In September of 1998, a few months after Tri-Star Pictures's release of Godzilla, their film version of the King of the Monsters (covered elsewhere on this site), Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin's production company, Centropolis, produced an animated Godzilla series for syndication (initially aired on the FOX network in America), which is directly based on the film, and in fact continues directly from the end of the movie. The first animated small screen foray for Godzilla since the Hanna-Barbera series premiere 20 years earlier (and also covered elsewhere on this site), the Kaiju King once again began carving a unique niche in American pop culture.
As noted above, the series is a direct sequel to the movie, and in fact the first two-part episode picks up literally right where the film leaves off.
The character of youthful biologist Dr. Nick Tatopoulos remains the main human protagonist of the series, and several other characters from the film are also brought into the series as regulars, as well as new one's being introduced. Some characters from the film, such as Audrey Timmonds and Animal, also appear, but are given more limited roles, and are not featured in the majority of episodes in the series (though they receive more air time in season two). Two characters from the film, along with two new characters created exclusively for the series, are led by Tatopoulus as part of the monster-hunting scientific team known as H.E.A.T. (I still don't know what the acronym stands for at this writing *sigh*), and they travel about in a very sophisticated aquatic vessel known as the Heat Seeker.
The two regular characters brought in from the movie for comprising the H.E.A.T. team are female paleontologist Dr. Elsie Chapman, who is a smart ass rival to Timmonds as a romantic interest for Tatopoulos, and pudgy, meek, ultra-neurotic technologist and communications expert Dr. Mendel Craven, who not only has the hots for Elsie, but is also known for concocting numerous failed schemes to enable the team to control Godzilla directly, though his inventive ingenuity and surprising degree of bravery when the situation warrents it is very often an invaluable asset to the team. The two new H.E.A.T. members introduced in the series are Randy Hernandez, a wise-cracking black Portuguese graduate student and computer whiz, and Monique Dupre, a dangerously skilled and enigmatic member of the French Secret Service who replaces Phillipe Roache from the film, albeit on Roache's behest, to monitor the activities of the team and Godzilla himself, and though she proves extremely useful to the intrepid group on many occasions, her loyalty is never certain (as she only answers to Roache, and often disobeys him as well). Finally, in the series Mendel designed and built a small non-humanoid robot known as N.I.G.E.L (Next-millennium Intelligence Gathering Electronic Liasion), who possesses an extremely sophisticated artificial intelligence system, and who is able to act almost on its own volition following certain pre-programmed instructions to perform various important missions for the team. Such missions generally encompass the performance of trouble shooting missions in dangerous environments that the human members of H.E.A.T. cannot go, to keep tabs on Godzilla's whereabouts, to call the giant saurian to assist the team when necessary, and to act as an information gathering device for the team. N.I.G.E.L.'s artificially pre-programmed personality simulations vary from episode to episode, courtesy of Randy constantly reprogramming it in order to irritate Mendel, and the robot manages to get destroyed in almost every single episode (three times total in one particular show!). Thus, many fans of this series have noted that N.I.G.E.L. appears to be this series's answer to the character of Kenny from South Park.
Other characters who were brought in from the film in a recurring role are the aforementiond Audrey Timmonds, ex-girlfriend of Tatopoulos and determined journalist looking for her big break (and sometimes willing to take foolish chances along those lines, and as such she is a character cut from the same thematic mold as Lois Lane); Victor "Animal" Palotti, the also recklessly brave New York City-born Italian-American camera-jockey who accompanies Timmonds on her news-seeking forays; Major Anthony Hicks (Colonel in the movie), a veteran Army commander who was originally charged with the task of eliminating Godzilla, though he is later convinced by Tatopoulos into concentrating the defense efforts of his military team against the other and more dangerous monsters, and he thus becomes an important ally (if occasional impediment) to the H.E.A.T. team; and Phillipe Roache, the shadowy and lethal operative of the French Secret Service whose purpose is to make sure, on behalf of the French government, that the new Godzilla doesn't became a threat as the original one (from the movie) did, and who secretly sets up the H.E.A.T. team with their Heat Seeker vessel, as well as occasionally providing the team with behind the scenes assistance. Roache was also the party who sent Monique Dupre to spy on them.
The series itself is about the Tri-Star version of Godzilla, completely ignoring any connection to the Toho mythos of either the Showa or Heisei Era movie series (the Centropolis animated G-series came and went prior to the Millennium G-series). As a result, for those who wish to know the origin of this version of Godzilla, please refer to the section of this site covering the live action Tri-Star film, which can be found here.
For an extremely detailed description of every conceivable aspect of this animated series, please refer to the wonderful, nearly book-length article composed by Bob Johnson for G-FAN #44.
Thus, the premise of the series is as follows.
Right after the first Godzilla is slain by the armed forces, Nick Tatopoulos warns the military that they had better check to make certain that all of the monsterís eggs were really destroyed. While assisting in the search, Tatopoulos stumbles upon the single egg that was mysteriously laid separate from the main nest. When the Baby Godzilla hatches, he sees the lone Tatopoulos and somehow bonds with the scientist (much as a baby chicken or duck will do with a human being if no adult of its species is present when it hatches).
The Baby Godzilla escapes into the New York City harbor and rapidly begins growing to adult size.
Unlike the first of his species, Tatopoulos discovers that this new Godzilla (whose appearance is identical to that of the first Godzilla in the film) is not only a learning creature of high intelligence, and not limited to simple instinctual responses as are most denizens of the animal kingdom outside of the human race, but for some reason (never scientifically explained), its determined by Tatopoulos via analysis of a sample of the new Godzilla's DNA that this version of the monster will not reproduce. Although the not yet fully-grown monster is attacked and wounded by the military, he still manages to escape again before growing to full size.
Soon afterwards, Tatopoulos and his team begin discovering the existence of new dai kaiju, most of which are also radioactive mutations (why they all suddenly began appearing at nearly the same time, however, was never explained). When Tatopoulos is endangered by one of the mutant monsters, Godzilla promptly appears and protects the scientist, and could also be directed into performing other feats, such as rescuing other team members and individuals, under Tatopoulos's direction. Following Tatopoulos via scent to various locations, the scientist pleads the case to the military that with the new monsters showing up on a regular basis, they would do well to have at least one of the creatures on humanityís side.
Thus, the second Godzilla is spared further harassment by the military, and Tatopoulos and his team gain a very valuable ally in their continuing study of this new wave of monstrous mutations.
The series ran for two seasons on the FOX network, for a maximum of 40 episodes, though not all of these episodes were aired, and at this writing Centropolis has not yet released any of the episodes to home video.
The rest of the series is primarily a combination of Tatopoulos and company discovering and dealing with a new monster menace, inevitably leading to Godzillaís conflict with the kaiju threat, or with attempts by capitalist and military elements to exploit Godzilla for their own invariably sinister purposes. More unusual elements also appear in the series, such as two very notable attempts by a powerful hostile alien race to conquer the Earth by utilizing the many mutant kaiju that exist there as unwitting minions in their schemes, and much more government intrigue was featured as the series progressed. Many of the scripts for this series were quite inventive, and sometimes even thought-provoking (though a few incidental bad episodes were also to be thrown into the mix, of course).
Curiously, the series, despite being based on Emmerich and Devlinís horrid rendition of Godzilla (and produced by the same two individuals), is quite good, and this show ironically displays what Tri-Star might have done with their film if only Emmerich and Devlin stuck to producing, and laid off of the writing and directing chores.
Godzilla has the same abilities, as well as appearance, of his film counterpart, only now he has a clearly defined incendiary breath power. Happily, as in the film, Godzilla retains his classic Toho roar in the series (something he didnít retain in the Hanna-Barbera animated series, and this is the only thing that Emmerich and Devlin did right with their silver screen version of the Kaiju King). He apparently possesses greater intelligence than the monster in the movie, and in a fashion similar to the current Daiei film version of Gamera, this rendition of Godzilla can best be described as an anti-hero, albeit one who rarely wreaks the same kind of havoc that he opposes. Heís not a deliberate defender of humankind per se, but heís not a threat in any way, either (the other monsters in the series fill that role, as well as the aforementioned alien race and various rogue government and capitalistic elements out to exploit Godzilla for their own purposes), and thanks to the kaijuís bond with Tatopoulos and the creatureís natural territorial rivalry against the other monsters, he often inadvertantly ends up playing the savior of the human race.
The writing in the series is usually much better than the script composed for the film, and the character of Nick Tatopoulos is much better realized and respectable here in comparison to the live action portrayal by actor Matthew Broderick in the movie. The other characters are well fleshed out, and several of the episodes have explored different aspects of their individual character and personal lives. Despite the humor in the interactions between the characters, the tone of the series is generally serious, again unlike the movie it was based upon.
Despite the fact that the series was run on Saturday mornings on the FOX network, and thus carried a TV-Y7 rating (blah), Centropolis did a wonderful job with it, displaying the same amount of respect for their version of Godzilla as Warner Bros. did for Batman in their various animated Batman series' during the 1990's. The storylines are all semi-adult, the action is intense, the monster fight scenes are violent and sometimes even graphic, and blood is even occasionally drawn (though nowhere near is much as you would see in the Aeon Flux series of MTV's now defunct, wildly experimental Liquid Television anthology show, or in a typical Japanese anime). Thus, despite the show's ďkiddieĒ rating, like the aforementioned Batman series from WB, it will most likely be enjoyed by teenagers on up, rather than being watched primarily or exclusively by older children, unlike the much less sophisticated though considerably longer-lived live action Power Rangers franchise of TV series (before their wane in popularity, that is).
The opening title credit sequence, particularly the shot of Godzillaís luminous red eye walking alongside the moving car on the bridge, and the accompanying musical score, are excellent and extremely foreboding. The animation is very well done, almost in league with Japanese anime (minus the characteristic saucer-sized eyes of the human cast), and Godzilla is well realized onscreen. Surprisingly, despite the fact that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin are the producers of this series (and no doubt making a fortune off of the royalties), the show isnít particularly politically and patriotically correct (then again, this series was produced and ran its course prior to 9/11), and the military and capitalists are oftentimes depicted in a realistic rather than idealistic manner, e.g., too often short-sighted and primarily interested in acquiring power and acceding to the dictates of the infamous "bottom line" (*hears an audible "grrrr, shut up, Chris, you dunno what you're talking about!" from the conservative readers out there*). Then again, let us remember that Mssrs. Emmerich and Devlin didn't actually do any scripting on this series, so let's be thankful for that.
The only really regrettable thing about this series is that itís not live action. Budgetary limitations shouldnít be cited as an excuse, however, since Japan has a long tradition with live action TV series featuring dai kaiju, beginning with Ultra Q in 1965, and continuing with Ultraman and its innumerable spin-offs extending right up to the present, and also including other classic Japanese dai kaiju heavy series on the small screen, such as Space Giants, Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot, etc [the latter two being the American titles of said shows]. America has never produced a regularly featured TV series with a dai kaiju focus, with the sole and disappointing exception of the late 1990's Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero, an American update of the classic Japanese series from Tsuberaya Productions, which was very short-lived, very poorly received by sentai fans across the globe, and not even widely seen in North America (the entire short run of the latter series is very affordably available from Video Daikaiju for those Ultraman completists or Kane Kosugi fans who would like to have a full run of the show featuring the 'Ultraman Powered' version of Japan's famous sentai hero for their video library).
