DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH! Appreciation AND Continuity Order

Discussion in 'Other Cartoons & Collectables' started by LiamABC, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    One of my favourite cartoons in the 1980s, alongside Thundercats and Visionaries, was Defenders Of The Earth. The complete series was finally released on DVD last year, and I snapped it up.

    As with Thundercats, the episode order has a few problems though! So again, I have started making some notes. In some ways, this show is easier, because the 65 episodes have more multi-part storylines (three 5-parters and arguably two or three 2-parters of sorts), but in other ways harder, because there are fewer recurring characters to mark continuity points by (like say the Warrior Maidens in Thundercats, whose stories have a definite sequence to them).

    Here's the official order:

    Now, I'll start the ball rolling and say what the first six must definitely be:

    1. Escape From Mongo
    2. The Creation Of Monitor
    - these are as standard, and obvious anyway.

    3. Bits 'n' Chips
    - aired 5th, but makes sense as episode 3, because of Rick's issues with his mother, Ming's still going after Dynak, and the introduction of Monitor's security systems and the Defender Space Station

    4. Hall Of Wisdom
    5. The Mind Warriors, part I
    6. The Mind Warriors, part II
    - in part II, the Defenders visit Ming's base, Ice Station Earth, for the first time. We can deduce that this must be the first visit because they don't know the exact location of the base. All other times they go there, they know precisely where they're going. Also, "Hall Of Wisdom" must come before this 2-parter, because it introduces Ming's new Molecular Disruptor Beam, which is used in part I.

    Other continuity points I've noticed:
    "The Necklace Of Oros" 5-parter must come before "100 Proof Highway", because the former starts on Jedda's 17th birthday, and Jedda is identified as 17 in the latter.
    "The Book Of Enigmas" 5-parter (of sorts!) must come after "Lothar's Homecoming", because the latter says it's Lothar's first visit back to Jamaica in a long time, and the former includes a stay in Jamaica (where Kshin indicates he's been here before).
    "A House Divided" and "Family Reunion" are a 2-part adventure, although shown well apart in the original order! They must be consecutive!
    Whether the two Doctor Dark episodes belong next to each other or not is questionable, I'd be inclined to say they do, and that they should come early, before "Sleeper Awakes", which references the Crystal Orb of Konos, which Doctor Dark is trying to reassemble.

    I would also like to recommend the Prince Kro-Tan "movie" as episodes 61-65, because it's a suitably big finish, and the ending of it feels like a proper finale. Unless someone can produce a continuity point that necessarily puts another episode after it, it's the best one for the job.
  2. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Great thread.
    I will have to watch some more of it again to help on the continuity.
    Some truly special episode that stand out in my mind would be 'Bits 'n' Chips', 'A Demon in his Pocket', 'The Mind Warriors Pt1', 'The Sleeper Awakes', 'Kshin and the Ghost Ship' and most of all 'Root of Evil'.
    Most of these episodes I had recorded on tapes with Thundercats.
    'Root of Evil' always stood out from the rest as most of the characters were different to their usual style.
    Did you own any of the toys LiamABC?
  3. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I had Flash, Lothar, Ming, Flash's swordship and a claw-copter. I don't think I ever saw any of the others there. Well, I saw the skull-copter, but I didn't have The Phantom so there was no point getting that!

    Interesting episode picks there:

    Bits & Chips - absolutely, one of the greats. Everyone (apart from Kshin) has their moment to shine in that episode, so much action in 20min. Although it's not explained why Ming needs to go to that island for power (perhaps another reason to call it episode 3, he hasn't got all his own generators up and running yet!).

    A Demon In His Pocket - I have mixed feelings about this episode. It was the third episode aired, and that's just wrong. Yes, it is clearly an early episode, and should be the first Kshin episode, but to have it following on immediately after The Creation Of Monitor was a mistake.

    Root Of Evil - yes, you make the point about the animation! I think it must have been the first episode animated, and they changed the designs after they'd drawn it (including the flying ice robots!). If you watch the episode Revenge Of Astra closely, you'll see one ice robot of this same design guarding The Phantom's cell. Still, decent episode.

