Sunday, May 27, 2012

Toon Ninja Reviews: Episode 1 - Bionic Six (guest co-host, Max Steel)

*Megaman: Maverick Hunter X promo theme plays*


Hiya folks.  I am DragonRanger1, but you could call me Jason.  And welcome to the debut episode of Toon Ninja Reviews.  This show is about reviewing cartoons from those of the nostalgia age like the 80s and 90s to the early modern hits in the early days of the new millenium. We are going to have some fun here and you won't be disappointed. But, before we get started, let me introduce to you to our special co-host for this episode. He is one of Kids WB's rising stars and a bionic superhero in his own right.  Let's give a big Toon Ninja Reviews welcome to aspiring extreme sports star/bionic super agent, Josh McGrath, better known as Max Steel.

*Max Steel theme plays; applause*

Welcome to the show, Max.

Max Steel: Thanks, Jason.  It is a great pleasure to be on your show.  Nice to meet a newest member of the Cartoon Historian.

Thanks, Max. Stefan needs alot of help to make Nostalgia cool once again, especially here in the new millenium.

Max: No Problem, Jay.

*Jason smiles*

Anyway, the reason Max is my co-host for this episode is because of this one show I am going to review today. This is one of the most underrated yet popular cartoons in the 80s.  This one is about a family.  But not just any family, they are a Super, Future Family. I am talking about this awesome gem of a action cartoon.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...Bionic Six.

*Bionic Six theme song plays*

In the near future, Jack Bennett, a test pilot who is also known as bionic super agent, codename: Bionic-1, was enjoying a happy, healthy family vacation at the Himalayas, along with his wife, Helen, their kids, Eric and Meg and their foster sons, J.D. and Bunji. Until one day, an alien race crash landed on Earth, which triggers an avalanche, buring them and were exposed to a strange form of radiation from a mysterious object that was buried, causing the whole Bennett family to be infected except for Jack, who is immune thanks to his bionic implants. Fearing that they might not live, Jack took his family to his mentor and friend, Professor Amadeus Sharp, who install some bionic implants to save their lives. Now revived, the whole Bennett family got extraordinary bionic powers and must fight to protect the world from the evil Dr. Scarab and his minions as the Bionic Six.

Max: Wow, that some intro. Can't quite remember how this show came to be.  Can you help me out?

Certainly, Max.  Did you ever heard of shows, The Six-Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman?

Max: Yeah.

Think of Bionic Six as an animated homage to The Six-Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. I'm sure Lee Majors and Lindsey Wagner like this awesome show.

Max: I'm sure they are.

*Jason smiles*

Alright, let's get moving! Bionic Six was made by TMS Entertainment, which I will talk about in a moment, and was licenced by MCA-TV, which is now called NBC/Universal Television Distribution.  That's right, the same Universal who did both The Six-Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.

Max: Wow! They did that?'s just too bad they don't do cartoons anymore.

Tell me about it. *facepalm*

Anyway, here is the premise or in this case the story of Bionic Six.

The Bionic Six, just like the Fantastic Four, the Secret Saturdays and the Incredibles, are a family of superheroes, a super, future, BIONIC family. They got their super powers from bionic implants by Professor Amadeus Sharp and must use them to stop the evil Dr. Scarab, who is, dramatic pause please, Professor Sharp's brother.  Scarab's goal was to find a way to gain immortality, whether from magic or steal Professor Sharp's bionic technology for his evil purposes and use it to take over the world.  Here is a rundown of the Bennett family;

Jack Bennett, a.k.a. Bionic-1 is the main protagonist of the series. When he is not fighting evil as Bionic-1, Jack is a test pilot and honorable family man. Speaking of which...

Helen Bennett a.k.a. Mother-1, is Jack's wife. Not only a devoted wife and mother, but also a full time oceanographer and marine biologist. Wish my mother was like Helen.

