I love 80s cartoons. I love 80s hair metal. I love 80s fashion. And so I LOVE this episode of Galaxy Rangers. Oh, how I love this episode of Galaxy Rangers.
It starts with the Rangers and their stupid robot Buzz watching, essentially, MTV. The announcer -- who, despite being drawn like a woman and having breasts, is dubbed with a man's voice -- announces the hot new act: The Slaver Lords, playing their top 40 hit, "Psycho Crystal"! They've got those twin-necked guitars that showed up in videos back then but nobody ever really played. ROCKIN'!
Slaver Lords are the guys I identified as "space Bedouins" in my previous Galaxy Rangers recap. They are psychic projections controlled by the Queen, powered by the life force trapped in a psycho crystal. A psycho crystal is a crystal full of life force stolen from a living being. Anyway, all that really matters is that Slaver Lords are generic baddies one step up from the Crown Fighters, who are the fodder.
While the Rangers wonder why Slaver Lords would form a hair metal band, Buzz decides that he likes the song and starts break dancing! Oh, Galaxy Rangers, you do know the way to my heart. Niko begs someone to turn Buzz off. Well, poo on you, Niko, and your hatred of breakdancing robots! Poo!
Meanwhile, the Queen is also watching MTV and is enraged that someone would form a slaver lord band without paying her copyright loyalties. She orders the nearest lacky, who is a Slaver Lord coincidentally, to "GET THEM! RARRRRR!" The Slaver Lord bows and walks into the camera.
We join the Slaver Lords' performance live. It ends and the lead guitarist and vocalist tosses what appear to be psycho crystals to the audience. You know, I wonder if those are supposed to be some kind of drug. A few moments later, backstage, he mentions that the fake crystals help pack in the crowds. I'm just going to pretend the fake crystals are full of coke and the audience is snorting the hell out of it, just because that would be even more 80s.
The band removes their Slaver Lord outfits. One of them is -- dun dun dunnnn -- Nimrod! Nimrod crossed paths with the Rangers before. He's supposed to be a cat man but, to me, he appears to be a normal human who got heavy plastic surgery to look like a cat. His great plan for the band is to ... embarrass the Rangers by singing unflattering songs about them. That's one boss evil scheme, dude!
Nimrod is interrupted in his ranting by a very polite knock at the door. The Slaver Lord the Queen sent is already there! Is the Queen's palace in the same building or something? After all the Queen's raving about "Get them! Get them NOW! NOW!", did the Slaver Lord just stroll out of her throneroom, down the hall, and knock on Nimrod's dressing room door? 'Cause, there's no other way in hell he got there so fast.
Nimrod shuts the door on the Slaver Lord, thwarting it. I can just imagine the hulking thing standing outside and shaking its fist in frustration at the impenatrable -- flimsy door!
Nimrod's three bandmates run. One of them is an 80s hottie with frizzed-up light purple/white hair, a purple tank top with a plunging neckline and huge flared shoulders, spandex pants, and white boots. How I miss the days when you could actually see girls wearing something like that as everyday attire. Anyway, I couldn't get too attached to her because she and the other two were quickly gunned down by Crown Fighters. "Set for stun" my ass! A stun beam doesn't go all the way through you, blast visible particulate matter from your torso, and leave a smoking wound! Hottie was at least considerate enough to thrust her breasts at the camera when she died.
Nimrod, seeing this -- OH MY GOD NIMROD'S OUTFIT! Anyway, Nimrod sees his bandmates' demise. "Bummer!" he mutters, and runs the other way. However, he is quickly captured, even though he does manage to gun down one of the Crown Fighters. The Slaver Lord, apparently having figured out the intricacies of pushing open a non-latching door, approaches Nimrod. The Queen's face appears over the Slaver Lord's. She informs Nimrod that he is under new management.
My, but wasn't that messed up? Three completely innocent people and one bad guy were brutally gunned down. The person we're supposed to be rooting for here is a guy who's had plastic surgery to look like a cat, is a former villain, let his friends go to their deaths so he could escape, is wearing a reject from the sixth Doctor's wardrobe, and did some of the gunning!
I love it! I love it! I love it!
Nimrod is brought to the Queen's throne room. He begs the Queen not to harm him.
"I"m just a boy in a rock and roll band," so he says. He offers to change the act if it displeases her. Dude, she had your band killed, it's a bit late for that.
The Queen reminds Nimrod of an upcoming Battle of the Bands at the Orion Space Arena. He is going to enter it for her.
