*Somewhere along the line I messed up the episode order: Amazing Colossal Man was actually episode 309.
So, yeah; after another very long delay, we’re back. I’m not going to even attempt to guess whether we’ll continue regularly now.
Anyway, Fugitive Alien. A super-human “Wolf Raider” named Ken defects from his evil alien overlord (read: they wear wigs and slightly different makeup) during an attack on Earth, killing his best friend in the process. Trapped on Earth, he joins up with the crew of “Earth’s oldest spaceship: the Bacchus 3.” They then have some unconnected adventures on a faux-Arabian-knights planet and Ken ends up killing his old girlfriend as well. Then the movie ends.
Like Time of the Apes this was actually a short-lived Japanese TV show stitched together as a single movie. For what it’s worth, the stitching is much better here, as characters don’t simply teleport around the countryside and plotlines have actual set-ups and conclusions. It’s episodic, but not fever-dream-esque.
Actually, this might be considered one of the better Sandy Frank-Japanese flicks they viewed; the special effects are at least decent at times (not always, but sometimes), the characters are generally well distinguished and likeable, and there’s some effort to elicit genuine emotional conflict among them. It’s all cheesy, poorly dubbed, and goofy as all-get-out but at least you feel like they were trying to make a real movie here.
Riffwise, it’s mostly amusing, with only a few real laugh-out-loud moments. Jokes on the goofiness of the plot and the bombastic music are fun, and the guys get a lot of humor out of the different characters (though that will really take off when they do the sequel). Host segments likewise are generally entertaining, with the highlight being Mike’s first appearance as the Brains’ version of Jack Perkins, a character that will recur a number of times later on (in an increasingly off-the-rails fashion) and is always hilarious. All in all, a solid, if unspectacular episode.
Opening: Joel is pretending to be a dairy farmer from Southern Wisconsin. The bots are farm animals. It’s surreally funny, especially Crow as a chicken (some great puppetry from Trace) and Servo (“Help us!”)
Invention Exchange: The Mads have a combination of all ear, nose and throat drops you’ll ever need (Frank nearly drowns). Joel has the musical chair: a chair that doubles as a Xylophone (something you could actually see someone making). They’re both pretty amusing. Then Jack Perkins (played by Mike Nelson in some really well-done make-up). Mike’s hilarious!
Crow: “Sandy Frank presents our own personal hell!”
(on the title)
Joel: “Starring David Jansen of Mars in the hunt for the one armed alien.”
Crow: “Originally produced for the stage by the royal Shakespeare Company.”
And we open with some spaceships attacking a city.
I have to say, for a cheap Japanese TV show, the effects of this sequence aren’t bad.
Servo: “Uh, we’ve already started, sir.”
Joel (on the villain): “It’s Heckraiser!”
And the alien raiders start…stealing jewelry in between shooting people and doing summersaults. This in response to orders to “destroy the Earth and its inhabitants.” Okay…
We meet Ken, one of the aliens (he will be our titular fugitive). He’s the only one not wearing clown-white. Some dialogue establishes that he is superhumanly strong even for an alien.
Joel: “It’s an intriguing mix of genocide and modern dance.”
Servo: “When Josie and the Pussycats go bad.”
And a little kid shows up with a toy gun. He’s also named Ken, so Ken has an attack of conscience (by the way, should the kid really be unaware that there’s a war going on?).
Joel: “Planet of the Kens.”
Ken’s friend is shouting at him to kill the kid, then runs forward to do it himself.
Ken stops his friend, accidentally kills him. The other aliens attack him.
Crow: “You’re a disgrace to all Kens!”
Servo kisses the villain!
Ken gets back to his spaceship…
Servo (on Ken’s erratic steering): “Woah, gotta get that steering column fixed.”
Ken: “I’ll get [home] if it’s the last thing I do!”
Servo: “Probably will be.”
The effects, by the way, are really bad in these scenes: the ships are transparent, and the ‘str field’ looks like a magnified sneeze.
All (on the chorale music): “MONKS! IN! SPACE!”
