ROCKS 20A: GI Joe

Discussion in 'Other Cartoons & Collectables' started by LiamABC, Apr 14, 2019.

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  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    WELCOME EVERYBODY TO THE FIRST DISCUSSION IN THE TWENTIETH STRAND OF "R.O.C.K.S." - REWATCHING OLD CLASSIC KIDS SHOWS! A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    The next few weeks we're (finally!?) covering one of the biggest shows from the 80s, G. I. Joe

    For this show, owing to the sheer number of characters involved, we're doing something slightly different to the usual format. Instead of the usual "establishing episodes/highlights/feature-length adventure", we're going to cover all the 5-part storylines, including the movie. We begin this week with the first one, which appears to have multiple names:

    The MASS Device, aka A Real American Hero

    The individual parts are called
    - The Cobra Strikes
    - Slave Of The Cobra Master
    - The Worms Of Death
    - Duel In The Devil's Cauldron
    - A Stake In The Serpent's Heart

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these episodes, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full episode online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the show in whatever manner you want.
     
  2. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I was always quite a fan of the G.I. Joe cartoon, comic and toys. Although I didn't watch it as much as other cartoons as like Transformers I never seen it on TV growing, only when I would get or rent a VHS in the shop.
    Around late 2007 and early 2008 there was a channel on Sky called Anime Central, that obviously showed lots of anime but showed some non-anime cartoons and surprisingly late at night they were showing G.I. Joe. I started re-watching it and recording episodes which renewed my interest again so I looked up the pilot/mini series and watched it on YouTube.
    I have only ever seen the mini series a few times.

    I grew up only knowing the iconic version 2 look of Snake Eyes with the visor. That's how he was in the episodes, comics and the toy I had/still have.
    So it was quite a surprise seeing him in his version 1 outfit in the cartoon. I did know of the version 1 toy as I had seen a picture of it in a toy book around 2002 but I didn't know that look was ever used in the cartoon.
    Quite surprisingly he isn't black...but I guess it makes more sense from an animation standpoint to give him a bit of colour.
    I do quite like the more commando/SAS look for Snake Eyes.
    In some ways it is kind of my favourite look for him. V2 will always have the super cool factor but the V1 is a lot more sensible from a military practicality standpoint.
    After watching the mini series I tracked down a V1 toy on eBay. :biggrin
    There s actually an interesting story to the Snake Eyes toy being all black. The original line up consisted of 13x different Joes and 3x Cobras. Aside from the head and weapons a lot of the figures shared parts. Making a character moulded all in black was an easy cost saving tactic as the figure wouldn't require much paint. Of course enter Larry Hama, the comic writer who also did the file cards and the rest is history. The all black cheap figure became the mute commando, weapons and demolition expert and expert in 12 forms of hand to hand combat and became one of G.I. Joe's most iconic characters.

    As for the mini series I really enjoyed it as a whole.
    I like Cobra Commander's plot. It's a bit far fetched but he comes up with worse in the series.
    Most of the heroes get to be showcased for their skills.
    Destro and Baroness are also very good characters wanting to lead Cobra rather than Cobra Commander. Most of the best shows always have interesting villains rather than just the heroes.
    Over the five episodes aside from being introduced the heroes and villains we also get to see their vehicles and see all the vehicles and equipment G.I. Joe and Cobra have for their missions and schemes.

    Having Duke as the leader in the mini series was also a bit odd. I get they wanted to market him as the star/leader but it would have been better had they still had a proper commander at the headquarters in charge of the team like General Hawk etc.

    I do wish though that the show had stuck to a smaller cast of characters. There is a lot of characters and actually quite a few who had already appeared in the comic and toyline that were not featured.

    Personally I would have liked the pilot to include General Flagg and Hawk putting the team of 13 Joes together. I think that would have worked quite nice for the first part of the five parter.

    My favourite scene is when Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Stalker break into the base to show how good the Joe team is.