"You covet the prize?" Nimrod asks.
"Some foolish trophy and a recording contract? No!" the Queen denies.
'Fess, up, Queenie! You were sitting around watching MTV, killed a band that would have been your direct competition, not to mention you know about the Battle of the Bands in the first place. You want to win that recording contract more than anything in the universe! Admit it!
The Queen tells Nimrod he's going to use a mind control device to hypnotize the primarily human audience into getting on her slave ships. (In case you didn't read my first Galaxy Rangers recap, human life force is by far the best to use for Psycho Crystals.) Three Slaver Lords will be Nimrod's backups. Further evidence of the Queen's musical aspirations! She controls them, remember, so she'll essentially be the entire band. You're not fooling anyone with this "capture humans" excuse, Queen. You just want people to hear your music. I bet when you were just the Princess, you begged the King and Queen to let you be in a band but they wouldn't.
Elsewhere, at the palace of Mogul the Wizard (another villain), three of his demon servants and his apprentice Larry are cleaning up after a big party. I presume Mogul is passed out drunk somewhere, or possibly living it up with some hookers. Larry knocks over some books and, in one of them, finds a flyer for the Battle of the Bands that Mogul was using as a bookmark. He and the demons decide to try their luck and enter. Just like that. This has nothing to do with the Queen or the Rangers. It's completely random.
Have I mentioned that I love this episode?
Meanwhile, we finally rejoin the Rangers. The Space Arena is positioned a bit too close to the Queen's territory. Ranger HQ figures she won't be able to resist all that human life force. So Q-Ball (their gadget man) and Doc have come up with the most incredible plan. The Rangers are to go undercover as a hair metal band and enter the competition! Doc's magic computer thingie will control all of their instruments, which are actually disguised weapons.
That's part 1 on YouTube
On to part 2!
We join the Battle of the Bands at the tail end of a performance. There's a nice pan over the audience and all the big hair, makeup, and outfits put an 80s child like me in hog heaven. Not to mention that it's arena rock. If I get a time machine, screw seeing the extinction of the dinosaurs or the evolution of mankind. I'm going back to watch Bon Jovi or Duran Duran give an arena concert.
We get to see the Rangers incognito as hair metal rockers. I love their outfits, particularly Goose's shades and the fingerless gloves. Zach's Miami Vice jacket and hairdo are also awesome.
In Nimrod's dressing room, the Queen's face appears on all three of his Slaver Lord backups to remind him of the plan and the price for failure. Unbeknownst to them, Goose is spying on them. Sad to say, that's also the last of the Rangers in their 80s outfits we get to see. They don their regular outfits for their big performance.
I'm having trouble finding words to describe how awesome their performance is. They sing the Galaxy Rangers theme song, of course, the full version. Goose is on guitar, Doc is playing keyboards, Zach is inside an ultra-cool drum cage deal, and Niko is shaking her ass for the audience. I don't consider Niko that hot for an 80s cartoon babe, but her booty shaking and hip gyrating is actually really well animated and kind of sexy. They aren't really playing, as mentioned earlier; Doc's magic computer thingie is controlling it all.
Larry and the demons are watching and b***hing about how every band has been good and they suck. Larry decides to sabotage the Rangers by casting a spell on Doc's computer thingie. The spell is -- are you ready? -- "Kareem! Abdul! Jabar!" All looks lost for the Rangers as the control on their instruments goes away but Goose belts out a
pretty crappy really amazing guitar solo until Doc can reboot. They finish the song without missing a beat. Up until this point, the standard version of the song has been playing, but Doc's voice actor actually sings the last line and he sounds pretty good.
After the show, the Rangers just happen to run into Nimrod and the Slaver Lords. No, really, they had no idea he was even there. Nimrod uses the mind control device on the Rangers, which makes the grunt a lot and stand in place. The Queen orders some Crown Fighters to take them away and put them under guard. Nimrod and the Slaver Lords get ready for their performance.
It is the latter fact that upsets Larry and the demons, who were watching. Yeah, they don't really care about the Queen or the Rangers, they're just bummed that they'll probably loose the Battle. Larry decides to free the Rangers so that they'll get in a fight with the Slaver Lords and, hopefully, both will die, taking the two best bands out of the running and improving their chances. Yeah, that's right, Larry and the demons only care about the recording contract.
I love this episode.