Ken bails out. In space. Basically by putting on his space suit and walking out the door. No word on what he was planning to do next in the void of space.
Servo: “Some people will do anything to get to Mass on Holy Thursday.”
We meet the crew of an Earth spaceship: the Bacchus III. They pick up Ken by going out into space to retrieve him.
Servo makes a reference to ‘Marooned,” which they’ll view next season.
(as one of the astronauts makes contact with Ken)
Servo: click “Uh, Dr. Livingston I presume.”
They note that Ken was out without a space-suite, when he clearly had one.
Ken starts attacking the crew.
Ken (thinking): “Can’t afford to lose control…”
Crow: “What do you call that, then?”
Ken claims to be an astronomer.
By the way, they talk about Ken’s ‘strength’ when Captain Joe has just subdued him and is currently holding him down with little effort.
And the ship is attacked by the ‘Wolf Raiders’
First Host Segment: Crow and Servo make some hair-helmets like in the movie. Mildly amusing, especially Dr. F, Frank, and Jack Perkins in Deep 13 joining in.
Back in the movie, Ken assumes control of the spaceship and evades the Wolf Raiders.
Crow: “Well, we can’t fight ‘em, but we can confuse the heck out of them.”
Obvious rip-off of Empire Strikes Back where Ken flies into an asteroid field.
Captain Joe lays Ken out for hitting Rocky (shortly before noting that Ken is ‘ten times’ stronger than they are).
Back on Earth, the crew hears about the attack (Ken is still unconscious: how hard did Captain Joe hit him?)
Oh, Rocky gave him a tranquilizer.
Captain Joe runs to the hospital, finds wife and daughter dead. Actually kind of affecting scene.
On the way in, they interpret every time he stops to talk to a nurse as him asking for dates.
Shock-zoom on a pendant:
Servo: “The Geometric Nucleus!”
Crow: “I’ll just rifle the dead’s stuff here…”
Wife: “Where’s Maryann?”
And Ken wakes up and basically just murders his doctor before making his break through the roof, then through a forest, across some dunes…and I guess into a dump or something.
Then he spots a spaceport and decides to highjack one of the ships.
He sneaks into the Bacchus III, but finds Captain Joe waiting for him.
Captain Joe disarms Ken with the old “check if it’s loaded” trick, then chews him out for being a Wolf Raider.
Joe: “My wife just died in my arms!”
Crow: “Hey, you were way over by the window!”
Joe: “What have you got to say?”
Servo: “Uh, oops? I’m sorry?”
Ken recounts the story of the beginning of the film (yeah, the thing we saw less than twenty minutes ago).
Joe: “I never keep any bullets in my gun.”
Crow: “Like Barney Fife!”
So, Joe and Ken relax with a cigar, and Joe offers Ken a job on the Bacchus III.
Odd moment where Joe laughs maniacally before yelling “You’re stuck here!”
Then we cut back to the evil alien planet, with a narrator filling us in on what we’re looking at.
And Ken’s blond girlfriend Rita shows up (she was the sister of the guy Ken killed).
Villain: “He’s a coward and a traitor!”
Servo: “I forbid you to see him!”
Villain: “It is a law on Valna Star that the murderer must be killed by the victim’s next of kin.”
Servo: “No offense, oh wise one, but can I see the book on that rule?”
And Rita suddenly starts wandering a desert landscape.
Cut back to Earth, where Joe is in conference about aiding their allies on Kararu.
And they run through the crew: Rocky, Dan, Tammy, Billy, and Ken.
Cut to Ken running through a field. The camera flips upside down:
Servo: “Ah, I’m in China! I’m in China! Oh.”
Ken flashes back to frolicking with Rita…in the desert. What’s the deal with these people and deserts?
Second Host Segment: Crow and Servo are dressed up as the crew members, while Joel is Captain Joe, complete with mustache. Joel gets really into it, Crow and Servo can’t get into it. It’s mildly amusing.
Back in the movie, Ken runs into Tammy.
Tammy: “You looked so angry, I was afraid I was gonna get strangled.”
Servo: “Still time for that.”
Tammy tries to make small talk, Ken yells at her and she storms off.