    I quite enjoyed the scene with Gung Ho playing with the toys and saying how realistic they are. Talk about marketing the toys. Ironically the original idea for the G.I. Joe toyline was actually to showcase and sell vehicles. They were to be the main selling pint of the toy line, the figures were just to add tot he play value of having soldiers to pilot and drive them etc. Of course thanks to the comics and how fun the figures where they became the stars rather than the vehicles.

    The design of the Cobra Castle/Silent Castle is very good and I am sure would have made a great playset. It featured quite heavily in one of the most memorable and famous G.I. Joe comics #21, the silent issue called ''Silent Interlude'' which features Snake Eyes going on a rescue mission to the castle.
     
  3. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I only watched this show for the first time last year, or possibly late the previous year. I have no doubt that I would have been a regular viewer if I'd known when it was on over here at the time. Must have been on ITV as I never saw it listed on the BBC.

    The 5 parts of this opener were all good, and it is a true 5-parter - many 5-part stories in 80s shows had at least one redundant episode, or sometimes two or even more. But this was a fully involved 5-part storyline, and it needed to be - there's so much going on! Plenty of action right from the word go! The plot is fairly basic, your bog-standard 80s cartoon with a villain with big plans for world domination, the only thing standing in the villain's way are a small team of heroes. Only this show has a rather larger cast on both sides.

    This story introduces many memorable characters, I'll start with the villains.

    Cobra Commander is iconic of course, Chris Latta doing pretty much the same voice he used so memorably as Starscream in Transformers and Cravex in Visionaries. He put a bit more hiss into it for this pilot.
    Destro is the perfect foil to Cobra Commander, completely unfazed by him and sort of co-leader of Cobra.
    The Baroness is shown here as the mistress of disguise, a mysterious femme fatale. Of course, the first time we see her, as "Major Hooper", she is in disguise, although it's pretty obvious that she's a bad'un from the get-go, if only because of the endemic sexism in cartoons, in which all female characters under the age of about 50 seemingly have to be drawn as desirable: Major Hooper has a very frumpy look, it's like we're being told not to like her right away. And is it my imagination or when the Baroness pulls off the face mask, her entire figure changes to something a little more conventional for the female characters?
    And finally of course, Major Bludd, the effective field commander of the Cobra troops.

    As for the heroes, well, Duke is very much the all-American action hero in the mould of film stars like Kirk Douglas and Steve McQueen. He also reminds me a lot of Flash Gordon in Defenders Of The Earth (and maybe some of his other incarnations for all I know). He's a good character to have as the star, but the oddity here is his rank. He's a sergeant, a senior enlisted man, and yet he has authority over many characters who are technically commissioned officers, including Doc, whose bio identifies him as a captain. It would make more sense for Duke to be an officer, a major at least, if not a colonel. His counterpart in the Russian version of GI Joe (who appear in a handful of episodes) is a colonel, so Duke probably should have been that.

    Scarlett is also introduced here and it's immediately apparent from their opening interaction that there's more than a little bit of fraternising going on between them. But she's a tough cookie too, highly skilled with a crossbow and also martial arts - hmm, that's another point on the sexism front, how come women fighters are always martial arts experts? Because it's sexier to have the female character doing those moves than punching people in the face.

    Snake Eyes is a fun character, but the fact that he never speaks can make things difficult. There are times when the other characters have slightly iffy lines when talking to him to get around his lack of dialogue, and it does make me wonder if it was worth it. Still, that aside he's a very useful character.

    This was the only time where Stalker really had much to do, which is a pity, he's a good sidekick.

    Cover Girl was introduced too, but with a different look to all her subsequent appearances. In later appearances she had short auburn hair that made her look more like Scarlett. Her blonde hair and standard military greens in this story gave her a more distinctive appearance and much easier to tell apart.

    Other noteworthy characters introduced here are Gung-Ho and Wild Bill, although for some reason it's the former who's seen as the helicopter pilot rather than the latter. Gung-Ho is sort of the comic relief here, all muscle and little brains. It's also the first appearances of Doc, Ace, Breaker, Snowjob and Torpedo, the latter having a very unfortunate abbreviation to his codename!


