Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: NOS-4-A2 – review

logoDirected by: Nicholas Filippi

First aired: 2000

Contains spoilers

Whilst we looked at the Buzz Lightyear episode Wirewolf as a Honourable Mention, this episode (number 6 of season 1) merited a review as the full episode surrounds the robotic vampire NOS-4-A2 (Craig Ferguson) and, indeed, introduced the character to the show. The episode was viewed when it aired on Disney Cinemagic.

In many respects the series was still finding the feet of the characters, so as to speak, but that didn’t stop them throwing in a good few genre nods within the episode that an adult audience could enjoy.

fighting by the coffinWe start with a cargo ship travelling through space. The villain Warp Darkmatter (Diedrich Bader) raids the ship but his raid is interrupted by Buzz (Patrick Warburton) and his crew. However, due to the inexperienced nature of most of the crew, the arrest doesn’t quite go to plan. It ends with Buzz and Mira (Nicole Sullivan) fighting against Warp, in the hold, over the top of a box that looks suspiciously like a coffin and has NOS-4-A2 written on it. The box absorbs the blast of a plasma cannon and then sucks the energy out of Warp’s hornet robots.

XR turns evilTo escape Warp blows up the ship. Buzz and his crew save the box and the autopilot and head to star command. Reporting back to the evil Zurg (Wayne Knight), Warp is shocked to discover that his failure was all part of a devious plan. The box contains Zurg’s latest instrument of evil. On the ship, X-R (Larry Miller) is sent to investigate the box and is attacked by Nos-4-A2. Having been bitten his eyes flash red.

NOS-4-A2Once at Star Command the box is placed in an energy field. NOS-4-A2 rises and calls upon X-R, who now refers to the robotic vampire as his dark master. He manages to free the vampire who heads straight for the communication console. He uses the voice of Commander Nebula (Adam Carolla) and orders all ships off base to fight a non-existent invasion force. Luckily Buzz realises the deception and heads back.

nod to NosferatuThere are some very nice genre moments that are scattered through the show, not least the fact that the attack on X-R is shown via shadows. Of course this is a nod to Nosferatu, which, of course, the vampire was also named for. The fact that those robots bitten become NOS-4-A2’s slaves was amusing as well.

Mira bittenThis has a wider effect as, at one point, he bites Mira. She says that she is okay, he didn’t get through the suit to flesh – but, of course – he didn’t want to. On the contrary he wanted to bite the robotic suit, which develops a mind of its own and attacks the heroes – making Mira a hostage and (via the suit) a slave – luckily she can pass through matter and so escapes. Later we see a whole host of suits attack and they are referred to as zombie suits.

uncontrollable maniacal laughterIt was amusing to see the change in X-R. It wasn’t just that his eyes turn red. He starts to wear a cloak as well for, as we know, cloak wearing is evil. Whilst, thanks to Hamilton Deane and Bela Lugosi, the cloak has become synonymous with the vampire, the fact that Zurg wears one also kind of tells us it is more a villain thing than a vampire thing. Actually we should also note that uncontrollable maniacal laughter is also a villain thing, something X-R also indulges in post bite.

it isn't actually Buzz who saves the dayAt the end of the day, however, it is not Buzz who saves the day but X-R, through the help of Booster (Steven Furst). Booster helps X-R remember who he is and then X-R seems to drain the energy out of Nos-4-A2, though exactly what happened there I wasn’t too sure about.

zombie suitsSo, some good genre nods though a little tentative around the characters as they were still being developed and their dynamics were still being drawn out. Good fun for the kids, worth a weather eye for the adults. 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

I'm a Buzz Lightyear of Star Command fan (one of the few, lol) and this is my absolute favorite episode of this series. The entire plot is so clever, and the idea of an energy vampire is great since it plays into a) the fascination people have with vampires and b) our fear of machines someday taking over the world.

One thing you didn't mention about XR is that in one scene he's actually shown having fangs, which is obviously not normal for him. I found a screencap for you:

This is a great review you've done, it's nice to see someone who gave this show a chance, most people just blow it off because it has "Buzz Lightyear" in the title.

If you're interested in seeing the other episodes that feature NOS-4-A2, some of them are on YouTube, including "Revenge of the Monsters."

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Anonymous - cheers for the comment and I will have a look on YouTube (I'd been waiting for them to air on TV but they haven't run them so far) Good call re XR's fangs - I think I probablky just took it as read, for when he was bitten, but it should have been mentioned.