Battle of the Planets (Syndicated 1978, Casey Kasem, Janet Waldo)

Another in a string of Japanese animation imports, Battle of the Planets featured G-Force, a watchdog squad for earth and the galaxy surrounding it. The team was led by Mark, the thoughtful yet daring commander. He was assisted by the headstrong and impetuous Jason, whose exuberance for battle needed to be muted now and then. Princess was G-Force’s only woman, quick with a quip and holding more than a team-member’s interest in Mark, though their defense assignments kept them too busy to pursue a full-time relationship. Keyop, the fourth member of the squad, was created in a lab expressly for G-Force. A malfunction in his production gave him a strange manner of speaking, which only made him more loveable.

G-Force was rounded out (pun fully intended) by Tiny, the overweight pilot of ‘The Phoenix,’ the squadron’s ship. The Phoenix was a technical marvel, capable of transmuting from a conventional spaceship to an amorphous, fiery bird when necessary to escape danger. G-Force’s headquarters was named Center Neptune and was manned by 7-Zark-7, a robot who provided the team with their assignments, keeping them abreast of enemy movements. This character did not appear in the original Japanese incarnation of the show. He was kept company by his loyal robot dog 1-Rover-1, and a never-seen secretary, Susan, whose sultry voice would make 7-Z-7’s antennae vibrate with excitement whenever he heard her talk. Dr. Anderson was the security officer who advised the team about operational procedures.

The leading enemy antagonist was Zoltar, who constantly plotted take-over invasions of Earth using robot troops, tanks, planes and hideous mechanical creatures. The ruler of the dying planet Spectra, Zoltar hoped to conquer earth and plunder its natural resources. The baddie received commands from a higher and more powerful evil galactic being known as ‘The Spirit,’ whom Zoltar referred to as ‘Oh Luminous One.’ This can be attributed to the fact that ‘The Spirit’ was never represented by anything more than two eyes on a monitor.

Battle of the Planets was originally produced in Japan in 1972 under the name of Gatchaman. Like many Japanese imports, the cartoon had much of its violence excised for American audiences. The cuts didn’t prevent Battle of the Planets from becoming a stateside hit, running for 85 episodes. A 1980’s remake (actually adapted from Gatchaman’s sequel, Gatchaman F) aired briefly on the TBS Superstation as G-Force.

production details
Japan – USA | Syndicated – Tatsunoko – Sandy Frank Films | x30 minutes | 1978

Creators: Jameson Brewer, Tatsuo Yoshida

voice cast
Janet Waldo
Casey Kasem
Alan Young
Keye Luke
Ronnie Schell
Alan Dinehart as Tiny Harper / Chief Anderson (voice)

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.