ROCKS 21B: Rambo - The Force Of Freedom episode picks

Discussion in 'Other Cartoons & Collectables' started by LiamABC, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend


    The next few weeks we're covering one of the biggest shows from the 80s, Rambo: The Force Of Freedom

    This week's episodes have been picked by Wilycub:

    The individual parts are called
    - Enter The Black Dragon
    - The Halley Microbe
    - Terror Beneath The Sea
    - The Iron Mask

    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.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2019
  2. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Thank you for including my picked episodes! :) I've tried to pick episodes that are quite different from each other so that there is variety in the list.

    Enter The Black Dragon
    Clearly the title is nod to "Enter the Dragon". In this episode, General Warhawk decides to hire a ninja assassin named Black Dragon to eliminate Rambo (pretty much like what Mumm-Ra did in "The Thunder-cutter"). The story had the potential to be really great but unfortunately it was a let down. Black Dragon and his ninja gang are depicted as very incompetent right from the start and easily captured by Rambo with his traps (one of which seemed to be right out of a "Road Runner" cartoon! LOL! :laugh ). The episode would have been much much better if Black Dragon and his ninjas dominated the first three quarter of the episode and being shown as vastly superior than Rambo and his gang. Only in the end, and with much struggle should Rambo have won the day. That would have made Black Dragon a formidable new adversary for our hero.

    The Halley Microbe
    I like this episode because it is more science oriented, something which is not Rambo's expertise. An alien microbe affects the inhabitants of a small town and turns them raving mad (I'm sure there's a movie with a similar premise, but I can't recall its name at the moment). We are introduced to David, Kat's brother who is a doctor. It was interesting to see Rambo having to fight off the infected horde while at the same time trying not to hurt them, knowing very well that they are not responsible for their actions. A couple of strange things to note are that for some reason, the infected people only seem to attack those that are not infected and not each other. And David mentions near the end that the microbe cannot survive in the presence of adrenaline. However, the rage-fueled infected people must have lots of adrenaline surging through their blood, wouldn't they? :confused:

    Terror Beneath The Sea
    Moving away from jungles and towns, we head to the freezing North Pole. Here we see a settlement of eskimos being terrorized by a Killer Whale. Naturally there's something fishy going on (no pun intended) and Warhawk has to be behind it. Turns out he is the one controlling the whale. I noticed that a few of the scenes seem to have been inspired from the Richard Harris movie "Orca The Killer Whale". There's a lot of action in this episode, but I wasn't too impressed with the whale's design or animation. It just didn't look like an Orca.

    The Iron Mask
    I picked this one because it was more of a whodunit mystery. Set in the quiet town of Munich during Oktoberfest we learn that Warhawk and the mysterious Iron Mask are planning to steal an old warplane containing a fortune of gold. And coincidentally Rambo and the gang are there as well. A young boy learns the true identity of Iron Mask but gets amnesia before he can tell anyone about it, furthering the mystery. I very much liked this episode, though I feel that it becomes pretty much obvious who the real Iron Mask is because there really is only one new face that we can suspect to be the culprit. It would have been much better if a number of new characters had been included in the storyline to keep us guessing as to who the real villain was. I noticed almost immediately that Iron Mask was voiced by none other than Peter Cullen, especially his mask-modified voice was easy to pinpoint as it sounded quite a bit like Optimus Prime's.
  3. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Just finished watching the episodes.

    Enter The Black Dragon
    Yes, this episode had problems, in that Rambo hardly ever seemed to be in danger. Even when we see him strung up in the tree, we know that we haven't seen him taking any hits far less getting captured so there's obviously a trick. I thought at first that it was one of the gang made up to look like him and the real Rambo would jump out at them from hiding. Only at the end does the Black Dragon himself pose any real threat, and even then not much of one. It's what I said before, the character of Rambo is too invincible for this show to have any real dramatic tension. Pity because the Black Dragon character had real potential.

