
Finally, the submarine crew is taken back to civilization to be assimilated into the modern time period.
Comments: This is another good episode of the often lambasted season two, as the premise of a crew lost in time due to suspended animation is another popular sci-fi motif done well in this series, and the writing was quite fine. The delay of Godzilla’s kaiju adversary until near the climax of the episode added a nifty degree of suspense to this installment.
When the Calico is accidentally beached on an atoll called Storm Island, Capt. Majors, Dr. Darian, and Brock fall under the hypnotic control of the gigantic bipedal cobra-like kaiju called Axor, who uses this power to dominate the entire human population of the island. Axor acquires this ability from power enhancing vapors generated from within the interior of the monster’s mountainous lair, and because of this power, Godzilla is unable to defeat Axor, and also falls under the beast’s hypnotic thrall.
Pete and Godzooky manage to escape from Axor, and flee to the monster’s lair, where they too are exposed to the vapors, and it enhances their physical abilities to extraordinary levels. Utilizing these new abilities, they escape from entrapment in the pit where the vapors issue forth, and the newly empowered Godzooky finds that he is powerful enough to hold his own in battle with Axor (the Little G is finally able to breathe real fire rather than settle for mere puffs of smoke).
However, the power gain proves temporary, and the youthful duo are forced to acquire Godzilla’s assistance once more. Engaged in fierce battle with Axor, and constantly having to avoid his enemy’s hypnotic beams, Godzilla turns part of a mountain into glass with his fiery breath, and when Axor accidentally strikes this large reflective surface with his beams, the energy is deflected back at the evil kaiju. As a result, Axor is destroyed, and both the island populace and the Calico crew are freed from their hypnotically induced enslavement.
Comments: A popular trend of the series, displayed in this among several other episodes, seemed to entail the three adult members of the Calico crew being immobilized by some nemesis, only to have Pete and Godzooky escape and to use their own wits to successfully save the day, and you sometimes had to wonder exactly why Pete wasn't made the leader of the team, with Godzooky as his second-in-command.
As annoying as some viewers may have found this trend, I personally believe that it carried with it an excellent youth empowerment message.
While searching for the headwaters of the Mitibu River, a group of workers are suddenly attacked by a colony of giant ants that appear out of a crevice in a nearby mountainside, forcing the men to flee.
Investigating the incident, the Calico crew journey within the crevice and discover a hidden valley where giant insects dominate, and an inconvenient earthquake seals the fissure and traps the crew within. Dr. Darian discovers that when sunlight is filtered through the strange clouds that surround the valley, a chemical reaction occurs in the insects that vastly increases their size.
Menaced by the valley’s giant ants and bees, Godzilla is called, and he quickly dispatches the bees. After hurling away a tank-sized beetle that attacked the crew, Godzilla finds himself in battle with the king of the valley’s population of giant insects, an enormous spider (spiders are actually arachnids, not insects, but the two are nevertheless close relatives). Godzilla is defeated when he is bitten by the spider and poisoned by its venom, and the paralyzed Kaiju King is webbed up.
When the crew is attacked by the giant spider and Godzooky is also webbed up, causing him to cry for help, Godzilla hears and forcefully metabolizes the venom. Freeing himself from the web cocoon with his laser beams, Godzilla rushes to the crew’s rescue and saves Godzooky.
However, the spider is then exposed to more sunlight, causing it to grow even larger than Godzilla. During the ensuing battle with the monster arachnid, Godzilla tricks it into biting itself, thus causing the spider to be paralyzed by its own venom [but wouldn’t the spider be naturally immune to the effects of its own poison? I guess we weren't supposed to think about that]. Godzilla then smashes his way through the rocks trapping the crew in the valley, freeing his friends and then sealing the entrance again, trapping the giant insects permanently within.
Comments: This was another fine episode of season two, and the giant spider featured here was as much a handful for the animated Godzilla as Spiega was for the Big G’s movie counterpart in Son Of Godzilla.
A robotic whale has been developed by unknown parties working for the government for the purpose of undersea plankton mining, and Brock and Pete are aboard doing a test drive (the whale is not truly a cyborg as the title of the episode proclaims, but is actually a robot; see the comments below).