    The villains' plan, involving a teleportation device, basically "beam me up Scotty" - and how apt that many of the sound effects used in this show were originally created for Star Trek!

    The animation was pretty good too, especially with the number of characters moving about on screen.

    Good solid show.
     
  4. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    @LiamABC it made sense for Scarlett to be the martial artist on the team. Her role is intelligence/counter intelligence/spying there fore being in situation where she would perhaps not be able to carry many weapons so she would need hand to hand combat skills. Scarlett's family are also martial artists.

    It was odd that Hooper's figure changed when she was revealed as Baroness. She should have just had Baroness' figure from the start.

    I preferred Cover Girl having blonde hair as the red hair made her look to much like Scarlett. Ironically enough in the live action movie Cover Girl has blonde hair.

    It's a shame Stalker wasn't used more in the cartoon. In the comics he was mostly the one in charge of the missions, acting as Hawks second in command.

    I don't think they would be using that abbreviation for Torpedo's name now a days lol.

    I seem to recall something in one of the various comics about Duke not wanting to get promoted or he wouldn't be active on the field and just stuck at a desk.
    Also in one of the comics his Mother used to call him Duke because he was always standing up for people and helping them like John Wayne ''the Duke''. He was also a very talented artist like his Father but decided not pursue it as a career and enlisted in the army.
     
  5. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I wasn't really having a go at Scarlett in particular with the martial arts thing, it's just that there are other forms of unarmed combat. Think about female fighting characters in films as well as cartoons. Mystique in X-Men, that girl in Die Hard 4.0 etc. Always martial arts. That's Grace Jones' character in A View To A Kill, Roger Moore's final outing as Bond, is so different.

    There are officers who still serve in the field. Duke could still have been an officer and still done his thing on the front line. I read somewhere that Duke is a captain in the live action movie rather than a sergeant, and this does make sense. He's even referred to as the Joes' commanding officer in some episodes, and a sergeant is not an officer. I suggest you look up tables of military ranks so you can see what I'm talking about.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  6. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I understand military rank fine, I was just quoting a brief reason some writer gave for Duke not wanting to rise in the ranks. My point is a lot of the ranks of command in G.I. Joe don't make much since. There was an episode that showed the chain of command being Hawk, Duke, Flint, Sgt.Slaughter and Beachhead. Yet it doesn't mention Admiral Keel Haul, Captain Ace etc.
    Come to think of it Duke is even above Lieutenant Falcon who put ranks him.

    Yes there are other forms of unarmed combat but they may not have been that useful for the character. I don't think having her be a boxer or a wrestler would have been much use. Maybe kickboxing or perhaps Judo would have been a good choice for her.
    Of course when Jinx showed up she was Asian and a ninja. But aside from Snake Eyes and Scarlett all the other martial artists where Asian. Well Zartan, Frefly weren't but they were only acknowledged as martial arts to in the comic and possibly Nunchuck.
     
  7. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    That's the point I was making to begin with, the chain of command vs the actual ranks of the personnel involved. Now I'm OK with the idea that if a character is a specialist in a particular field, that gives them a little added authority on missions when their specialty is the one required - Recondo in the jungle, Snowjob in the arctic etc - but they should have fleshed out the basic ranks of the characters a little better in advance with the whole issue of who is more senior on a general level. Hence my comment about how they should have made Duke a commissioned rank, an issue they corrected in the live action movie where he's a captain.
     
  8. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Believe me when I tell you that is probably the only really good thing you could say they did with the Duke character in the live action movie. ;)
    They needed a proper commanding officer in charge of all of them from the start like General Hawk.
    Characters with certain specialities should be in charge on appropriate missions.
    Duke was more than qualified to lead the team but I agree his rank title really didn't suit.
    In kind of reminds me of Dad's Army with Mainwarring appointing himself leader and Captain when he had no actual combat experience while his Lieutenant Wilson was actually a Captain in WW1 with combat experience.
     

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