Saturday, August 31, 2013


While taking a break from my work this afternoon something reminded me of two early 1980s television series' in the style of the feature film Raiders of the Lost Ark. They are Tales of the Gold Monkey (1982 - 1983), and Bring 'em Back Alive! (1982 - 1983). The latter had actually been in development before the Steven Spielberg-George Lucas hit movie from 1981. More about these two shows later; I watched them very casually when they ran....

After calling-up the opening titles from the above I found myself linked to the opening titles to the half-hour animated show Battle of the Planets (1978 - 1979).

Originally one specific season of the Japanese program Gatchaman, Battle was adapted from the import by producer Sandy Frank after the mega success of 1977's Star Wars and modified since there was a wee problem: Gatchaman was a very Earthbound show; every episode except one. Needless to say, in order to advertise Battle as a space-action show, something had to be done to make space travel a more regular occurrence. That is why the same footage of the flying-machine Phoenix leaving our planet was used in almost every installment of the Americanized version.

There was another wee problem: The Japanese original featured lots of violence; in order to market the new version for American youth the regular episode-to-episode violence was cut out ("the city's inhabitants were all safely evacuated in time") leaving holes in the running times... Which lead to Sandy Frank Entertainment animating and adding the '7-Zark-7 and Center Neptune' scenes in every episode in order to refill the show's proper length necessary for broadcast. Having "Zark" modeled after Star Wars' R2-D2 was another touch added to catch the kids.

Whatever happened behind-the-scenes, though, Battle of the Planets turned out to be very successful for Sandy Frank.

Check out the classic opening titles featuring Hoyt Curtin's super-catchy theme music (no doubt almost every parent who had kids back in the late 1970s knows this music very well)...

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