However, when the Cyborg Whale is struck by lightening during an unexpected thunderstorm, the robot’s computers are damaged, and the device runs amok, heading on a deadly collision course with Honolulu. Although Godzilla is called to the rescue, he is unable to use his full power against the Cyborg Whale for fear of harming Brock and Pete, who are trapped inside, and the robotic cetacean’s built-in weaponry fends off the Big G’s attempts to halt it without damaging it.
Finally, Brock and Pete manage to open the robot’s porthole and are flown to safety by Godzooky. Thus, just before it reaches the coast of Hawaii, Godzilla is able to bring his full power to bear on the robot, and as a result of the Big G bending the whale’s rear rudder fin, the robot swims in circles endlessly until it runs out of fuel. Then, the Cyborg Whale is able to be safely boarded and repaired.
Comments: The Cyborg Whale was certainly an unusual and interesting foe for Godzilla, and the artificial intelligence it exhibited was wondrous, such as the excellent scene where Godzilla attempts to stop the robot by grabbing its tail fin, and the robot responds by blasting its own fin with its laser cannon until the metal turns red hot, forcing the irate Kaiju King to release it.
Contrary to what the title of this episode states, the whale is not truly a cyborg, but it's actually a robot. This was a common error made in sci-fi films and shows during the '70's, including the fact that Mechagodzilla, who was also a robot, was referred to as a "cyborg" in the English dubbed dialogue in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and I recall that the robot Jet Jaguar was likewise incorrectly referred to as a cyborg in the English dubbed version of Godzilla vs. Megalon.
To clarify the difference, a robot is a being that is entirely artificially constructed by technological means, whereas a cyborg is a being who is a result of an organic entity being enhanced by technological accoutrements (or vice versa; see below). Thus, the words "robot" and "cyborg" are actually not synonymous with each other, as some of these '70's films and TV series would have us believe. A further diffrentiation is an android, which is an entirely synthetic being who is designed to resemble a human being (or other organic being) in exact outward appearance, but actually has no organic components whatsoever. Well known robots in sci-fi history include Robbie the Robot from the classic sci-fi film Forbidden Planet; the unnamed robot from the TV series Lost In Space; R2-D2 and C3-P0 from the 6 part Star Wars movie saga; Herbie from the Fantastic Four animated TV series by Filmation in the late 70's (a far more powerful comic book version existed for a short time); the friendly sentient and mechanical protagonist from the two Short Circuit films; and the overly "cutsie" droid Twikki from the TV series version of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Popular sci-fi cyborgs include Col. Steve Austin and Jamie Sommers from The Six Million Dollar Man TV series (damn, was it ever cheap for the government to produce a cyborg in the early 70's by today's fiscal standards!) and The Bionic Woman spin-off series, respectively; the super hero aptly called Cyborg from DC Comics and member of the Teen Titans [real name: Victor Stone]; the later DC Comics villian known as the Cyborg Superman [real name: Hank Henshaw] who combined a cloned body of Superman with a large amount of ultra-powerful mechanical accoutrments of Kryptonian origin; and the T-800 Terminator soldiers from The Terminator movie series [it should be noted that Ken Begg, the webmaster and chief scribe of the Jabootu Dimension movie review site, insists that the Terminator was actually a robot, since, unlike many other cyborgs, he was actually a robotic being who had organic flesh and blood added over its steel shell, rather than the usual case, which is an already existing organic being having robotic parts added to him/her/it; in my opinion, however, the T-800 version of the Terminator does indeed qualify as a cyborg, since he had that all-important organic component to him, even if he began "his" existence as an entirely artificial being.]
Popular sci-fi androids include Lt. Commander Data from the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and its subsequent movie franchise (Data was briefly transformed into a cyborg by the Borg Queen in the film Star Trek: First Contact when she added large amounts of organic epidermis to his synethetic skin); the mechanized daughter from the late 80's TV comedy series Small Wonder; the super hero from Marvel Comics known as the original Human Torch [real name: Jim Hammond, no connection to Johnny Storm, the Human Torch who is a member of the Fantastic Four]...the aforementioned Golden Age Human Torch was one of comic's earliest super-heroes, and the first ever synthetic super-hero (he premiered in MARVEL COMICS #1, published in 1939), and the Vision, a stalwart, long-time member of the Avengers (though the Vision has described himself as a synthezoid, a type of being that combines the characteristics of a robot and an android), whose history is closely intertwined with that of the Golden Age Human Torch (purchase a copy of the AVENGERS FOREVER trade paperback to read the very needlessly convoluted story behind that, but be sure to keep the Excedrin handy).