The only other American series I can put in this category would be Sabanís cheap bastardizations (one might say caricaturizations) of various popular Japanese sentai shows, such as the aforementioned lengthy Power Rangers franchise, V.R. Troopers, Dark Rider, and Big Bad Beetleborgs (ugh!), all of which were designed only for very young, undiscriminating audiences (undiscriminating in a culturally theoretical sense, of course). Of all the Ultraman TV series, only the original Ultraman (1966), Ultraseven (1967), and Ultraman Tiga (1996) have thus far been aired in America, and the last two have been quite severely chopped up to greatly limit the amount of onscreen violence, had new theme songs and opening title sequences added (I must admit that I really like the American opening theme song for Ultraman Tiga, despite that show's very short run on American TV), and suffered many alterations of the dialogue, storylines, and scene sequences in order to make them more "kid friendly," according to (UGH!) American network standards so as to ensure a TV-Y7 rating for each, more's the pity.
Godzilla: The Series would have been a wonderful opportunity for a live action American dai kaiju series, but the animated show is good enough. Itís certainly not of the quality or sophistication it would have been had it been produced as an animated feature in Japan, but for an American production, itís rather decent.
Below is a complete episode guide to Centropolis's animated Godzilla: The Series, featuring brief synopses of each episode produced, followed by a bit (and sometimes more than a bit) of commentary where I feel such was warranted. I am indebted to the folks who maintain the Centropoholics web site (yep, believe it or not, Centropolis actually has a bunch of fans!) and scribe Jerry Apgar for much of the info to be found in this episode guide, as well as my own personal observations of the series. Please note that the episodes were sometimes aired out of order by FOX, some episodes were not aired at all on that station, and the names of the monsters were often not provided in the shows themselves, but do appear in the scripts for those episodes, and will thus be included in the guide below.
After the original Godzilla [from the Tri-Star film] is killed in New York City by the military, Dr. Nick Tatopoulos insists that the militia search for any possible remaining eggs. One egg was indeed remaining, having inexplicably been laid in a different area of the demolished building than the rest, and it hatches.
Upon his encountering the infant Godzilla, Tatopoulos discovers that it's evidently less hostile than the previous Raptor-like hatchlings, and in fact this creature develops an instant empathic rapport with the young scientist. Thus, Tatopoulos resolves to study this creature, and he assembles a small but diversely talented group of trusted friends who he knew from his college days into an organization known as H.E.A.T. in order to conduct the studies. It is then that he realizes that this new Godzilla is markedly different from both the original Godzilla and the other hatchlings, in that he will not reproduce, and will likely not be a threat of any sort to human beings. However, the creature swiftly achieves a huge size, and as ships mysteriously disappear off the coast of Jamaica, Godzilla is blamed, and the military commander Major Anthony Hicks is contacted and told that the creature is at the newly founded H.E.A.T headquarters.
Once discovered, the new Godzilla is attacked and injured by the military, and promptly retreats to the ocean, much to Tatopoulos's consternation.
After believing that the new Godzilla was killed by the military under the direction of Major Hicks, Tatopoulos convinces his newly established H.E.A.T. organization to stay together in order to investigate the other mutated creatures that he expects to appear across the globe, and they agree, beginning their investigations with the aforementioned ship disappearances in Jamaica.
Once there, they not only discover a mysterious viscous and organic substance that vaguely resembles tar, but they are also attacked by a gigantic multi-tentacled, cephalopod-like creature, which is obviously another mutation. They also discover a giant crab-like crustacean called 'Crustacious" [in the script only], that appears to be feeding on the viscous substance.
However, just when it appears that all is lost, Godzilla suddenly re-appears, now grown to full size, having completely healed from the wounds delivered to him by the military, and evidently having been drawn to that area of the world via his bond with Tatopoulos (he must be one hell of a fast swimmer to get from New York City harbor all to the way to the Carribean that quickly, unless he covertly followed the H.E.A.T. crew the entire journey over there). Godzilla then battles and evidently destroys the multi-tentacled kaiju in defense of Tatopoulos, and also defeats Crustacious. Finally, directed by Tatopoulos, he finds the ships pulled beneath the surface, and rescues them, with their respective crews alive and intact (lucky them!).
As a result of proving himself to be non-hostile and eminently useful to the human race, as well as under the general control of Tatopoulos, the young scientist advises Major Hicks to cease his assaults on Godzilla, since there will undoubtably be more mutated kaiju appearing in the future, and it would do them well to have at least one of the creatures on the side of humanity. Hicks grudgingly agrees, but resolves to keep an eye on the team and their monstrous ally.
Comments: This first, hour long entry into the series (having since been divided into two parts for TV viewing) was an extremely good start, and in order to capture a big initial audience, it was a trite more violently explicit than most other episodes of this series (note Godzilla visibly bleeding after being attacked by the military in Part 1, and his burning the mutant cephalopod's tentacles to withered husks with his incendiary breath in Part 2). The members of H.E.A.T. were well-established, their personalities were displayed as being quite likable and endearing, and the series was basically off to a good start.
A new form of microrganism is created and designed via genetic engineering to consume oil spills and other man-made pollutants in New York City, only to mutate and become an enormous, ever-growing mass of protoplasm that devours everything in its path. H.E.A.T. comes to investigate the bizarre life form, and finds it to be seemingly unstoppable, prompting them to call Godzilla to the rescue. Godzilla also proves unable to stop the creature, however, and H.E.A.T. ends up resolving the problem by infecting the protoplasmic kaiju with a computer-generated virus [?!] that weakens it, enabling Godzilla to completely destroy it.
Comments: This episode featured an interesting monster, likely inspired by the ravenous amoebic beast from the two movie versions of The Blob, and once again utilized the popular central theme of ecology as the story's focus. Unfortunately, the 'techno-savvy' solution to the problem that H.E.A.T. came up with, obviously intended to be friendly to viewers living in the midst of the computer age, was rather ludicrous.
H.E.A.T. travels to Central America to investigate more creature sightings, and encounters a dangerous, subteranean burrowing monster known as "El Gusano Gigante," which is Portuguese for "Giant Earthworm," as the creature resembles an enormous hybrid of an earthworm and a slug, with tendrils protruding from its facial area. The creature utilizes its facial tendrils to absorb organic mineral nutrients from the human beings that it ensnares, thereby causing them to fall deathly ill as a result. The military devises an experimental chemical weapon, which it hopes will neutralize the creature by attacking the radioactive aspect of the beast, but Tatopoulos advises them not to use the weapon until it's further tested.
As the gigantic annelid attacks, Godizlla appears on the scene to defend Tatopoulos, and as the two beasts battle, the Central American military decides to launch their chemical weapon. When it's released, Godzilla becomes seriously ill, but the Gusano Gigante actually absorbs the chemical and grows larger and stronger as a result [and coincidentally very convenient, if rather formulaic, as a plot device!]. As Godzilla is forced to retreat to the sea in order to heal, the Gusano Gigante rampages anew.
Finally, H.E.A.T. manages to concoct a counter-agent for the chemical to cure Godzilla, who then attacks the Gusano Gigante, and uses his incendiary breath to dry the creature's body to such an extent that it shrinks into a miniature form, which quickly retreats into the ground, having been rendered effectively harmless.
Comments: Another good episode and good adversary for the Big G, despite the fact that the television network requirements and the show's TV-Y7 rating resulted in the viewers being forced to suspend their disbelief quite a bit in regards to having to accept the existence of extremely powerful and dangerous monsters that only inflict non-lethal damage upon human beings caught in their wake. If only the human inhabitants of Gamera's universe could have been so fortunate.
Tatopoulos is contacted by another old college buddy, Cameron Winter, with an offer of hiring H.E.A.T. Allegedly towards this end, Winter entices Randy to plant an experimental, computer-operated device upon Godzilla that, unbeknowest to Randy and the rest of H.E.A.T., is actually for the purpose of controlling the kaiju. Winter is revealed to be a mercenary who wishes to hire out the services of Godzilla to the highest bidder, and he accepts an offer to destroy a certain Army base in exchange for high financial remuneration.
Luckily, however, Randy is able to rectify his mistake by hacking into Winter's personal computer system and deactivating the device granting him control over the Kaiju King.
Comments: This episode is interesting in that it was not only the first show in the series in which Godzilla was exploited by the technology of corrupt human members of the military industrial complex for their own nefarious purposes, but it also introduced a recurring nemesis in the person of Cameron Winter.
A colony of huge, mutated rats appear in New York City, wreaking havoc on the sprawling metroplex at night. Soon, the problem is escalated as Godzilla appears and begins to attack the rats in defense of his territory, thus causing more destruction to the city.
Tatopoulos arrives to investigate the situation, and encounters three rednecks who arrive in the city to kill Godzilla [when have rednecks ever been renowned for their intelligence?]. Tatopoulos and the inbred trio find themselves menaced by the mutant rats, until Godzilla finally wins his war with the lethal rodents by locating their underground nest and burrowing directly out to the sea, thus causing a torrent of water to pour into the burrow and drown all of the mutant vermin.
Comments: This episode was rather chilling, as anyone who is seriously afraid of rats is quite likely to be genuinely creeped out by Godzi's foes here, and their behavior, appearance, and luminous red eyes were quite fearsome.
Tatopoulos takes his H.E.A.T. team deep beneath the sea in order to investigate the mysterious disappearance of noted research scientist Dr. Alexander Preloran and his own team. There they discover a hidden spacecraft belonging to a race of advanced, hostile non-humanoid aliens, who hope to (what else?) conquer the Earth with the help of (what else?) a pet giant monster, a dinasauroid beast called Cryptocleidus.
H.E.A.T. locates the captured Dr. Preloran and his team, and together they discover a way to thwart the aliens, as Godzilla battles and defeats Cryptocleidus.
Comments: This episode introduced Centropolis's take on a theme popular to G-fans who are familiar with the later Showa Series of G-films: a race of fascist-minded aliens who attempt to conquer the Earth with the use of dai kaiju in addition to their own advanced technology, rather than simply finding a suitable planet uninhabited by sentient life, which one would think an advanced spacefaring race would be far more likely to do. However, this discrepancy is often explained away by depicting aliens with an extreme egoistic superiority complex over less advanced races (e.g., the Xians from Godzilla vs. Monster Zero), a messianic, misguided belief that they are doing "good" by dominating another, "less advanced" species (e.g., the Nebulans from Godzilla vs. Gigan), being driven by extreme desperation as a result of a terrible crisis facing their race (e.g., the Mysterians from the eponymously titled film from Toho and the Simeons from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla), seemingly just plain rotten (e.g., the Kilaaks from Destroy All Monsters), or a combination of these unpleasant character traits.
This episode's eerie, non-humanoid, multi-tentacled race of aliens were strangely reminscent of the vicious octopoid extraterrestrials from H.G. Wells' classic 1898 novel THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, which was made into both a movie, a comic book series by Marvel Comics (thus providing the context for which to introduce their futuristic human freedom fighter Killraven), and a TV series, with a new movie version appearing in 2005 (not to mention being the basis for Alan Moore's wonderful second volume of his critically acclaimed LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN illustrated story series). Wells' novel was perhaps the great-granddaddy of all alien invasion stories, and the brutal, fascistic aliens featured within that story was the very obvious inspiration for the aliens from Centropolis's own shamelessly nationalistic vanity project Independence Day, a movie that provided lot's of neat special effects but little real substance, sort of like this tepid little 1998 movie they produced called Godzilla. Further, it would appear that the Virasians from the Gamera film Gamera vs. Viras (1968) were also somewhat inspired by Wells's aliens.
These aliens would eventually return, and become a serious menace in a major story arc later in the series.