    The Mind Warriors - interesting you only said part 1, and I agree, part 2 is a let-down after this! Just gets iffy, and what happens to the Defenders' new super powers after this episode? Still, important continuity point as mentioned, the first visit made by the Defenders to Ice Station Earth.

    Sleeper Awakes - possibly Kshin's finest hour! Basically equivalent to Thundercats' "Snarf Takes Up The Challenge" in terms of the moral of the story, and just as good. (I suspect that there was a scene cut from this episode, because when Flash meets Krone and Axrael, who is described as having "a confession to make", that's the last we see of Flash until the final scene - I think the original script as written must have contained some reaction on his part!)

    Kshin And The Ghost Ship - the best episode from the Book Of Enigmas "movie" - although to call that a "movie" is stretching things a bit. It's five episodes linked by a common thread of this magical book. Parts 2-4 could come in any order. But that aside, this episode is great - ironic, considering how little the rest of the team have to do in it!
  4. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    A Demon in his Pocket was the first episode I saw.
    Revenge of Astra was a really good episode also. I believe you are right about the ice robot. I really liked this design for them.
    Also they seemed to use the design of Ming from Roots of Evil for the Ming sticker on the Garax figure.
    I was just looking through the episode list and I have only seen just over 30 episodes so still a good few to watch. The majority of them I had all recorded on video, but it's possible I might have seen them on TV years back.
    I really must get the series again to watch.

    The cool thing is the toys are not overly expensive to reacquire....over time LOL. I would be very tempted to try and get my collection back. I really loved the Claw-Copter.
  5. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Revenge Of Astra had a lot of potential, but it never quite lived up to it. If you want to know how good it could have been, watch Diamonds Are A Ming's Best Friend.

    Demon In His Pocket. I remember when I first got the select few episodes on DVD over here, I watched that episode right after the opening two, and was disappointed. It's definitely better if you watch it a few episodes later. For continuity purposes, I think I've placed it and Root Of Evil as 7-8 (forget which way round).

    I never had that figure, so I wouldn't know. Wouldn't surprise me.

  6. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Very sorry to hear about your Mother Liam.
    I know I seen the Book of Enigma series and The Necklace of Oros series on TV. I had Flesh and Blood and The Drowning World on a bought VHS.
    I don't recall the Prince Krotan series although I did see some episodes with him in it and one with Ming's daughter.
    I like the Defenders toys but I think the diecast forearms ans the lever on their back spoiled them.. I also wish they had made more than just 6 figures and 5 vehicles.
    My favourite shows growing up were Thundercats and Bravestarr.
    I used to have a MASSIVE collection of toys and DVD's. A couple years ago one night lying in bed I started thinking about all that I had in my collection, how much I spent and all the room it was taking up. I just decided I need to make a change there and then so I set to work selling a lot of my stuff off. I didn't touch the Thundercats or Bravestarr stuff but I was heavily into G.I. joe and Transformers at the time and stupidly I sold off a lot of other stuff in order to keep them which I really regret. I have since sold off the TF and Joe collection of over 700+ figures and now have 6 TF and 2 Joes. I really wish I had kept my Defenders.... and Galaxy Rangers.
  7. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Thanks - I don't know what it says about me, but in the same phone call that I learned of her passing last year, I made a joke to do with the subject. You need to know for this that she died the night before Sarah Millican was the subject of BBC1's "Who Do You Think You Are" that week, and my mother watched that show all the time, but couldn't stand Sarah Millican. So I said:

    "I knew she didn't like Sarah Millican but I didn't think she'd go to this length to avoid her."

