|This section, which I like to call "Grabthar's Toolbox," is where I've deconstructed (You see, I have been to college!!!) several of my all-time favorite episodes to explore de deeper, more profound meaning hidden underneath GQ's sci-fi demeanor. Following you will find my in-depth analysis of five classic episodes, with many more to come once I get my VCR back. For the benefit of newcomers, I added brief descriptions of the episode first, followed by my analysis. Any feedback is welcome. As they say on the Protector, "This ship is everyone's home!" -T.L.|
Stricken by a space virus, Dr. Lazarus is bedridden and hallucinating while the onboard computer has been mysteriously switched off. As his condition worsens, Lt. Madison, who is nursing him, begins to comprehend the nature of his mutterings. She tries to convince Capt. Taggart that the gods of Tev'Mek are speaking through Lazarus, trying to tell them how to save the warrior-diplomat from certain death. The Commander finds her prognosis ridiculous and thinks nothing further on the matter.
Soon the voices of the Tev-Mek elders contact Lt. Madison in a dream. They tell her how to save Lazarus by taking him to the planet Amexon and bathing him in the Spring of Adirolf. To direct the Protector to Amexon Lt. Madison has to temporary take command of the Protector and put the crew in a state of stasis. Once the vessel arrives at Amexon, the beautiful Lieutenant realizes that she unwittingly led the Protector into a trap set by Rulfian separatist in their constant guerrilla war against the Galactic Peace Accord. With the rest of the crew in stasis Ms. DeMarco battles the troop of bestial Rulfian soldiers.
Once she unravels the bio-telepathic ruse used against her and Dr. Lazarus, she is able to awaken the doctor. While he takes control of the ship and steers it away from Amexon, Lt. Madison brings the rest of the crew back from stasis. The episode ends with the onboard computer coming back on-line and Lt. Madison cheerfully repeating status information from her chair on the command deck.
This episode, which has always been my favorite, was created while the regular producers were on vacation. This was the one episode Gwen DeMarco, with the help of the only female writer on staff, was allowed to fulfill her true potential as an actress. This time she is not merely looking good. In this one she ACTS!!! Instead of repeating what the computer says, she TELLS the computer what to say and do. This is the Gwen DeMarco I know, the REAL Gwen DeMarco: leader, feminist, riot girl, woman of action. As a symbol of the modern femininity, she's incomparable.
Ticked off by the feminist undertones, the network big wigs unsuccessfully tried to suppress the episode, however Gwen's Emmy nomination made them think twice about pissing her off. Now "Amexon" is ranked among the five most popular in GQ history. And no, that doesn't have anything to do with the command deck scuffle in which Gwen's body suit is revealingly ripped. Though, to be honest, I found that rip truly enjoyable, and have enjoyed several web sites dedicated to it too. Needless to say, the writer of this episode was immediately fired after production, only to be re-hired the next season as head writer after the barrage of accolades garnished by the episode.
The original script called for an appearance by Grabthar, but the electricians' local went on strike that week and the scene was hastily written out.
"A TASTE FOR NOTHING"
While on a routine mission to the fuel depot on M'Yurg 47, Sgt. Chen, Lt. Laredo and two other Protector crew members are taken hostage by Eonids, local creatures who live under the direct command of galactic arch-enemy, Pladvog. Although based on the human model, Eonids lack eyes, ears, noses, mouths and hands, making them easy prey for Pladvog's telepathic mind control.
At any rate, the Eonids wrap Laredo and the others in half-cocoons made from spider-like spinning material. Pladvog offers to trade the captives for Capt. Taggart's fuel codes for all quadrants of the universe. Knowing this would put the galaxy at the mercy of Pladvog, Taggart refuses to comply and plots a way to save his colleagues from this impossible situation.
Pladvog orders the Eonids kill one of the crew members by completing the cocoon, which would slowly strangle him. Taggart eventually gets the upper hand by telepathically signal jamming the Eonids and is able to rescue his close-to-be-strangled comrade. All hell breaks loose when Taggart switches the telepathic transmissions causing a rebellion among the Eonids against Pladvog's iron-fisted psychic grip.
The script originally called for an appearance by a superstar rock bands but, surprise, they wanted too much money. However, they did manage to hire a second rate rocker -- who's name I refuse to mention on my web site -- to appear as an Eonid. Unfazed by his chance of a lifetime, the self-destructive turd OD'd in his trailer after being fitted into his costume and had to be rushed to the hospital in his full Eonid regalia.
"THE CTHULIAN CRAFT"
One of the more puzzling and metaphysical episodes in GQ history, "The Cthulian Craft" still remains as one of my personal faves. Responding to an emergency locator beacon, the Protector homes in on the planet Cthulaj, a two-sun, five-moon orb in the far corner of the Olian 11 Galaxy. The signal is pinpointed near the center of the planet's capital city, an urban area hauntingly similar to late 20th century Earth. In pod disks, Capt. Taggart, Dr. Lazarus and Lt. Madison land and are greeted by pleasant, very human-like creatures who cheerfully escort them to their leader, Merseen. Merseen is bewildered by the radio beacon report but welcomes the trio to look for its source.
Though the Cthulian cheerfulness charms and relaxes Taggart and Madison, Dr. Lazarus continues to look for the source of the now silent beacon. After tracing the beacon to its exact source the good Doctor uncovers a subculture of elderly Galactic Union scientists, philosophers, artists and others imprisoned in a very modern subterranean catacombs.
