Hello & welcome back to A Look at Disney Opens The Toy Box. Â And today, we are blasting off to infinity and beyond as we look at the pilot movie, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins. Â Around the time of Toy Story 2 coming out, Disney picked up on Buzz’s popularity and had a TV series based around him green-lit. The show uses elements that were presented in the first two Toy Story movies to build around Buzz’s character. Instead of being an action figure, he is now an actual space ranger and is often cited as the best that Star Command has ever seen. And he protects the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg. Â And other elements such as the Pizza Planet aliens were also incorporated into the show, here re-named LGM’s (Little Green Men) and some of them work as scientists for Star Command. Â The show lasted for two seasons airing on both ABC and UPN. Â Now, I can’t recall where I heard it but I once heard that John Lasster hated this show. Â Though I do now that Pixar only animated the intro for the show whereas the rest of the animation was handled by Walt Disney Television Animation. Â And something to bring up that while Tim Allen did voice Buzz in the pilot movie, he didn’t voice Buzz in the series. Â He was instead voiced by Patrick Warburnton, who even dubbed over Allen’s lines for the pilot, when it would air on TV. Â I can understand this because Tim Allen’s schedule may not have allowed to voice Buzz for the TV show and at least they got someone of a good caliber to replace him but…. Warnburnton and Allen’s Buzz voices do not match up at all. Just for fun, I watched some episodes of the TV show and you really start to notice how Warburnton voiced Buzz. Â It’s not bad but it’s just different from how Tim Allen played him in the movies. Â With this out of the way, let’s begin.
I’m going to do this a little differently. Â I’m going to look at the prologue that came with the VHS and DVD copy of the movie and then look at the intro of the actual show.
In the movie, we open in Andy’s room as the Green Army Men arrive with a VHS copy of Â Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins. Â I kinda like that it exists in-universe. Â Oh, and since I’ll be talking about him some tomorrow, that’s not Tom Hanks voicing Woody. Â That’s his younger brother, Jim Hanks. Now, this is not the first time that Jim has filled in for his brother voicing Woody and he is spot on. Â You can hardly tell the difference there. Â Oh, and I just love how Rex is so excited for the movie.
This intro is very cool. Â I love the music in this intro as it is just such a fun action packed intro. Â It really gets you hyped up to see the show. Â Now, the two seasons had two different intros as Zurg was added to the line-up of toys in Andy’s room watching the show.
We open on Buzz and his partner, Â Warp Darkmatter who are searching for three missing Little Green Men. Â (Here voiced by Warburnton), though three of their comrades have stowed away on this mission. Warp is quick to think that the three stowaways are the missing L.G.M’s but this is not the case and we soon learn that Buzz has a severe hatred of Zurg.
As he is quick to pin every crime in the galaxy on Zurg. Turns out, he was right this time as we learn that Zurg had stolen the L.G.M’s and had been torturing them and in Buzz and Warp go in and give it their all but it’s too much as Zurg’s secret base falls to debris and in the process kills Warp.
Â Or so, we think. Â This leaves Buzz feeling guilt-stricken and vowing to never work with a partner ever again as he doesn’t want anyone to die on his watch. Â After delivering a somewhat touching eulogy to his partner, Â Sometime later, Â Buzz is called up by Commander Nebula, the head of his section of Star Command to take a look at some of the new recruits. As he has one potential new recruit in mind, Mira Nova. Â Who Â as we learn is the toughest of the bunch and it doesn’t hurt that she has the power of ghosting. Something that all members of her race from the planet, Tangenia inhibit. Â But Â Buzz still refuses because he doesn’t want to risk the life of another Space Ranger.
Sometime later, Buzz saves a young janitor with dreams of being a Space Ranger from being fired.This is Booster and well, he was my favorite character as a kid. Â Booster has been studying The Space Ranger day and night in hopes to make his dream come true.
He takes this stuff very seriously and doesn’t give up on his dreams. Â Meanwhile back at Evil Emperor Zurg’s lair, we meet his new second-in-command, Agent Z. Â Which the revelation of his true identity was no big shock.
Z is given an robotic arm that can work as a variety of weapons. Â And it is here that we learn of Zurg’s evil plan. Â He plans to steal the Uni-mind, Â an orb that gives the L.G.M’s, a telepathic link. We see it on their homeworld as the L.G,M’s come out to connect to the Uni-Mind (and yes, the do use The Claw) as Zurg sends one of his robots to Â steal it. Â As he wishes to make it pure evil.
Back at Star Command, we learn that the L.G,M’s that work there as the scientists had built a robot Space Ranger, XR to serve as Buzz’s partner. Â It is also here where we learn that Commander Nebular has severe hatred of robots, which was further explained in the show but in XR’s first outing as a ranger, he proves quite capable Â but he’s still no match for Agent Z. And he has to be repaired by the L.G,M’s but they aren’t thinking clearly without the Uni-Mind and the L.G.M’s end up giving him a mind of his own and out in gadgets that you wouldn’t normally think of for battle.
