We take a break from our regularly schedule Bionic Six Rewatch (don’t worry, it will return) for an essay someone actually asked for. An Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers Rewatch. These synopses will be featured on the Beta Mountain wiki, a great resource for those interested in a deep dive on the show. And in a way, Galaxy Rangers is a sibling to Bionic Six, same production company, similar bionics, different setting.
Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
Episode 1: Phoenix
Written by: Robert Mandell
“In 2086, two peaceful aliens journeyed to Earth seeking our help. In return, they gave us the plans for our first hyperdrive, allowing mankind to open the doors to the stars.”
Streaking through a panoply of stars, the spaceship Phoenix-1 makes contact with the League of Planets, headquartered on the planet Kirwin. Galaxy Ranger Zachary Foxx mans the helm. His wife and two children serve as crew. The young family are escorting the Andorian Ambassador Waldo and the Kiwi Ambassador Zozo to Kirwin and the the League of Planets. Zozo, a purple Yoda with a kind demeanor, longs to grow hamburgers on his home soil. Waldo, a bald alien with legendary muttonchops, in a flash of foreshadowing, worries Kirwin’s planetary shield won’t guard against the enemies of the League.
On the surface of Kirwin, a different human, Adorian, and Kiwi discuss the potent agricultural methods of the Kiwi (the primary species of Kirwin). An alarm interrupts their conversation. An unknown vessel is approaching the planet. Aboard that vessel, the Crown Destroyer, a sinister figure robbed in white with a crimson gem upon it’s chest addresses its exact double in a female voice. The Queen of the Crown wants to capture specimens of this new species, humans, and drain their lifeforce.
Alarmed by the encroaching intruder, the League of Planets activates the planetary shield, despite concerns that it might not be fully functional. In response the Queen of the Crown orders small scale fighters to launch and attack. A heavy rain falls on Kirwin as the Crown Captain, a robot, and his squadron destroy a relay and enter the atmosphere. The fighters indiscriminately strafe farmland and structures alike. While targeting a power station, an inept Crown pilot accidentally kamikazes the building sending our League of Planet administrators running. A larger Crown vessel lands and dispatches a cavalry of robot dragoons astride alien steeds. Robots exchange laser fire with humans. Human casualties are collected, but Kiwi’s are thrown back. Over coms, an Andorian pleads with the Queen to spare the humans, in response she threatens their planets with destruction.
Back on the Phoenix a warning from Kirwin comes through, but it’s too late. An unexplained anomaly pushes the Phoenix off course and into a warp. After dropping out of hyperdrive the crew is able to establish that they are somewhere in Sector H81, a hundred lightyears away from Kirwin. A bizarre birdshaped vessel approaches. Aboard this ship, Captain Kidd, an alien with the face of a pigeon and the horns of a goat, plus one, orders his crew of ragged space pirates to board the Phoenix and capture the humans aboard for the Queen. The Foxxes and the Ambassadors struggle to escape their predicament, but before long Kidd’s ship has latched onto the Phoenix with towlines. Zachary Foxx dons his spacesuit and attempts to manually cut the lines to provide escape. Instead he’s ambushed by an anthropomorphic lizard with a laser sword. Fancy footwork allows Foxx to dodge the laser’s edge and kick the intruder into the vacuum of space, only to be ambushed from behind by an unseen assailant.
Foxx awakens in a filed of energy. Captain Kidd interrogates the prisoner. Foxx makes overtures, offering a large reward from the League of Planets in exchange for their release, but Kidd’s more interested in the money he’ll get for turning the Foxxes over to the Queen’s Slaver Lords. Meanwhile, back on the Phoenix, the humans are hurrying into an escape craft and the Ambassadors are mounting a rescue mission for Foxx. Eliza, Foxx’s wife, rushes off to get supplies while the children, Jessica and Zach Jr., prep the ship. Out of nowhere a pirate attacks Eliza. She’s able to elude him momentarily. The ship’s A.I. distracts the assailant with a video of a jazz saxophone-playing alien allowing Eliza to finish the job with a laser rifle.
The Queen of the Crown arrives and negotiates with Kidd, but actually there is very little negotiation. Kidd has lost two and a half of the humans (he doesn’t know where Eliza is) and the Queen won’t even grant salvage rights to the Phoenix. She wants the hyper-drive it contains. The Ambassadors have made their way to the detention level. Unable to figure out how to release Foxx, the Ambassadors question a dimwitted pirate who gives them the information, before being somersaulted by his own momentum into Waldo’s shield (Andorians are very big on shields). The Ambassadors free Foxx and attempt to steal a shuttle. The attempt is successful, except for the major laser damage done to the left side of Foxx’s body.