The alien spacecraft was referred to as the 'Leviathan,' btw, hence the title of this episode. The Leviathan is the name of a mythical sea creature of extraordinary size and destructive capabilities that was mentioned in the Bible, appearing in Job 41:1-34. This beast was described as being seemingly invulnerable to physical harm (at least in regards to the primitive weaponry available between the 13th and 1st centuries, B.C., when the description was first written), and the creature could also breathe fire in a manner similar to the dragons of Western and Northern legend. The Leviathan of Biblical lore was ill-described in the scriptures, but was said to be adorned with scaley armor for skin, and to have massive glowing eyes. This fearsome monster was able to exist on either land or within an aquatic environment, and has sometimes been described in subsequent theological literature as one of the possible manifestations of Satan, the Judeo-Christian being of absolute evil and God's ideological/political/metaphysical antitheses, for which to appear during the cataclysmic onset of Judgment Day. According to the passage describing the beast in the Book of Job, the Leviathan was fated to battle another such enormous creature, the Behemoth, to the death. According to still later scholarly interpretations of these creatures, the beasts were opposite sex members of the same "species"; God decreed that both of these monsters would be filled with a violent enmity for each other, so that they would destroy one another in battle, rather than run the risk of mating and reproducing (it was never explained, of course, why the omnipotent God didn't simply wink them both out of existence, though presumably the existence and eventual battle between these two mammoth beasts were a central part of His overall plan for humanity and the world). Hence, the words "Leviathan" and "Behemoth" have both become synonymns in the English lexicon for any being or even vehicle of enormous size and/or strength.
It should also be noted that the biblical Leviathan bears an astounding resemblance to numerous other vastly huge dragon-like creatures arising from the sea to be found in many of the world's theological mythologies, including the female primal serpent-cum-creator deity Mahmet from Babylonian mythology and the world-encircling Jormangand the Midgard Serpent from Norse mythology (along with many other such examples from a wide array of world cultures), all of whom share the characteristics of being roughly serpentine or dragon-like in appearance and abilities, indescribably huge in size, possessing incredibly destructive strength and powers, and having extremely hostile dispositions to all other life forms they may encounter, thus often necessitating various heroic deities or personalities extant in these disparate mythologies to battle and destroy these creatures, or at least to hold them in check (for example, in Norse mythology, the valient thunder god Thor was the Midgard Serpent's arch-nemesis, and was destined to engage in a mutually suicidal battle with the creature during Ragnarok, the final battle between the gods and the forces of evil). It would appear that the Leviathan was far from a unique creation, as it first appeared in religious literature long after most of these other 'primal dragons,' and these conceptual beasts may indicate a common, ancient, and very powerful archetype of some sort embedded within the racial memory of the collective human consciousness described in depth in the writings of the revolutionary psychologist and metaphysician Carl Jung.
It may also be argued that these Biblical and mythological beasts are the literary antecedent for Godzilla and other dai kaiju, much as werewolves and vampires have a long and illustrious history in literature, mythology, and folklore before they became popular on the silver screen in the 20th Century to the present.
A powerful gigantic monster known as the Crackler, due to its ability to discharge crackling bolts of destructive electricity-like energy, suddenly appears in the middle of New York City, and begins wreaking havoc, only to mysteriously disappear in the midst of an attack. Godzilla shows up to battle the Crackler during one of its rampages, only to discover that the latter kaiju appears to be composed of pure energy of some sort, and is thus able to absorb the former's incendiary breath to become even stronger.
Upon investigating the Crackler, H.E.A.T. discovers that the kaiju is actually the inadvertant creation of the subconscious mind of a man named Walker. They soon notice, however, that the power of the creature is keyed to Walker's emotional state; when he becomes angry or uptight, the Crackler weakens. Thus, Randy causes Walker to completely loose his temper, which in turn causes the Crackler, who is composed of pure psionic energy, to permanently vanish.
Comments: The Crackler was a truly inventive opponent for the Big G, and was somewhat reminiscent of Godzilla's live action opponent Gabara from Godzilla's Revenge, who may possibly have had a similar origin, and even possessed a similar power, though the Crackler was far more powerful and dangerous (and a hell of a lot less ridiculous) than the former kaiju.
H.E.A.T. journeys to an island in the course of one of their creature investigations, and there encounter not only mutated carnivorous plants, which attack large animals, including human beings, but also discover that the island is ruled by a swarm of gigantic bees, all under the direction of an ultra-huge queen.
Godzilla himself engages the queen, as H.E.A.T engineers the destruction of the island to protect the outside world from the menace of the giant bees, and both Godzilla and H.E.A.T. escape from the island just in the nick of time.
Comments: It would appear that whenever a movie or TV series calls for giant monsters, giant insects are a popular choice, despite the biological fact that life forms with a chitinous exoskeleton evidently could not support their own weight beyond a size of slightly more than two feet in length nor would they be able to breathe considering that they do not have lungs but rather openings in their abdomen called spiracles that become useless beyond a certain size.
However, it would seem that giant insects are nevertheless a powerful modern archetype in the human psyche, as we appear to have a deep-rooted fear of what would happen if the obvious versatility of the inumerable insect and arachnid species of this planet could be vastly increased in size, as well as a grotesque fascination with the thought of what would occur if the scale advantage we have over the insect and arachnid world were to be reversed. All of this may account for the popularity of giant insects and arachnids in film, despite the scientific implausability of their actual existence (which few people seem to be aware of anyway, despite the total absence of any ultra-large insects or arachnids in the real world, including in the antedilluvian world of the ancient past).
Mexico is under siege from a mutated beast that resembles a gigantic winged lizard, which is named Quetzalcoatl after the mythological Aztec deity whom it also resembles [by coincidence, of course]. H.E.A.T. investigates, and discovers that the flying beast is guarding a nest whose eggs are soon about to hatch, thus creating the threat of numerous such creatures terrorizing the planet.
However, Godzilla soon arrives, and after a great battle, the flying monster is defeated, and the nest destroyed.
Comments: This episode was blatantly inspired by the slick 1982 horror film Q, which was also about a gigantic flying lizard who was named after Quetzalcoatl, the great Feathered Serpent from Aztec legend. It should be noted that Quetzalcoatl was not described as being a malevolent creature in the myths, but was actually a god who was the protector of the Aztec people, despite the fact that human sacrifices were sometimes offered to the serpent deity (though what is often left out of these stories is the fact that the select few males who were so sacrificed to the deity gave up their lives willingly, a point that was actually played up in the film). In the myths Quetzacoatl, who was believed to bestow good fortune upon his loyal worshippers and to control the elements, was described as male, immortal, and intelligent, whereas the creatures seen in both Q and this episode of the show were mortal flesh-and-blood beasts, appeared to be mindless, and were also evidently transexual, as they both laid fertile eggs without the coupling of a mate. Quetzacoatl was never described as having any of the aforementioned characteristics in the myths.
Further evidence that this episode was directly inspired by the movie Q was the fact that Elsie's ex-fiancee, who appeared in this episode, was named Larry Cohen, which also just happened to be the name of the real life writer/director/producer who wrote, directed, and produced the film Q (thank you to Doc Psy of the Centropoholic crew for this interesting tidbit of info!).
Another organic and destructive version of Quetzacoatl appeared in the low budget 1946 horror film The Flying Serpent starring B-movie horror veteran George Zucco, though this version of the beast was described in the film as being (evidently) a flesh and blood prehistoric survivor, apparently a strange carniverous reptile/avian hybrid, who was mistaken for a god by the Aztecs, and co-opted into the service of guarding valuable treasure belonging to the ancient civilization, only to be freed and pulled into the lethal machinations of an unscrupulous archeologist in the early 20th Century [that creature sure was long-lived for a mere prehistoric flying animal!]. This cheapie version of the legendary Q was only a few feet in length (though still quite deadly), and was portrayed onscreen by a rather hokey looking marionette. This film, courtesy of the old schlock-producing PRC Studios, was actually a rip-off of one of its more successful films of a few years previous, The Devil Bat, starring the late, lamented Bela Lugosi, the latter of whom could be counted on for providing his fans with entertainingly over-the-top performances and participating in so-bad-that-it's-good film projects following his fall from cinematic grace to please every "Jabootuite" out there (the latter term being part of pop culture jargon courtesy of the great Ken Begg of Jabootu Bad Movie Dimension, who coined 'Jabootu' as the sacred muse of bad movies); and this was before Lugosi began working with the late, great, wonderously untalented producer Ed Wood in the early '50's on such notoriously classic kitsch fare like Glenn or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, and *cough* Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Yet another scientific research team disappears, this time in the South Pole [geez, these research teams are a royal pain in the posterior, but what would sci-fi and horror series and films ever do without them!], and yet again, H.E.A.T. travels there to investigate, suspecting another creature problem [just think of all the work that H.E.A.T. would miss if not for vanishing research teams!].
Once again, H.E.A.T.'s hypothesis proves correct, and the problem turns out to be a group of huge, carnivorous mutations known as the Ice Borers, who are evidently able to generate a high level of internal heat, thus enabling them to burrow deep into the ice.
H.E.A.T. seems to be in big trouble until, once again, Godzilla is called upon to save them, and he makes short work of the Ice Borers [that big lizard sure does get around when Tatopoulos needs him].
H.E.A.T. journeys to Loch Ness in Scotland, in order to search for (what else?) Nessie, the famed Loch Ness Monster herself. This is because the famed Loch Ness Monster has eschewed her usual shy mein in order to inexplicably attack a Scottish scientific institute.
As Godzilla is called upon to route the enraged lake monster, it turns out that the reason for the creature's ire is one Dr. Trevor, a scientist employed by the research institute that has captured Nessie's baby to sell to the highest bidder [as noted earlier, this series certainly did play up the Evil Capitalist theme].
It also turns out that the Loch Ness Monster is a unique type of sea lizard who returns to the fresh water loch [which is actually a Scottish word for "lake"] every 20 years to spawn, only to have her offspring kidnapped this time around [perhaps Nessie is a hermaphrodite, like Godzilla, which would explain much about the beast as described in this universe, though she couldn't have been a product of radioactive mutation, like Godzilla, due to the great age of her species; also, why didn't anyone else ever come across one of her eggs in the past if she just lays them right on the shore of the loch, which hundreds of people walk across each year?].
Tatopoulos directs both the H.E.A.T. team and Godzilla to rescue Nessie's progeny, and after this was done, she peacefully returned to the sea [though since Loch Ness was cut off from the salt water environs of the sea long ago, it remains a mystery how she found her way to the loch in the first place; see Comments].
Comments: This episode was interesting in that it mirrored the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla series in its attempts to explain real life mysteries within the framework of the show's fictional universe (the latter animated series took on and "explained" the mysteries of Atlantis and the Abominable Snowman, for example). Centropolis's Godzilla series took on yet another real life mystery, the Loch Ness Monster.
Here we see an attempt to do what real life marine biologists have been attempting to do for decades: explain Nessie in the context of an organic, flesh and blood creature, and to also explain how she has eluded scientific capture, as well as strict empirical observation, for so long, and also the question of how and why there appear to be so few of the creatures. It has even been suggested (among many other hypotheses) that Nessie is in fact a relative of the prehistoric marine reptile known as the plesieosaur, and that Loch Ness, like many large lakes that were carved out by huge glacial movements during the last Ice Age, was once connected to the sea. Hence, according to the latter hypothesis, this caused several members of the plesiosaur family to become stranded in the lake once the topography of the world changed, and their numbers thus dwindled until they found an alternative (perhaps asexual) manner of reproduction, and this episode appeared to use the aforementioned precept as the premise for this episode.
