Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Photon - Lazer Tag Power Rangers!!!

Remember Laser Tag?  If you were around in the 80's, you do.  It was everywhere.  There were whole Laser Tag arenas that were opened up just for the new futuristic sport of the 80's.  Roller rinks devoted whole sections to it as well!  And why not?  It was fun!  What's better than running around in a black light glowing environment while shooting your friends with infra-red light?  If you didn't want one just by watching the toy commercials, then you surely wanted one after watching Tom Hanks run around FAO Schwarz wielding a photon pistol.

Even better, the wonderful folks at DIC Entertainment created a tie in kids show that played like a precursor to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Only cheaper and the acting was even worse......but oh man....that show was the absolute shit when I was a kid!  So sit back and relax cause we're gonna revisit the pilot episode of Photon!  OH yeah and this baby is going to be LOADED with Screen Caps.  This is just too awesome to not share!

Our adventure starts out as Christopher Jarvis (Tommy Jarvis' long lost brother perhaps?  Hhhhmmm) sets out for his match playing Photon with the other kids at the local Photon arena.  When Chris is playing, he takes on the warrior name Bhodi Li (all players take on handles, which I'll get into in a minute!)  Chris is a natural at the sport and is the top player on the Starnites (the name of his team).  Unbeknownst to him, this particular match is being monitored by the Photon Warriors and Photon is actually a test to find the mightiest Photon Warriors in the universe.  Hey....wait.....I know I've heard this schtick before.......

Greetings, Starfighter.......

What?  Who said that?

Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-dan Armada.

Oh yeah....that's it.  The Last Starfighter!  Thank you, odd disembodied voice, for reminding me!   Seems like a bit of a coincidence, doesn't it?   Who knows, maybe Centauri had a few different rackets going.....just in case his arcade game didn't work.

Anyway, I suppose that's neither here nor there.  Bhodi Li is a pretty radical Photon player, coming out on top of all the other players.  We're treated to a lengthy photon match while Kenny Loggin's Footloose plays on the soundtrack!  You can't make this shit up, man.

  The handles they came up with for the players was hilarious.  Check out his Teammates:

Only in the 80's my friends.  The green team's names weren't nearly as awesome:

Suddenly time stops and Bhodi Li is transported to a Space Station where he is greeted by The Photon Warriors and their computer leader MOM (Multiple Operation Matrix).  Let's meet Bhodi Li's new team:

Tivia, Princess of Nivia:
She's a master ninja princess from a planet with no men.  Sounds very Troma, doesn't it?

A human orphan who is a child prodigy and functions as the resident go-to computer guy.  He's also a master inventor....cause you know....nine year olds are awesome like that.

Uncle Pike:
A shapeshifter who's natural state can best be described as a humanoid pile of yellow dog poo.  Pike is also a master magician!  Which I suppose is cool....and goes with the shapshifting thing....but sentient dog poo doing card tricks is just weird.

An anthropomorphic lizard with occasionally glowing eyes.  He's kinda the gruff member with a heart of gold type.  He's also got a cool shoulder mounted photon laser!

Lord Beathan:
I saved the absolute best for last!  Lord Beathan is a cyborg wizard rocking a friggin Fu-Manchu mustache!  Oh hell yeah!  He is by far the coolest character in the series and quite honestly, he may be the most incredible character ever created.  Period.

MOM:  This is the sentient computer that leads the Photon Warriors.  It's basically a screen with some swirly colors.  This is the Betty Crocker version of the MOTHER OS used on the Nostromo.

No sooner does Bhodi get mildly acquainted with his new teammates, MOM informs them that the evil forces of The Warlord of Arr are after a Photon Crystal on a nearby planet.  See Photon Crystals are what it's all about.  Both factions are after the crystals for their own purposes.  See if the Photon Warriors get to the Crystal and shoot it, then it spreads life on the planet it's on and the planet will be aligned with good.  If the Warlord's minions get to it, the planet becomes a wasteland and aligns with evil.  This will last one hundred years, which apparently is how long the Crystal will hold a charge from being shot.

The Warlord's minions are all friggin hilarious...with their names coming straight out of the He-Man "name-the-character-after-his-attributes" school of thought.  In this car, basically the baddies name is whatever it resembles with -arr added on the end.  For example, I give you:

The Warlord of Arr:  The head hancho.  Mr. Big.  The Big Enchilada.  Why is it that the head bad guys always seemed to be the least mobile?  Seriously?  Jabba The Hutt.....Horde Prime....this guy.  You'd never see them in direct combat.  Ah well, he's still kinda cool in that 80's way.

He's exactly that.  A humanoid bug.  The costume is actually pretty hilarious because the upper arms are clearly rubber and none functional, bouncing ever which way.  I love this guy.  He literally looks like a generic bought-at-the-drugstore knockoff action figure come to life!

Mandarr:  He's a dude.  Actually he's a fallen Photon Warrior who is under mind control.  Look at him.  He's like a demented, cybernetic Frank N. Furter!  Seriously!  Look at that face!  Tell me you can't picture him singing The Time Warp!

Dogarr:  So, I'm guessing that this guy is called Dogarr because they thought he kinda looked like a dog....but I'm gonna level with ya:  I don't see it.  Also, he seems pretty useless. That's him standing next to Mandarr on the left.....

So off our hero's go to the planet's surface to fight the baddies.  Interestingly the bad guys send holographic projections of themselves off to fight so they don't get hurt.  Though their holographic counterparts are able to hit and be hit.  It was pretty much just a way for them to get shot every week and still come back for more.  The battle that takes place on the planet surface between Bhodi Li and Mandarr is nothing less than epic.  We are treated to lo-tech, wonky Photon blasting as we're treated to Phil Collin's Sussudio!(?)!!!  It is a truly trippy experience.  This is something that you could expect every week:  Top 40 hits playing during combat scenes.  Friggin awesome.  Only in the 80's, man.  Naturally, the Photon Warriors defeat The Warlord's minions and Bhodi Li's fate is set as the newest member of The Photon Warriors.

Before each commercial break (and before resuming) you would be treated to one of the The Photon Warriors saying their catch phrase "The Light Shines!"  Sometimes you'd get a Villain saying "Let The Darkness Grow!"  Kinda like how you'd get Autobots or Decepticons on the commercial bumpers for Transformers.

I had a lot of fun going back and watching Photon again for the first time in about 28 years or so.  This is definitely one of those shows that is so damn awful, it borders on genius.  I loved it when I was five and I loved it just as much re-watching it!  To the best of my knowledge, this is not available on DVD or Blu Ray anywhere.  Hell, I don't think there were ever even any commercially released VHS tapes.  I was lucky enough to find this episode on an old VHS tape with a bunch of stuff on it.  Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go and find myself a Lord Beathal action I'll leave you with some random screen shots that didn't fit in above.  You're welcome.

1 comment:

  1. We brought Photon back this summer and are planning to do it again next year.