Kidd, unhappy with his position in the Queen’s thrall, fires upon the Crown Destroyer just as they’ve captured Foxx’s shuttle in a tractor beam. Freed from the clutches of the Queen, Zachary Foxx reunites with his children, only to watch as the Phoenix explodes presumably taking the life of his wife, Eliza. Not so fast. Kidd has napped Eliza and promises to hold her as collateral for future deals with the Galaxy Ranger.
In a final scene, Foxx has returned to Galaxy Rangers headquarters. A special team, led by Foxx has been approved to receive Series Five brain implants. Triggered by the micro circuitry in their badge, each member of the team will find their unique abilities amplified. Foxx’s bionics will supercharge into a weapon. Doc Hartford, introduced here for the first time as with all of the Rangers except Foxx, will use his implant to magnify his logical intellect. Nico’s natural psychic skills will be boosted. Finally, Shane Gooseman will have his internal biodefences intensified, making him nearly invincible. Foxx pledges to his children that he will rescue their mother. Credits roll.
- Even before the action begins, Waldo warns of possible attack. If Zachary was on duty as a Ranger to protect the ambassadors, why endanger his family? The trip back to Earth at the end of the episode takes moments (thanks to the hyperdrive), so why not leave the family at home?
- Are Waldo and Zozo the ambassadors who initiated first contact? The title sequence implies this is the case.
Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers starts out roughly. If there is folly in its ambition, there is virtue also. The show’s dedication to world-building sets it above the competition. Effort is made to establish a plausible universe with recurring races, planets, technology and conflicts. It rises above its premise of space western to become more of a space opera in the Star Trek vein, and it does it all in twenty-two minutes. Well, it tries.
The constant stream of characters, planets and concepts can become overwhelming in this first episode. We meet not only Zachary Foxx, but his entire family. The mission is to escort not one Ambassador, but two. Even the villains are doubled with the Queen of the Crown bringing the darkness, while Captain Kidd plays in the grays. Add to this the soldiers (Crown, human, Kiwi, and pirate), the technology (the ship’s A.I., which presages more A.I.s in the future), and the locations (aboard four different spaceships, on two different planets, and occasionally in the vacuum of space). No one would accuse this episode of a lack of ambition. If the result is something of a mess, it’s also a promise. The show screams, we’re taking this seriously. While there are many ships that would make great toys, it’s clear that unlike Masters of the Universe, story comes first with the Galaxy Rangers. That is why someone is writing about it thirty years later.
With so many characters left underdeveloped, we should take a moment to examine our ostensible protagonist, Zachary Foxx. In many ways, he matches the western hero pattern. Not only does he have a thirst for justice and a badge, but he also has the insight to bargain with Captain Kidd when the chips are down. While it might not be in the forefront, there is nuance in this portrayal of the “good guy.” Perhaps more interesting is his position within a family unit. It’s doubtful that children watching at the time would have found something to connect with in a father figure. It’s hard to find action heroes with familial attachments for this reason. James Bond can best express the fantasy of male freedom if he’s not worrying about his kids at home. Zachary Foxx is different. He is a father and, by episode’s end, a single father. Thirty years on the show has something to offer the grown fan. An adult perspective on responsibility that may have been invisible on first viewing. Should the show choose to develop this angle, the results could be unlike any other single father’s portrayal in media.
By the roll of the credits the viewer is overwhelmed with information and potential. An unlikely protagonist in a multifaceted universe, Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers was the most ambitious kids’ show of 1986.
Given my dual purposes here of reviewing both Bionic Six and Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, I can’t help but engage in some fan speculation. The shows share a similar aesthetic and premise and come from the same production company. Could they be connected?
There is an easy line to draw here. The Galaxy Rangers in 2086 are given Series Five implants. Meanwhile in the past, the Bionic Six are the first of their kind. Zachary Foxx’s powers mimic those of Bionic-1. Could Foxx’s powers be an advanced version of Bionic-1’s technology? In future installments, we will look at the other Rangers/Bennets and investigate the connections further.
As with my Bionic Six Reviews, I want feedback. Whenever or however you’ve read this, I’d like to know. What did you think of the episode?
Are you entertained by the in-depth world-building (including discussion of crop futures)?
The Slaver Lords are an amazing design with an obscure purpose. Is it wise to have the Queen carry all the narrative heft of evil? Where’s her Starscream?
Zachary Foxx, single dad adventurer: wise choice or grave error?
Do you feel sorry for the pirate who’s still out there spiraling in space?
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Thanks for reading.