Later, we learn that Commander Nebula wants to stage a full scale attack on Zurg’s evil planet but Mira points out that a lone ranger could sneak in with the new prototype ship, Alpha One.
However Nebula dismisses the idea and plans to go ahead with the full scale attack. Â Back on Planet Z, we learn that Zurg has corrupted the Uni-Mind and plans to use it to corrupt people. Â And we learn that his scientists have been working on a mega ray to attach it to a Mega Ray. Â The mega ray proves to be a success. Â Meanwhile XR and Booster, who are now partners are playing in Buzz’s ship, 42, while Buzz and Mira attempt to steal the Alpha-One but the princess is successful here. Meanwhile, Buzz gets on 42 and our two janitors have to go into hiding as he gets the Alpha-One and brings it aboard 42. Â And we learn that Zurg has made quick work of his Mega Ray on various planets and then turns it on Star Command. Â Making all of Â Star Command save for the 4 rangers that weren’t there, his mouthpiece. They have to escape as Zurh will stop at nothing and has placed a bomb on 42. The ship blows up and Â the team escapes in the Alpha-One and Booster accidentally crash lands on Planet Z. Â Buzz Â orders the others to leave as he wishes to finish the mission alone. Â And they go and then Buzz faces off against Agent Z, who dun dun dun… was Warp Darkmatter all along. Considering that they’re both voiced by Diedrich Bader and he did nothing to differentiate his Warp and Z voices, this wasn’t a big surprise. Â Buzz is confused at first but we soon learn that Warp had been working for Zurg since his Space Ranger Academy days and now went full time. Â Because as he put it, evil is more profitable. Â Here, Buzz dictates that Â he record his final log entry and his new team overhears it. And comes and helps him. Â Booster and XR capture Warp and Mira helps Buzz turn the Uni-Mind back to good by ghosting him inside the orb as Â she thinks a touch of good will fix it as a touch of evil turned it to darkness. Â This works and sometime later, we see the team rewarded as we get our first glimpse at Team Lightyear as they are given medals for their brave contributions and they fly off into orbit shouting what else, To Infinity and Beyond.
Overall, this was a fun pilot. Â And Â I was glad to go back to it. And sure, it’s not as good as the Toy Story movies but other than sharing Buzz, you can’t really compare because it does it’s own thing and in that regard, it stands pretty well on it’s own as a fun sci-fi action series.
Buzz Lightyear voiced by Tim Allen (Re-dubbed by Patrick Warburton for TV Broadcasts)
Buzz was a portrayed as a noble hero, always willing to do the right thing and not putting himself above others. Â He is presented as a very brave and courageous Space Ranger that’ll do anything to get the job done. Â I went over the voice difference but I was happy to hear Tim Allen voicing Buzz because while Mr. Warburton did an admirable job in the series, Â Tim Allen is the best Buzz.
Mira Nova voiced by Nicole Sullivan
I liked Mira, she was a bit headstrong and willing to prove that she could stand with the best of them. Anything the bad guys throw at her, she can throw right back.
Booster voiced by Stephen Furst
As I mentioned Booster was my favorite character on the show as a kid because he’s just so lovable and will do anything it takes to get the job done and remain on the right side of the law.
XR voiced by Â Larry Miller
Yeah, I gotta be honest here. Â I get what Â they were going for with XR making him the wisecracker of the group but he was just so annoying and he never got better in the show. Â He’s not a bad character but I could take him or leave him.
Agent Z/Warp Darkmatter voiced by Diedrich Bader
I do like the idea of the double cross here with Warp but like I said, it was so obvious because Bader never changed his voice to sound different Warp “died”. Â Z and Warp had the exact same voices and that ruined the twist. Yeah, I get that it was supposed to be obvious to viewers but they still could have surprised us.
Evil Emperor Zurg voiced by Wayne Knight
Does that name look familiar? Â That’s because Wayne Knight played Al in Toy Story 2.
And you could just tell here that Knight was having a blast playing Zurg as he got to ham it up to 11 and it was delightful seeing him play this over-the-top villain that loved being evil. I think he easily turned in one of the best performances in the pilot.
My Final Thoughts
While John Lasster may have hated this show, I don’t. Â I love this show and the pilot still holds up quite well. Â There are some hiccups here and there but they are minor at best. Overall, this was a fun show and if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch. Â You can find some episodes on YouTube. Â If your’e a Buzz Lightyear fan, this show is worth the watch. Â Oh, I also want to point out that Booster did make an appearance in the Toy Story comics as a toy and Â there is a panel of Andy playing with him. Â I remember reading parts of this at my Border’s before they went under and I recalled that he thought he was a real Space Ranger. Â I didn’t get much but it was cool to see characters from the TV show interact with Andy’s toys.
Join me tomorrow as we continue to look at Toy Story on TV as I countdown my Top 6 Toy Story Treats/Shorts