Of course, that would have to explain how a huge marine reptile that is used to living in the relatively warm, salt water oceans could adapt to survive in the frigid, fresh water environment of a lake, and though there is said to be an ample supply of fish in the loch to support a large creature of that scale, this may not be possible for an entire colony of such beasts; hence the hypothesis, implied in this episode, that the creature has actually evolved into a hermaphrodite who reproduces very infrequently, and just barely often enough to keep one or a few members of the species alive. This seems quite unlikely, as there are no known examples in nature of life forms more evolved than those belonging to the annelid family (worms) that reproduce in an asexual manner, and these small, relatively simple organisms all reproduce rather rapidly, not infrequently (though it may be argued that an asexual reproductive system would be different for a larger, more complex organism, who would possess a different type of physiology). Also, if the creature(s) only spawns once every 20 years (as it was described as doing in this episode), it would have to have a very long lifespan in order to insure the survival of the species. Though there are a few types of higher organisms in the fish and amphibian family (and reputedly seen on occasion in the bird family with chickens) whose individuals can change their sex depending upon specific factors in their environment [usually a scarcity of a sufficient number of a certain gender of that species in the area, seen most often in a few fish species which inhabit the coral reef areas of the ocean, and, less frequently, seen in frogs], any higher organism suddenly or slowly evolving into an actual hermaphrodite (i.e., having both male and female sexual organs, and thus being able to reproduce without a mate) has yet to be observed, and there is as yet no evidence in the fossil record of such creatures once existing. In fact, there is substantial evidence to suggest that the dinosaurs and all prehistoric reptiles and birds reproduced sexually and generally laid eggs. Further, plesiosaurs were believed to wade on the shore to lay their eggs there, much like modern sea turtles do.
It should be noted that although there are actually several reports of the Loch Ness Monster (or monsters) being spotted on land, there has never been any evidence of eggs being found on the shore, which should be the case if the creature was a plesiosaur (but wouldn't be the case if the creature had evolved into a "live bearer," as some fish and a few reptiles are), and though it's remotely possible that such a creature could have evolved into a hermaphrodite, there is, again, no scientific evidence that this has, or would, ever occur with higher organisms (though anything is possible, of course).
It should also be noted that the concept of higher organisms being able to change their sex and reproduce in the absence of sufficient (or any) members of a certain gender in their immediate environs was the very explanation used in both the prose and film versions of JURASSIC PARK to explain how the dinosaurs were able to reproduce on the remote locale of Isla Suarte that they were confined to, when the scientists who created them were careful to make sure that every dinosaur they grew via recovered saurian DNA was female [the DNA in both the novel and the film was acquired from fossilized remains of dinosaur chromosomes within the petrified blood found in the bodies of prehistoric mosquitos who were trapped and partially preserved in amber shells; it should also be mentioned that unfertilized egg cells, known as gametes, are all inherently female unless a y chromosome is introducted to them, so that all egg cells created from borrowed DNA, if left to their own devices, will automatically develop into a female organism of the species, thus making the scientists' work all the easier]. The explanation for the dinosaurs displaying this atypical sex-changing characteristic in the story (by medically-informed author Michael Crichton) was that various parts of the dinosaurian DNA was found to be incomplete, so the scientists replaced the missing strands with borrowed frog DNA (!!), thus inadvertantly conferring the frog species' ability to alter their sex under certain specific environmental conditions to these new dinosaurs.
Finally, there is no evidence that a path from the sea to the loch currently exists to allow large, sea-dwelling animals to continuously enter unobserved by any regular sea-farers, and as noted above, these large creatures would find the loch a considerably different aquatic environment than the sea at any rate.
As a long time student of cryptozoology and the paranormal, I have personally seen no evidence to convince me that the Loch Ness Monster is likely to be an organic animal [even though heretofore undiscovered and bizarre biological, i.e., "natural" creatures may in fact exist in the far vaster oceans of the world, as evidenced by that remarkable new species of squid that was recently discovered, as well as the large "walking" fish known as the coalocanth, once believed to be extinct for 65 million years, only to be accidently discovered alive in the early 20th century, the latter of which often provides fond ammunition for the proponents of the 'undiscovered organic animal' school of thought regarding Nessie's true nature to throw at the skeptics of that aforementioned hypothesis]. However, since so many people over such a large span of time have reported seeing the creature, it's unlikely that the beast can be completely explained away in terms of floating logs, misidentifications of otters and fish, hoaxes, or the lies of lunatics seeking attention. There appears to be something strange in that loch, but since the organic animal hypothesis appears very unlikely upon close examination, it would seem that the Loch Ness Monster, if it exists at all, may actually be paranormal in origin, and is one of those strange, etheric beasts that the late paranormal researcher Ted Holiday coined as members of the "phantom menagerie" in his book THE GOBLIN UNIVERSE, an essential tome for any serious student of the paranormal and Fortean anomalies (despite a bit of sloppy research and flight of fancy hypothesizing to be found within the latter tome; btw, the term "Fortean" was derived from the late Charles Fort, the great early 20th century researcher of strange phenomena, including the plethora of bizarre creature reports from across the globe, and he wrote three satirical but seminal books investigating this largely ignored and often politically unpopular area of study, thus setting the standard for all modern paranormal researchers, and causing his surname to be transformed into an adjective to describe the types of scientifically neglected phenomena he first speculated upon). Since this subject is far beyond the scope of this site to discuss in depth, those who want to study this paranormal theory should pick up a copy of Holiday's aformentioned book, which I believe is still in print, for a good overview of the scientific analysis of this theory, or pick up a copy of the excellent recent book MONSTERS: AN INVESTIGATOR'S GUIDE TO MAGICAL BEINGS by respected author and ceremonial magician John Michael Greer, who describes the latter Fortean theory from a magickal point of view (and who tackles the Loch Ness Monster specifically in the book's chapter on "Dragons").
H.E.A.T. arrives in Japan [finally!] during the course of one of their investigations, only to encounter what appears to be a gigantic ape, who then proceeds to menace the team. Godzilla is called upon to defend them, and during the battle it's discovered that the anthropoid kaiju is actually a giant robot (likely inspired by Mechani-Kong from the Toho film King Kong Escapes) designed and controlled by Japanese scientists, particularly the master female engineer Dr. Ifukube, as a special defense against the epidemic of giant mutations to plague the island nation, and was simply attempting to drive off the H.E.A.T. team for nationalistic competitive reasons [ah, you just gotta love what the concept of nationalism does for the spirit of cooperation among humanity; *hears another audible "ggggrrr, please spare us your pie in the sky musings, Chris!" from all conservative and "moderate" visitors to my site*].
It turns out that Japan is being menaced by a giant, snake-like mutation known as King Cobra, who appears and quickly takes Godzilla out of the fight by spitting venom in his eyes and blinding him. Now the Japanese team is forced to throw their competitive nationalistic ideology aside and join with the H.E.A.T. team against King Cobra, and they direct their giant robot ape to battle the serpentine kaiju [don't worry, I won't attempt to "read into" this plot point as being indicative of a deliberate veiled metaphor in favor of global cooperation amongst all humanity that was snuck into the script by the screenwriters!].
After a lengthy and fierce battle, King Cobra manages to defeat the simian automaton. However, during that conflict, Tatopoulos finds a way to reverse the effects of the venom, thus restoring Godzilla's eyesight. The Big G quickly re-enters the fray, and promptly takes out King Cobra by crushing the snake beast's head in his jaws.
Comments: This was definately one of the best episodes of the series, as both the robot ape and King Cobra were way cool dai kaiju, and the battles were extremely exciting, even if a bit contrived [e.g., Godzilla is given a hard fought battle with the robot ape, is conveniently taken out of the battle with a single spurt of King Cobra's venom, King Cobra makes mince metal of an adversary which gave Godzilla a difficult fight, and then, upon his recovery, Godzilla easily defeats King Cobra, who just took apart an enemy that gave him a hard time; but what the hell, it was still fun to watch!].
This episode paid a strong homage to the Toho films by bringing Godzilla to Japan (woo hoo!), and the female robotics engineer, Dr. Ifukube, was clearly named after the famous Japanese maestro Akira Ifukube, who composed many of the classic soundtracks for several G-films of both the Showa and Heisei Series, thus providing a wondrous tribute to a very distinguished gentleman.
Also, King Cobra is probably my favorite kaiju adversary of the series, and his very creepy cry, which sounded like a combination of a snake's distinctive "ssssss" and an unearthly moan [that is the best I can describe it in words], was wondrously disturbing to behold, and you have to hear it yourself in order to truly appreciate it!
Tatopoulos discovers that Godzilla is undergoing unusual changes, growing physically smaller, and also acting nastier and less subject to his control.
Upon further investigation, he discovers that the source may be related to reports of giant mutant termites in the Amazon Rain Forest. Upon traveling there, Randy concocts a device that emanates audio signals of a specific frequency, which creates mass confusion among the termite colony. As a result of this, Godzilla returns to normal.
Comments: More giant insects! 'Nuff said (with apologies to Stan Lee).
The hostile, non-humanoid alien race from the starship Leviathan (presumably a loose English translation of the ship in their own lingo) institute another plan to take over the Earth [why can't you just find a suitable planet that is uninhabited by sentient life, you morons?]. The aliens begin this plot by targeting the members of H.E.A.T., as well as other researchers working with them via telepathic assaults, which causes them to fight amongst each other, thus removing them as an impediment to the aliens' takeover of the Earth.
In the meantime, Tatopoulos and Godzilla head to Africa to investigate reports of the Bat, which is (as its name implies) a mutation that resembles a gigantic member of the chiropteran family.
During the search for the Bat, H.E.A.T. discovers that many of the previous mutations which they and Godzilla battled are still alive, and have now re-appeared as a result of the aliens taking control over each of the creatures as part of their plan to conquer the planet. The aliens soon have all of the mutations under their control, including Godzilla, and they use the kaiju, backed up by several marauding alien ships, to beat humanity into submission by attacking the major cities of the world.
In the meantime, under the direction of the aliens, Elsie designs and builds a cybernetic version of the Big G known as Cyber Godzilla (obviously inspired by Mechagodzilla) by using the remains of the original Godzilla, to further bolster the aliens' might, and which enables them to better control the new Godzilla.
Tatopoulos finds a way to free the H.E.A.T. team from the telepathic control of the aliens via disrupting the tachyon emissions which the octopoid extraterrestrials use to control minds [actually, tachyons are hypothetical sub-atomic particles, mentioned frequently in sci-fi shows such as the various Star Trek series, which have the unique property of traveling backwards in time, and thus have nothing to do with psychic phenomena, but instead tend to be present in time travel phenomena and chronal anomalies of various sorts; it would have been more realistic to have the aliens utilize technology that generated psions, another very hypothetical particle, which is said to carry psychic energy, and is believed by some parapsychologists to be responsible for various psychic phenomena such as telekinesis, precognition, telepathy, etc., and thus could indeed affect organic brains in such a manner as to control them].
Now free from alien control, the H.E.A.T. team desperately seeks a way to remove Godzilla and the rest of the mutations from the control of the aliens, as the world crumbles around them before the alien assault. Finally, most of the mutations outside of Godzilla (who is under additional control via the Cyber Godzilla), are indeed freed from alien control, and it's discovered, much to the world's delight, that the mutations begin instinctually attacking the deadly alien spacecrafts on sight, due to perceiving them as a territorial rival (imagine that!).
However, the aliens attempt to counter this reversal of fortune by directing both Godzilla and Cyber Godzilla to attack and defeat the defensive mutations, thus possibly salvaging their take-over attempt after all. Nevertheless, Tatopoulos is able to break the Cyber Godzilla's control over the Big G, as the latter's bond with the young scientist proves stronger than the artificial 'bond' he formed with the Cyber Godzilla. Consequently, the Kaiju King attacks and defeats Cyber Godzilla in battle, as H.E.A.T. discovers a means of disabling the remaining alien spacecrafts, and as a result of this team work, the invasion attempt is completely thwarted.
Comments: This nearly 90 minute long, movie-length extravaganza was very likely Centropolis's best effort on this series, and was clearly inspired by the classic G-film Destroy All Monsters, which had an identical premise of a hostile alien race attempting to conquer the Earth by means of controlling all of the planet's indigenous kaiju (including Godzilla), utilizing many kaiju seen in previous Toho films (or, in this case, kaiju taken from previous episodes of the series), throwing a kaiju of their own into the mix (King Ghidorah in the Toho film, Cyber Godzilla in the Centropolis animated 'movie'), having the aliens control key human figures in addition to the monsters via their mind-altering technology, and having the aliens meet their defeat by a combination of the actions of the human protagonists and the Earth kaiju (who are eventually freed from alien control), and also to have the alien kaiju battle the Earth kaiju (though unlike the film version, where Godzilla teams with his kaiju cohorts to battle King Ghidorah, in this animated take on the story, Godzilla goes solo against Cyber Godzilla).
