The Baron Watches "Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot" (SPOILERS)

I recently picked up the whole series on disk. Since there's 26 episodes of this and 39 of Super Robot Red Baron, I waited until I'd watched the first 13 episodes of the latter, until I started this. That way, if I watch one episode apiece of each (they're only 25 minutes an episode) a night, I could theoretically finish both around the same time.  There will be possible interruptions - "The Mind of Evil" is coming out on disk in June, I think - but I intend to persevere.

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Oh man, I think this was one of the most unintentionally hilarious shows I watched as a kid.  Looking forward to this one.


 

Episode 1: "Dracolon, The Great Sea Monster"

Production Order #1, Broadcast Date: 10/11/67

Chief Henchman: Spider, a mundane "Commie-Nazi" type.

Giant Robo Weapons/Abilities Demonstrated:  Flight using jetpack, "Atomic Punch", fingertip missiles.

 

 

Below is what I posted in the "Giant Monsters" thread:

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"My entertainment director recently sent me tapes of the first eight episodes of the 1967 tokusatsu series Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot (originally known in Japan as Giant Robo). Last night I watched Episode One: "Dracolon, The Great Sea Monster".  Low-rent Cthulhu impersonator Emperor Guillotine comes to Earth, and, after lying low for awhile, sends the monster Dracolon (an unimpressive kaiju vaguely suggestive of being the Creature from the Black Lagoon's dimwitted kid brother) to attack shipping.  One of the ships that Dracolon attacks happens to be carrying young Johnny Sokko and more or less incompetent Jerry Mano, extremely un-secret agent of Unicorn, a group of evil-fighters.  The two are swept ashore on an island, which coincidentally happens to house the secret base of the Gargoyle Gang, a group of Commie-Nazis working for Emperor Cthulhu Impersonator. Fortunately for our heroes, the Commie-Nazis are also completely incompetent.  Anyway, Johnny and Jerry discover that the heels are holding a scientist whose name escapes me and forcing him to build Giant Robo, a vaguely Pharaonic-looking automaton that is programmed to obey the first voice that speaks through a control device/wrist watch*, which device Professor What's-His-Monkey immediately hands to Johnny, who promptly does what any seven year old kid would do, and tells the robot to do something interesting, which  it promptly does not. Anyway, Doctor X-Acto  shoos Johnny and Jerry out the back door, then sets off an atom bomb which has the fortuitous effect of powering up Giant Robo.  Johnny commands Giant Robo to give them a ride back to Tokyo, whch it does, apparently not being coated in radioactive material despite having just been in an A-bomb explosion.  Irked, Emperor Squid-Head sends Dracolon to attack Tokyo. Johnny directs Robo in fighting off the monster whilst Jerry slaughters any number of Commie-Nazis, and so the day is saved.

 

I enjoyed this. It's horribly dubbed, and the effects are anything but special, and the plot is thinner than the veriest tissue paper, but the robot is a nice design, and as long as you can set aside logic and just accept it as the kids' fantasy it is, it's a fun watch.

 

*I first encountered the "robot that will respond only to the first person to speak to it" gimmick with a British comics character called the Steel Commando when I was a kid. It struck me then as it does now to be an extremely dumb way to program your robot."

 

 

While I'm here, here's what I initially posted regarding Episode Two, which I will re-watch tonight, and update tomorrow:

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Last night I watched Episode Two: "Nucleon, The Magic Globe", in which our heroes fight a giant bowling ball - from space!  Johnny is made  a member of Unicorn, without any apparent thought of consulting any parents or guardians he might have. He is given a cool jetpack, however. One thing I noticed in this episode is that the Unicorns do this bizarre sort-of "Oh, snap!" hand gesture (accompanied by a whistling sound) instead of a salute.  This is one of those shows where I find myself merrily shouting at the television - always a sign of a fun show.

Episode 2: "Nucleon, The Magic Globe"

Production Order #2, Broadcast Date: 10/18/67

Chief Henchman: Spider, again.

Giant Robo Weapons/Abilities Demonstrated: Flight speed of Mach 19, able to withstand 3,000 degree heat.

 

The tanks in this are obviously toys.  Lukcy for the Unicorn folks that Nucleon's such a lousy shot.

 

Below is what I posted about this episode in the "Giant Monsters" thread:

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"Last night I watched Episode Two: "Nucleon, The Magic Globe", in which our heroes fight a giant bowling ball - from space!  Johnny is made  a member of Unicorn, without any apparent thought of consulting any parents or guardians he might have. He is given a cool jetpack, however. One thing I noticed in this episode is that the Unicorns do this bizarre sort-of "Oh, snap!" hand gesture (accompanied by a whistling sound) instead of a salute.  This is one of those shows where I find myself merrily shouting at the television - always a sign of a fun show."

