This second set of DVDs continues the adventures of the Galaxy Rangers’ Earth’s space cowboys who protect humanity, colonists’ outposts and their allies against the evil Queen’s empire and many villains. Goose, Doc, Captain Zachery and Niko ride their mechanical horses across planets, deserts and alien worlds. This classic cartoon series from the 1980s is as rare as ever but I took some time revisit them and relive their motto, no guts no glory.
I reviewed the first volume of this series in 2011 and nearly forgot about them again. But I stumbled upon them again and watched the first volume of the 65-episode series in earnest. But then, I wanted more and was not sure if I had the second volume. Frantically, I hunted for it online only to see it retail for exorbitant amounts. Both volumes one and two of this magnificent series are now out of print and available mostly on the secondary market. It turns out that when I purchase the original series, I also purchased the second one at the same time. If you have these original DVDs, hold on to them. They will not come easy to find. You can, however, find the cartoon episodes in various places but the booklets that came with the box sets as well as the commentary by series creator Robert Mandell and his brother Henry Mandell are exclusive to the DVDs.
The adventures continue the same formula where some or all of the rangers are involved in some adventure only to save the day. Their characterizations are consistent with Doc being annoying as ever while being heroic and a swashbuckling hero inn the mold of the X-Men’s Nightcrawler. The animation has aged well and while this was a television series for tweens, I am still entertained by it. Galaxy Rangers was one level above G.I. Joes, Transformers, or M.A.S.K. as a cartoon series with better animation, better worldbuilding and incredible spaceship and technology designs. The 1980s rock and roll music was played to the max and I admit that after watching 65 episodes, I am not tired.
Fan support for this series is minimal and much less than other series such as He-Man and The Masters of the Universe or Thundercats. It is unfortunate that this series is not better known and that no reboot or recent adaptation to comics, or film has been attempted. The lore behind the Galaxy Rangers is rich and the annoying sidekicks were contained. The most annoying of the sideckicks was Buzzwang, the breakdancing robotic ranger. There were a few kids throughout, but their presence was limited to some episodes.
I found that the latter episodes had better animation and the stories were less formulaic. Many older villains were brought back which created as sense of continuity. Although there is a serious revolving door problem wherever these villains are imprisoned as they tend to come back from jail faster the Joker and Batman’s villains!
For those of you new to the Galaxy Rangers, let me explain the core characters simply. Zachery (not spelled Zachary), is your Liam Neeson, Jack Bauer, straight shooter. Goose is a mix of Wolverine and Clint Eastwood. Doc is Billy Dee Williams and Nightcrawler but with hindsight, really an expert in human-computer interaction. This show was well ahead of its time. Niko was Jean Grey and Invisible Woman but with less damsel in distress moments and able to own her own except when she was paired with Goose. Zozo, the diminutive sidekick was not as annoying as Chewbacca, an Ewok or Orko. He did not put himself in ridiculous dangers. He was often the first one in a fight.
Because it is a show from the 1980s, the Star Wars influence is easy to be felt. The age-old question about whether it was in character for Hans Solo t draw his gun first is answered easily here. Yes, good guys can draw their guns first. As I wrote above, the spaceship designs and the other gear used by the Galaxy Rangers and their opponents are some of the jewels of this series. Although it seems that most of it was designed for toys, that is not the case. The Galaxy Ranger toys were limited. The designs of the ships and the gear rivals anything mecha from the era. The animation was also done in Japan.
This series is special. It is not as addictive as old Transformers cartoons, but it was a competent cartoon created by a close-knit team lead by Mandel. Mandel has a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve with Galaxy Rangers and it’s too bad that no one has taken the torch from him since. This series does not deserve to be in limbo.