All of these elements were present in both the Toho and Centropolis version of the tale, but in this case, the latter studio paid a nice homage, rather than a shameful rip-off, to the effort of the former studio (which was regretably not the case concerning Centropolis's Independence Day, which was shamelessly derivative of H.G. Wells's classic sci-fi novel THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, also made into a movie during the late '50's, a short-lived TV series in the early '90's that continued directly from that film [not the novel], and a new film version released in 2005).
The return of many cool kaiju from the previous episodes of the series was very welcome, including my personal fave, King Cobra, and the introduction of cool newbies like the Bat was also very well done.
It should certainly be noted that the origin of Cyber Godzilla was similar to that of Mechagodzilla 3 (a.k.a., Kiryu) from the Millennium Era G-film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, which was produced several years after this animated series.
This 3-part episode is a must have for all kaiju fans, and hopefully will one day be released as a full length animated film to home video.
When it appears that Godzilla has gone savage, and is now attacking New York City in the same manner as his predecessor did (in the Centropolis film Godzilla), Major Hicks is once again called upon to destroy the Kaiju King.
To figure out the reason for Godzilla's errant behavior, H.E.A.T. joins Hicks in the search for the Big G, where they discover that the real culprit for the attacks is a shape-shifting kaiju that was being controlled by their old nemesis Cameron Winter. Unable to prove this imposture, Major Hicks is given orders to destroy Godzilla, but Randy and Monique convince him to join the real Godzilla in destroying the shape-shifting kaiju instead.
During the resultant melee, Winter once again escapes.
Comments: This episode featured the welcome return of the dangerous human villian Cameron Winter, who appears to be to the H.E.A.T. team and Godzilla what Dr. Doom is to the Fantastic Four, and Lex Luthor is to Superman.
A new and deadly mutation, a plant-like creature known as Bacillus (who may have been inspired by Biollante), appears and begins wreaking havoc, prompting H.E.A.T. to call upon Godzilla. During the battle, Godzilla is seriously injured and rendered catatonic as the result of being injected with a highly dangerous form of mutated bacteria by Bacillus.
In order to save their kaiju ally, Tatopoulos and Monique travel within Godzilla's body in order to carefully exterminate all of the mutant bacterium. Now fully healed, Godzilla attacks Bacillus anew, and eradicates the creature with his incendiary breath.
Comments: The concept of human beings travelling through the interior of a gigantic organic or synthetic being (or human beings reduced in size by artificial means for the purpose of travelling within a normal human being) is another recurring staple within the annals of sci-fi. Many examples culled from the myraid examples in literature, cinema, television, comic books, and video games could be cited, but perhaps the most relevant cinematic example to point out here is the kaiju-film Gamera vs. Jiger (1970), where at one point during the movie two male tweens travelled via a small submarine pod through the innards of a catatonic Gamera, hoping to locate and neutralize the parasitic progeny of the monster turtle's titular adversary, who was injected into the heroic kaiju via a retractable stinger-like projection at the base of the she-beast's tail during one of their battles.
On yet another investigation to the Caribbean [the fringe benefits of working for that team are excellent!], H.E.A.T. discovers a nest of huge, mutant spiders, which are controlled by a single spider that is much larger than the rest [this is unusual, since spiders are independent organisms and do not live in hives or colonies as various insects, such as bees and ants do, and are thus not ruled by a "queen," which is a fact that was also ignored by the spider-paranoia flick Arachnophobia]. As Godzilla battles the huge "master" spider (possibly inspired by Spiega), danger strikes when Craven utilizes a new (and ludicrous) device designed to enable him to "communicate" with Godzilla, which actually has the dangerous (and embarrassing) result of causing Godzilla to retreat, thus leaving the island and the H.E.A.T. team once again at the mercy of the spider infestation.
However, working with Major Hicks, H.E.A.T. conveniently concocts a chemical that defeats the smaller spiders, and Tatopoulos is able to direct Godzilla to return and defeat the "master" spider.
Comments: This episode was rather interesting, despite all of its contrived plot elements, as diverse Godzilla scribes appear to have a love of seeing the Big G battle giant spiders, something he did in the Toho film Son of Godzilla (which was re-shown via stock footage in Godzilla's Revenge), the Hanna-Barbera animated series, and in this episode of the Centropolis series.
Also, the fear and paranoia of spiders appears to go deep into the human psyche, as these much maligned arachnids, either of normal tarantuala or fantastically gigantic size, frequently turn up to menace humankind in numerous classic and not-so-classic sci-fi and horror films, such as Tarantula, the two film versions of Earth vs. the Spider (the '50's version was a giant spider flick, the recent '90's version was a strange and somewhat campy hybrid of super-hero and horror film genres involving a human being who transforms into a spider-like creature), The Giant Spider Invasion (a really weird 1970's giant spider on the loose flick that played opposite Godzilla vs. Megalon during the latter's 1976 American release at the drive-ins, and which startled many unwary kids [including myself!] with a surprising amount of gore and nudity for its PG rating), the colonies of car-sized spiders who menace humankind in films such as the direct to video B-movie Spiders (illogical but entertaining, and has since spawned a sequel and possibly a direct to video franchise), and Centropolis's own bigger budget 2002 effort into the genre of campy but scary self-referential 'colony of giant spiders who menace humankind' movies known as Eight-Legged Freaks. And then we have films featuring conventional tarantuala sized colonies of spiders attacking humanity, like the made-for-TV Kingdom of the Spiders, the previously mentioned Arachnophobia, etc.
These films are both fun and psychologically enlightening to watch, despite the biologicial implausability of such creatures reaching the enormous size we see in so many of these movies, as well as actually exhibiting the behavior depicted therein, but considering what they represent, they can be watched and enjoyed as the veiled psychological thrillers they are, as opposed to the straight horror or sci-fi films they purport to be. It should also be noted that spiders are largely inoffensive to human beings, and even helpful to us in many ways, though two small species of spider found in the U.S., the female black widow and the aggressive brown house spider, do indeed have venom and hostile behavior that can be very dangerous to human beings...and they do not need to be the size of your average Buick, let alone a house, to be deadly! It's my personal opinion that tiny creatures which can sneak up on you, or sit unnoticed on a leaf you may brush up against, are much more dangerous than a creature that is extremely huge and thus very easy to see when it's coming towards you, especially when all of the screaming people in your vicinity alert you to the danger [it's utterly amazing how the giant spiders seen in all of the aforementioned films actually managed to get close enough to anyone to actually kill them, and as noted in the reviews seen on numerous Bad Movie web sites, the scripts of these films often rely on various contrived elements, every bit as illogical as the creatures themselves, including characters that are far dumber than any real human being would be in the same situation, to enable them to fall into the deadly grasp of the title creatures].
Elsie is suffering from a family problem of a personal nature, along the lines of sibling rivalry: her sister's wedding is soon to take place, and she is chagrined due to the disproportionate amount of attention and familial adoration that her sister has received in contrast to her. Further, she feels that her family has little respect for her choosen vocation, i.e., her activities with H.E.A.T. [that must be quite a hard family indeed to show a lack of appreciation for a daughter who has routinely risked life and limb for her planet by investigating and battling dangerous, life threatening giant monsters, and even helping to thwart an alien invasion! Her sister must truly be the world's most talented ass-kisser].
Meanwhile, a distress call alerts H.E.A.T. to the emergence of yet another mutation on the loose, a gigantic flying kaiju that emits a freezing beam from its maw. After tracking the creature down and battling it, H.E.A.T. calls upon Godzilla, who rids the world of the beast by creating a powerful whirlpool, which sucks the manta-like kaiju down to the ocean floor [!!!].
Having witnessed this battle, Elsie's family finally gives her the respect and credit that she deserves [it's a shame that her part in defeating the alien invasion wasn't enough].
Comments: This episode was interesting in its display of Elsie's personal problem, something many of us in real life also have to face regarding our own families. Despite the good intentions of the writers, however, the story was nevertheless somewhat marred by its rather overly tidy ending, something those of us in real life who face this problem rarely get so easily.
A strange object descends from outer space, and merges with a child's remote control truck. The object turns out to be a being that can somehow assimilate technological machinery within itself, thereby taking on the attributes of said technology. Hence, the entity becomes progressively larger and more powerful, thus being labeled the Juggernaut [not to be confused with Cain Marko!].
Finally, the entity assimilates the machinery of a nuclear warhead, and prepares to launch the warheads on Baghdad. This draws the attention of H.E.A.T. and Godzilla, though in the course of the battle, Craven is captured by the Juggernaut. As a result of this, Craven is able to tap into the entity's CPU, and allow Randy access to the Juggernaut's internal systems. Though the two of them are unable to de-activate the entity, they are nevertheless able to deter its launch so that it ends up exploding harmlessly into space.
Comments: The plot of this episode is somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King's cinematic turkey Maximum Overdrive, and the Juggernaut's ability to assimilate new technology to augment its might is somewhat similar to both the dreaded cybernetic Borg of Star Trek fame (who appeared in The Next Generation and Voyager series of the franchise, debuting in the TNG episode "Q Who"), and the deadly batch of mechanical mutant-hunting entities known as the Sentinels of X-Men fame, this particular incarnation first appearing in the classic "E is for Extinction" story arc seen during the 2001 publication of the New X-Men comic, now available in trade paperback.
While conducting another creature investigation in the valley of Blind Rock, Wyoming, H.E.A.T. meets up with a girl whose brother went missing after he entered an abandoned mine in the area where the sightings took place. Upon entering the mine themselves, the group discovers one of the strangest mutations they have yet encountered, a huge two-headed kaiju known as the Silver Hydra, on account of the fact that it has the ability to spurt a silvery fluid that hardens once it surrounds a living being, thus transforming them into the equivalent of a silver statue, a fate that obviously befell the girl's brother.
Tatopoulos discovers that icy mountain water dissolves the silvery substance spewed by the Silver Hydra (isn't that convenient!), and armed with this knowledge, they proceed to rescue the kaiju's victims who were encased in the substance, including the girl's brother. As Godzilla battles the Silver Hydra, H.E.A.T. floods the mine with the cold mountain water, and the Big G hurls the beast into the water, thereby destroying it, and ending its threat to the valley.
Comments: The Silver Hydra was another interesting foe for Godzilla, despite the fact that once again, the writers of the show were forced to come up with a dangerous dai kaiju that does something to its human victims other than killing them [which is rather unrealistic, to say the least], and the H.E.A.T. team also defeat the creature due to a convenient plot contrivance (i.e., the creature always has a fundamental weakness via a certain substance or form of energy that turns out to be readily at hand).
The kaiju menace in this episode was named after the Lernean Hydra, which was a giant multi-headed serpent from Greek mythology, though the Hydra of legend actually had six heads, rather than only two (the number of heads that the Hydra possessed may vary in different re-tellings of the myths today, but the creature was usually depicted as having at least six heads). One of the Hydra's six heads was described as being immortal, it was said to have venom so powerful that it was extremely dangerous even to the gods, and whenever one of the heads was severed, two more were said to immediately grow in its place, thus making the creature a singularly nasty customer. The famed Greek demi-god Heracles (better known today by his Roman/Latin name Hercules) battled and defeated the Hydra in the course of his legendary Twelve Labors. Heracles subsequently utilized the creature's ultra-potent venom to coat the arrows he used against his foes, and ironically, this eventually proved his undoing: one of his enemies, the centaur known as Nessus, was fatally wounded by one of Heracles's arrows coated in the Hydra venom, and just before he died, the evil centaur verbally tricked the demi-god's mortal wife Deinerea to believe that Nessus's blood could be used as an aphrodesiac to counter Heracles's straying affections. The woman didn't realize that the aforementioned blood was now tainted by the lethal Hydra venom, and what happened next is tragically easy to surmise.