I've noticed that a lot bad guys, from Imperial Storm Troopers to Doombots, are bad shots :)

Yeah, when I try to take over the world, I'm going to spring for extra marksmanship training for my minions.

You know, I had a feeling you had bought the whole series when you said you planned to “revisit” this show in the future. We had been watching one Astro Boy (of 52) and one Johnny Sokko (of 26) before we switched over to Super Robot Red Baron to better participate in that discussion. We folded Astro Boy back into our routine, and as soon as you catch up to where we left off (around the 14th episode, I think), we’ll pick up watching Johnny Sokko, too.

Episode 3: "Gargoyle Vine, A Space Plant"

Production Order #3, Broadcast Date: 10/25/67.

Chief Henchmen: Spider, again, and Doctor Botanus, a silver-skinned weirdo.

 

Dr. B unleashes a sort of space plant that looks like a refugee form one of the less well-made Krofft Brothers shows. Interesting that Emperor Guillotine knows who Johnny Sokko is, it's a wonder they don't go after his family. Of course, I'm staritng to wonder if Johnny has a family. I notice that the Unicorns use the "secret elevator in a phone booth" gimmick, just like CONTROL.

 

Last night I checked at what point we stopped watching a couple of weeks ago. I’ll continue to read your summaries and offer comments, and we’ll begin watching along with you once you get to episode #13.

Regarding Johnny’s family: In the first episode, it was mentioned that Johnny couldn’t even tell his family that he was a Unicorn agent, so presumably he has one. Then again, maybe the Commander was simply assuming that he had one. Another of the first 12 episodes shows Johnny at school. Those are the only references to his home life I recall from the first 12 episodes.

Regarding the “Gargoyle Gang”: Something to keep in mind as you watch: do you think the rank and file members are human turncoats or aliens? One reference in one episode leads me to believe they’re human, another reference in a different episodes leads me to think the opposite. My gut tells me that the general memebers are traitors, probably lured to evil by the promise of wealth and power.

Here's what I originally posted in the "Giant Monsters' thread about Episode Four, which I intend to view tonight, and update on tomorrow:

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"

Also watched Episode Four: "Tyrox, A Strange Monster", in which Doctor Botanis turns up in "Arabia", causing the oil crisis a few years early. He uses Tyrox, a sort of giant, bipedal, robot  doggie. A few things:

  • Johnny seems to be carrying a gun! I somehow picture him going back to the old neighborhood and looking up kids who used to bully him. "Johnny, why did you shoot Toshio?"  "Um, he was a Gargoyle agent."
  • The lovely U5 gets a name - Mitsuko Hino. I notice that when the Gargoyles imprison her, they don't take her gun away - a bit of an oversight, surely?
  • They also show a guy with his stomach blown open -nothing too graphic, but still!
  • Jerry's pretty useless in this - he seems to be taking every opportunity to nap!"

 

Episode 4: "Monster Ligon-Tyrox, A Strange Monster"

Production Order #4, Broadcast Date: 11/01/67.

Chief Henchmen: Spider, Doctor Botanus, and the world's least-convincing mummy.

Giant Robo Weapons/Abilities Demonstrated: Radion eye beams.

 

Notes:  Mitsuko's borther's name is "Egon"?

"Jerry in flight" is obviously a doll.

 

 


Here's what I originally posted in the "Giant Monsters' thread about Episode Four:
------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Also watched Episode Four: "Tyrox, A Strange Monster", in which Doctor Botanus turns up in "Arabia", causing the oil crisis a few years early. He uses Tyrox, a sort of giant, bipedal, robot  doggie. A few things:

  • Johnny seems to be carrying a gun! I somehow picture him going back to the old neighborhood and looking up kids who used to bully him. "Johnny, why did you shoot Toshio?"  "Um, he was a Gargoyle agent."
  • The lovely U5 gets a name - Mitsuko Hino. I notice that when the Gargoyles imprison her, they don't take her gun away - a bit of an oversight, surely?
  • They also show a guy with his stomach blown open -nothing too graphic, but still!
  • Jerry's pretty useless in this - he seems to be taking every opportunity to nap!"

 

Between Johnny Sokko and Red Baron (and Astro Boy), I’m going through a “robot” phase. This morning I started listen to the audio novel version of Doctor Who and the Giant Robot (read by Tom Baker).

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