  8. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I briefly owned the USA region 1 set of Defenders of the Earth but didn't get around to watching it and sold it. I might get the Region 2 set or see if I can download the series.
    That's cool about the Lego Visionaries, I still have a big box of Lego and a Lego Castle. Oddly enough I used to make robots with mine and used them as Star Wars figures LOL.
    I can't really explain why I loved Bravestarr so much, I just did. Also there was the impossible task of getting the Bravestarr figure himself. I wanted him so much. I had the other figures and vehicles but I could not get him. My parents searched so hard for him, they even contacted Mattel and according to Mattel they never shipped any of the actual Bravestarr figures to Northern Ireland. :eek: I never gave up though and eventually in 99 when I was 14, I got one from the USA. Coincidently enough while I was waiting on it arriving I found one in the UK and ordered it as well. I was pretty heavy into Star Wars and I was getting magazines (Model and Collectors Mart) to see the new products etc and found the advertisements. In 98 I still hadn't discovered the internet and Ebay, that wasn't until 2002.....then the collecting got out of hand LOL.
  9. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I watched the whole series on youtube about 3yrs ago - it may or may not still be up there.

    I took some photos of them, when I get a mo I'll post them here.

    Cool! That is a bit weird, not shipping any figures of the eponymous hero!

    Well, I've just this evening printed out a copy of my rough draft of a continuity order for Defenders Of The Earth; after first correcting a mistake I spotted in it!
  10. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I look forward to reading and helping you with your continuity list if I can.
    Defenders.... is still on Youtube, I am currently downloading it from them, I am up to episode 45. Going to get the rest today and start watching through them. :D When I get a bit more money saved up, I have to tax my car, I may get the official DVD set.
    If I had to pick my favourite Defender it would be a hard choice between Flash and Phantom.
    If the toys had been smaller, like 3.75" or lost the battle action feature I think they would have been a lot more successful. Being smaller they could have been less articulated like Star Wars and they could have made the Monitor playset, Ice Station Earth and lots of vehicles and they would have been better proportioned. I loved the Claw Copter but I fount the gimmick a bit unnecessary.
    Speaking of the vehicles, on the card back of the figures and some of the vehicles it shows an unproduced vehicle called Gripjaw, I seen it in one episode of the show, it might have made more appearances but I am not sure. While it was never released under the Defenders line it did see release in another Galoob line, Infaceables called The Crushing Cruiser.
  11. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Much appreciated. As I said, I have a rough draft for a continuity order, certain episodes belong after others for particular reasons, some of which I've mentioned here already.

    Thanks. The numbers on the youtube uploads of them are the original air date order of course, so for continuity purposes, you start with:

    1-2; 5; 10-12 (these are the first six as explained by my earlier post).

    Tough call. I like them all, it's a tough call for me between Flash and Mandrake; I didn't much care for Mandrake as a kid, mainly I think because he had a moustache, and I've never been a fan of facial hair. I like him a lot better now!

    Interesting to note that very few good guys in cartoons ever have facial hair - not counting the wise old men like Jaga and Merlin (both in The Legend Of Prince Valiant and King Arthur And The Knights Of Justice, the two best theme tunes of all time!) of course. A few, like Mandrake, and Visionaries' Leoric, would occasionally have a moustache, but I think the only instance of a primary hero with a full blown beard is Ulysses.

    Interesting point here. Yes, a Monitor (and an Ice Station Earth) playset would have been great. I don't think the Claw Copter gimmick was ever used in the series.