Monique learns from Major Hicks that a bizarre new life form was created via genetic engineering, and was now left abandoned in an old laboratory in Brazil. She convinces her allies in H.E.A.T. to go and investigate, and they soon discover that the creature is actually a DNA absorbing beast known as the Mimic, which can, as its name suggests, take on the exact physical and behavioral attributes of any living creature that it comes in contact with.
The Mimic thus imitates the appearance of all of the H.E.A.T. members in turn, and paranoia reigns as everyone in the group must continuously be wary of each other as they search for a means of destroying the creature, since nobody may be who they appear to be. Finally, the Mimic imitates the size, appearance, and power of Godzilla [so much for the law of conservation of mass!], and the two Big G's battle it out, fighting each other to a standstill in the process.
Tatopoulos must figure out which Godzilla is the genuine article, as the weapon he was working on was now complete. Managing to successfully discern the Real McCoy, Tatopoulos utilizes the weapon, and destroys the Mimic.
Comments: Any writer or regular reader of bad movie review sites will point out that the Mimic violates the sacred Law of Conservation of Mass, which means that no organic creature may expand its size or volume without taking in an additional and equivalent amount of matter from some external source; thus, when it duplicated Godzilla's DNA, it should have transformed into a far smaller version of the Big G, and not matched his 50 meter height. This problem has been explained away by many sci-fi writers (particularly those writing for Marvel Comics), who have hypothesized that additional mass can be rapidly acquired by absorbing it from extradimensional sources, something which has not yet been witnessed in nature, but may actually be possible, at least in the Marvel Universe or Godzilla's universe. Of course, no explanation was given as to how the Mimic could imitate the clothes that each person was wearing, since the clothing we wear is not noted by our chromosomes!
This episode did a good job of...well, mimicking the suspense of the classic horror movie The Thing (not to be confused with the earlier 1950's version of the film, which did not feature a shape-shifting monster, but instead a humanoid vegetable of sorts). The film was, in turn, based upon a 1938 novella "Who Goes There?", which first appeared in the old sci-fi pulp magazine Astounding Science Fiction. The 1982 version of this classic sci-fi/horror hybrid was actually more faithful to the novella in terms of the physiological nature of the creature, though both movie versions faithfully reproduced the basic storyline and terrifying psychological and claustrophobic aspects of the original prose tale (somehow, that creature was able to imitate the clothes of the human it duplicated as well!). The theme of creatures that imitate the form of human beings to infiltrate and destroy us from within our society so often seen in sci-fi and horror fiction has had a long and illustrious history since then, including such films as the two versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the cult classic flick They Live, the recent celluloid turkey Mimic, and, of course, the various shape-shifting alien conquerors such as the Skrulls in Marvel Comics, the Martians and Durlans in DC Comics, and, perhaps deadliest of them all, the Founders, who ruled over the deadly interstellar empire known as the Dominion, in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine TV series.
All of these stories reflect deep and disconcerting political, psychological, and sociological issues in the human psyche, which seems to be the fear that those whom we know, love, and trust may not be who we think they are on the inside, or that others may attempt to destroy, conquer, or manipulate us by exploiting the trust, faith, and comfort that we take in those whom we love and are most familiar with. The aforementioned love and trust we have for others in our lives appears to be perceived by our culture as one of our most potentially vulnerable points for a hidden enemy to strike at us. This also largely explains how the U.S. government was able to whip up the "red scare" so easily upon an emotionally gullible American people so successfully for the four decades of the Cold War (and far more recently following the tragic 9/11 incident), and the Invasion of the Body Snatcher films comprise a veiled attempt to tap into this fear, and to create a political and sociological allegory dressed up in science fictional clothing in order to get it past the censors. The evidence for how deep our collective fear and fascination with this theme goes is evident in how many times it turns up in popular fiction, and how each of the stories dealing with these themes tend to be of a particularly disturbing nature.
Cameron Winter returns to take yet another shot at H.E.A.T. and Godzilla, this time enlisting the aid of the three redneck, would-be-killers of the Big G from the previous episode "Cat and Mouse," and equipping them with powerful machines of destruction (sometimes referred to as 'Battle Mechs'--another thank you to Doc Psy from Centropoholics:).
Godzilla, H.E.A.T., and a military unit commanded by Major Hicks battle the machines and destroy them, and the three violent hicks are arrested.
While covering the news at the Mardi Gras, Audrey Timmonds and Animal interview wealthy business mogul Paul Dimanche, who represents one of the oldest and richest families from the French Quarter in the Big Easy.
However, Audrey discovers that several of Paul's businesses in the city are being attacked by a mysterious kaiju, and she summons H.E.A.T. to deal with the problem. Upon investigating, they discover a huge mutation from a nearby bayou that is under the control of Paul's relative Georges, the leader of a rival business faction of the Dimanche family, who perceives Paul's faction as being a threat.
H.E.A.T. manages to foil Georges Dimanche's plot with the assistance of Godzilla.
Comments: This episode was never aired by FOX.
As a result of an oil platfrom in the Gulf of Mexico exploding, a kaiju seemingly composed of living fire emerges [but don't ask me how!]. As this Creature of Living Fire goes on a rampage in the area, looking for more combustable substances upon which to feed, H.E.A.T and Godzilla intervene. However, the Creature grows larger and more powerful as a result of absorbing and feeding off of Godzilla's powerful incendiary breath.
Despite this revolting development, H.E.A.T. manages to discover a way to cut off its fuel supply, thus causing the fiery kaiju to shrink to a managable size, and to be taken back to their headquarters for scientific analysis. The Creature soon escapes, however, and must once again be battled into submission by H.E.A.T. and Godzilla.
Comments: This episode was never aired by FOX.
After a group of archeologists tinker with and oxidize a Sphinx statue of a being known as Norzzug [hmmm, that doesn't sound like an Egyptian name to me], the protector of a certain area of Egypt, the Sphinx becomes animate, and goes on a rampage, seeking out various oil repositories, which it uses as a fuel source [it's too bad that George Bush Jr. wasn't President at the time, since he would have sent the entirety of the U.S. Armed Forces at poor old Norzzug to save his family's beloved oil, and then probably found an excuse to go to war with Egypt to secure control of that oil in the process!].
H.E.A.T. comes to the rescue, along with a military unit commanded by Major Hicks, and the two conceive of a trap to capture the Sphinx, while Godzilla engages the stone kaiju in battle. Tatopoulos discovers that the Sphinx is vulnerable to salt water (imagine that!), and he directs Godzilla to throw the creature into the ocean, thus ending its threat.
Comments: This episode was interesting on many levels, both good and bad.
To start with, once again, I always had a desire to see Godzilla in Egypt, and we G-fans got the chance to see him in Egypt against supernatural Sphinx-like creatures in an episode of both the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla animated series, and in this one by Centropolis (coincidence?). My interest in this particular locale stems from a dream I had as a child, in which I was watching a fictitious G-film called Godzilla in Egypt, where the Big traveled to that fabled land for reasons that my subconscious mind found no logical reason for, and where he was up against a rather silly-looking brown serpent-like monster that looked like a muppet version of Manda (though I clearly remember that this dream kaiju wasn't intended to be Manda, as I was familiar with the entire Showa Series roster of monsters even then). Since my knowledge of Egypt was very limited at the time (I do remember seeing pyramids surrounding Godzilla during his conflict with the brown serpent), I have no idea what relevance my subconscious mind had for placing Godzilla and that ridiculous looking brown serpent in Egypt, but since then, I always remembered hoping that Toho would produce a G-film featuring the Kaiju King in the Land of the Pharaohs. This never happened, of course, though I recall being delighted a few years later when the original Godzilla animated series by Hanna-Barbera did indeed feature an episode early in its first season that placed the Big G in Egypt, pitting him against two animated sphinx-like statues.
This time around we got to see Godzilla take on a menace that appeared to be mystical, rather than scientific in nature, which was also interesting.
And once again, we had to suspend our disbelief for another overly convenient plot contrivance in terms of finding a common, readily available substance that is able to defeat an otherwise invincible creature [this particular weakness actually has some merit, since holy water, said to be able to defeat many supernatural creatures, such as demons, is composed of sodium particles dissolved in water, a mixture known by various mystics to be an etheric eraser that wreaks havoc on the etheric aspect of many mystical beings, and is also used by magicians and other mystics to purify an area before conducting a ritual...however, I strongly doubt that the writers at Centropolis actually put that kind of research into this episode]. The choice of salt water as the convenient weakness for the kaiju nemesis of this episode was also a recurring theme, as icy water was the weakness for the Silver Hydra in the previous episode "Shafted," water in general was the fatal weakness for the Earth Eater in the eponymous episode from the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla series, and salt water also turned out to be the fatal weakness for the ambulatory, human-eating plant creatures in the semi-classic sci-fi film Day of the Triffids.
Further, and disappointingly, the ending of this episode was a complete plot re-hash of the aforementioned episode "Shafted," where Godzilla defeats an enemy by knocking it into the water (its fatal weakness), which, again, was also the ending of "The Earth Eater" episode of the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla series!
Another new and dangerous mutant species appears on the scene in the form of a species of gigantic hummingbird that attack planes flying over San Francisco, attracting the attention of H.E.A.T.
Worst of all, this mutant avian species of kaiju are able to render themselves invisible via the hummingbird trait of flapping their wings faster than any other bird species in the world [in real life, hummingbirds can indeed flap their wings faster than any other type of bird, and are also the only ornithological species that can easily hover in place or fly backwards]. As a result of their ability to cloak themselves so as to be invisible to the unaided eye, Godzilla is unable to see the creatures in order to attack them.
However, Randy and Craven work together to build an enormous visor that, when worn by Godzilla, focuses his vision so that he is able to perceive the mutant hummingbirds when cloaked, thus enabling him to successfully attack and defeat them.
Comments: This episode featured an intriguing foe for the Kaiju King, and the simultaneously silly and wonderful idea of his having to wear a specialized pair of goggles to accomplish a mission was reminiscent of the Big G in the "Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley" commercial several years earlier, and one must wonder if the latter small screen gem had any influence on the writers who composed the script for this episode [an overview of the "Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley" commercial from elsewhere on this site can be found here].
A traveling carnival arrives at Madison Square Garden, and it's run by a crooked ringmaster known as Theodore P. Bunkum, who specializes in putting various captured mutations on display for public amusement.
Bunkum places a hefty bounty on Godzilla, determined to add this most famous mutation to his carnival side show, and this incites H.E.A.T. to attend one of his shows, where they are quickly appalled by his treatment of the various mutations featured in it.
His present star attraction is the semi-gelatinous, multi-tentacled female mutation whom he refers to as Medusa, who feeds on organic fluids that she obtains from other living creatures, and this kaiju is able to alter her molecular solidity at will, possessing the ability to change into a mobile liquid form when needed. However, the constant cruel treatment enacted upon Medusa to get her to perform upon command by Bunkum and his personnel proves to be more than the beleaguered creature can take, and she quickly breaks loose and goes on a rampage, gaining her nutritional requirements by draining several human beings dry of much of their bodily fluids.
Godzilla is called upon to drive Medusa away from human civilization, and H.E.A.T. resolves to oppose and shut down Bunkum's unethical show for its treatment of Medusa and other such beasts.
