Judge Maurice Cobbs wonders, if the Galaxy Rangers are the space cowboys, does that make Jackie Subtract the gangster of love?
While outnumbered and being chased by thugs in "Smuggler's
Some of you, the cool ones, will remember a time in the mid-eighties when cowboys roamed the stars. On the frontier planet New Texas, Marshall BraveStarr and his loyal steed / sidekick Thirty-Thirty fought the despicable Tex Hex and his band of desperadoes. Meanwhile, Saber Rider led his Ramrod Equalizer Unit of Star Sheriffs as they stopped the evil warlord Nemesis from invading our dimension.
But the really cool ones out there know that the real action began in the year 2086. That's when two alien ambassadors named Waldo and Zozo came to Earth seeking help against the formidable armies of the Crown Empire, which had conquered vast portions of the galaxy. In return for our military support and political allegiance, they shared with us the secret of the hyperdrive—which enabled humans to explore the stars. Accordingly, the Bureau of Extra-Terrestrial Affairs, or BETA, commissioned the Galaxy Rangers to patrol the lawless outreaches of space, but in the year 2103, the vile Queen of the Crown Empire (Corinne Orr) turned her megalomaniacal aggressions toward the human race. To counter this threat, Marshall Zachary Foxx (Jerry Orbach, Law and Order) was given command of an elite team of unique individuals, and he and his Rangers were outfitted with the experimental Series-5 brain implant. He and his team—technological expert Dr. Walter "Doc" Hartford (Hubert Kelly), the beautiful telepath Niko (Laura Dean), and the enigmatic Eastwood-esque Shane "Goose" Gooseman (Doug Preis), last of the Supertroopers—preserve law and order across the new frontier, usually by putting boot to bad-guy buttocks to a badass rock 'n' roll soundtrack. No guts, no glory, baby!
So, I know you're wondering…just what the heck is a Series-5 brain implant? Well, silly, it's the one that came after the first four series of brain implants. More specifically, it's a technological device that is activated with a touch of the special circuitry in the Galaxy Ranger badge and provides special abilities or accentuates the Ranger's natural talents. For instance, when Zach Foxx activates his implant, his bionic arm functions like a laser cannon. Niko, who is a natural telepath, finds that her abilities are enhanced and that she can create force fields and such. Doc becomes a "computer wizard," able to "conjure" incredible programs. And Goose, thanks to his Supertrooper enhancement, has "bio-defenses" that make him all but invincible, able to do pretty much whatever the script needs him to be able to do at the time, making him sort of the polar opposite of Aquaman. Good thing, too, since the Rangers usually have a lot more to deal with than the Queen of the Crown's faceless Slaver Lords; the New Frontier is pretty much packed with all kinds of disreputable types. There are intergalactic gangsters like Jackie Subtract, space outlaws like Daisy O'Mega, outlaw bands like the Black Hole Gang, and power-mad nihilists like the band of renegade former Supertroopers led by Ryker Killbane.
To confuse viewers new to the series as much as possible, this disc continues in the tradition of the other three by presenting the episodes so completely out of order that any hope of figuring out what the hell is going on will be lost as soon as possible. This may be some sort of super-advanced marketing ploy that is too sophisticated for my meager intellect to comprehend. In any case, you can achieve some semblance of order if you buy all four collections of episodes. For instance, you'd start with the first two episodes in the fourth collection, then jump to the first episode on the first collection, the move on to the first and third episodes on the third collection, skip about three episodes completely, then jump back to the second episode on the first disc…or, if all that's too confusing, you could just skip these collections altogether and wait for the rumored boxed set. Your call.
In any case, the setup on this collection, Chained, breaks down like this:
• "Smuggler's Gauntlet"
• "Birds of a Feather"
There are a few things that set The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers apart from other animation of the '80s. For one thing, Rangers was one of the few cartoons of the time that were not driven by a toy line, which meant that the writers had greater freedom—it's got to be the only American animated show of the time that could have gotten away with Goose snarling, "If you so much as breathe the wrong way, you're dead!" or "I ought to blow you away right here!"—but it also meant that networks weren't as interested in the show, which brought about its untimely demise. Speaking of the writing, actual established science-fiction writers, like James Luceno, were tapped to hammer out scripts for Rangers, which gave the show an extra bit of sophistication, despite the silliness that sometimes bogged down particular episodes. None of this is discussed in the special features, which are limited to brief episode synopses, character bios, and a photo gallery. Koch does a better job on the technical side, presenting Rangers in your choice of 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Digital. The picture quality is pretty darn good, considering the age of the material; it's a good clean print with no speckling or garbage cluttering the screen. However, this disc has a quality issue that should have been caught: When you attempt to use the "play all" function on the DVD menu, you only get to see "Mindnet" and "Birds of a Feather." What gives, guys?
Koch's decision to present these shows out of order is baffling, but the disc is still worth a look…until we get that boxed set. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
• Episode Synopses
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