Monday, 29 June 2015

Godzilla: The Series (1998)

The 1998 Godzilla movie was terrible.  Audience response was so bad that even though the movie itself made money, all plans for a sequel were abandoned.  Instead, the decision was made to create an animated series, which has the twin benefits of being cheaper to produce and - with a new monster every week - quicker to generate a toy line.  Never underestimate the merchandising dollars.

The show is a direct sequel to the movie, and picks up at the moment of Godzilla's death in the film.  Dr Niko Tatopoulos (voiced by Iain Ziering; I guess Matthew Broderick had to wash his hair or something) leads the search for any remaining eggs left behind by the monster.  By a series of contrivances, he finds one just as it hatches, and the baby Godzilla imprints upon him as its parents.

Tatopoulos forms a team - a couple of scientists, a hacker, and a French spy - to investigate the creature, which grows at a prodigious rate and soon attains adult size.  The team travels the world in a hydrofoil vessel, investigating sightings of "mutations" - giant monsters that are beginning to spring up in all kinds of places.  The new Godzilla is their principle weapon in the battle against these creatures.

If that premise sounds a bit familiar even though you're way too old to have grown up watching this show, don't be surprised - it is very similar to that of the 1978 Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

Warning: contains ear-worm

There are things to like in this show.  The relationship between Tatopoulos and his reporter girlfriend is much more convincing than it was in the film, for example, and generally speaking the character interactions within the team are quite enjoyable.  And while a lot of the monsters they encounter are just "giant <insert animal>", the show does also deliver some quite entertainingly ooky creations.

However, the show's weaknesses are also quite pronounced.  The early episodes in particular are very weak from a writing and artistic perspective, for instance - possibly due to the show being rushed into production.  The quality of the art does improve, but the writing remains patchy.  For instance, about thirty episodes in there's a show where they go to Area 51 and everyone mocks the one team member who believes in UFOs ... despite the fact that they all fought an alien invasion fifteen episodes earlier, and therefore know that UFOs are a very real possibility.

For chilling in front of the TV on a Saturday morning, this is quite acceptable fare.  But when it comes to the question of "is it worth getting on DVD?", I think its weaknesses outweigh its strengths.

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