A freak cyclonic storm sucks both the Calico and Godzilla, the latter of whom unsuccessfully attempted to rescue the hapless ship from the vortex, into an amazing futuristic city that floats above the clouds, unseen by the surface world.
The human looking cloud dwellers befriend the Calico crew, but the latter soon learns that the cloud city is repeatedly menaced by a giant, electricity spewing flying monster they call the Power Dragon. Godzilla defends the city, sending the Power Dragon fleeing back to the clouds.
Awed by Godzilla, and realizing that the Kaiju King can protect the cloud city from the Power Dragon, the leader of the floating metropolis attempts to steal the signal device from Capt. Majors. Taking the Calico crew captive, the leader offers to return them to the surface in exchange for Godzilla’s permanent servitude to the sky city, but they refuse.
Later, the Power Dragon attacks the city again, and Godzilla battles the winged kaiju once more, this time sending the monster falling into the cyclonic rift, thus ending its threat to the cloud city for good. The crew succeeded in escaping during the melee, and by diverting the city’s power generators that control the vortex, they manage to send themselves, the Calico, and Godzilla back to the surface world, and the sky dwellers back to their floating city forever.
Comments: This episode utilized yet another famous sci-fi device, the idea of a hidden race of advanced beings that exist somewhere on Earth (or below or above it) without the mainstream human race’s knowledge.
This story, whether intentionally or not, is similar to the sky city that appeared in various stories depicted in Marvel Comics, which was the home of an advanced race of winged humanoids known as the Bird People (actually a splinter group of the Marvel Universe’s famous hidden race called the Inhumans), who were responsible for creating the comic book superhero from World War II known as the Red Raven.
As the result of an undersea volcanic eruption, an unknown type of subterranean super food source is released into the ocean depths, and after being eaten by various types of tropical sea life (who inexplicably changed their usual diets to consume the super food), it causes the fish to grow to tremendous size. The large number of giant fish are obviously a hazard to ocean going vessels and normal sea life, particularly a giant manta ray who proves to be a vicious menace [in actuality, real manta rays are gentle creatures; presumably, its disposition was somehow altered by the super food].
Godzilla is called to battle the giant manta ray as Capt. Majors and Brock utilize their mini-sub to corral the rest of the giant fish into a huge coral enclosure.
In the meantime, Dr. Darian deduces that ice water would reverse and inhibit the growth process, so Godzilla travels to the Antarctic Sea to acquire an iceberg. The Kaiju King shoves the ice into the coral enclosure containing the giant fish, and the cooler waters succeed in reducing the sea life back to their normal size.
Comments: This episode may have been loosely based upon H.G. Wells’s classic novel THE FOOD OF THE GODS, which told of a newly invented food source that caused young animals and humans to grow to enormous size after consuming it (the 1976 movie version wrote the giant humans out of the story entirely, and depicted the food source as mysterious and having appeared from below ground on an isolated island). The super food in this episode depicts what would happen if Wells’s fabled nutrient source appeared underwater, instead of on land.
A lunar eclipse causes a violent moonquake [although how this happens is beyond me, since unlike the Earth, the moon is geologically dead and doesn’t have quakes], which releases a hibernating, energized monster that lands on the Earth in the Pacific Ocean. Utilizing his gravitational powers, the moon monster creates a giant whirlpool that imperils the Calico and its crew.
Calling on Godzilla, the Big G battles the moon monster and ultimately hurls the creature back into space, where he’s recaptured by the moon’s gravity (that was one hell of a feat, even for Godzilla!).
A series of violent undersea earthquakes are causing large amounts of underwater volcanoes to appear in the Pacific Ocean depths, and this prompts the Calico to investigate.
Traveling inside one of the volcanoes, the crew is menaced by a herd of large fire-breathing reptiles who appear to thrive on the molten lava within. Godzilla is called to free the crew from the volcano, but another earthquake opens a fissure in the Earth that traps the Kaiju King deep within the planet’s crust undersea.