On stage, Nimrod sings about how the Queen is great and wouldn't it just be wonderful to surrender to her and lie in oblivion in the Psycho Crypt? I'll bet the Queen is having the time of her life performing before such a big audience, as three instruments simultaneously, no less. It can be nothing less than the fullfillment of her greatest desire. The Queen eventually orders Nimrod to use the mind control device but he is reluctant to do so. He's a bad guy but not THAT bad. He relents under pain of having his life force sucked out. He fires the device and I just now realize that the beam is a series of "O's". That's right, the mind control gun is saying "OOOOOOOOOOOOO"!
Yes. Yes! More pans over the audience, with close ups! The 80s will never die! Big hair forever!
During this, Larry frees the Rangers while some Crown Fighters try to take the control bridge of the Space Arena. When they try to commandeer the vessel in the name of the Queen, one of the crow-beaked muscle dudes working there tells them that, "She's not my queen, pal!" and punches three of them across the room with one blow. The Gamorrean guard in the control room draws his pistol and starts shooting. Soon, an all-out melee has erupted between the Crown Fighters and the guys manning the control room. I must say, this scene of working joes making a stand against The Man was extremely satisfying.
Back on the stage, the Rangers interrupt Nimrod's act by ... Yes! Yes! ... firing their guitar blasters! The Slaver Lords return fire with their own guitars. Do I really need to say how awesome a bunch of dudes having a laser fight with guitars is?
That's the end of part 2!
The Rangers, the Slaver Lords, and some Crown Fighters continue exchanging fire for several seconds, with the Rangers striking heavy metal poses while cooly gunning down their foes with their guitars.
I love this episode.
Nimrod, cowering on the floor, observes for a moment and says, "Awesome."
Buddy, I couldn't agree more.
The Rangers eventually kill the Crown Fighters (and I say "kill" because the Fighters go "arrgh", so they obviously aren't just robots) and the Slaver Lords. Destroying the Psycho Crystals on the Lords' chests causes them to disappear, but it also means that whomever's life force was animating it is dead. The show never seems to acknowledge this but it does take some of the fun out of things.
But not that much!
Nimrod informs the Rangers that Crown Fighters have taken over the bridge and that the Arena is being moved into the Queen's territory. Zach and Goose go to the bridge. Some more Crown Fighters and Slaver Lords appear and capture Nimrod. Niko and Doc don't give a rat's ass about Nimrod but they chase after the Queen's troops anyway to stop them from getting away.
With the stage empty and the audience still hypnotized, Larry and the demons figure it's their chance. They come out and perform an ear-splitting abomination of a song.
On the bridge, Zach and Goose burst in, blazing away with their mighty axes. Goose activates his series five power and his skin becomes reflective metal, making him a true Heavy Metal man. Armed with the power of Heavy Metal, he kicks some ass. Zach uses his arm gun to take out the last few Crown Fighters in one shot. This sequence is perhaps the most freaking awesome thing in a freaking awesome episode. What makes it completely perfect is that one of the beaked guys gives Zach and Goose a righteous thumbs up after the Fighters are all dead.
In the docking bay, Niko and Doc (armed with regular guns now, sadly) get into a firefight with the last two Fighters and Slaver Lord. Nimrod manages to get a weapon from one of the Crown Fighters and kill them both. The Queen appears to him and, sounding frighteningly like Invader Zim, orders him to "Defeat them! Defeat THEEEEEEEMMMMM!" I don't know what she's getting at. Is she telling Nimrod to defeat the Rangers? That's pretty dumb. Nimrod destroys the Slaver Lord and gets away on the ship the Queen brought him there in. Niko and Doc just let him go.
Larry and the demons are still banging away. Honestly, the music isn't that bad. It almost sounds like something Godsmack would play. Larry's vocals are what suck. Mogul, evidently having slept off his drunk or finished with his hookers, appears, none too happy that they didn't finish cleaning up his castle. He grabs Larry and the demons and disappears with them.
The Rangers win the Battle of the Bands by default. The trophy is a statue of Elvis (!!!) standing in front of some ringed planet! The Rangers go into an encore, singing "Rangers are Forever", an alternate closing theme song for the series. I was hoping, praying, that there would be a shot of the Queen watching them on MTV and going "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" but, alas, it was not to be.
That's the end!
I love this episode. It's so random, so violent, so messed up, yet so lighthearted that that only thing I can think to compare it to is Dead Alive. There's so much big hair, big makeup, big sweaters, shoulder pads, and other 80s-ness that it could almost be considered fetish porn at this date. "Battle of the Bandits" can proudly take its place in the upper echelon of classic 80s cartoon episodes.