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Mungo Baobab and his droids, Threepio and Artoo, are trailing the Rainbow comets of Manda in search of the fabled Roon system. Before they get there, they make an enemy out of the greedy Governor Koong. On Roon, they meet Auren Yomm and join her Umbo racing team in the Roon Games. Mungo takes up his old uncle Ogger's quest of finding the source of the valuable Roonstones. Meanwhile, Koong uses germ warfare against the rebellious province of Umboo and it becomes a race against time to find a cure for the Rooze infection. Written by
And so, to the story of my quest for the Roonstones. Not just precious gems, but powerful crystals capable of storing vast amounts of information. The source of these stones has long been a mystery, and the search for this source has long been a passion of the Baobab Merchant Fleet. Like my father, uncle and grandfather before me, I embrace this quest. A quest, I might add, in which I am ably assisted by C-3PO and R2-D2, my faithful droids.
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Apparently the Star Wars universe was a lot less violent between episodes III and IV
Episodes 10-13 of the 1985 Droids cartoon series were originally identified (during the end credits of the series) as 'The Adventures of Mungo Baobab' and released at the end of the eighties in the UK as Droids 3: Unchartered Space. Now, it is available on DVD as a 'double feature' under the title 'Treasure of the Hidden Planet. The main differences are the exclusion of the title song 'In Trouble Again', a completely new score by Marco D'Ambrosio and a very Star Trekian opening narration, supposedly by heroic Mungo Baobab, though anyone can hear it's someone else (ILM digital effects artist Alex Lindsay).
While one could argue that these changes are typical Lucas Licensing procedure (no George Lucas production ever makes it to DVD without some alterations), an obvious attempt has been made to make the combined episodes seem a bit more cinematic. The new score certainly gives the adventure a slightly larger scale (even if was performed on one synthesizer, just like the 'Clone Wars' series). However, the new opening monologue is a bit of a clunker. It does feature every space bound sequence in the entire series as well as some scenes from The Great Heep special. Still, this narration is not the only link to Star Trek as, improbable though it may seem, the heroic Mungo appears to foreshadow Commander Riker from ST:TNG in both appearance and weaponry, and there is a blatant homage to the final scene from The Trouble With Tribbles.
Conceived by Lucasfilm employee from the first hour Ben Burtt, Mungo Baobab is more of an Indiana Jones type hero than Han Solo, seeking riches and glory in order to save his family's Merchant Fleet from financial ruin. Naturaly, he will learn that friendship (and love) are more important than that before his adventures are done. As a mid-eighties Saturday morning cartoon, 'Droids' was under strict guidelines where violence was concerned. In this neck of the Star Wars universe, nobody carries blasters. The stormtroopers are armed with giant stun poles and Mungo inherits some kind of seed launcher (which happens to look a lot like a phaser). Also, in every chase scene, the good guys are clearly seen fastening their seat belts.
In the first installment, 'Tail of the Roon Comets', Baobab, who has been the owner of C3PO and R2D2 since the events in The Great Heep, rides the Rainbow Comets to find the fabled Roon system hidden somewhere in the Cloak of Sith. Before they gets there, however, the trio is captured by greedy Governor Koong and meets up with Mungo's arch enemy Admiral Screed. The Admiral and Koong's alien henchman Gaff are wonderfully designed characters that fit so well into the Star Wars universe that it's a bit of a shame they didn't appear in the prequels. Unfortunately, the Nelvana animators seem to have trouble drawing their characters consistently, as all of the faces seem to be in some state of continuous flux. In one scene, Threepio looks as wide shouldered (or tiny headed) as Arnold Schwarzenegger. That said, they certainly got Golden Rod's prissy walk down to a tee.
The second episode, 'The Roon Games', introduces Mungo's underage love interest, Auren, and her father Neil Young (sorry, Nilz Yomm). It also features a giant Shamunaar, an ancient beast resembling the dinosaur Boba Fett used as a mount in the Holiday Special cartoon (also animated by Nelvana). By the time we segue into part three, 'Across the Roon Sea'. Mungo has fallen for Auren like a little school boy. Still, it must be noted that he's not much of an explorer, stumbling upon each subsequent clue only because others lead him there. For example, Auren introduces Mungo to an old hermit who turns out to be his long lost uncle. Old Ogger is just about to breathe his last (yes, despite the lack of violence, people do actually die in this cartoon) but not before giving the younger Baobab a bag full of useful items and clues. Of course, before the end of this segment, our heroes manages to use just about all of them.
One reason why this series never made it past one season seems to be the uneven combination of adventures and juvenile humor. Each installment (like the fourth, 'The Frozen Citadel') starts with C3PO doing some silly slapstick that doesn't quite mesh with the rest of the story (even though we all know Threepio was basically programmed for laughs). Koong unleashes his deadliest plan against the local band of Star Warriors yet: chemical warfare. Apparently the censors thought clouds of dust were less violent than weapons. Case in point: each time the evil Gaff uses his elbow spikes on one of the good guys, the impact occurs just off screen. Artoo gets temporarily shrunk to action figure size in a completely ludicrous plot development. There is also a brief appearance by a Kenner Mini Rigg clearly thrown in there as a free advertisement: the 'sand skimmer'. As evident by this review, it is impossible to watch this 'feature length film' without noticing where one episode ends and the other begins. So in that case, they would have been better off releasing the entire 13 episode series (plus the Great Heep) as a boxed set.
7 out of 10
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