Comments: The character of Theodore P. Bunkum was obviously a less than kind parody of the famous 19th century showman and carnival ringmaster P.T. Barnum, who ran the equally famous Barnum and Baily Circus, and this included its once world famous side show, which contained numerous tragic human oddities during its day. The writers of this episode simply transposed the letters of Barnum's first and middle names, and permutated his last name into "Bunkum," and this may have been a pun relating to the term "bunk," which means or implies something that is not true. Barnum was a notorious con man who was the originator of the famous slogan "There's a sucker born every minute," and he prided himself for profiting off of other peoples' gullibility and fascination with the sensationalistic (much as modern politicians and publishers of tabloid newspapers do today). However, side shows have largely vanished since the early 1980's, due to the combination of the birth of human oddities (or "freaks," a word I am loathe to use) greatly decreasing in frequency thanks to modern methods of pre-natal medical technology, and also as the result of changing ethical standards for society. Side shows (or "freak shows," if you will) were largely played up in horror movies in the past, such as Todd Browning's classic, infamous but surprisingly touching 1932 film Freaks, the odd and obscure 1970's horror film The Mutations, and the early 80's chiller The Funhouse, in addition to numerous prose on this subject (the film Freaks was reputedly based upon a short story called "Spurs"). Nevertheless, the history of the side show is a fascinating subject to research, and provides a valuable lesson in ethics and tolerance for anyone who may choose to conduct this research.
The kaiju nemesis that the Big G faced in this episode was the only time since the 3-part "Monster War" that a mutation other than Godzilla himself was treated as sympathetic by the writers. The ethical lesson of this episode was both well done and profound, and was obviously inspired by various sad and tragic incidents at carnivals where mistreated animals, most often particularly intelligent animals such as elephants, have gone berserk as a result of the abuse inflicted upon them in order to make them perform tricks on command. This episode was a rather overt protest to the treatment of animals forced to perform for human entertainment in carnivals, a subject that has rarely been tackled elsewhere, and something which the writers and producers of the show should be commended for.
The Medusa creature in this episode was a particularly intriguing foe for Godzilla, all the more so thanks to her tragic nature. Her habit of sucking the fluids from human beings, leaving them physically dehydrated and ill, was quite ghastly, even if the writers weren't allowed to make it outright lethal on her victims due to network restraints.
The name 'Medusa' was borrowed from a famous figure in Greek mythology, due to the fact that the kaiju in this episode of the show possessed numerous tentacles. The Medusa from the myths was one of three sisters who were transformed into hideous beings known as the Gorgons by the goddess Athena, and they had a multitude of writhing snakes in place of their hair, and since the multi-tentacled kaiju in this episode somewhat resembled a human head with writhing serpents extending from it, she was coined with the 'Medusa' moniker. Medusa's two fellow Gorgons in the myths were named Sthena and Ieuryale, and they could transform any living being, mortal or immortal, who viewed their faces into stone statues. Medusa was the only one of the Gorgon sisters who was mortal, and she was slain by the heroic mortal warrior Perseus, who severed her head with his sword as she slept, while viewing her reflection on his shield, which, unlike her actual visage, couldn't transform him into stone.
The Medusa from myth was featured in several horror films and TV shows, including the mostly forgotten low budget 60's film The Gorgon, the mediocre late 70's film based on the Perseus story known as Clash of the Titans [in the latter film, the character of Medusa, who was there realized by a stop motion animated figure and bereft of the company of her two sisters, who have never been featured in any film or TV show (at least to my knowledge), had an entirely serpentine lower body, and she attacked her foes with arrows dipped in her acid-like blood in addition to her deadly gaze], and Medusa even appeared on an episode of the classic Saturday morning live action series from Sid and Marty Kroft called The Land of the Lost (where we got to see her turn a dinosaur to stone with her gaze!). Also, let's not forget the appearance of Medusa in one of the episodes of the classic late 60's Hanna-Barbera TV adventure show The Herculoids, where the Gorgon was pitted against the Herculoids alongside several other beings culled from Greco-Roman mythology, though she was now required to strike a foe with a beam of ocular energy in order to turn them to stone, her gaze alone no longer being enough (as was the case in the myths), and she was defeated as a result of her power being useless against Igoo the giant stone ape, on account of the fact that he was already made of stone! And yes, I believe Medusa also appeared on a 1970's episode of The Super Friends, Hanna-Barbera's cloyingly kiddie version of the Justice League of America, where they also went up against various figures out of Greco-Roman myths, but like the aforementioned versions of those heroes, the less said about this version of Medusa, the better (and to think that Hanna-Barbera was also responsible for a show of relative high quality like The Herculoids, and even the original Godzilla animated series, the latter of which came out at the very same time as the various series featuring The Super Friends, and was far superior to it!).
Perhaps the oddest knockoff of the mythical Medusa to ever appear in pop fiction was a member of the team of monstrous Allied soldiers from World War II known as the Creature Commandoes, whose deadly serious comic book adventures were published two decades ago by DC Comics. Initially, the team of soldiers consisted of a monster who was a dead ringer for the Universal version of the Frankenstein Monster, a vampire, and a werewolf, all of whom were given their monster forms as a result of implausable scientific experiments/accidents and set loose against the Nazis under the direction of a rude and boisterous fully human commanding officer, but the most improbable knockoff of them all was left for a latecomer to the team, Dr. Medusa. She was so named because as a result of being exposed to certain unknown chemical fumes, her hair was replaced by a head full of living, writhing, biting snakes (hey, that sure as hell wasn't my idea!). She would keep her head covered most of the time, and during combat, she would move up close to an opponent, remove her headdress, and allow her skull full of writhing snakes to deliver poisonous bites to her foes (that wasn't my idea, either!).
H.E.A.T. investigates a gigantic caterpillar-like mutation known as the Megapede, who is rampaging through the neighbor states of Illinois and Indiana. Godzilla is called upon to render assistance, but the Megapede sprays a form of poisonous foam, and also has poison producing spurs along its many legs, both of which serve to keep the Kaiju King at bay.
The mega-insect finally climbs atop a building, forms a cocoon, and transforms into a huge winged insectoid creature with the habit of disrupting radar frequencies by rubbing its wings together, thus wreaking much havoc. H.E.A.T. concocts a poison neutralizing foam, which it spreads on the kaiju's wings, allowing Godzilla to attack and defeat the creature more easily.
Comments: In this episode we have yet another giant mutant insect that is a biological implausibility [okay, okay...every mutant creature that appeared in this series was a biological implausibility, but insects and other life forms with chitinous exoskeletons reaching gigantic size were particularly implausible, for reasons heavily discussed elsewhere on this site, including this section, though the possible explanations for how giant insects and arachnids may be able to "actually" exist were also provided elsewhere, and should be considered, for what they're worth].
The Megapede seemed likely to be inspired by Mothra and Battra, both of whom began their existences as gigantic caterpillars, and then formed a cocoon and metamorphosed into colossal winged insects (moths, in their case).
Both H.E.A.T. and Major Hicks learn that an old comrade of the Major named Colonel Charles Thompson has been overseeing black ops military funded scientific experiments designed to create enormous, genetically altered scorpions for use as bio-weapons, in a multi-level program referred to as the First Wave.
The largest scorpion produced by this experiment, however, breaks loose from the military's control, forcing H.E.A.T. to send Godzilla after the arachnoid beast. However, Godzilla is given supreme opposition, not only from the beast's lethal stinger, but also from its ability to spray poison at a distance from that aforementioned stinger.
Finally, H.E.A.T. works together to discover a way to cause the more easily-controlled smaller scorpions to attack the larger one, after which Godzilla annhiliates the entirety of the First Wave with his incendiary breath. Despite the chewing out that Col. Thompson receives from Major Hicks, the former nevertheless orders the Second Wave of the experiment to commence.
During its latest creature investigations, H.E.A.T. splits up into two teams, one of which investigates a group of mutant parasitic organisms in Florida, whereas the second group handles a case of a giant, mutated, and rapidly growing multi-tentacled fungi-like creature in Michigan.
Comparing notes on defeating both of these dangerous and interelated mutant manifestations, Godzilla is summoned by Tatopoulos to battle and destroy the fungoid kaiju.
H.E.A.T. tackles a gigantic mutant shrew-like creature, which has somehow merged itself with an artificially generated, experimental tornado, enabling it to transform itself into a living vortex at will (Elsie wittily dubs the whirling beast 'The Shrewster').
In order to maintain its ultra-fast, whirlwind powers, the Shrewster is forced to rapidly consume three times its body weight per day, thus causing it to greedily devour every organic food source in its path, effectively making it an extremely dangerous menace. Because of its ability to transform itself into an organic tornado, Godzilla is unable to get at the beast, and Tatopoulos ends up trapped in the Shrewster's vortex. However, soon after becoming trapped, he activates a device that Craven crafted, which was designed to dissipate the vortex's cyclonic forces, and this succeeds.
Now bereft of its whirling dervish-like power, the giant mutant shrew is defeated in combat with Godzilla.
Comments: The Shrewster was another example of a formidable foe for the Big G that was both ridiculous and way cool at the same time, a staple for many of the Kaiju King's foes throughout all of his appearances in any medium.
H.E.A.T. and Godzilla are busy combatting the world's newest mutation menace, a gigantic mutant mosquito with the ability to adopt the natural weapons of any foe whose blood it drinks (probably by absorbing their DNA, and adding these chromosomal attributes to its own personal genome series, possibly via an odd form of RNA), when their mission is interfered with by a bizarre and fanatical animal rights organization known as S.C.A.L.E. (an acronym for Servants of Creatures Arriving Late to Earth). This organization, led by a woman named Alexandra Hamilton, and also referring to itself as the Fist of Godzilla, is determined to preserve the lives and freedom of every mutation that has appeared on Earth, and this includes opposing H.E.A.T.'s opposition to these creatures.
After subduing the giant mosquito, H.E.A.T. accompanies Major Hicks to a hidden, government run atoll referred to as Monster Island, where they learn that the government has stashed several captive mutations for both scientific research and to protect the outside world from their rampages. Audrey Timmonds and Animal stow away on the trip, hoping to get an exclusive expose' on this remarkable little secret of the government, but S.C.A.L.E. also follows, as they resent the confinement of the mutations to this single island under government scrutiny.
Once they arrive on the island, S.C.A.L.E. strikes and releases the numerous kaiju captives on the atoll, forcing H.E.A.T., Hicks's military forces, and Godzilla to battle these creatures into submission.
Comments: This episode was a delightful stand out in the series, as it not only introduced Centropolis's version of Monster Island (a concept that captured the imagination of so many G-fans in the later Toho films of the Showa Series), but also featured a multi-kaiju extravaganza. Further, S.C.A.L.E was a very interesting foe for the H.E.A.T. team, and was obviously a protest to the more zealous and fanatical members of the various real life animal rights protection agencies, despite the generally noble goals of the majority of these organizations.
During an investigation of an aquatic mutant menace, H.E.A.T. (sans Craven) vanishes during a violent storm out to sea as Godzilla is occupied battling the mutant menace in question.
Upon their recovery, the team discover that they have accidently been jettisoned 23 years into the future as the result of an inadvertantly generated chronal disruption, and there they discover a devestated world with only scattered remnants of humanity still in evidence. Upon investigation of this future world, they meet up with a weathered and hardened future version of Craven, who, surprised to see his old comrades, informs them that the world is devestated as the result of a military bio-weapons experiment gone awry over two decades earlier, and the destruction they witnessed was the handiwork of immenesly powerful, rapidly reproducing flying monsters known as the Dragma, who were initially created to help control the rising mutation populace of the world (i.e., the old tactic of 'fighting fire with fire'). The experiment worked too well, and after the mutations were eliminated, the Dragma's powerful, genetically inherent territorial nature prompted them to break free from the military's control and turn on humanity, who was the dominant species on the planet. The armed forces of the world, H.E.A.T., and Godzilla were brought to bear against the Dragma, who proved too powerful for all of them. The world's military forces were now scattered about and largely disorganized, Godzilla was slain by the Dragma, and all the members of H.E.A.T. except for Craven were now deceased. A future version of Major Hicks existed on this timeline as well, having managed to survive the previous battles, and he was still coordinating the remainder of the human armed resistance movement against the Dragma.
