The American entertainment industry has had a complicated relationship with Godzilla over the years, beginning with the importing of the original Japanese Gojira, which was “Americanized” via the addition of dubbing, new characters, and a framing device. In the past, our media moguls have seemed to like the idea of Godzilla—the giant lizard that smashes stuff—but not the social commentary or cultural quirks of the original article. That’s how we’ve ended up with unfortunate Godzilla-related properties like the 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoon—complete with the cute mini-Godzilla cousin, Godzooky—and the 1998 Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin Godzilla, which had nothing on its mind other than spawning future Godzilla movies.
The 1998 Godzilla never got a sequel—at least not on the big screen. But for two seasons, between 1998 and 2000, a Godzilla cartoon filled a slot in Fox Kids’ Saturday morning schedule, serving as a direct continuation to the movie. The first episode of Godzilla: The Series begins with scientist Nick Tatopoulos (voiced by Ian Ziering, taking over for the movie’s Matthew Broderick) finding the egg that appears at the end of the film. The egg hatches, releasing a Godzilla offspring that imprints on Dr. Nick, making the great beast a willing partner in the doctor’s Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team (or H.E.A.T.). There follows many adventures rendered in the Fox Kids’ 1990s house style, with multi-part stories, synthesized soundtracks, and tons of destruction.
Godzilla: The Series is better than the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla (which isn’t saying much) and better than the 1998 movie (again, no major achievement). But it’s mostly noteworthy as another example of how an American studio has taken the roaring beasts and army artillery aspects of the Godzilla concept and ditched the parts that make the whole series pointed and funky. It’s a Godzilla bent to the will of a master that that doesn’t respect the monster’s power.