The 24-hour salute (Sunday, 8 a.m. to Monday, 8 a.m.) will showcase newly remastered versions of the landmark series' first 16 episodes, introducing young and older fans alike to the epic interplanetary struggle that inspires five young orphans to join forces to help save the Earth and other planets from malicious invasion. Additional Battle of the Planets' serial episodes-also featuring remastered sound, music and color-will then assume a regularly scheduled spot on Boomerang's Sunday line-up, playing at 9 a.m., 5 p.m. and 1 a.m., respectively.
"As the home for classic cartoon programs from television's golden age, Boomerang is delighted to present this rare opportunity to revisit one of Japan's best-ever animé fantasy-adventures," says Mark Norman, senior vice president and general manager of Boomerang. "Making its U.S. premiere 25 years ago at the height of the Star Wars craze, Battle of the Planets proved to capture a similar spirit of awe-inspiring heroism in the face of overwhelming odds set against a fantastic, make-believe world. This truly is a groundbreaking series that is more than worthy of the special attention we hope to bring to its important 25-year milestone. And these newly remastered episodes will give viewers the best viewing experience possible, with something special to look forward to each Sunday."
Created in Japan five years before Star Wars emerged on the pop-culture landscape, Battle of the Planets (known originally as Gatchaman) ran in its own country from October 1972 to September 1974. It was produced by Tatsunko Productions and was the first major Japanese import hit since 1967's Speed Racer, which the company also produced. Set in the year 2020, the series centers around the daring exploits of G-Force, a protective squad commandeered by Mark Venture and consisting of four war orphans: Jason, Tiny, Princess and Keyop. Headquartered beneath the seas of Earth at Center Neptune, the G-Force rallies together to stem the megalomaniacal schemes and advances of Zoltar, insidious leader of the withering planet Spectra, whose wicked denizens are forced to conquer new worlds and galaxies in order to survive.
Purchased for U.S. first-run syndication by executive producer Sandy Frank, the show was adapted into English by Hanna-Barbera veterans Jameson Brewer and Alan Dinehart III, who renamed it and commissioned new animation of an R2D2-like robot character named "7-Zark-7" to narrate and bridge continuity gaps left from edited scenes of the more graphically violent passages. Frank also hired veteran voice actors Casey Kasem (Mark Venture), Janet Waldo (Princess), Keye Luke (Zoltar), Alan Young (Keyop/7-Zark-7), Ronnie Schell (Jason) and Dinehart himself (Tiny) to star in the resulting 85 "Americanized" episodes that now stand as Battle of the Planets.
Riding a new wave of popular nostalgia, Battle of the Planets will enjoy licensing and merchandising support this year that includes Rhino Home Video releasing 85 episodes in multi-DVD sets in May for its 25th anniversary. Also, 3DGroove will market a new Battle of the Planets multiplayer internet video game in April. Other projects include Battle of the Planets comic books, graphic novels and Manga (Japanese serial comics) issues, produced by TOP COW from art director Alex Ross. Additional ventures this summer and fall include collector items from Dynamic Forces, T-shirts and other apparel from Blue Grape, a nonfiction book covering the history of Battle of the Planets from Tomorrow Publications, music from Silva Screen and high-end collectibles from Udon.