The "present" version of H.E.A.T. did their best to lend a hand to the resistance movement of the future, and bonded very well with the temporal counterpart to their good friend Craven, though it appeared to them that the cause of humanity on this timeline was hopeless. With the future Craven's assistance, they were able to return to the present time period, where they sought out the government installation where the first Dragma was now in the process of being created. The beast was indeed released, but this time around, H.E.A.T. resisted this anti-mutation measure, which they now knew would end up causing the destruction of human civilization, and they directed Godzilla into battling and defeating the sole Dragma of this time period, and putting the entire project to a halt. As a result of this, they prevented that particular alternate future from manifesting on their timeline, and they also gained a huge degree of further respect for their somewhat timid friend Craven, after seeing what a great hero he had the potential to become when faced with the most trying circumstances imaginable.
Comments: This episode was the first to be aired by FOX for the short second (and final) season of the show, and luckily, it was beyond excellent. The use of the popular sci-fi motifs of time travel and the post-apocalyptic future were done extremely well here, the depiction of the last remnants of humanity battling against an impossibly powerful nemesis for survival was simultaneously disturbing and extremely inspiring, and was at least as well done as that which we saw in the Mad Max trilogy of films (each starring a young Mel Gibson in the title role).
I should point out here the extreme similarity between the futuristic storyline of this episode and the premise of the interesting, well-scripted, relatively well-acted, but unfortunately budget-starved 2002 film Reign of Fire, which also took place roughly 20 years in the future, and likewise consisted of the entire planet being devestated during the previous two decades by legions of organic, flying, fire-breathing dragons, who also reduced the entire human race to small and scattered communities of people who were using remnants of previously invented military technology in brave but futile attempts to reclaim the planet and rebuild human civilization. The flying dragons and the havoc they wrought was very similar to that of the Dragmas in this episode, who greatly resembled them in both appearance and actions; in fact, it can be argued that the word "dragma" bears a strong etymological similarity to the word "dragon," and it's quite likely that this was intentional. I'm not saying that the producers of Reign of Fire necessarily borrowed the premise of their film from this episode of the show, but if they didn't, then this was certainly one hell of a coincidence.
Not only was this particular episode extremely well-written, and not only did it start off season two with a bang, but it also featured the most powerful and chilling kaiju menace of the entire series in the Dragma. Further, its depiction of the much maligned character of Mendel Craven was very well done, and most every viewer who saw this episode emerged with a huge amount of respect for the man, even if they had little respect for his nerdish and sheepish character beforehand. This episode was also a wondrous allegory of how people can change in the course of certain extreme circumstances, and the audience was ingeniously left pondering which version of Craven they preferred, as the harder version of the character was undoubtably unsettling for those who were used to the kind if skittish present day version of the man.
During a vacation together on a cruise ship, Tatopoulos and Audrey Timmonds find themselves under attack (by coincidence, of course) by a gigantic, sea going mutant turtle. The two manage to escape from the ship unscathed, and seek safety on a nearby tropical island. Once there, they discover a gigantic mutant lizard that resembles a colossal komodo dragon [in real life, komodo dragons are a dangerous, land roving species of monitor lizard, which routinely reach lengths of ten feet or more, normally feed upon pigs and other large animals, and are indigenous to the Galopagos Island chain, which was the spot of Charles Darwin's early and revolutionary studies of evolution in the 19th century).
Much to their surprise, Tatopoulos and Audrey also discover that Godzilla, who arrives on the island while following Nick, is attracted to this giant female lizard (who is referred to in the script as 'Komodithrax'). The giant turtle soon appears on the atoll as well, and Godzilla and Komodithrax team up to battle the kaiju menace. Local military forces also arrive to attack the three beasts, but Major Hicks manages to put a stop to this. However, this proves to be too late, as, tragically, Komodithrax and the savage giant turtle plummet to their apparent deaths off of a cliff in the course of the battle, and a saddened Godzilla leaves the island along with Tatopoulos and Audrey.
Comments: This episode was very intriguing, as it not only featured a kaiju ally for the Big G for the first and only time in the series, but also a romantic interest of sorts in the form of a mate! This idea was entirely original, and was never seen anywhere else in any medium featuring the Kaiju King (unless you actually want to count Newzilla from the extremely silly early 1980's Godzilla commercial produced by Dr. Pepper, but I sure as hell don't!). Though the tragic ending to this relationship was extremely predictable for the purpose of not complicating the continuity of the series, it was nevertheless quite touching.
H.E.A.T. travels to the infamous military installation known as Area 51 for their latest creature investigation, where they discover that a giant mutant armored lizard called the Thorny Devil is on the loose, whose aforementioned armor proves resistant to Godzilla's incendiary breath. Upon investigating further, the H.E.A.T. team discover that Area 51 doesn't actually house the bodies of deceased extraterrestrials and confiscated alien technology, as widely rumored (see below), but was actually used to house and study a previous generation of mutant beasts created as a result of the atomic bomb tests conducted in the desert areas of the American Southwest during the 1950's. They befriend a prominent scientist employed by the base, who Randy also finds himself romantically attracted to.
In the meantime, Godzilla finds himself hard pressed to defeat the armored Thorny Devil, until the cunning Kaiju King manages to knock the creature on its back, and then uses his incendiary breath on the beast's unprotected underside, thereby finally managing to defeat it.
Comments: Once again, an episode of an animated Godzilla series (something done by both Hanna-Barbera and Centropolis) finds a fictitious 'explanation' for a real life mystery, in this case Area 51. The heavily guarded military base, which has been nicknamed "Dreamland," and actually exists in the Nevada desert (about 95 miles north of Los Vegas), has been a favorite topic amongst the UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists, who have both believed long-standing rumors that the place not only houses the corpses of alien beings who allegedly crash-landed on Earth on the outskirts of Roswell, New Mexico in the early 50's, but that it also contains remnants of alien technology recovered from the demolished craft that has been used through the decades to semi-successfully construct and test flying craft and weaponry built as a result of military scientists and engineers studying this advanced alien technology. The rumors and tales of this 20th Century legend sometimes become even more extreme than this among the fringe elements of the UFO and conspiracy theory groups. It should be noted that the famous author and alleged frequent UFO abductee/contactee Whitley Strieber, who wrote several books on his experiences, beginning with the very popular COMMUNION during the mid-1980's (also made into a somewhat less than comprehensible direct to video movie of the same name) wrote a very fictionalized account of the Roswell crash called MAJESTIC, connecting this incident to the famous alien "Grays" that so many abductees claim to have been taken against their will by during the 1980's and 90's. Strieber derived the name of the book from the alleged anti-UFO military defense project called Majestic-12, though the documents that were discovered describing the aforementioned project are now strongly believed to be one of the many elaborate hoaxes thrust on the general public that claimed contact between the U.S. government and advanced extraterrestrial beings; this famous 20th Century legendary trope was played up for all it was worth in the long-running cult classic TV series of the 1990's known as The X-Files, the short-lived TV series called Dark Skies, and the popular, elaborate 2002 Sci-Fi Channel two week long series based on 20th century abductee lore called Taken.
In reality, however, despite the actual, verified existence of this infamous military base (readily able to be viewed, albeit only from a long distance, by residents of that area), it is now believed by the majority of the more competant UFO investigators and students of the paranormal that the base actually designs, houses, and tests top secret, experimental air craft (and possibly weapons) that are of entirely earthly construction, that the rumors of alien corpses and technology being housed there are very likely to be completely bogus, and that the several reports of UFO's seen flying over the area are actually sightings of experimental, and sometimes oddly designed, government air craft that are routinely tested over the immediate area. Since the base is heavily guarded by government security personnel, the curious are advised, once again, to only view it from a safe distance, and well outside the perimeters set up around the base by the military.
When H.E.A.T. is heavily occupied during a creature investigation, Godzilla is abducted by a wealthy group of individuals with advanced resources who capture and confine several mutations to a private enclosure on an island, where the creatures are then forced to battle each other mono-a-mono as a pay-for-view spectacle for the decadent amusement of interested viewers.
As Godzilla is forced to battle a huge quadrapedal kaiju in the Arena known as the Rhinosaurus, H.E.A.T. rockets off to the Big G's rescue. However, upon their arrival, Tatopoulos, Randy, Elsie, and Monique are captured and released into the pen with the various mutations, their plight designed to add to the spectacle for the unethical paying viewers [this event must have been very close-circuited to a select handfull of very rich viewers, as it was certainly very illegal, not only for the controversial detainment of the mutations for the purpose of fighting each other, but definately for kidnapping human beings and deliberately putting their lives in danger...it's a shame that the series never explored the issue of the legality of deliberate human civilian contacts with the mutations, or what their status in this world was from a legal standpoint in terms of various human beings hoping to exploit them for their own purpose, something that was done previously and publicly with Theodore P. Bunkum in the episode "Freak Show"]. With the assistance of Craven, Godzilla is released from the control of his captors, and he promptly enters the area where the H.E.A.T. members are trapped, and quickly defeats the various mutations that threaten them there.
Godzilla and the H.E.A.T. members soon escape from the deadly Arena, and the Kaiju King then tosses one of the mutants into the area where the man who orchestrated his capture is stationed, thus subjecting him to the same threat that he forced his captives, human and monster alike, to endure.
Comments: This episode was quite good, as the idea of the various mutations being captured and forced to fight each other in the Arena of death was a despotically Romanesque style exploitation of the mutations, and something one would logically expect to see eventually within the wealthy underground on a world where these mutations actually existed. The theme of this episode appeared to be an exploration of the unethical lengths that people will sink in order to provide themselves with titillation and thrills at the expense of other living creatures (human or otherwise), and one must wonder if this episode was actually a veiled protest to the popular rise of "extreme fighting sports," where skilled fighters battle each other full contact, with few rules and no protective equipment, often in a caged gladitorial style arena, and shown on pay-per-view for eager viewers who can afford it.
This was the last episode of the series to be aired by FOX; the rest of the excellent but all too short season two was composed entirely of reruns.
H.E.A.T. encounters a crooked, opportunistic Evil Capitalist named Milo Sanders, who runs a tour ship that provides customers with the opportunity to see and experience the mutations first hand, which he refers to as his "Manhatten Monster Line" [yet another logical example of a corrupt and financially powerful human being exploiting the existence of the mutations on his world for his own personal gain, a theme explored very often, and usually very well, by this series].
In the meantime, H.E.A.T. finds itself up against one of the kaiju mutations that the tour ship encounters to its peril, a deadly, flesh-eating aquatic beast known as the Deep Dweller, who resembles a cross between a shark and a frog [possibly patterned after the real life Megamouth shark, a rarely seen, very large species of deep water shark that is characterized by its enormous jaws, though the Megamouth, unlike the fictitious Deep Dweller, is actually non-aggressive towards human beings].
During all of this conflageration, Sanders sneaks aboard H.E.A.T.'s personal monster-hunting craft, the Heat Seeker, hoping to stealthily document a "conversation" between Godzilla and Tatopoulos, for the future benefit of his profit-oriented business. As luck would have it, he is discovered by Audrey Timmonds and Animal, who are also hidden aboard the Heat Seeker doing the exact same thing! As a result of this, the two end up thwarting each other's efforts towards this goal.
Finally, Godzilla is called upon to tackle the Deep Dweller, and the King of the Kaiju successfully manages to drive the dangerous aquatic beast to a distant location in the Atlantic Ocean, thereby saving the customers on the tour ship.
Comments: This episode of the show was never aired by FOX. It was also the final episode of the series to be produced by Centropolis.
Tri-Star Godzilla Film