MASK (1985–1986)
6.9/10
10
1 user

Cliff Hanger 

The rivalry between Vanessa Warfield and Brad Turner heats up at the Mesa Verde Memorial Road Race. Nevada 'The Chief' Rushmore has asked Turner, Calhoun Burns and Ali Bombay to represent ... See full summary »

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
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Mark Halloran ...
Brendan McKane ...
Graeme McKenna ...
Brad Turner / T-Bob (voice)
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Brennan Thicke ...
Scott Trakker (voice)
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Storyline

The rivalry between Vanessa Warfield and Brad Turner heats up at the Mesa Verde Memorial Road Race. Nevada 'The Chief' Rushmore has asked Turner, Calhoun Burns and Ali Bombay to represent his tribe. Vanessa and fellow VENOM agents Bruno Sheppard and Floyd Malloy are also competing for an extinct tribe that mysteriously vanished. Meanwhile Lester Sludge has gotten his hands on a container of dangerous seeds that can can cause insanity when added to water. Written by The TV Archaeologist

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26 November 1986 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Quotes

Brad Turner: I thought you were after the seeds.
Vanessa Warfield: [shouting] I am! I'm also racing you.
Brad Turner: Nothing like two loses in one day.
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User Reviews

 
Brad & Vanessa = Branessa
11 October 2009 | by (Rijswijk (ZH), The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Now I never really understood how these first run syndication cartoon shows of the Eighties worked. It seems the first season had to run up to a whopping 65 episodes to start with, but all subsequent series didn't have to be nearly as long. In the case of MASK, the second only lasted a measly 10 episodes. This is beside the fact that a lot of people like to split the first batch up in 'first and second toy series' episodes by default. Add to this that the writers were obliged to base each series around the most recent toys out in stores, it has to be said that Ray Dryden and Jack Olesker (who were mostly responsible for season 2) took some inventive and bold decisions to change around the entire concept of the show. And while over in Transformers they struggled to cram in as many new toys as possible near the end, in MASK they actually became more character driven.

As the third batch of MASK toys were centered around the race track, gone were the globe trotting covert operations of series one. Also absent were the weekly scenes of Matt Trakker asking the MASK computer to pick the agents best suitable for each mission. In fact, Trakker himself only appeared in 5 of the 10 stories and Miles Mayhem, leader of VENOM in 8. Best of all, gone were the annoying comic relief characters (which Eighties cartoon had to have) Scott Trakker and T-Bob, though they did pop up in the public service announcements at the end once or twice (but even then T-Bob remained silent).

The MASK agents no longer seemed to have day jobs to abandon whenever a mission called, instead they became a full time race car driving team. VENOM, while still involved in diabolical schemes that had to be stopped at any cost, also entered races around the world and for the first time knew all the identities of their MASK opponents. This allowed for better character development than ever before as the origins of both teams were hinted at for the first time in the TV incarnation: Trakker and Mayhem worked together on the development of the masks and vehicles before Mayhem turned bad.

Most interesting to little old toy collecting me at the time was the use of the characters code names, which were mentioned on some of the toy packaging but were completely ignored in the first 65 adventures. Of course they would have been much more useful in the earlier series when the MASK members were still keeping their real identities secret. But since the writers already had to incorporate the regular characters names as well as those of their masks and their vehicles (which also had different names applied to their special features) it is kind of understandable the code names got left out. Still, this MASK fan had a great time trying to pick up on all the nicknames when first viewing these episodes twenty years ago.

Naturally a lot of time was spend on the new 'Racing' toys developed by Kenner, including such new international characters as Boris 'the Czar' Bushkin, Ali 'Lightning' Bombay, Nevada 'The Chief' Rushmore and Lester 'the Lizard' Sludge. But the second toy series was also called back into action a lot. And since Ace 'Falcon' Riker had a vehicle in both of these toy ranges, he was the only character to feature two different modes of transportation (and two masks): 'Slingshot' (which was possibly the lamest MASK vehicle ever) and 'Meteor'. However, as both of these vehicles converted into mini-jets, it was kind of hard to tell them apart. None of the vehicles from the original series made an appearance though, and strangely enough neither did second series character Julio Lopez in 'Firefly', a vehicle I always thought of as a race car but apparently was supposed to be a dune buggy.

A final new character was Miles Mayhem's less smart twin brother Maximus (who wore a monocle to differentiate the pair) and while it may have been a bit weird to have two fat, middle aged men drive a formula one race car together, they did get help from a robotic drone to pilot one third of the vehicle as it split up three ways. In another new twist, the villains were now allowed to deliver PSA's at the end of the show. And while there was no room for MASK's only female member Gloria 'Mit' Baker in this series, she did make a brief appearance in the first episode "Demolition Duel to the Death". Here it was strongly implied she had feelings for team mechanic Buddy 'Clutch' Hawkes (no love for Matt Trakker it would seem). Even more surprising was this final episode, aptly named "Cliff Hanger" (though it does not end on one) where we see the rivalry between Brad 'Chopper' Turner and VENOM's Vanessa 'Snake' Warfield (who got a lot of screen time this series) turn into a mutual respect and a hinted at a possible romance.

It's a shame Dryden & Olesker didn't get to produce more than 10 racing episodes, for they really gave the series an interesting overhaul. And it would certainly have been interesting to see what they might have come had another series come around if it had been based on the next series of Kenner toys. Called 'Split Seconds', each vehicle split in two while the driver used his mask to create a holographic version (or 'Splitting Image') of himself that would man the other half. On second thought, it's probably for the best these toys never got any animated. They would probably have been too outlandish and unbelievable even for MASK. And would have done away with the more grounded background of the race track. Would have been nice to see if Clutch & Mit and Chopper and Snake ended up in each others arms, though...

8 out of 10


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