Thursday, October 16, 2014

60 Years of Godzilla - Godzilla: The Series

The American Godzilla gets animated.

As a fan of the 1998 TriStar Godzilla movie, I was looking forward to a sequel being made. When TriStar had bought the rights to get into the Godzilla business from Japan's Toho Studios in 1992, the deal had been for a trilogy. Godzilla had done pretty well at the box office, so a part 2 looked like it had a good chance... But it never happened.

What did happen was an animated series, which debuted on television four months after the movie's release. The first episode is a direct sequel to the film, so much so that there's even an animated recap of the movie's final moments, with some adjustments made - like the fact that the character of Audrey Timmonds chooses being an unscrupulous news reporter over going off with her former boyfriend, scientist Nick Tatopoulos.

After Godzilla is killed on Brooklyn Bridge, Nick and the U.S. military go searching Manhattan Island to make sure there are no more Godzilla eggs left there. Nick finds the last surviving egg that was seen hatching in the final shot of the film. The egg hatches, a baby Godzilla emerges, and the creature immediately imprints on Nick, seeing him as a parental figure.

Loyal, protective, intelligent, and incapable of reproducing asexually like its predecessor did, this new Godzilla (or Zilla Junior) stays by Nick's side as he forms H.E.A.T., the Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team, with fellow scientists Elsie Chapman and Mendel Craven (also characters from the '98 film) as well as hacker Randy Hernandez. Aided by a robot called N.I.G.E.L., an acronym for Next Millennium Intelligence Gathering Electronic Liaison, and Monique Dupre, a French Secret Service agent who has been assigned to keep track of Godzilla, H.E.A.T. travels the globe, investigating reports of dangerous, monstrous mutations.

In such locales as New York City, Central America, the Amazon, the UK, Africa, tropical islands, Antarctica, and even Japan, H.E.A.T. finds itself up against all kinds of creatures - giant worms; mutated frogs; monster rats, snakes, and insects; killer plants, etc. The team even confirms the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.

Recurring villains include wealthy tech guru Cameron Winter, who was a college acquaintance of Nick's, and alien invaders called the Tachyon.

Godzilla inevitably engages his fellow kaiju in battle in each episode, besting them with his strength, agility, and ability to blast opponents with green-colored atomic breath. During one particularly tough incursion with the Tachyons, Godzilla even finds himself up against the Godzilla of the '98 film, brought back to life with mechanical enhancements by the aliens. It's Godzilla vs. Cyber-Zilla.

Very reminiscent of the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla cartoon in its basic set-up, Godzilla: The Series is actually a much more well made and better written animated series than its '70s predecessor. In fact, it's such a good show that even people who have a dislike for the '98 movie will often praise the cartoon that followed.

It's a very entertaining monster mash show that makes for a great expansion on what Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin established in the movie. We never got a live action feature sequel, but the cartoon works a very solid follow-up in itself.

Interestingly, the treatment for Godzilla 2 that was written by Tab Murphy in 1999 also had the last surviving Baby Godzilla imprinting on Nick as its parent, but that's where the similarities end. Murphy's story then jumped ahead two years, to a time when the new Godzilla is raising a brood of offspring in the Australian outback. The 'Zilla family's peace would eventually be shattered by both a military task force that hunts them down and by the discovery of monstrous insects on the same island in French Polynesia that this iteration of Godzilla originates from. The insects were mutated by the same nuclear tests the Godzilla iguana was, and the Godzilla species are their natural predators, so the Godzilla has to go into battle with the big bugs to save the planet. The final battle would be fought between Godzilla and what Murphy dubbed the "Queen Bitch" of the insect species.

I actually prefer having the 40 episodes of Godzilla: The Series over getting what was planned for the live action sequel.

No comments:

Post a Comment