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Latest Member: shawnyadav Forum  |  Information Exchange  |  Movie Reviews  |  SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron #1 - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice « previous next »
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Author Topic: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron #1 - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice  (Read 15243 times)
The King of Koosh!
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« on: June 30, 2007, 05:33:50 PM »

Warning, this is going to be a long one....

Ah, SWAT Kats. Along with The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and The Pirates of Dark Water, it represents the darker side of Hanna-Barbera during the early 90s. For those of you not in the know, here's a basic rundown of the show's history: the idea for the show came from Christian and Yvon Tremblay, a pair of brothers in Canada I believe. Originally it was going to be a comic book, but after they failed to sell the idea to Archie Comics they went instead to Hanna-Babera with the intent of turning it into a cartoon series. The idea that they pitched concerned a pair of fighter jock cats, Chuck and Yeager, who flew around in a hi-tech jet fighting evil. They succeeded in selling the idea to Hanna-Barbera, who quickly changed the two heroes' names to T-Bone and Razor because I guess they figured "Chuck" and "Yeager" sounded lame.

Anyway, they hurriedly began production on the show and, on September 11th, 1993, this episode was broadcast on TBS. It was shortly thereafter followed by twelve more episodes before being moved to Cartoon Network for its second season, where, midway through, it was canned by Hanna-Barbera in 1994 with narry a word nor warning. Conspiracy theories abound with fans, as they tend to do. In the early days of the show's growing fandom around 1997, many angry fans rabidly blamed Ted Turner for this simply because his company owned Cartoon Network at the time, to the point that poor Ted would crop up as a joke villain in some fanfictions, a kind of uber-demon dubbed "tED tURNER."

Thankfully, that animosity and Ted Turner-bashing has since died down and the fans are, currently, blaming the show's cancellation on poor marketing. Apparently, SWAT Kats wasn't widely advertised and had next to no merchandise, which, as everyone knows, is the real key to the success of a children's action show. What little merchandise there was included four (really awful) action figures, three videotapes, each containing two episodes from the first season, and, um, some plastic handcuffs. However, to this day no one really knows why production of the series was halted when they had only three episodes left to go, and, mysteriously, one of the three unfinished/unaired episodes, "Succubus" (a.k.a. "The Curse of Kataluna") did reportedly air at some point during reruns of the series in 1995, but so far nobody's been able to prove it.

But enough backstory. What of the show itself? It's set in a kind of bizarre alternate universe where everyone is an anthropomorphic cat. Their capitol is, apparently, Megakat City, a huge metropolis that spans the length of a coastline and is defended from crime by a paramilitary police organization called the Enforcers. But this being an action series and the Enforcers being "the establishment," none of their number are to be the heroes. Rather, the heroes are ex-Enforcers, the SWAT Kats, Chance Furlong and Jake Clawson, a.k.a. T-Bone and Razor, who defend Megakat City from rampaging monsters, power-mad supervillains, natural disasters, etc., with their customized jet, the Turbokat, and their seemingly endless arsenal of flashy, contrived and improbable missiles.

I'm saying all this before getting into the actual review of the episode because, although "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice" was the first episode of the series aired, we learn absolutely nothing about who the SWAT Kats are or why any of the characters are doing the things they're doing (except for the episode's title villain, but I'm getting ahead of myself). We're just thrown into the middle of things and expected to be able to figure out everything for ourselves. And even though "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice" aired first, it was actually the third episode made; even the first produced episode (and the second aired), "The Giant Bacteria," does only a halfhearted job at properly introducing any of the characters. So there you have it, folks. It's a series without a proper pilot episode. We do eventually learn some of the SWAT Kats' past, but that's in the third episode, "The Wrath of Dark Kat," which was the fifth produced show! Yes, they waited until making their fifth episode before they decided to bother giving us all some insight into the main characters we're supposed to be rooting for.

To be fair, I'm told that "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice," when it first aired, was preceded by a short prologue of sorts in which Barry Gordon, who voiced Razor, explained the basic premise of the show over a series of clips from this episode and from "The Giant Bacteria." Still, that seems rather half-assed to me. No wonder the show failed, when it never even started right. But don't let my nitpicking fool you. I adore this show with a passion, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its various flaws.

Anyway, without further ado, on with the show!

