Galaxy Rangers: No Guts, No Glory, No Clue

Having missed out on the show in its '80s heyday, a hapless Monte Williams shares his thoughts during his baffled first look at The Galaxy Rangers.

Normally, I only frequent Wikipedia in search of strange, obscure background information on a given subject (turns out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was retitled Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the United Kingdom; and would you believe The Garbage Pail Kids Movie was a financial disappointment?) But in the case of The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: Volume 1, Wikipedia served not as a source of trivia but instead as a makeshift Babelfish, without which I'd have never managed to even decipher the show's plot.

I feel like something of a Geek Without A Country where The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers is concerned; for all my cartoon-obsessed, nerdcore leanings, I don't boast the requisite nostalgia to overlook the inherent batshit craziness and somehow almost inspired stupidity of a given 1980s cartoon, and in this case, I am seeing the cartoon in question for the first time; I had never even heard of The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers until 2008. How it escaped my notice in my TV-obsessed '80s youth I can't understand, but I am happy for an opportunity to judge an '80s relic on its own merits; this might well be the only truly objective '80s cartoon review ever penned by a member of Generation X.

What first strikes the novice viewer, before the stirring Galaxy Rangers opening theme has come close to conclusion, is the curious fact that no attempt is made to account for the show's frankly inexplicable Old West theme. The theme song's obligatory Expository Voiceover offers the following succinct summary of the show's central premise:

In 2086, two peaceful aliens journeyed to Earth, seeking our help. In return, they gave us the plans for our first hyper drive, allowing mankind to open the doors to the stars!

We had assembled a team of unique individuals to protect Earth and our allies. Courageous pioneers committed to the highest ideals of justice, and dedicated to preserving law and order across the new frontier. These are The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers!

Am I out of line in suggesting that, somewhere in this proudest of introductory speeches, the narrator might have added something along the lines of, "Also, they're robotic-looking cowboys! For some reason!"

Admittedly, they're called Rangers, which evokes images of, say, Texas Rangers. But the mixture of the science fiction and western genres was immediately understood to be at the core of not only Joss Whedon's Firefly, but also another animated space western from the same era as Galaxy Rangers: Marshall Bravestarr. (Bloody hell, some hasty research reveals that there was yet a third cowboys-in-space cartoon in the 1980s: Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs; I don't know whether I'm more disturbed at the unsuspected popularity of such an unlikely genre, or by the uncomfortable realization that there were two cartoons I somehow managed to overlook during my 'toon-crazed childhood.)

Having not realized ahead of time that The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers likewise had such a cowboys-and-spaceships premise, I was initially a bit taken aback; each episode's opening sequence is just a big, spastic orgy of science fiction imagery: spaceships, lasers, alien life forms, vast, empty stretches of space. And then our narrator mentions some heroes we'd assembled, and suddenly this heroic quarter of tech-enhanced cowfolk come bursting onto the screen. On robotic horses.

I can't quite express how unexpected and off-putting this all is, but I came to grips, not five minutes into the first episode, with a far more surprising revelation: I was fixating on this one relatively minor and forgivable misstep because to broaden my gaze in the least would mean that I'd be forced to acknowledge that, flawed and silly as you might rightfully expect it to be, The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers is better than all of its fondly remembered animated peers by a staggering and comical margin.

Keep in mind, I had already made this sad concession during the opening scene of the pilot episode, which stars in part a creepy, ostensibly endearing character named Zozo, of the species Kiwi, who looks for all the world like a violet Dobby with a bad brunette wig and unsettling, lidless orange orbs for eyes. I suspect he is meant to be this universe's Orko; meaning he's the cute, silly mascot type meant to appeal to the youngest members of the audience.

Perhaps only a fellow child of the '80s can grasp the full implication of what I am conveying here, but I shall repeat it: During a scene starring this series' version of bloody Orko, I had no choice but to admit to myself that The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers was far superior to such Monteland stalwarts as He-Man and the Masters of The Universe, G.I. Joe, The Transformers…

This, for you layfolk, is a discovery of no small scale.

Next Page





The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.