    Interesting again - yes, Gripjaw appears in about three episodes; "The Time Freezer" (in which it is unveiled as their latest vehicle) and "The Drowning World", and "Suspended Sabotage". Maybe another one or two, but I don't know. I don't think so. I made notes about this vehicle for continuity purposes and looking at my drafter order I don't see any other references to it.
  12. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Not enough young 80's cartoon characters had beards/facial hair, and they should have had. Ulysses was pretty cool but I only seen a few episodes of it.
    Liquidator from the Inhumanoids cartoon comes to mind, he was one of the 4 primary heroes and had an awesome beard.
    Various G.I. Joes had beards/facial hair but the only real prominent one was Shipwreck.
    Mandrake was a very cool figure, no other figure I owned wore a suit.
    I never really thought about it when I was younger but when I was in High School and got into metal music and seen the various musicians with their facial hair I started thinking I would like to grow one. Since I turned 22 in late 2007 I have rarely been without one, the length has just varied LOL. It also helps add to my artist look. ;) Last year just when my beard was getting the way I wanted it I got my passport photo rejected as it omitted too much of my face/neck area for identification purposes so I had to trim it down.
    I have all 65 episodes downloaded now so I am going to start watching them fully when I get time. Flicking through them brings back a lot of memories.
    Oddly enough I noticed Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men/Big Bang Theory) wrote 'A Demon in is Pocket'.
    David Wise who wrote 'The Star Boy' also wrote a very similar episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles called 'The Star Child'.
    I remember watching Prince Valiant a lot when it first came on. I wasn't so keen on Arthur....
  13. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I saw the whole series on youtube a couple of years back. Interesting slant on the Greek myths, although perhaps not as good as the nostalgic hype lead me to expect. Theme tune was cringeworthy, and that bloody robot "No-No" - no-no indeed!

    You're right. I've never thought about it before, but now I do, I can't remember any other cartoon hero who wore a suit. Actually, I wonder if Lee Falk created Mandrake based sort of on himself? I've seen photos of him, he could have looked the part in a tux.

    I've never been a fan of facial hair myself, I'll always make sure I'm clean-shaven when getting any kind of ID photo taken.

    He wrote a few episodes, also "The Frozen Heart", "One Of The Guys" and "The Deadliest Battle".

    I don't think I saw that one. Having recently looked up the show, I now know I only saw the first three seasons. The way the third season ended, I always assumed that was it for the show. That episode title means nothing to me so I'm assuming it's from later.

    Knights Of Justice is a bit hit-and-miss. If I had seen it from the start originally, I probably wouldn't have liked it. As it was, I happened across an episode from the middle of the first season, and found it interesting enough to carry on watching. I watched the remainder of the season, and there were some decent episodes.

    However, when I watched it all through on youtube about 3-4yrs ago, from the beginning, I saw the pilot and was not impressed, there's only about one and a half good episodes out of the first six - I only carried on watching because I remembered enjoying some episodes; and when I got to those episodes, I thought, yes, it does have its moments. I'll admit the premise is a bit dodgy, but perhaps no more so than a lot of other cartoons.

    The concept is basically The Prisoner Of Zenda crossed with A Connecticut Yankee In The Court Of King Arthur, with the inevitable good v evil battles that are expected in an action cartoon.

    Still, whatever you think of the show itself, the theme tune is pretty damn amazing. And it was on the strength of the theme tune that I decided to try the series out again back in 2010. What happened was, a friend was visiting, and we were looking up some old cartoon themes on youtube, as many as we could remember. I couldn't remember this one, I forgot to mention it; a couple of months later I finally checked it out for myself, and the memories just came flooding back.

    A few years ago when I was writing for The Eye Shield, I did an article on cartoon themes that sadly never made it into the final issue. It was a trip down memory lane, I examined the written songs (playing them on my keyboard too in some cases to get a "pure" example of them), the records as produced (the department that ensured that most of the themes in my top ten were American shows), connection to the series (how much a part of the show is the theme tune - do you instantly think of the theme when you think of the series) and, most subjectively but most importantly, the nostalgia factor (how much it made me yearn to see the show again). I limited myself to actual sung themes, strictly from cartoons, which of course ruled out such classic themes as Round The Twist, The Animals Of Farthing Wood and of course Knightmare. My top ten, for the record, were:

    10 Dogtanian And The Three Muskahounds
    9. Pole Position
    8. Gummi Bears
    7. The Raggy Dolls
    6. The Mysterious Cities Of Gold
    5. Thundercats
    4. Duck Tales
    3. Ghostbusters
    2. The Legend Of Prince Valiant
    1. King Arthur And The Knights Of Justice
  14. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    That's an interesting theme tune list. If I were writing one a few of them would be in the top ten.
    It is really surprising that they haven't brought DOTE back yet with the boom of super hero movies. After all DOTE are basically King Features answer to Marvel's Avengers and DC's Justice League. I personally am not a big fan of the spandex clad superheroes. But if done right like the Justice League and Avengers cartoon's a new DOTE cartoon would be great.
    One thing that DOTE did better than A LOT of other 80's cartoons was that it had genuinely likeable characters, all of them, at least in my opinion. Aside from the main four who all had different skills, their children also all had their own skills.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
  15. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Yes, I was going on the quality of the theme songs and not necessarily the shows themselves - hence no Visionaries in that list! Great show, a little lacking in the theme song department (although the incidental music was amazing). I loved the voice-over, but the song itself was so unbelievably naff - sort of the opposite of the theme to Jayce And The Wheeled Warriors!

    Interesting thoughts indeed. What strikes me about DotE looking back is just how PC it was - all the heroes were from different countries! Flash was the all-American action hero, Lothar from Jamaica, the Phantom from somewhere in Africa, and Mandrake, although presumably American in his original comic strip, seemed to be English here (apart from a few slips in some early episodes, mainly "Root Of Evil", but also "Cold War"). Also with the Oriental orphan Kshin.

    The other thing I like about the animation is that Rick and LJ really do look like chips off the old blocks - you can imagine Flash and Lothar looked just like them when they were that age.
  16. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I watched Roots of Evil last night and I am so glad they changed the designs for the series and did not keep them. Although I will say the animation in the beginning scene of Flash's dogfight with the Ming ships in space is beautiful.
    I also watched an episode where Kshin befriends a boy in a wheelchair which was quite good.
  17. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Particularly in the case of Lothar - his outfit there was a bit, well, un-PC shall we say!

    On the other hand, Ming's different look was all right.

    They also hadn't quite decided on the exact nature of Jedda's telepathic powers yet. And she seems to be permanently in aggressive mode for pretty much the whole episode. (Insert "time of the month" joke here?)

    Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure LJ has a different voice in this episode!

    It's also not clear in some cases that the younger characters are specifically the offspring of the older ones - Rick refers to Flash by name when talking about the tuning fork plan. (Obviously he does in "Sleeper Awakes" too, but that's to Kshin, "to you he's Flash Gordon, to me he's dad", so it's not the same thing!)

    Another reason why I think this was the first episode made, that scene establishes Flash's character 100%.

    Actually, if you watch "Street Smarts" (no64 I think), you'll find that exact same scene taking place with the exact same passenger (who has a part to play in that episode), and the exact same manoeuvres, only in the white fighter not the blue one. And the dialogue is different too, but it is in effect the same scene. I remembered spotting this as a kid!

    "One Of The Guys" - ah yes, when Rick says about Jedda suddenly getting the flu - I rather suspect it was a case of Sarah Partridge suddenly getting the flu, and a hasty rewrite to cover her absence! Also, note in that episode Ming refers to Kshin as "Mandrake's son" - so it must come after "The Adoption Of Kshin" (one of the series' finest, an episode that always makes me cry).
  18. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I am looking forward to watching 'The Adoption of Kshin'. The end of 'A Demon In His Pocket' makes me quite emotional.
    Now I will have to watch 'Street Smarts'.
    In your order episode list whereabouts would 'Roots...' be?
  19. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    "The Adoption Of Kshin" is one of the very finest episodes the series has to offer. Definitely in the top ten for me. If we count "movie" adventures as single units, top five.

    "Street Smarts" is pretty good too.

    These two are 63 and 64 in the DVD order, both come earlier in my rough continuity order though!

    Interesting question. For the moment at least, I've actually put it in at #7, straight after "The Mind Warriors, Part II"; mainly to "get it out of the way because there's so many differences from the rest of the series". I can't really discern any other vital continuity points in this episode (other than Mandrake and Lothar going to Ice Station Earth and knowing where it is, so it's after "The Mind Warriors" of course!).