    The Halley Microbe
    This episode has more than a passing nod to Star Trek, using its sound effects, and plot devices from several episodes. The effect of the spores was also reminiscent of a show we discussed on here a while back, Spiral Zone, albeit with different effects. The fact that the spores enrage people into only going after uninfected people was a bit suspect, it implies something more conscious in their thought, rather like the organisms in the Star Trek episode "Operation Annihilate!" where the infected people attack Kirk, Spock et al while simultaneously insisting they don't want to hurt them. The thing with the spores' effect is also evocative of the episode "This Side Of Paradise" where it is revealed that they can be defeated by strong emotions, yet when Spock is first infected, he goes through some very strong emotions just falling under their spell, so how come that didn't stop them in their tracks right away? Incidentally those two episodes are a couple of dodgy ones from the end of season 1, and season 1 was pretty good overall, containing the highest number of brilliant episodes of all three seasons. Also, the fact that adrenaline was part of the key to resisting their effects is a nod to a season 2 episode "The Deadly Years" where Chekov's adrenaline rush saves him from the radiation effects.

    Terror Beneath The Sea
    The whale episode . . . hmm, yes, right away we know that something isn't right because whales don't cause conscious damage like that. My first thought was that it was a mechanical whale, but it looked too "biological" (even if badly drawn!) for that to be the case - then we see the device on the fin. Rambo sets about earning the animal's trust, and that's basically the whole message of the episode. Interesting to see them do a modified suiting up sequence for this, as obviously he couldn't go rampaging round the Arctic half-naked! Also it's a bit vague what's going on at the end, just action that doesn't seem to be directed at any particular purpose.

    The Iron Mask
    This is probably the best episode of the bunch, but still could have been a lot better. For starters, you don't use CPR when someone's had a heart attack! Interestingly the mayor's voice is Neil Ross using the same voice he would later use for Tank in Spiral Zone. The mystery element of this episode is indeed a little flat - it's even more obvious who the baddie is here than in Scooby-Doo! Major Murphy seems a little not-quite-right from his very first appearance, and then in the middle when he appears with a head injury right after Iron Mask takes a blow to the head, it's too much of a coincidence. There should indeed have been other characters to make us guess more. Rather like another episode of Spiral Zone when Dr Lawrence's brand assistant turns out to be a traitor in only his second scene. It was too obvious. The plot of getting gold out of a crashed plane is very evocative of a couple of Alistair MacLean novels, "Fear Is The Key" and "When Eight Bells Toll" - and even "Bear Island" at a stretch.

    I'm sorry but from these episodes and the 5-part pilot I can't claim any great affection for this show. It's just too cliched. The hero never looks like he's in any danger and the animation is sloppy. The voice cast and the music are the only things worth bothering with.
    Wilycub likes this.
  4. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    I don't blame you. It's one of those shows that you can only enjoy if you had watched it a lot in your childhood. The nostalgia and fond memories are necessary to help you cope with the cliches (and being a fan of the Rambo movies and Stallone don't hurt either) :). If I had never seen this show and was watching it for the first time, I too would have probably felt like you do.

    I have tried many many times to watch popular TV shows and movies from the 80s that I missed in my childhood but could barely make it half way through. I guess we just can't make the same type of connection with things as adults the way we could as children.
  5. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I haven't had chance to watch the episodes yet. I agree it's hard getting into some shows you didn't see originally. Although one big exception is Dungeons & Dragons. I barely seen it growing up, just a couple minutes of one or two episodes, but when I started watching it around 2005 I loved it. I started watching MacGyver a couple weeks ago. It's a show I never seen in the 80's/90's, but it's okay...but I don't have the same love for it as I have for the A-team.
    Wilycub likes this.
  6. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    There were two big exceptions for me, that I managed to get into without the weight of nostalgia.

    One was Transformers, which was written by the likes of Flint Dille, Buzz Dixon, David Wise and other great writers from the 80s - I enjoyed it enough to get the complete series and the movie on DVD. I never saw it as a child but got enough of an exposure of it as an adult to warm to it. It's the first show we covered in ROCKS and I think it might be worth revisiting it and picking some more episodes - if I'd been more familiar with the show when we started I would have picked some different episodes, not for reasons of quality but for reasons of representativeness.

    The other exception was Exosquad - which we covered in ROCKS last year. I did catch the end of a few episodes in my teens on sunday mornings, and certainly it retained enough of a space in my memory for me to look it up (all I had to go on was "good alien called Marsala", but the search yielded the right show), and start watching it and decide yes, I did like this show. This too makes sense as it has a lot of writers in common with the X-Men cartoon from the same time period.