We open in an old, spooky graveyard located outside of Megakat City. A sign informs us that it's a historical site and is off-limits to civilians. However, that doesn't seem to bother the grave robbers who are digging around. The bigger of the two, Jack (Earl Boen), whines that the old cemetary is "cursed," and that they shouldn't be there. His partner, Tom (Charlie Adler, who also voices T-Bone), calls him a "scaredy-cat" and says that if they find anything valuable, "the museum'll pay big bucks for it!"

Suddenly Tom's pickaxe hits something, and he sees that he's found an old chest of some sort. He and Jack dig the thing up, and then Tom uses Jack's shovel to pry the lid off, saying that there's probably buried treasure inside. When the lid finally comes off, light comes from within, nearly blinding the grave robbers. When it finally dissipates, they look inside and discover a small, red skeleton wearing purple robes and clutching a gold pocketwatch. "Ugliest treasure I've ever seen," grumbles Jack.

Tom however says that the watch might be worth something. But as he reaches for it, the skeleton's eye pops open and the figure springs to life, leaping out of the chest. The grave robbers back away fearfully, Jack asking the skeleton who he is. He announces himself as the Pastmaster (the late Keene Curtis), then points at the chest and says he was imprisoned within it for 800 years. Jack moans that the place is cursed again before the Pastmaster declares, "At last I'm finally free!" and runs off to find his "book of spells."

Jack, wisely, suggests they leave. Tom won't listen, and says they can sell "that old gnome" to the museum, then grabs his pickaxe and advances on the diminutive wizard, who is now digging around in a cubbyhole at the base of what seems to be an old church clocktower, muttering things like "curse the council" and "my book isn't where I hid it!" Don't worry yourselves wondering about "the council," because we'll never learn who they are. Jack, apparently for lack of anything better to do, grabs his shovel and follows suit.

The grave robbers approach, with Tom declaring, "You're comin' with us, Pastmaster!" Calling them "foolish mortals," the Pastmaster holds out his pocketwatch and uses it to zap some scattered bones with a beam of energy, causing them to reassemble into two cat skeletons. The skeletons advance on Jack and Tom, who try to fight them with their digging tools. The skeletons rip the tools from their hands, so the two crooks turn and run away, vaulting over the graveyard fence. The Pastmaster says to let them go, then orders the skeletons to start digging around for his book.

The skeletons are just barely getting to work when a helicopter bearing the Enforcer icon (a big, gold "E") comes flying over the graveyard. Its spotlight falls upon the skeletons, and the pilot orders them to "put down those shovels" because they're under arrest. Now hiding behind a tree and looking on, the Pastmaster declares that those "modern fools" with their "infernal machine" can't stop him, and tells the skeletons to attack the chopper.

They do so by walking right up to the aircraft, which is now hovering just about six feet off the ground, and start banging on it with the pick and shovel (!!). Inside, the pilot and co-pilot have seemingly realized for the first time that their suspects aren't exactly alive; "Do we read these things their rights?" asks the co-pilot, puzzled. The pilot declares over the loudspeaker that the skeletons "have the right to remain buried," and fires on them with the chopper's twin chain guns.

The gunfire rips the skeletons apart, needless to say. The chopper lands and the co-pilot gets out, walking up to the pile of bones. Kicking away a skull, he says, "These bones ain't movin' now." Then he spots the old chest that Jack and Tom dug up, and asks the pilot what they should do with it. The pilot reponds by saing "headquarters" wants them to take it to the museum. Wow, headquarters sure works fast, giving their officers orders before they even found the thing. As the two Enforcers begin loading the chest into a cargo net, the Pastmaster, still hiding behind that tree, watches them. "Perhaps this 'museum' has my book," he reasons.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2007, 05:37:16 PM by Kooshmeister » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2007, 04:22:43 PM »

A short while later, the Enforcer chopper is flying over Megakat City, which looks like every other big metropolitan cityscape in every other action cartoon. The chest is hanging in the cargo net, suspended below the chopper, and the Pastmaster is hitching a ride by holding onto the chopper's landing gear. He looks down, marveling at the modern city (amongst other things, we see a huge billboard avertising "Kitty Cola"). Although he is impressed with what's been accomplished in 800 years, he wants "the Dark Ages" back, and vows to arrange that once he finds his book, which we learn here is called the Tome of Time.

