Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shadow Raiders: Volume 3

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch something.  I blog about it.  You get it.  I'm currently powering my way through Shadow Raiders.  I'm on volume 3 of the series.  I watched it and blogged about it on February 2, 2019.

Continuing my binge through Shadow Raiders, a cartoon from the late-1990s that I loved so much that it was the first complete series I bought on DVD.  As I mentioned before, the series was divided into a series of story arcs, each four episodes long.  But, with the average season being 13 episodes long, that means we get one bonus episode that's kind of a standalone.  So, on this DVD, we get five episodes.  Let's get to it, shall we?

Rock And Ruin - A second attempt is made to get Planet Rock into the Alliance.  This time, the envoy is led by Tekla, hoping her first-hand accounts of the Beast Planet devouring worlds will be more persuasive on Lord Mantle.  It is not.  Emperor Femur of Bone proposes an alternate idea to Tekla:  steal Rock's Battle Moons, to show how vulnerable Planet Rock really is.  Young, naive Tekla goes along with it.  I should mention the Battle Moons.  Planet Rock is the most heavily armed of our four planets, and the Battle Moons are the spine of their planetary defense system.  They converted their entire moons into orbital weapons platforms.  So they essentially have six Death Stars in orbit. Anyway, once Femur has the Battle Moons and ditches Tekla, Tekla rejoins with Graveheart to re-capture the moons and save the now-vulnerable Planet Rock   Needless to say, this whole encounter really sours Lord Mantle on the Alliance, and once again, our heroes are sent packing. 

I'd call this one the bonus episode, as the next four episodes all have to do with the Battle of Ramora,  What's Ramora?  Read on....

Against All Odds - While escorting Lady Zira back to Planet Ice, Prince Pyrus's convoy is attacked by the Beast Forces, and Pyrus and Zira crash-land on Ramora, the rarely-mentioned fifth planet in our star system.  Referred to as "the dead planet" by some, as it's the only one that doesn't support life.  Pyrus and Zira discover that this is where the Beast Forces have established their stronghold in their star system, and do their best to gather intel while awaiting rescue.  Also, being the youngest of our heroes, they constantly bicker in that way that kids do. 

Uneasy Hangs the Head - Now that the location of the Beast base is known, the Alliance prepares for its first major offensive.  But, Graveheart's self-doubts once again come to the fore, and he decides to step down as leader of the Alliance.  Our other heroes try to convince him to stay on board, reminding him of his heroic deeds of the past 10 episodes.  That's right, it's a clip show.  Because it is computer animated, though, I do have to hand it to the animators.  They get really clever with some of the transitions to the flashbacks.  Graveheart will have none of it, though, until he gets some tough talk from Jade.  It's been hinted in a few episodes that Graveheart was once a highly decorated soldier in Rock's army, but something happened, making him walk away and become "just a Miner."  And we finally get the truth.  Many years ago, conducting a raid on Planet Fire, the whole thing went sideways, and Graveheart lost a rookie under his command.  Not just any rookie, but his own brother.  "He was just a kid," laments Graveheart.  "How can I save the whole universe, when I couldn't even save him?"  Jade helps him confront this demon, and Graveheart takes his place as commander of the Alliance. 

One of the things that really set Shadow Raiders apart.  Normally, they don't let you kill people in kids shows, as as not to traumatize the youngsters.  But not on Shadow Raiders. This show has a body count. 

Ragnarok, Part I - The assault on Ramora begins.  Graveheart rallies the troops with an homage to the speech from Independence Day, the people of Planet Ice restore King Cryos to the throne because they want no one else leading them into battle, and a massive space battle begins.  And in all this, Tekla and Jade have gone off on undisclosed solo missions.  It looks like the combined forces of Ice, Fire, and Bone have got the Beast forces on the ropes, but then, the Beast forces reveal their plan.  They have converted the entire planet of Ramora into a battle station.  The entire planet transforms, and boasts massive cannons that can take out half the fleet with a single shot.  Femur panics and orders the Bone fleet to abandon the battle.  With their forces seriously depleted, the Alliance regroups to plot their new strategy. 

Ragnarok, Part II - Having regrouped at a safe distance, our heroes have run scans of Ramora, and discovered an uncovered thermal exhaust port.  One well-placed shot could destroy the whole thing.  Well, not an uncovered thermal exhaust port, but the same thing.  Pyrus decides to go it alone and sets out in a single fighter, and is soon in over his head.  Graveheart goes after him, leading to Cryos and Graveheart to have an exchange that a variation of would enter the pop culture lexicon 10 years later:  "This is madness!"  "No.  This is war."  Gravheart saves Pyrus as they make their run on the weak spot.  It doesn't look good for our heroes, but they're saved by Han So--er, um, Jade!  She's back from her solo mission.  She made one last ditch effort to get Planet Rock into the Alliance, and she succeeded.  So Jade shows up with the Rock fleet...and the Battle Moons.  By focusing all of the Battle Moons' firepower on Ramora's weak spot, Ramora is vaporized.  Our heroes revel in this moment of peace, but it only lasts a moment...as the Beast Planet emerges from its hiding place in their star system's star!  It takes out a Battle Moon with a single shot! 

...and that's our season finale cliffhanger! 

And one last thing to mention.  I never really picked up on it back then, but in all our big space battles in this crop of episodes, there are more than one homage to Star Wars, as certain shots and certain scenes are re-created.  It's really cool to see.

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