Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Godzilla (1978): "Island of Lost Ships"

In “Island of Lost Ships,” the Calico is steered to a mysterious island when Carl is hypnotized by a strange song. 

The crew goes ashore and encounters the treacherous siren Morphea and her two sisters there.  She wishes to strand the Calico’s crew on the island for the next thousand years, but Godzilla is summoned to help.

When Godzilla arrives, he must contend with a giant chimera and Morphea, who can also grow to gargantuan proportions. Meanwhile, Godzooky and Pete tangle with the Minotaur in the labyrinth.

The siren was all the rage as a "monster of the week" in science fiction television of the 1970s.  The Alphans encountered a space siren, played by Catherine Schell, in Space: 1999’s (1975 – 1977) “Guardian of Piri” and the Enterprise was waylaid by sirens as well in the Animated Series (1973-1974)) adventure “The Lorelei Signal.”

Here, Godzilla and the Calico crew runs afoul not just of evil sirens (with glowing red, green and yellow eyes), but many elements of Greek myth, including the Minotaur (from the story of Theseus), and the Chimera (described in Homer’s The Iliad).  At times, the Sirens also seem capable of turning their victims (such as Brock), into stone, a visual reference, perhaps to Medusa the Gorgon.

Since “The Colossus of Atlantis,” Hanna Barbera’s Godzilla has been showing real signs of life, with weirder episodes, and ones that are less formulaic.  Godzilla is still summoned to save the day, and everything turns out all right in the end, but monsters are no longer the only fantasy element per story. 

Suddenly, the Calico seems to be intersecting with world like Atlantis, or the Siren Island, and this adds some much needed interest to the storylines.  The writers do a good job here (and in the previous two tales), of keeping Godzilla’s presence relevant in stories of aliens, Greek Gods, and the like.  There still ain’t no one stronger than Godzilla!

At this point, I’d rate “Island of Lost Ships” second only to the aforementioned Atlantis episode. 

Next episode:  “The Magnetic Terror.”

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