Confronted with the discovery, Merseen confesses to holding the senior intellectuals in the hope of learning how to have feelings. Taggart demands their freedom, Merseen objects, prepares for war, but all is set right when a few elder Galactic Unionists agree to stay on Cthula to live with its people.
The interpretation of this episode had always alluded me until I took a new and refreshing look at the plot's significance. Obviously, numerology is the key to understanding it. All the other metaphysical mumbo jumbo acts like a red herring to obscure the real significance of the episode.
In the first scene, the Protector's top 3 officers are discussing Cthulaj's 2 suns and 5 moons - thus we have the first three prime numbers, 2, 3 and 5. They are in the galaxy Olian 11 (another prime number) and all are wearing the Galactic Union symbol of peace, the breast patch with 7 stars over 5 stars plus 1 planet making a total of 13 heavenly bodies, all prime numbers! What are we being told here?
Perhaps, like the recurrent number 19 in the Koran and the number 57 during the American Revolution, an unseen power is at work. No doubt, it is. In fact, the writers of this script have refused all my written requests to discuss the episode's numerological symbolism.
If you think Vito Austin, who plays Merseen, sounds very much like the Protector's computer it is because, after this episode, he was hired to be the computer's voice for the rest of the show's run.
This one is considered the worst written episode in GQ history, which is why I like it so much. After tinkering with the molecular conveyor belt, Sgt. Chen notices Capt. Taggart and Lt. Madison strangely changed after they return from the distant Z'tara Planet. Taggart, unable to focus on running the ship, refers all questions to "the his friend the monkey." Madison keeps falling a sleep and mumbling incoherently. Dr. Lazarus, deeply disturbed by their cheerful stupidity, takes over command after Taggart suggests rewiring the ship for improved performance.
As their conditions worsen, Lazarus goes to Z'tara to investigate the source of their rapidly deteriorating condition. There he discovers ancient-looking duplicates of the entire Protector crew ready to be activated and sent back aboard . Dr. Lazarus avoids being supplanted by cloaking himself with a magneto-reflective shield and locates the real Capt. Taggart and Lt. Madison and returns with them onboard. Following is a hilarious scene in which Taggart and Madison battle and destroy their dull-witted duplicates while the duplicates spew out torrents of nonsense. The episode ends with Dr. Lazarus, on deck, sipping his newfound favorite drink, the Martini.
The producers went to great lengths to pretend the episode's plot was allegorical in nature. However the truth is that this turkey was put into production during a Writer's Guild strike and it was penned by two college students with, obviously, very little imagination. Once the producers were in the cutting room, they tried to device several plot points that would make everything sound more profound and symbolic. Sadly, it came out like they were shooting blanks.
Exactly why Peter Quincy Taggart would be so interested in the Protector's tools is anyone's guess. It really makes no sense. Likewise, Ms.DeMarco's comments about alien life forms seem rather disjointed, as do the comments about "hominids" being "leaky," and the "sixth dimension space." Curiously, in their attempt to mask its thin plot line, the producers came up -- unintentionally -- with a brilliant parody of GQ's sci-fi greatness.
The greatest and most embarrassing blunder in the episode was having Alexander Dane drink a martini. Everyone knows Tev'Mekians are allergic to all mind-altering substances, and Alexander's real-life drink of choice is Campari and club soda on ice, not a martini.
Tommy Webber was written out of this episode due to a Malibu Beach surfing accident in which he suffered a broken leg. That's also why he's was never seen walking in the next four episodes.
"THE NIXVOWLS UPRISING"
In this most excellent episode Gath'gor, Sarris and Ngh'f, three outlaws of the planet Nixvowls, unite to destroy the Protector. First, the evil trio challenges the Protector to a straight shoot-out around at the Megabuckle Asteroid Belt in the ATV-54 Nebula. The intense fighting catapults Ngh'f into a parallel universe, and seriously damages the Protector's plasma emitters.
To repair the damage, Capt. Taggart orders a Mark 11 departure from the area, with Gath'gor and Sarris in hot pursuit. Split-second maneuvering and near misses with passing comets has most of the Protector crew bouncing around the spaceship, but succeeds in slinging Sarris through a time knot, leaving only Gath'gor to fulfill their vow to destroy the Protector.
To recover from their space sickness, Taggart and Dr. Lazarus land on the anti-energy planet of Dezap, where anything electronic is useless. In a cave near a soothing waterfall, they are cornered by Gath'gor and some of his men. Gath'gor and Taggart get into epic hand-to-hand combat. They roll around until Taggart emerges victorious from underneath the waterfall with Gath'gor commander belt in his hands.
This award-winning episode is a take-off on a typical Western. The shoot-out, the chase, and the brawl. As the first-season finale, though, the episode's had a fuzzy and highly symbolic ending. By Grabthar's Hammer and all our good fortunes, it never came to pass! Unsure whether they would be picked up for another season, the producers scrapped the intended ending and came up with the heroic and legendary hand to hand victory of Commander Taggart and the rest is history. That summer Jason Nesmith became one of the decade's most active action film heroes and got the Quest renewed for two more seasons.
Gwen DeMarco is virtually absent from this episode because an acute case of emotional distress due to her failed marriage to a too-stupid-to-be-named rock star. Mr. Nesmith, a true professional, did most of his stunts in the episode. Crossed fists to you, Mr. Nesmith!