The crew are receiving a briefing, Tammy makes a quip about Captain Joe needing whiskey for excitement.
They aren’t happy about having Ken along, but agree to trust Joe.
As the ship is prepared for the mission, inexplicably goofy music plays.
Servo: “What, are Ma and Pa Kettle going on this mission?”
Later that night, Ken is wandering around the hanger, brooding in voice-over.
Rocky attacks Ken with a forklift!
Crow: “Eat fork, buddy!”
Ken holds the machine off with his bare hands. I’m sorry, if he can do that, there’s no way Captain Joe could’ve laid him out with one punch.
Rocky mentions that he did it because he suspected Ken was a Wolf Raider. So, what would have happened if he was wrong?!
And here we get the first instance of the now-famous “He tried to kill me with a Forklift!” song.
So, after Rocky saw Ken push a forklift back with his bare hands, he picks a fight with him! How stupid is this guy?!
Captain Joe apparently thinks it’s a good strategy to lie openly and transparently to his crew. Great leader.
Kind of cool: the hanger moves instead of the ship.
Captain Joe visits his family’s grave, Servo does a ‘Scrooge’ line.
Ken spies on him
This is another actually kind of affecting scene.
Cut to them having dinner.
Crow: “Hey, they’re having a jumpsuit party, and his is the grandest of all!”
Rocky rejoins the crew (I…guess he left earlier):
Dan: “You old space mug!”
Crow: “You pile of space crap!”
Servo inexplicably goes into a long-winded Disney Copyright joke.
Goofy bit where Captain Joe tests some new equipment, causing the crew’s faces to distort.
And they immediately land on another planet.
Captain Joe looks directly into the low-angle camera:
Servo: “Hey, trouser cam! Hi there.”
Some humorless guards greet them, instruct everyone to stay on board except Captain Joe and one other crew member. So the immediately try to leave.
Anyway, Joe and Rocky ride in on a jeep (perfectly ordinary jeep) to the local palace.
Ken randomly decides to leave. Billy and Dan try to go out too, but Tammy pulls a gun on them! Go Tammy; these are awful soldiers!
Servo: “She’s management material.”
Ken stops jumping and playing around in the desert, up to and including making ‘bang-bang!’ noises while pretending to shoot things.
Back in the palace, we get an actually pretty good line from the movie itself:
Guard: “His Excellency will be with you shortly.”
Rocky: “I believe you said that two hours ago.”
Anyway, the vaguely sultan-like Lord Odenga shows up at last.
Servo (as Odenga): “Now bring me some pudding.”
And Ken wanders into a Bazaar. He doesn’t exactly blend with his shiny pleather jumpsuit.
He wanders around a bit, swipes some fruit, and walks into a bar.
Joel (noting the stainglass windows): “Totally new concept; it’s a church bar!”
Drunk Guard (stumbling over to Ken): “Boy, I don’t like your face.”
Joel: “I’m not a big fan either, sir.”
The guard offers Ken a drink:
Servo: “I’d rather share a needle with Keith Richards.”
The guards start beating up Ken, who snaps and beats them up in a slapstick manner.
And he kills one of them! Nice going Ken!
So Ken runs out, acting as suspicious as possible and accosting a random person into helping him. Besides, as noted, he kind of stands out.
And Ken gets caught.
Joel (as Odenga): “I tire of pudding; bring me something salty and sweet.”
Ken ends up in jail, scheduled for execution.
By the way, apparently it’s easier to push a moving forklift back with your bare hands than to bend metal bars.
So, Ken resorts to the old trick of hiding in the ceiling to make the cell look empty. The sad thing is that the guard almost falls for it (until he spots Ken’s shoe).
Rocky: “I think we should get rid of Ken.”
Servo: “Which one?”
Ken turns out to have a small radio on his shoulder that he didn’t know about, but which lets Captain Joe communicate with him.
Captain Joe wants Ken to break out an enemy officer so they can grill him for information.
Ken: “Why don’t you just ask the authorities to release us?”
Crow: “Oh, yeah? If you’re so smart, why are you in jail?”