Eric Bennett a.k.a. Sport-1, is Jack and Helen's son. Dude's a big time fan of Baseball and is really good at it. And for the record, I may be a Yankees fan, but I'm a Mets fan, first and foremost.

Meg Bennett a.k.a. Rock-1, is Jack and Helen's daughter and Eric's twin sister. Young, spunky and is fan of Rock music, hence her codename, Rock-1. She is also known for speaking in futuristic slang (e.g. Mega-bummer, Ultra-slammin', So-Lar!). She's the type of character who likes to fight baddies and blow bubble gum at the same time. Looking back on it now, because of her spunkiness, and her future slang, she is become one of my favorite characters, next to her mother, Helen. Super, Mega, Ultra, AWESOME SAUCE!!

J.D. Bennett a.k.a. I.Q. The Bennetts' african-american foster son. He's the smart one of the group and is the only member of the Bionic Six whose codename is different from the others. And did I forget to mention that he's an amateur boxer.  And finally...

Bunji Bennett a.k.a. Karate-1. Just like J.D., Bunji is also the Bennett's foster son whose grandfather disappeared 10 years ago. He is japanese-american and he's an martial arts expert. Love the headband, though. It is so Ryu-ish.

The Bionic Six often accompanied by their robotic gorilla, F.L.U.F.F.I. He is programmed to serve the Bennetts whether at home or at a mission to stop Scarab. Though, he has a crazy, obsession of eating alluminum cans. Awkward.

Finally, their mentor; Professor Amadeus Sharp is the Bionic Six's liason in their missions and the one responsible for giving them their powers through their bionic implants. Sharp is a brilliant scientist who studies in the field of not only bionics, but also aeronautics, animatronics, archaelogy, and neurology.  Dude's a jack of all trades when it comes to science. There are other heroes I like to talk about but I got a long way to go in this review. I had my say on the heroes.  Max, why don't you tell us about the main baddies.

Max: Sure. If Dr. Evil and Mother Brain gave birth to their love child, this main baddie fits the bill, if you are Dr. Scarab that is. As we all know that Scarab, real name Dr. Wilmer Sharp, is Prof. Sharp's brother. Unlike Sharp, Scarab uses his scientific genius for evil purposes in his quest for immortality and world domination. He is what the Ninja Turtles describe Krang as a "bloated beanbag", and rightfully so. With a look and style Scarab has, he would definently give that psycho, Smiley a run for his money.

Wait a minute, I thought your enemy's name was Psycho.

Max: I know.  His name is Psycho.  But I like to call him Smiley.

Oh, right, it's the teeth thing.  Gotcha.

Max: Anyway, to combat the Bionic Six and achive his 2 goals, Scarab has enlisted the aid of 5 lesser individuals, who got bionic implants of their own and uses them for their evil purposes.

Glove is Scarab's second in command, whose glove blaster on his left hand can fire both beams and projectiles. Just like the evil Decepticon Starscream, Glove wants to get rid of Scarab and wants to be leader.  No honor among thieves as they say.

Mechanic is a dim-witted brute who uses his tools as weapons, including a giant wrench. Although mean and brutish, he has a soft spot for animals and children's t.v. shows. CREEEEEEEEEEEEEPY!

Chopper, hence his name, rides a three-wheeled motorcycle, wields a chain and does vocal sounds that emulates a motorcycle reviving up. You thought Michael Winslow had it bad.

Krunk is a walking, breathing glue monster.  What he lacks in intellience, makes up with brute strength. Grossness Infinity!

Finally, there is Madam-O. Though elegant, mostly, just like a rose, she will prick you like a rose and her sonic harp will ring your eardrums.  She is one of three female animated characters who often use the word, "Darling," the other two are the Baroness from G.I. Joe and Edna Mode from The Incredibles. Need I say more, darling?

No, not at all, Max.

Max: Like most evil villains, Scarab has his army of grunts, in the form of robots call Cyphrons.  Though they have strength in numbers, but they are not very efficient, even if Scarab try to make them more dangerous and smart.  There are other villains such as the Shadow Boxer and even a female version of Scarab called Scarabina (creepy with a capital "C") but they are not as dangerous as the main baddies here, so there.

