Today we'll forgo the usual Filmation-centric introduction in order to honor a colossus of the industry: Lou Scheimer, the founder of Filmation. Scheimer's bold vision still serves to guide the mighty hand of Hollywood decades after the sun set on the Filmation era. Perhaps this episode of Scheimer's most intrepid creation, BraveStarr, best illustrates his continued stature amongst the kingmakers. The late Tony Scott cited The Taking of Thistledown 123 as a primary influence on his career as a filmmaker. So enamored was he with this teleplay that he adapted it into the 2009 mega-hit The Taking of Pelham 123. Scott's recent death was a major blow to the Filmation family tree, and to film as a whole. I have no reservations in saying that Top Gun fundamentally altered the way I watch movies, and in many respects, the way I live my life. Scheimer's influence on Scott's work may be evident to the keen observer in the episode's opening sequence.
What's all of this then? Check out the first episode of The BraveStarr Compendium for a bit of background on BraveStarr and a breakdown of the ratings system.
In episode 3, we'll attempt to see the world of BraveStarr through Tony Scott's yellow-tinged eyes. Clearly something in this seemingly limp heist lit a fire within Scott, inspiring the "kinetic thrill-ride" that Pelham was described as on the back of the PAL DVD release I recently purchased. Unfortunately, I have yet to spring for that region-free player, so I haven't had the pleasure of viewing Scott's "triumph". Hence my reliance on the effusive praise of Harry Knowles. The episode attempts to follow the lead of the excellent Fallen Idol, by thoroughly steeping the plot in traditional Western genre tropes. We DO finally get a good look at Tex Hex's vaunted gang of outlaws. Sounds promising enough. Let's forge ahead.
Mayor Derringer and nameless ratite Ambassador
The Mayor of Fort Kerium (or perhaps New Texas as a whole. Politics are rather murky in the Land of Three Suns) may not brandish any discernible power, but he does brandish the women's purse gun that is his namesake. So that's something. He's so useless that he shouldn't warrant a blurb, but considering how significant a role these two oafs play in this episode, I deemed them worthy of a shared profile. The Ambassador is a member of the shadow government whose job description apparently involves riding around on a freighter making hasty judgments. And he's an ostrich. Or an emu. Whatever.
A member of Tex Hex's gang significant enough to warrant a name. Just barely. Might as well be pig #1. A plus would be his ridiculous character design. He has inexplicably stumbled upon a Union Army uniform in deep space. A minus would be that the voice actor portraying Hawgtie felt that the best way to depict an anthropomorphic pig would be to snort after every syllable uttered. Moving on.
A down on his luck train dispatcher, whose career has been derailed by an ongoing bribery investigation. Will Garber overcome his personal turmoil and end the hostage crisis? Or will the prospect of financial freedom prove too alluring for this once proud, principled man? His moral growth may well determine the fate of all those on board our titular transport.
Well, now we're talking. Here's a fearsome looking brute. So, what's his weapon of choice? Ultra-venom? Barbed impalers? Sick techno beats? Nope. Sleepy dust. Seriously? Fuck you, BraveStarr.
This one's culled directly from the Masters of the Universe scrap heap. One part Evil-Lyn, one part Snake Men, and we'll throw in a dash of Myron Reducto for flavor. And that's not a gun she's brandishing, but rather a device that serves the exact same purpose as Sandstorm's embarrassingly impotent sleepy dust. If you have a phobia of being temporarily immobilized, beware this vile gang of miscreants!
In Today's Episode
New Texas is being visited by an Ambassador to the galactic space something or other, who happens to be traveling on the largest, most heavily armed kerium freighter in the galaxy. I was not aware that dignitaries often traveled on freighters, but what do I know. The very word freighter implies that the ship is a vessel intended to haul freight, not host political emissaries. Must be a plot device. Ah, here we are: Tex Hex intends to hijack the kerium freighter, presumably for the kerium, which he spends every miserable episode of this series lusting after. What's that you say? Tex Hex proclaims that he is uninterested in the kerium, and instead intends to board the ship in order to hold the Ambassador for a hefty ransom. A ransom that would, perhaps, be paid in the most valuable substance in the universe: KERIUM. THE VERY SUBSTANCE THAT THE SHIP HE'S HIJACKING IS PRESUMABLY FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH. Note to writers: This disastrous logical loop could have easily been averted by having the ambassador travel on something other than a kerium freighter.
