Related Posts with Thumbnails

Saturday, January 20, 2018

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #29


(other titles: The Hijacked Satellite; The Apprentice Alien)

Directed by Kazuo Mitsuda

A privately owned Japanese university launches David, its first satellite, into orbit. Professor Niwa designed the satellite, but when the TDF intercept some messages of an alien origin, they suspect the professor may be from another world. Ultra Garrison member Soga convinces his fiancee to try and get information from the professor's mysterious assistant, Ichinomiya. A disgraced scientist who was laughed at over his plans for a transportation device, he's been collaborating with the professor to build his revolutionary machine. A Protean alien under his human guise, Niwa has been using Ichinomiya so his people can mine pertinent information on Ultra Squad from all around the world for a planned invasion.

Twenty-six minutes doesn't give you a lot of time to expound on a storyline with potential. This story (combined with elements of episode 10 of ULTRAMAN) formulated a major plotline in Toho's last Showa Godzilla movie, TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975); that of a tortured scientist who, because of his ridicule, has forsaken the human race. It's more of an afterthought in this U-7 episode while the alien professor takes center stage. It's slightly disappointing for what amounts to an average piece of Japanese SciFi entertainment.

Novelist and school councilor Ichikawa Moriichi penned this one; working primarily in kid-friendly entertainment before delving into more adult material by the mid-70s onward.

The Protean Alien shares some similarities with the popular Alien Baltan from the previous Ultra series. Deriving its name from Prometheus in Greek mythology, the interplanetary invader can turn invisible and create multiple holographic images of itself; so likely its preference for trickery was pilfered from the Greek Titan. Yamamura Tetsuo was inside the Prote Alien suit. Featuring in several ULTRA series', Tetsuo's suit acting career lasted till 1981 culminating with ULTRAMAN 80. Reportedly, he became dissatisfied on set of one of the two U-7 programs he did for director Shunsetsu Suzuki, who talked him out of quitting.

Outside of a lot of optical effects, the big monster battle isn't much of a fight--just Prote using his deceptive abilities to both antagonize and avoid any physical contact with U-7. There's a miniature set of the private university where the story takes place, but only the Pyramid Building--modeled on the Gakushuin University in Tokyo--is destroyed. This moment in the episode is a bit of foreshadowing since this unique construct was demolished in 2008.

Another plot thread depicting Ultra Squad member Sogo having a fiance (played by Sanae Kitabayashi) is inconsequential to the story and dropped after this episode.

The actor playing the title Earth man, Kinshoku Takinori, was a prolific television performer. Some of his roles include the popular action series G-MEN '75 (1975-1982); Katsu's NEW ZATOICHI (1976-1979); and Sonny Chiba's KAGE NO GUNDAN III (1982). 

Director Kazuo Mitsuda helmed various episodes of many other Ultra series'. This was his 10th of 14 U-7 episodes that bore his name.

ULTRASEVEN is distinct among others in the series in that it often had brilliant writing underneath foam rubber monster fisticuffs. This episode just misses the mark with its decent plot, but middling execution; and not much in the way of monster action to satisfy the kid in you.

MONSTERS: Alien Prote; Protean Spacecraft
WEAPONS: TDF Pointer; Ultra Hawk 2

To be continued in episode 30: FOR WHOM TAKES THE GLORY!!!

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails


copyright 2013. All text is the property of and should not be reproduced in whole, or in part, without permission from the author. All images, unless otherwise noted, are the property of their respective copyright owners.