I'll say.

Max: Well, since you know so much, why don't tell us about the Bionic Six and Scarab's crew's powers.

Certainly, as I stated before, the Bionic Six got their powers from their implants by Professor Sharp.  Here are their powers and I hope I remember correctly.

Bionic-1's powers are the same as that of Steve Austin, the Six-Million Dollar Man himself. Bionic strength, speed, enhanced sight and hearing, you name it.  But the one other power Jack has that Steve doesn't, laser vision.

Mother-1's powers enables her to see the future, turn on machines with her thoughts and is a telekinetic, as seen in the intro where she lifts a steel girder, with nothing but her finger.  That is awesome!

Sport-1 has electromagnetic powers that attract or repel metal objects with tremendous force, meld them together or rip them apart. He can also use other objects like steel beams or lampposts as baseball bats to deflect energy blasts and incoming objects with extreme force. Dude gives the whole new meaning the phrase, "Batter-UP!"

Rock-1, although she is fast as her Bionic cohorts, is the fastest of the group and sonic blasters on her shoulders.  Talk about Rock 'n' Roll.

I.Q.'s implants makes him not only super strong like Bionic-1, but it also makes him super smart.  A super genius Reed Richards could be proud of.

Karate-1's implants enhances his already well-developed martial arts skills, so, 'nuff said.

To activate their powers, the Bionic Six slam their rings into their wristcomp and shout out, "Bionics ON!" They could also amplify their powers by holding hands to create a Bionic Link. And just like you, Max, their bionic energy drains after their powers are exausted and need to recharge back at Sharp's lab.

Max: Ouch.

It's OK, Max.  Your secret is safe with me.  For travel by land and by air, the Bionic Six have the Sky Dancer and the M.U.L.E.S. van. The Sky Dancer is a supersonic jet that kind of resembles Sky Lynx from season 3 of Transformers.  And M.U.L.E.S., which stands for the Mobile Utility Energizing Station, is their mobile base that has their motorcycles and Quad ATV for land travel and such.  If you ask me, they are loaded.

As for Scarab and his goon squad, they can enhance their powers by slamming their fists into the scarab mark on their chest and yell, "Hail Scarab!" It also works well in their mastery in disguising.  Need I say more?

Max: That's alot of bionics.

I'll say.  Now that the character, story, and powers part is done with, let's get the details on how awesome this show was. Let's start with the animation itself.

The animation was done by the famed japanese studio, TMS, Tokyo Movie Shinsha, best known for not only animes like Akira and some of the Lupin III movies, but also cartoons from Disney cartoons like Ducktales and the Adventures of the Gummi Bears, to other cartoons like the 90s Spider-Man and even another underrated classic, The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. Which explains why the cartoon has an anime-like feeling, including the "Bionics ON" transformation scene and believe me, cartoons
like that in the 80s are Sugoi, that's how the japanese say awesome.  Take it away, Max.

Max: Speaking of everything japanese and anime related, the chief director for Bionic Six is Ozamu Dezaki, who also directed the first line of Lupin III anime, as well as the original black and white classic Astro Boy anime.  The dude's a legend, especially being a close friend the late great Ozamu Tezuka.  Other than the animation that made 80s cartoons great, let's talk about the music.

Good call, Max! The music and especially it's theme song, was done by the team of Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker, who did other cartoons like Ducktales, Dexter's Laboratory, Mr. T, Pirates of Dark Water, and even the animated movie, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland. Their music is always adventurous in the shows we watch.  Who does not like that theme song? Like the lyrics say, they are indeed a Super, Future Family. By the way, did you know that Steve Rucker was a drummer of the hit music group, the Bee Gees?

Max: Really?!