Now, we cut to the secret, underground base of the SWAT Kats, where we find T-Bone and Razor testing their resistance to G-forces in a centrifuge. Just like that. No real lead-in that properly introduces these two, the two most important characters in the entire freakin' series. T-Bone is the pilot between the two, the one who flies the Turbokat, a big, burly feline with yellow fur 'n' stripes on his arms, while Razor is smaller, skinnier, and has light brown fur; he's the "brains" of the SWAT Kats and invents all their weaponry, and is also the gunner of the jet. None of which is established here at all, really.

Anyways, here we get the first indication that although T-Bone and Razor are partners and close friends, they are extremely competitive with one another. Here, for instance, their being in the centrifuge isn't so much about testing their G-force tolerance, but more to see who can go the longest without losing consciousness. Huh, sounds kind dangerous to me. T-Bone wins holding out for 10 seconds at Mach 5, a fact he seems to really enjoy rubbing in the face of poor Razor, who couldn't handle the pressure and blacked out.

After regaining consciousness, he accuses T-Bone of cheating: "How do I know you made 10 seconds? I mean, you could've passed out, too, and just made it up to yank my tail!" T-Bone is naturally none too happy about being called a cheater, and challenges Razor to a second contest, "two outta three!" Then it's back in the centrifuge for the two of them, T-Bone telling Razor to just admit that he can last longer than him. Razor retorts that he'll believe it when he sees it. Can't ya just feel the love...?

We then cut to the Megakat City Museum of History, where Deputy Mayor Calico "Callie" Briggs (Tress MacNeille) is visiting Dr. Abby Sinian (Linda Gary). First off, lemme say that I don't like Callie Briggs at all. I've explained why so many times I don't really feel like doing it here, so I'll just say that I think she's incredibly self-rightious and hypocritcal, although there's not too much evidence of it in this episode (the next two, "The Giant Bacteria" and "The Wrath of Dark Kat", provide better examples of this).

She and Dr. Sinian here are our first two examples of what the characters sometimes call "she-kats," that is, female "kats." Pretty much all the female cats in this show resemble human females with cat ears and noses stuck on, a tactic/style choice that I find intensely annoying. Anyways, Callie's your typical blonde bombshell, and she has weird, "uni-lens" glasses.

Dr. Abby Sinian, meanwhile, is the curator of the museum, a somewhat older brunette "she-kat," and she's in the middle of telling Callie about some upcoming exhibits. Apparently, the museum is closed for repairs or something.

And why is Callie, the Deputy Mayor, down at the museum jotting down notes about exhibits? For "the Mayor's press release." This is, of course, just an excuse for Callie to be present so she can summon the SWAT Kats when that dastardly Pastmaster shows up and then be endangered (which is pretty much her whole purpose in the series, aside from letting everyone know how great the SWAT Kats are).

All throughout Callie's little Q&A session with Dr. Sinian, the chest that the Enforcer pilots brought in has been sitting on an examination table, and Callie, noticing it, asks if it'll be in the exhibit. The exhibit, by the way, is supposed to be about the history of Megakat City. What, they're only now doing an exhibit about the history of the very city they're based in?!

Dr. Sinian responds that it "just came in," but it's definitely a part of Megakat City's darker history. She tells Callie that the runes on the chest date back to the Dark Ages, and theorizes that there were likely jewels buried inside. "Who knows what our ancestors might have buried in here?" she rhetorically asks. Oh, I dunno... some evil midget with a magic pocketwatch?

The Pastmaster, meanwhile, has slipped inside the museum and is walking the halls. He mutters that "here, the past is dead" and that "I prefer my past alive." He's accosted by a uniformed security guard, who tells him that the museum's closed. "And I say it is open!" the Pastmaster says, scaring the guard by pulling back his hood to reveal his hideous, skeletal visage (curiously though, he still has ears and short, white hair).

He then turns and zaps a stuffed display of a saber-toothed tiger (yes, apparently there are/were normal felines in this universe alongside the anthropomorphic ones, although this is the only example we'll see) with the watch, like he did with the skeletons in the graveyard. The display comes alive and attacks the guard, who backpeddles right into a large dinosaur skeleton, bringing the entire thing crashing down on him. The Pastmaster tells the tiger to make sure no one else disturbs him while he looks for his book, then wanders off.

Hearing the noise, Callie and Dr. Sinian come running. Sinian observes that "one of the exhibits has fallen" and then the saber-toothed tiger appears. "One of the exhibits is alive!" gasps Callie. It chases them from the hall.

