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Opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author, David C. Matthews (unless otherwise indicated). Images used are copyrighted by their respective owners, and appear under the "fair use" provisions of the copyright laws.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Episode Review: #5, "The Mole Men" - Sept. 23, 1967

(WARNYNG: Here there bee spoylers)

Synopsis:

(NOTE: my copy of this episode does not start with a prologue/teaser. It may be that there was no teaser; or perhaps the prologue was edited out of a syndicated or Cartoon Network broadcast. If I find a prologue for this episode, I'll recap it here.

My guess is, if there is a prologue, it shows a cylindrical craft drilling up through the surface from below. A hatch on top opens, and two Mole Men survey their surroundings while ominous music plays.)

Title Card:



The episode opens on two Mole Men, standing in the open hatch on top of their craft, taking stock of their surroundings.



A Mole man points; "Look!"



The Mole Man fires a beam at the creature; it is paralyzed, lifted off its branch and levitated to the Mole Men. "Is this one of the Surface People?"

"No!" replies his comrade. "That is what the Surface People call a 'bird'. Turn off your magno-ray! Put it back!"



The "bird" is returned to its perch; but upon regaining mobility, it flies away, squawking in distress. Its path takes it past the tree - or whatever it is - where Zandor and his family live.





The bird's cries alert Zandor. He looks over: his wife Tara and son Dorno (using Gleep as a pillow) are still asleep, so Zandor decides to quietly investigate the cause of the bird's alarm.





But Dorno awakens in time to see Zandor leave.

Dorno gathers the Herculoids. "I don't know where Zandor went, but I'm gonna follow him." He sends Gleep to guard Tara.



Zok is also to stay behind, as Dorno sets off with Igoo, Tundro and Gloop to find Zandor.





In no time, they find a craft which Dorno immediately identifies as a "Mole Ship".



A hatch opens in the belly of the craft, and a ray cannon unleashes a deadly barrage!

The bolts are deflected harmlessly off Tundro's neck plates, protecting Dorno. One bolt, however, catches Igoo in the chest, knocking him back off his feet. Gloop splits in two to allow the bolt to pass between his halves.

Tundro then unleashes his own attack, a fusillade of energy rocks. The ray cannon is composed of some very resilient metal, however, as the explosive rocks can inflict no damage. A huge boulder pitched by Igoo proves more effective, smashing the nose of the ship.




(Ain't interlacing wonderful?)

Two Mole Men emerge from the top hatch, guns drawn, only to be swiped off their perch by Gloop. "Now to find Zandor!" exclaims Dorno.

At another Mole Ship...



"Markon's orders were to stay here and guard the tunnel?"

"Yes. And prepare for the attack on the Surface People!"



Zandor's (over)heard enough. "So! Markon's up to his old tricks!"



Zandor's presence is detected; he throws his mighty shield which knocks out the two guards and returns to Zandor's hand.



"That will hold them for awhile. I've got to stop Markon!" And Zandor descends by vine into the tunnel…



Markon, the Kind of the Mole men, is furious with one of his underlings. "No longer will you interfere with my plans, Targo!" The rebellious Mole Man, standing before Markon in chains, remains defiant. "You forget Zandor, Markon!"



"I will deal with Zandor. But first you must die!" With a shark-toothed grin of pure malice, Markon raises his ray gun to execute Targo on the spot.

Zandor takes quick but careful aim with his slingshot, delivering an energy rock precisely on target: the gun melts in Markon's grip.



Zandor has another rock nocked and ready to go when Markon spots him, and orders his capture.



A squadron of hovercraft set out to take Zandor prisoner…



but a series of well-aimed energy rocks wipes out rank after rank of would-be captors.





Zandor finds an unexpected ally, as Targo sends an unmanned hovercraft to him. "Here, Zandor; this should help you escape Markon's guards."

"Thanks, Targo!" Zandor shouts as he leaps into the passing hovercraft.



Markon has now boarded his own craft, and sets off in pursuit of his Nemesis. "Leave him to me!"

Commercial break!





Back on the surface, the two tunnel guards revive from their unconsciousness to the beeping of the intruder alarm. This time, the alarm has detected the approach of Dorno, Tundro, Igoo and Gloop.



The Mole Men fire at Gloop, who splits into two, then four, then eight copies of himself before the guards see the futility of their attack. "What manner of creatures are these?"



Meanwhile, back underground…



"Markon's gaining on me!" Zandor observes, as he is chased through the extensive tunnels of Markon's domain.



Markon brandishes a ray pistol. "You'll not get away, Zandor!" He fires; the beams are deflected by Zandor's shield.



Meanwhile, back on the surface…



Igoo charges the Mole Ship with a huge log.



The Mole Men train their weapons on the log, which disintegrates into cinders in Igoo's fists.

Meanwhile, back underground…

"This energy rock ought to slow you down, Markon!" shouts Zandor as he lets fly, aiming for the roof of the cave above Markon's head. The explosion dumps what look to be several tons of rubble directly on Markon. "That shot stopped him… No! Here he comes again!"



And indeed, Markon blasts out of the rubble and resumes his pursuit! Zandor tries again; once again Markon falls victim to a rockfall, and once again blasts out. "Nothing stops me, Zandor!"

Meanwhile, back on the surface…

It's a standoff between Tundro and the tunnel guards. Their ray guns are useless against Tundro's shields, but Tundro's energy rocks are equally ineffectual against the hull of the ship.



Gloop turns the tide, snatching the pistols out of the guards' grasps.