Yep. Just like John Travolta, Bionic Six is indeed staying alive, as long as they a strong fanbase. Anyway, Gordon Bressack and Jean-Marc Lofficier did the writing for the show. Some of the writing could be funny with Doc Scarab's one liners like quoting something out of comic books and and some could be serious in nature.  Bressack and Lofficier were also writers for Ducktales and The Real Ghostbusters in some episodes.

Max: Scarab said comic book-like one liners?

That's for another time, dude.  Now, the final part of how great this show was, the voice acting. Let's go for the voice actors I know. For the voice of Bionic-1 and Krunk was none other than John Stephenson.

Max: Wow! Mr. Slate voiced Bionic-1?

That's right, and when he voices him, he is trying to be more like Lee Majors than Mr. Slate and/or the original voice of Dr. Benton Quest before the late, great Don Messick voiced him. Anyway, Mother-1 is voiced by Carol Bilger.  She is the perfect voice for bionic mother like her. For Dr. Scarab, he was voiced by Jim MacGeorge, who was not only did voice work in other cartoons like Beany and Cecil and appeared in live action shows like Get Smart and Happy Days (AAAAAY!!), but he also a writer who worked at Jay Ward Productions, that's right, the same company known for the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Moving on, Professor Sharp was voiced by Alan Oppenheimer a.k.a. Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Jennifer Darling provides the voice of Madam-O, darling.  Darling provided the voice for Not only Irma from the legendary 80's TV Show,Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But,she's also the English Voice of Princess Ayeka from Tenchi.

Here is an interesting note, both Alan Oppenheimer and Jennifer Darling appeared in both The Six-Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.  Look, I know I sound like a broken record, but I can't talk about Bionic Six without talking about the two shows that were the inspiration of this classic cartoon. Take it away, Max.

Max: Like he was saying, Rock-1, the super, mega, ultra, awesome gal, was voiced by Bobbi Block, who also voiced the Misfit Roxy from Jem.  What a coincidence. In one show, she fights evil and in one other show, she causes mischief. Rock 'n' Roll can do crazy things. Anyway, Karate-1 was voiced by Brian Tochi, who did not only voice work as Leonardo from the first 3 live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, but just the voice not the man in the suit and voiced Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, but also appeared as Takashi from the Revenge of the Nerds movies and as Nogata from Police Academy 3 & 4.

I like Police Academy 4, especially its theme, CITIZENS ON PATROL!!

*imitating rap*

Max: Jason, we got a review to finish.

Oh, sorry. Anyway, Hal Rayle voiced Sport-1, Norman Bernard voiced I.Q. and F.L.U.F.F.I. was voiced another veteran voice actor, Neil Ross a.k.a. Shipwreck from G.I. Joe, The Green Goblin from the Spider-Man cartoons (well, the 1980s solo cartoon and again in the 90s cartoon) and Commander Keith from Voltron.

Max: Didn't he also voice Pidge?

Yes, but he did it in a squeaky type voice, but that's for another time.  And last, but certainly not least, voicing Chopper, Mechanic and Glove was none other than Frank Welker.  He may be typecast as Freddy Jones in Scooby-Doo, but when it comes to voicing villains, whether its minor one like those three or as major ones like Megatron, Dr. Claw and Dr. Viper, Welker is king of the villain voices.

Max: I'll say. But, why is Welker typecast as Freddy?

That story is for another time, but I just hope deep down Frankie dislikes being typecast in one Scooby-Doo direct to video movie after another.  Speaking of dislikes, what do I DON'T like in Bionic Six, but those are minor ones but I'll address them anyway.  Although I got nothing against the character, F.L.U.F.F.I., to this day, we don't even know what the acryonym to that name means and that bothers me. I know that Viacom is a acryonym for Video and Audio Communications and M.A.S.K. stands for the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand but no acryonym to the name, F.L.U.F.F.I., that really sucks. Another thing that is wrong is the Cyphrons, worst, grunts, ever.  Please, the Battle Android Troopers were more efficient that this and the Putty Patrol were annoying but they were tolerable and efficient, too.  I wish they were more deadly and pose more of a threat to the Bionic Six, but that's just me. Finally, nothing against Madam-O but she is using the word, Darling, way too much. When the Baroness says Darling, she says it with class, and when Edna Mode says Darling, she says it in comedic fashion, so to speak.  For example:

*ala Baroness* Destro, darling, how you been in this dismal day?