    And it helps break up the overdose of Kshin episodes; because I've put "A Demon In His Pocket" at #8 - it is clearly an early episode (although it shouldn't be as early as the #3 that it's in on the DVD order!), Kshin's confidence hasn't developed yet (compare with the Book Of Enigmas movie, and even "Battleground"), and Ming's main focus of attack is still Dynak (as with "The Creation Of Monitor" and "Bits 'N' Chips").

    It's awkward with having these two-parters that all belong early on. "A House Divided" and "Family Reunion" (DVD #4 and #20) are a two parter (despite being aired so separately!), and the former is The Phantom's first visit back to Africa since joining the team, so it should be early on.

    Similarly, the two Doctor Dark episodes (DVD #14 and #54), should probably be treated as a two-parter, and come BEFORE "The Sleeper Awakes" (DVD #8), because of the reference in that episode to the Crystal Orb of Konos.

    Because they all belong early on, I don't want to just bung them all right at the beginning, one two-parter after another, it wouldn't feel right. So I've tried to insert a stand-alone episode or two between each one.

    For the record, here's the ROUGH DRAFT of my proposed continuity order (although of course episodes 1-6 are already set in stone for reasons I've described above):

    1. Escape From Mongo
    2. The Creation Of Monitor
    3. Bits & Chips
    4. Hall Of Wisdom
    5. The Mind Warriors I
    6. The Mind Warriors II
    7. Root Of Evil
    8. A Demon In His Pocket
    9. A House Divided
    10. Family Reunion
    11. The Lost Jewels Of Tibet
    12. The Revenge Of Astra
    13. The Evil Of Doctor Dark
    14. The Return Of Doctor Dark
    15. The Sleeper Awakes
    16. Diamonds Are A Ming's Best Friend
    17. The Men Of Frost
    18. Battleground
    19. Cold War
    20. Lothar's Homecoming
    21. The Gods Awake
    22. The Would-Be Defender
    23. Fury Of The Deep
    24. Like Father Like Daughter
    25. The Defence Never Rests
    26. The Book Of Mysteries*
    27. The Future Comes But Once*
    28. Kshin And The Ghost Ship*
    29. The Carnival Of Doctor Kalihari*
    30. The Mystery Of The Book*
    31. The Ghost Walks Again
    32. Ming's Household Help
    33. Deal With The Devil
    34. Doorways Into Darkness
    35. Terror In Time
    36. Audie And Tweak
    37. The Starboy
    38. The Panther Peril
    39. The Frozen Heart
    40. The Adoption Of Kshin
    41. Call Of The Eternals
    42. The Time Freezer
    43. Suspended Sabotage
    44. One Of The Guys
    45. Flash Times Four
    46. The Necklace Of Oros*
    47. Torn Space*
    48. Ming Winter*
    49. The Golden Queen*
    50. The Gravity Of Ming*
    51. 100 Proof Highway
    52. Return Of The Sky Band
    53. The Rites Of Zesnan
    54. Dracula's Potion
    55. Rick Gordon - One Man Army
    56. The Thunder Lizards Of Ming
    57. The Drowning World
    58. The Deadliest Battle
    59. Street Smarts
    60. Flesh And Blood
    61. The Prince Makes His Move*
    62. The Prince Triumphant*
    63. The Prince Weds*
    64. The Prince's Royal Hunt*
    65. The Prince Dethroned*

    *refers to episodes that are part of a "movie" adventure.
  20. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I really like your continuity list. From what I remember it seems spot on.
    I have some amount of cartoon's to watch, all the DOTE, Gundam Wing (excellent anime series) and all the Studio Ghibli movies (half way through them).
    Just while we are on the Defenders topic a really annoying thing with the toy line was the figures inability to hold any other weapon aside from this awful thin handles which broke very easily.
    Also speaking of the toys, the two spaceship toys had a silly play feature becoming a child's sword. They didn't really look like the ships on the cartoon. For a toyline for such a cartoon Flash's swordship should have been like the main must have flagship toy of line like The Thundercat's Thundertank or the A-teams van etc. It's like the first thing people see in the cartoon intro. Compared to the cartoon it's a pretty poor representation of it.

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