Servo: “I’m sure the other prisoners haven’t heard a word of this.”
A guard goes by, Ken pretends to be asleep:
Servo: “Honk-shoo, honk-shoo, I’m just sleeping…”
Joe: “Your right shoulder button is a miniature nuclear device.”
Joel: “Should I have known that?”
Third Host Segment: Trying to figure out the screenplay. Joel explains that the ‘movie’ is actually just a series of TV episodes strung together. Crow wins by predicting that the film will continue as the impenetrable mess that it is. The Mads and Jack Perkins can’t figure it out either.
Back in the movie, Ken is working on his escape with his ‘miniature nuclear device’ (a firecracker).
Ken beats up and possibly kills a guard on his way out.
He finds the enemy officer, invites him to escape with him, he accepts.
For some reason, the bomb doesn’t work this time, so Ken tries again.
Crow (nervously): “Ah, some locks are…two-bomb locks…heh heh…”
Out of their cells, Ken ambushes and beats up a couple more guards, then shoots a few more (by the way, aren’t these supposed to be their allies, and Ken’s only in here because of his own stupidity?)
Anyway, they escape and pause to drink from a stream, then more guards show up and fire on them.
Ken uses another one of his button bombs, which explodes like a grenade (!).
Crow: “You’ve just gotta be sure to take them off before you do your laundry.”
Ken gets knocked out in the explosion, wakes up to find his girlfriend (who’s charged with killing him, remember), tending his injuries.
Rita says that she received a ‘radio message’ that Ken had escaped from a Kararu prison. Wait, I thought they just escaped about a minute ago!
Ken tries to clear his name with Rita by flashing back to the beginning. She claims he still deserves death, so he tells her to go ahead and do it.
Crow: “But first swallow my lapel button as, uh, a symbol of our love.”
She can’t do it.
They use the “Rita Meter Maid” every time her name is said.
Crow: “Uh, you’re crying on my bomb.”
They have a heartfelt talk, where Ken says they won’t work together and again tells her to kill him (jeeze, what a jerk).
Then, suddenly, Ken jumps up and pulls a gun. Turns out he’s shooting at some guards behind her, but she gets hit anyway and dies blaming him (oh, come on!).
The enemy officer shows up (where the heck was he all this time?!).
Cut to them climbing a slope, the officer collapses randomly and calls for help.
Servo: “Next time on ‘Twin Peaks’”
At the top they spot the Bacchus III, Ken hails it. They make gun-sounds.
Captain Joe: “I knew he could do it!”
Servo: “Break out the liquor…oh, I drank it all.”
And they all take off together. Ken gazes morosely at Rita’s neckless, then:
To be continued
Final Host Segment: Joel shows off his new super-buttons. The Bots are wearing their chicken costumes again. They read a letter: an answer to the ‘cool thing’ contest from “Lost Continent.” Turns out it actually was Mexican stoplight candy.
In Deep 13, the Mads are genetically altering Jack Perkins. Frank presses the button a little early and they keep going over a blank screen.
Stinger: “AhhahahahaYOU’RE STUCK HERE!”
Movie Quality Rating:
1. Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
2. The Crawling Eye
3. The Black Scorpion
4. Gamera vs. Barugon
5. Mad Monster
6. Lost Continent
8. The Amazing Colossal Man
9. Gamera vs. Gyaos
10. First Spaceship to Venus
11. Stranded in Space
12. Rocketship XM
13. Moon Zero Two
14. Godzilla vs. Megalon
15. The Crawling Hand
16. Catalina Caper
18. King Dinosaur
19. Jungle Goddess
20. Wild Rebels
21. The Corpse Vanishes
22. Fugitive Alien
23. Ring of Terror
24. Untamed Youth
25. The Slime People
26. Project Moonbase
27. The Sidehackers
28. Women of the Prehistoric Planet
29. Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy
30. Cave Dwellers
31. Time of the Apes
32. Pod People
34. Rocket Attack USA
35. Robot Holocaust
36. Robot Monster
Final Rating: 7/10. Good, solid, journeyman-like episode with some great host-segments.