*ala Edna Mode* Yes, words are useless, gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble, that's just too much of it, darling, too much!

Compare to them, Madam-O saying darling too much is like Team Rocket use the word, "Twerp" all the time and that annoys me.  And for the record, I, am not, a TWERP! I am nobody's twerp, NOBODY CALLS ME A TWERP!!!

*breathes heavily*

Sorry, lost my cool back there.  But I am ok now. Anyway, moving on. If you look beyond the pet peeves I have mentioned, Bionic Six is still a great action cartoon.  Who does not like bionic superheroes?

Max: Smiley?

*canned laughter*

Speaking of bionic superheroes, after Bionic Six ended, which I will get in a moment, it has spawned many more bionic-themed heroes, whether its from video games or other forms of animation like Capt. Nathan "Radd" Spencer from Bionic Commando, Eclair and Lumiere from Kiddy Grade and even you, Max Steel.

Max: Thanks, Jay.  Nothing wrong with "Going Turbo!" But, why such a great cartoon ended like that?

Good question, dude. Bionic Six began its run on April 19th, 1987 and it ended on November 1st, 1989 and it lasted 65 episodes. For such a great cartoon, it gave us a few more questions than answers, including stoping Dr. Scarab once and for all. That would be a series finale if I ever saw one, but we didn't. After November 1st, the Bionic Six went to the assembly line for good. Like The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Bionic Six was a target of soccer moms and watchdog groups who complain that
the show had so much violence and such. Overreact much?  And to make matters worse, there was no DVD release and there is not one to this day. Come on, Universal, you had all the time in the world and you didn't put Bionic Six on DVD? I'm not sure what's worst, no Bionic Six DVD release or turning Sci Fi into SyFy (See-Fee)?


Max: Ouch. Politics do hurt.  No wonder animation is being pushed aside.

I'll say.  Anyway, my experiences with the show is obvious.  I enjoyed it like every other cartoon in the 80s and I was a kid back then. I seen it on WPIX channel 11 in New York City back when they use to show cartoons everyday in the morning and afternoon and in Saturday and Sunday mornings.  I watched it so much I feel like I was in the show, especially the intro, posing with the Bionic Six.

Max: WOW! Those were good memories.

Yeah, but wait, there's more. Other than the cartoon, I used to see that toy commercial with the Bionic Six figures, in transparent die-cast material, mostly in their limbs.  I use to have one of them, I think it was a Bionic-1 figure.  But, I lost it down the road.  But, here is a shocker, the toy company who did the Bionic Six toys was none other than LJN.  Although they are known for making toys, but they are mostly infamous for making bad video games based on movies, and wrestling.  They may be good with toys, but when it comes to video games, never trust the rainbow of doom.

Max: LJN? Are they that bad?

Oh, yeah.  At least they are out of business after their video game sales sunk. So 'nuff said. Bottom Line, if you are fan of both the Six-Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman or you a fan of 80s cartoons in general or have a knack for being bionic, Bionic Six is the one show worth seeing.  If you haven't seen it, you are missing out on this classic gem.  Until it gets a DVD release, with special features of course, there's always YouTube. This is DragonRanger1 saying Stay Gold, Godspeed and...

*Looks at Max and Max looks back at Jason and turn to the camera*

Jason and Max: Bionics...ON!!! *echoing*

*Bionic Six end credits theme play*

*Fade Out*

In Memory of Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees (December 22, 1948-May 20, 2012)

1 comment:

Stefan said...

Great Review! Can't wait to see more. I'm gonna make a To-Do list. It'll give you the Next assignments. Mr.T should be next.