The Pastmaster has gone into the room where the chest is, and is just indiscriminately smashing stuff and complaining aloud about how he can't find the damn book. He finds Callie's purse and digs through it, tossing the contents out onto the floor. In what is likely my favorite bit of the episode, he eats Callie's tube of lipstick! Among the items that the Pastmaster discards is a little triangular device, which acts as a communicator and allows Callie to contact the SWAT Kats.

In tossing the communicator to the floor the Pastmaster somehow activates it, causing an alarm to go off back at the SWAT Kats' hangar, where T-Bone and Razor are still going at it in the centrifuge. T-Bone stops the machine and goes to answer the call, pausing to boast at Razor (once again unconscious) that he went "11 seconds at Mach 5."

He then picks up an ordinary telephone (!!) and asks "Miss Briggs" what the problem is. Naturally, he gets no answer, whilst back at the museum the saber-toothed tiger has stopped chasing Callie and Dr. Sinian long enough to come into the room and bite the communicator, terminating the call.

Realizing this means "big trouble," T-Bone wakes Razor up by throwing a bucket of ice water on him, and then the SWAT Kats are jumping into the Turbokat and soaring off down a tunnel, shooting out through a hidden opening somewhere in the city scrapyard (more on this to come in my review of "The Giant Bacteria").

The communicator apparently also gives off a signal, which Razor can now follow with the Turbokat's onboard computer, and-- Hey, wait a minute! The communicator was destroyed!!! What "signal" is Razor following? Does Callie have a microchip implanted in her or something?!
« Last Edit: July 02, 2007, 04:26:57 PM by Kooshmeister » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2007, 04:31:37 PM »

We cut back to the museum, where Callie and Dr. Sinian are racing down the hallway, Sinian saying they can "get out through the garage." It probably helps that the saber-toothed tiger stopped chasing them to go into Sinian's office and eat the communicator. The Turbokat, meanwhile, lands on the museum roof. T-Bone glances around and notes that all seems quiet, just when Callie and Dr. Sinian burst through the stairwell door, slamming it closed behind themselves. Um, what happened to going to the garage?

Suddenly the saber-toothed tiger smashes through the door, knocking both Callie and Dr. Sinian right off the roof! "Quiet, huh?" Razor feels the need to say. Yeah, yeah, we get it, the irony, sure. Both he and T-Bone seem strangely unconcerned 'bout the Deputy Mayor and the good Doctor, who are now grabbing ahold of a drainpipe that runs along the side of the building, which is slowly but surely giving way from their weight.

The tiger now turns and bounds over to the Turbokat, jumping onto the canopy and rearing back menacingly. Inside, T-Bone and Razor gasp in surprise, and then... we cut to a commercial!

When we come back from commercial to find the re-animated saber-toothed tiger statue still perched on the canopy of the Turbokat. Razor deals with this by popping the canopy, catapulting (katapulting?) the tiger off of the jet and across the roof. 'Course, in the first example of yet another trend that this show annoys me with, Razor actually announces what he's doing; "Popping canopy... now!" It gets worse when they start using their missiles.

T-Bone gets out and goes over to the edge of the roof, helping Callie and Dr. Sinian up before they, like, fall to their deaths and such, cheekily saying, "Lemme give ya a hand, ladies." Razor, meanwhile, notices that the saber-tooth has recovered and is getting ready to pounce onto T-Bone. Razor alerts him, and T-Bone looks ready to grapple with the undead p***ycat, but as the tiger leaps towards him Razor fires the "cement machine gun."

The cement machine gun, sometimes called the cement cannon, is one of the more unique and interesting weapons (and, compared to their other weapons, one of the more plausible ones); a swivel-cannon located on the underside of the jet that is capable of rapidly firing sticky slugs of quick-drying cement. Said cement smacks into the saber-tooth, pinning him to the wall and then hardening, "freezing" him in place.

T-Bone grumbles that he could've "taken him," but Razor says he was just seeing if the cement machine gun was working. He then gets out and walks over to the cement-encased tiger, observing, "Whoa, exhibits are gettin' kinda lifelike, aren't they?"

They suddenly hear some approaching sirens and go to the edge of the rooftop to see a bunch of Enforcer patrol cars come screeching to a halt outside the museum's front entrance. This has always bugged me. Why are the Enforcers showing up, and in such force, for that matter? No one called them, and no alarms were tripped or anything. It's never explained.