Boy, I got ahead of myself there. Let's try this again. BraveStarr sees fit to spend the majority of the Ambassador's visit sleeping in public, leading the Ambassador to decree that New Texas probably doesn't require the services of a planetary marshal. The logistics of Ambassadors to a nebulous galactic organization running local law enforcement are a tad questionable, but my cholesterol-encrusted heart can't take another dissection of this episode's logic. Just as the Ambassador concludes his stay, Tex Hex and co. show up to enact the ludicrously flawed plan that I outlined earlier. They succeed in boarding the Thistledown with astounding ease, considering it was repeatedly described as the most heavily armed freighter in the galaxy. It was boarded by 4 people with handguns. I think the fleet may have some defense gaps. Fortunately they aren't hauling something desirable like... THE MOST VALUABLE SUBSTANCE IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE.
Deep, soothing breaths...
BraveStarr and Thirty Thirty gain access to the freighter after Shaman smokes a cloud they can walk on. Try not to think too hard about that sentence. Fighting ensues. Good guys win. But not before we're subjected to yet another heinous plot device. Herr Ambassador requires canisters of atmosphere to continue his privileged existence. These canisters are inexplicably minuscule, so he's constantly at death's door. You'd think his ship would have a breathable atmosphere, but apparently not, considering the bulk of the episode takes place on said ship. So, in order to complete his arduous arc, the Ambassador must save the day by pulling a convenient day-saving lever, whilst running out of atmosphere. Then they show us the Ambassador's "breath supply" and the son of a bitch has THOUSANDS of these tiny canisters just sitting around on a shelf. Personally, I'd keep a few on my person, so as to prevent some minor delay from resulting in my untimely suffocation. Traffic congestion? Dead. Person in front of you at the grocer an avid viewer of TLC's smash hit Extreme Couponing? Sayonara. But I guess that's how we learn.
Teamwork is important because often a job that needs to be done is too big or too dangerous for one person to do alone. Recapturing the kerium freighter was a big job, and a dangerous one, but because everyone worked together, we managed to do it. That’s teamwork. Try it next time you and your friends have a big job to do. You might be surprised how well it works.
Rating: Eyes of the Hawk
If forced to watch this episode again, I'd leap to my death from atop the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
The BraveStarr Compendium Compendium
Professor Gruber interprets the author's drivel so you don't have to!
The Taking of Pelham 123 was actually a remake of a 1974 Walter Matthau vehicle. BraveStarr has never influenced anyone to do anything other than change the channel.
The only person whose life was altered by Top Gun was Kenny Loggins.
This video is a fabrication based on the opening sequence of Tony Scott's The Taking of Pelham 123. Observe:
At some point in his career, Tony Scott became infatuated with a technique known as cross-processing, which gave his movies a distinctive (if off-putting) yellow hue.
Phase Alternating Line is a color encoding system utilized throughout much of the eastern hemisphere, which renders most video published there incompatible with western devices.
Founder of Ain't It Cool News, is notorious for giving everything under the sun an exceedingly warm reception.
I bet the author felt pretty important when using this word. It means flightless bird.
Walter Garber is a character played by Denzel Washington in Tony Scott's Taking of Pelham 123. He has no connection whatsoever to the cartoon this piece is supposed to be written about. You've fooled us again, Oh Weaver of Words.
Sandstorm was a popular club hit in 1999, the year the author appears to be permanently trapped in.
Myron Reducto is in fact not a reference to Masters of the Universe, but rather to Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. People actually enjoyed that show?
This sentence is as bloated and fatuous as its author.
In which bored housewives torment retail employees in an effort to 'shop smart'. If I walked out of a store with 150 bars of soap, I'm not sure how intelligent I'd be feeling.
Tony Scott committed suicide by jumping off of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles on August 19, 2012, presumably due to his crippling fear of the impending Mayan apocalypse.
Because comedy works best when someone holds your hand.