Meanwhile, back underground…



"So, nothing stops him?" Zandor muses as he stands outside his hovercraft, setting the craft in reverse. "Well, let's see how he handles this!"

As Zandor makes his escape, the unmanned hovercraft flies unerringly at Markon, who realizes too late that it's on a collision course! An off-screen crash and explosion marks the end of Markon's pursuit.

Meanwhile, back on the surface…



Tundro makes one final charge, galloping at full speed toward the Mole Ship. The sight of the charging monster sends the Mole Men into the ship.



Tundro rams the ship, shaking its occupants and preventing their escape.



More poundings on the hull indicate that Igoo's fists have joined the attack, until Zandor's voice rings out: "That's enough, Igoo! Now send it back where it came from!"



Igoo roars with grim delight as he lifts the ship over is head and throws it unto the tunnel!





Zok arrives, with Tara on his back. "And just in time for Zok to seal up the tunnel!" says Zandor.



Zok's eye and tail beams make short work of the tunnel entrance.



Relief now at the end of the threat of the Mole Men… "At least until Markon shows up again!" says Dorno. A sharp roar from Igoo, though, prompts Dorno to add, "Oh, I forgot. Igoo can take care of him!" This brings another roar from Igoo, but this time a roar that's tinged with more than a little amusement.



Comments:

From the Mole Man of Marvel's Fantastic Four to the "Underminer" from Pixar's The Incredibles, "mole men" have been a staple of pop fantasy for some time: subterranean dwellers who envy the "surface dwellers" their freedom and fresh air while they fester in the dark and putridity, slowly plotting their revenge.

Again, a longer running time could have fleshed out the story in interesting ways. I would like to have seen more of Targo's backstory: is he a member - or maybe the leader - of a rebellion against the rule of Markon? Why does he aid Zandor against Markon, other than to simply oppose the Mole King? Were Targo and Zandor personally acquainted? It's obvious that Markon and Zandor know each other by reputation at least, and perhaps have clashed in the past.

The "Oh, Come ON!" Moment for this episode comes courtesy, not of the actions of any of the characters, but of the writers having Markon survive being buried under not just one, but two rockfalls! Markon's taunt "Nothing stops me, Zandor!" certainly makes sense in that context, but: just how resistant are Amzot's Mole Men to injury? If Markon became the dictator of the Mole Men because he was the most impervious to injury, why then does it take a mild (compared to a rockfall, at least) collision with an unpiloted hovercraft to incapacitate him enough to end his plans to invade the surface world? (By the same token, what metal are those Mole Ships made of that they're impervious to energy rocks? That should have been a more important plot point, I think.)



And how nice of the writers to finally have Tara show up after all the real action's over. How did she and Zok know where to find the others, anyway? And how did they know what's expected of them? Is that an assumption Zok makes? "There's a big hole, guess I have to seal it up."





This episode offers a rare glimpse, brief though it may be, at the home life of Zandor and his family. Their lifestyles are primitive indeed; Zandor and Tara apparently sleep directly on the "floor" of their tree (or whatever that is) house, while Dorno uses Gleep as combination mattress and pillow. They also sleep in their clothes; what, no pajamas? They don't sleep in the nude? (Yeah, I know; they wouldn't have been allowed to be depicted sleeping in the nude, especially an underage boy.) But still… do they have any other clothes? I don't see any closets in that tree (or whatever it is). Or kitchen, or storage space, or really anything else!



And one final point: check out that deltoid muscle on Tara in that final shot! Probably unintended, and just the result of careless drawing; nevertheless, me likey!

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting these reviews! I've been a big fan since the show first premiered in 1967, and for quite awhile I thought maybe I was the only one left! It's nice to know there's still a few of us around!

    I really enjoy seeing someone else's take on the episodes, particularly the "Oh Come On!" moments you mention; in this case, I had the same one you did on Markon's apparent invulnerability, but I arrived at it for a different reason. It sort of puzzled me how Zandor's energy rock simply melted Markon's gun the way it did; I couldn't ever recall seeing an energy rock do that, but I also couldn't help but notice that Markon didn't seem at all bothered about a having mass of molten metal engulfing his hand. I wonder how one would go about washing something like that off...?

    Anyway, please keep these reviews coming, I think they're great!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the kind words! My goal is to get a review up of all of the original series episodes, at least. (And if i can get ahold of the "Space Stars" eps as well, I'll do those.)

    Nice observation on Markon's reaction to having a gun melt in his hand; he seems more irritated that the gun doesn't work now, than that he's now got painful burns on his hand! (Of course, to him they may not be painful...) It woudn't have been enough by itself to make an "Oh, come ON!" moment; I reserve those for those moments that take me out of the story and make me wonder what the character(s) (or worse, the writers) were thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You've probably seen this site, then? It has screen shots from both the original and Space Stars series, though unfortunately not as many per episode as what you've got here.

    http://members.fortunecity.com/classics1/h_index.html

    Also, if you're looking for scans of any of the comics, I've got all of the original Super TV Heroes comics that had the Herculoids in them, plus the later Cartoon Network/Toonami comics from 1998-1999.

    ReplyDelete
  4. David ! I love your Herculoids Fansite ! My friend Ryan also asked Warner Archives about releasing the HERCULOIDS and although they did not outright admit it (because they're not allowed to confirm yet) they said that Herculoids fans "WILL BE VERY PLEASED"

    So I'm optimistic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Since you love The Herculoids as much as I do, check out HERCULOIDS ONLINE at:

    http://herculoidsonline.tripod.com

    ReplyDelete