20 Years of ZILLA: Part 2 - Godzilla: The Series
Before the movie was released, TriStar was laying out their options for more Godzilla. With Sony Pictures Family Entertainment (SPFE) and the FOX Broadcasting Group, GODZILLA: THE SERIES was born. The idea of the cartoon series was finalized eight months before the movie's release. However, Sony had to go out and sell the idea for a Godzilla series before production could actually begin.
During the movie's production, executive producer Jeff Kline wrote an outline for the show while working closely with Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. The designs for the monsters were drawn up and the idea was being shopped from station to station until FOX bought forty episodes for their "FOX Kids" Saturday morning line up. Because of the payment in advance, this gave Sony an advantage that allowed them to budget costs and expenses over the episodes up front and not have to do half the episodes at one time.
During this time, Godzilla's new look was shrouded in secrecy and even though Jeff and his crew were given access to Godzilla's design and the movie's information, they had to sign nondisclosure agreements. None of the crew members were allowed to see Godzilla's design until after the movie's release.
In order to keep the show a secret from the public, the crew created false titles. One of them was called HEAT SEEKERS and the other was called Gorgon. A logo was made for HEAT SEEKERS specifically to throw the leakers off, but the name HEAT stuck as a name for the team that follows and studies Godzilla in the show.
After the death of the first Godzilla after it went on a rampage around New York City, biologist Nick Tatopoulos with a search party take a tour inside the destroyed nest to make sure that none of the babies survived. After falling into a pit, Nick finds a lone egg that hatches. The baby imprints Nick as its mother before being scared off. With a small group, Nick tries to lure and trap the baby back only to find that it had already grew into an adult. When the now fully grown Godzilla recognizes Nick, Godzilla became docile towards Nick and the HEAT team. In the meantime, mutations around the world threaten people's livelihood and it is up to Godzilla to fight off these mutations.
When I reviewed GODZILLA, I concluded that it was not a very good remake. When GODZILLA: The Series aired on TV, it was the first time to make me see this particular version in a different light and had me wishing that this is what the movie should have been. During the 90's, every movie was getting a cartoon show on FOX Kids. The show was made by the same people who made the Men In Black, The REAL Ghostbusters, StarGate, and Evolution cartoons, but GODZILLA: The Series was beaten by Pokemon that aired on WB Kids. Even though this version looks nothing like Godzilla at all, the cartoon achieved what the movie couldn't. By bringing back Godzilla's attributes such as his atomic breath and being resilient to military weapons, it brought out this incarnation's full potential showing that the movie version could have done a whole lot more than just running away. I think when fans give reasons why they love the monster now as opposed to back then, I believe that it has to do with the cartoon more than the movie.
For most of the show, the stories were cookie cutter episodes where a monster attacks, the HEAT team investigates, monster attacks team, Godzilla comes and fights the monster. The thing is that it isn't the story that makes the show so good. It was the different monsters that appear in each episode and the fights that take place. Most of the monsters in the show are not regular monsters that you see in the old Godzilla films, yet there are some that are very telling that they were inspired by those monsters. Quetzalcoatl in the episode, Bird Of Paradise, was very much inspired by the classic monster, Rodan, and the Crackler from the episode, What Dreams May Come, is inspired by Gabara from Godzilla's Revenge. In fact, there were plans for TOHO monsters to appear in the show and a few of them only made it into the intro. The ones that made it into the intro were Gigan, Megalon, and Manda, while others didn't make it past beyond the concept art. I think by keeping them out of the show entirely was for the best. The redesigns for the monsters looked nothing like their classic counterparts and would probably have antagonized the fans further. However, they could have just renamed the monsters and nobody would have minded. The only one that truly made it into the series was MechaGodzilla in the 3 part episode, Monster War, but it was renamed as Cyber-Godzilla since it was the first Godzilla rebuilt as a cyborg. Even the giant Yeti and Robo-Yeti in the episode, Competition, were a homage to King Kong Escapes where King Kong fought his robotic clone and the fight with Godzilla was a homage to King Kong vs Godzilla. So there were a lot of call backs to the original series that I actually really liked while keeping the monsters and the episodes fresh and new.
GODZILLA: The Series relied on the nostalgic feel of the classic movies and it worked. If it wasn't for this show, people would still be hating on the movie today as much as they did back then. Now, people see the movie in a little bit of a different light. The cartoon opened up an opportunity to have the character grow in popularity, but with the "Godzilla" name attached to this version it would still be the poster boy of how to not make a Godzilla film. Later on, TOHO would give it a name change to make it a separate monster furthering his popularity. The show still holds a place in many hearts of fans to this day.
TO BE CONCLUDED IN PART 3 –––>