    You could argue a case for Spiral Zone - I watched two episodes as a kid, on holiday in another country, and that's all I had to go on, but the premise of the show was interesting enough. It's never going to be a favourite but it's OK enough if you can find the good episodes.

    Last year I did watch all the way through the original GI Joe series - it was OK but it didn't grab me as much. Mind you, it has the same writers as Transformers/Visionaries etc, so maybe I should give the show another run. The trouble with it for me was the overabundance of characters. It's harder to get behind a team of heroes if they keep changing every week.
  7. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I love G.I. Joe, but I will always admit that there was far too many characters. I guess I was luck growing up that the majority of the episodes I seen from season 1 and 2 all had mostly the same characters.

    I enjoyed these Rambo episodes.
    I was Black Ninja had been presented as more of a threat.
    I thought the Halley Microbe was a bit dull.
    Terror Beneath the Sea was okay.
    The Iron Mask was definitely my favourite.

    Rambo The Force of Freedom has it's faults, and it's nowhere near as good as G.I. Joe but it was still a fun series and I will watch more of it when I get chance. :D
    Wilycub likes this.
  8. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    One thing I noticed in comparison to the first film (the only one I've seen), in that film Rambo hardly has any lines whatsoever, while here in the cartoon he's got probably as many lines as all the other characters put together!
  9. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Well obviously! :) In the movie he is a loner, a Vietnam vet suffering from PTSD. Of course all of that had to be excluded from the cartoon. They made the cartoon a bit like "The A-Team", but sadly they focused too much on Rambo and relegated Turbo and Kat to less than minor roles. Again, not uncommon for cartoons of that era like "ThunderCats" and "He-Man" where one hero is favored a bit too much.
  10. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    They did turn him into a bit too much of an authority on practically everything, and it never seemed like he was in trouble no matter how many opponents he was facing!
  11. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I think we should definitely cover Rambo 2 soon as then the cartoon would make a lot more sense to @LiamABC. :D

    I do wish they hadn't focussed so much on Rambo though and showcased the other characters more.
    Wilycub likes this.
  12. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Count me in on that!! :) You know, it never really occurred to me until you just mentioned it that the cartoon series appears to be based on (and thus has a lot more in common with) "Rambo 2" and not so much the first movie, except for that outfit. So definitely, for someone who has only seen "First Blood", the cartoon will seem quite a bit deviated from the titular character.

    So true. They could have dedicated an episode to each of the other characters like Trautman, Turbo and Kat. Even Snarf got his own episodes so why not Turbo??? ;) And they could have made the villains a little less incompetent and bit more dangerous so that it wouldn't have felt like Rambo can easily wipe the floor with them with one hand tied behind his back (which sadly is exactly what he did numerous times!) :D
  13. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I guess it's Rambo 2 next week them after Robin Hood: Men in Tights. :biggrin
    It's nice when the villains are actually a threat and equal match for the heroes rather than comic relief.
    That reminds me of a rather odd wrestling match that Stallone's Expendables Co-Star Steve Austin had against Vince McMahon. Austin claimed he could beat Vince with one arm tied behind his back so they made that the stipulation of the match.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
    Wilycub likes this.
  14. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Fair enough. we're finishing the Robin Hood movies this week with Men In Tights, I'm happy to do the second Rambo film after this.
    Wilycub likes this.
  15. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Who won?
  16. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    No one really. As the match started Dude Love came out and then he attacked Austin.
  17. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I seen this @Wilycub and thought you might find this interesting. It's about the South American Rambo toys released in Argentina where the cartoon and toys were very popular.
    One of the most strange piece of merchandise even includes a Rambo wrestling ring that was actually based on a real TV show LOL.
    shortfuse and Wilycub like this.
  18. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Thanks for that video. Enjoyed it a lot! I had no idea that the Rambo toys were so popular in South America. Maybe it could be due to the fact that many of the episodes were set in fictional South American countries. If I recall correctly, Jocsa also made some ThunderCats stuff as well.
    Mark M likes this.

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