Meanwhile, the crew manages to evade the fire lizards and discover the source of the earthquakes, a fallen Jupiter Probe rocket, which has become embedded within two coastal tectonic plates. Going aboard the rocket, the crew attempts to utilize it to return to the surface, but are unable to activate its damaged engines.
Godzilla finally bursts free from the earth’s crust and enters the volcano in time to save Godzooky from the fire lizards. The Big G then brings the rocket containing the Calico crew back to the surface, ending the earthquakes and sealing off the volcano in the process.
Comments: This absolutely putrid episode, the first time in the series that Godzilla didn’t battle another giant monster (the fire lizards were nasty, but much too small to be any threat to Godzilla, and all they did was menace the Calico crew), was unfortunately a harbinger of the remainder of the season, and the ratings of the show, which were usually less than season one to begin with, plummeted straight to the ground.
An evil paramilitary organization calling itself COBRA has acquired a series of ICBM missiles, and threatens to launch them on all the major cities in the world unless the United Nations accedes to their demands for world domination.
The Calico crew discovers the secret island base of COBRA, and are taken prisoner by the organization. They still manage to summon Godzilla to the island, and upon arriving, the Kaiju King battles and defeats the organization’s large military arsenal. Upon reaching COBRA’s nuclear reactor, Godzilla destroys it, thereby ending the organization’s threat, and after rescuing his human allies, they see to it that the villains are arrested by a United Nations Task Force.
Comments: This episode, which featured no opposing monster adversary for the Big G, attempted to give us something different, and make an homage to the movie series at the same time: Godzilla battles human military forces, and the evil paramilitary organization featured here is reminiscent of the Red Bamboo, whom the movie version of Godzilla faced in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster.
Curiously, the organization’s name, COBRA, predated the infamous terrorist group of the same name popularized in the G.I. JOE comic book and animated TV series by several years.
Temperatures across the Earth begin dropping to unusually low levels, and the Calico crew travel to the North Pole to investigate a UFO sighting, which they suspect to be connected to the temperature aberrations in some way.
The crew then discovers that numerous icebergs are present, and the water levels are dropping at an alarming rate due to the freezing of the oceans. The source of the problem is also discovered hidden in one of the icebergs, which turns out to be a spaceship containing an advanced race of cold temperature dwelling, semi-humanoid fascistic aliens referred to as the Ice People, who hail from the frigid asteroid Frios.
By using their ultra-sophisticated magnetic wave generators, the Ice People declare to the Calico crew their intentions to direct Frios to Earth, thereby causing the planet to enter a new Ice Age so as to make the world more palatable to the aliens for future conquest [actually, bringing such a large asteroid near the Earth would cause far more damage than a temperature reduction, as the conflicting gravitational forces would tear both celestial bodies apart; the aliens need to improve their scientific research, and also need to explain why they can't simply find another asteroid to colonize, as there must be literally millions of suitable floating rocks in the galaxy].
Although the crew is taken captive, Godzooky calls Godzilla, who confronts the aliens' super weaponry. Unfortunately, the Ice People use their cold generating technology to encase Godzilla in ice, sending him into suspended animation.
Escaping from the aliens and returning to the Calico, the crew has Brock and Pete melt the ice surrounding Godzilla via the heated exhaust from their mini-sub, and the Kaiju King is then instructed to perform the (rather ludicrous) feat of turning the Ice Peoples' spaceship upside-down, a feat that reverses the magnetic polarity of the vessel and sends Frios away from the Earth, thereby negating the temperature reduction.
Intimidated by the power of Earth’s guardian kaiju, the Ice People summarily call off their plans of conquest and retreat back into outer space (and probably realized they should have just found one of the millions of other suitable asteroids floating about in the void of outer space in the first place, rather than going through all of the elaborate trouble of reducing the temperature of an entire inhabited planet, and subjugating its sizable populace on top of it all).
Comments: This somewhat convoluted episode brought in another staple of the '70’s Godzilla movie series: an imperialistic alien race who attempts to conquer the Earth, only to be repulsed by Godzilla.
Unfortunately, unlike the Godzilla movie aliens, the Ice People didn’t bring a giant monster of their own along, causing many viewers to fall asleep well before the half-hour episode was over (I remember that I did).
This episode was the ignominious last hurrah of the show, and the last new episode of the Godzilla animated series from Hanna-Barbera to be aired before continuing for one more season with only reruns.