TriStar Pictures’ 1998 flick Godzilla did not make enough to earn a blockbuster sequel, but big monster stories don't always need the big screen. Maybe the movie didn't get great critical reviews, but it was enough of a hit with kids that it did earn an animated sequel series, the very appropriately named Godzilla: The Series.
The show, which aired on Fox Kids, didn't initially elicit a lot of enthusiasm. But as the show went on, it actually managed to become its own, awesome thing: a real American Godzilla.
The Series Made The Original Movie Better
Godzilla: The Series starts right where the movie ended, with one of Godzilla’s eggs hatching and a new reptile kaiju being unleashed into the world. This Godzilla Jr. sees Dr. Nick Tatopoulos (Broderick’s character) immediately after being born and thus imprints on the scientist, becoming his personal guardian. This is where the show found a good balance between portraying Godzilla as a creature driven purely by instinct and some kind of ancient protector of the planet.
Zilla Jr. does act a lot like a wild animal defending its “turf” in New York, but it doesn’t randomly attack humans; instead, it forms bonds with humanity and tries to exist with our inferior species in a kind of balance.
In a series based on a movie that basically turned Godzilla into a scalier King Kong, that is a huge improvement.
The humans have also gotten an upgrade, too. Tatopoulos, voiced by Ian Ziering, is still the main character, but he is a proper action hero now. Unlike Broderick’s more timid take, this Dr. Nick is confident, decisive, and makes you root for him. Similarly, Kevin Dunn’s Col. Anthony Hicks also does a complete 180 and is now an intelligent strategist who struggles with his duty to protect humans from harm and seeing for himself that Zilla Jr. isn’t our enemy.
That would be the kaiju.
Godzilla: The Series Has Some Of The Best Kaiju Ever
The 1998 CGI Godzilla was, at its core, nature deformed, a grotesque mirror aimed at the hubris of science … that basically made Mother Nature look like a chump. The overall message of the movie was that humans shouldn’t mess with nature because, gosh, we are so big and strong, we might end up hurting it. The animated series doesn’t make this mistake, though.
On the show, when humans/Godzilla went up against nature, mutated or otherwise, humans got their asses handed to them by some amazing monsters. For example, El Gusano Gigante, a humongous worm from Central America, had a very original and colorful design that sort of resembles a tardigrade as envisioned by Papa Nurgle. Then you have kaiju like the Ice Borers, which are heat-emitting moles that dig through the ice in the Antarctic, and a mutant sea anemone called Medusa that will give you Watchmen comic flashbacks.
Most of the monster scenes are shot from ground level. The camera rarely pans out, making the kaiju appear larger and, as a result, more terrifying. That’s something we could definitely use more of in the Godzilla franchise. That and robot gorillas fighting giant King Cobra kaiju. We could never have too much of that.
The Show Could Actually Get Pretty Dark
In the first episode of Godzilla: The Series, we see Zilla Jr. bleed.
Now, the show was still primarily aimed at younger viewers, so it never really contained any real gore, but it did try to push the envelope every now and then. The 20th episode of Season 1, “Trust No One,” is actually a great homage to The Thing featuring a mimic creature that can imitate any living being and serves as the source of some memorable PG body horror.
Stuff like that actually happened A LOT on Godzilla: The Series — bodies melting away, being reshaped by outside forces, even being resurrected as horrific parodies of their former selves. This most notably happened to the original Godzilla, who gets brought back to life in Season 1 by alien invaders after being outfitted with some robot parts to replace its decayed body. Yes, you heard that right: Zombie Alien-Cyborg Godzilla. That alone should have won the show all the Emmys.
As it is, though, the show has mainly been forgotten today, when it really should be celebrated for all the amazing things it managed to do after being dealt one of the crummiest hands in movie history. But much like Col. Hicks, maybe we can learn not to judge this Godzilla for the mistakes of its parent.