In any event, the arrival of the Enforcers allows us to glimpse our first example of the anti-Enforcer mindset of both the SWAT Kats and the show in general, when T-Bone comments that they're "late as usual." I can't express how much I loathe this part of the series. It's quite disgusting the way that the show tries to manipulate the viewer(s) into siding against the Enforcers by having the SWAT Kats dislike them for no real reason (well, that's not entirely true, but I'll come to that in my review of "The Wrath of Dark Kat").

We cut inside the museum, where the Pastmaster has now found his way into the "Hall of Ancient Manuscripts" and found his book, the Tome of Time, sitting within a glass display case. He promptly smashes the glass and removes the book, gloating about how "800 years is far too long to be separated from such power," while red lightening shoots out of the book.

Back up on the roof, Dr. Sinian shows us all how familiar she is with her own museum exhibits by referring to the cemented-up saber-toothed tiger as "ancient bones." Um, lady, it was stuffed, not a skeleton. Anyways she reasons that only "a sorcerer's dark power" could've done it, and identifies the Pastmaster by name. Callie then points down and says, "If you mean that weird little guy in the hood, why don't you just ask him?" Everyone then looks down to see the Pastmaster come out the front doors with the Tome of Time.

Dr. Sinian cries out that he's stolen an ancient spellbook, prompting a uniformed Enforcer officer to get out of his car and approach the Pastmaster, demanding that he fork the book over. This is the Sergeant (yes, just "the Sergeant," voiced here by the late Ed Gilbert), one of the main Enforcer characters. The Pastmaster, however, argues that it's his book anyway, then opens it up and finds a picture of a large, Godzilla-esque dinosaur. He begins a rather simplistic and, in my opinion, lame incantation: "Hear the spell of this immortal, send this creature through the portal!"

Hilariously, the Sergeant is actually reading over the Pastmaster's shoulder here instead of, y'know, trying to arrest him. This ends up getting him blown back off his feet when a huge beam of magical energy suddenly erupts from the very pages of the book (yes, apparently the book itself is magical, instead of merely containing magic spells), shooting up into the sky, where it causes a swirling, black-and-purple vortex to appear above. Reddish lightening shoots out from this portal and others like it later in the series at irregular intervals, and is, officially, known as a "time vortex."

From the portal comes the real-life version of that dinosaur we saw a picture of in the Tome of Time. It's a very iconic SWAT Kats monster, since it's featured prominently in the first season opening credits sequence, which relies heavily on clips from three of the first five episodes (as well as some original animation, admittedly). As I said, it looks vaguely like something you'd see in a Godzilla movie, being roughly 100 feet tall with a row of spikes down its back and everything. What makes it differant, though, is the fact that it has pointed cat ears (!!). Yes, a dinosaur with cat ears. Recognizing it, Dr. Sinian declares, "It's a Megasaurus Rex!" Oh, good God...

The beast in question lands on the street, squashing the patrol car the Sergeant had gotten out of. The Sergeant quickly beats feet while the Megasaurus Rex bends down and scoops the Pastmaster into its hand (as, it should be noted, the Pastmaster is capable of controlling any creature he summons through his portals). It then stomps off with him ranting about how he "commands the past," and that their future "looks bleak."

Suddenly T-Bone and Razor are back in the Turbokat, assuring Callie and Dr. Sinian (the latter of whom, ludicrously, appears to be doing a Seig Heil here - hidden Nazi messages in kids' cartoons?) that they'll take care of things before taking off. The Megasaurus Rex meanwhile is being shot at by what the model sheets identify as "Enforcer commandoes" (essentially, SWAT team guys in riot gear). The dinosaur smacks a parked car with its tail, sending the vehicle flying towards the Enforcers, who scatter.

"Let's kick some tail!" declares T-Bone, in the first utterance of this cheesy line that gets really annoying really fast. Boy, lotta firsts in this episode. Must be because it's the first one broadcast. Razor now fires the first of the SWAT Kats' customized, ridiculous missiles, in the form of the so-called Octopus Missiles. These look like regular missiles until their tips pop apart into a little eight-armed claw, and they're designed to slam into a target, but since they're non-explosive projectiles, I'm at a loss as to what good Razor thought they'd do against Godzilla's loser brother-in-law.

The Megasaurus Rex turns and sees the missiles coming (those big ears of his come in handy), so he swings his big ol' tail and the missiles hit that. This has the dual effect of breaking the missiles apart and sending the shards back at the Turbokat. They pelt the jet and one of them manages to cut the fuel line somehow. This causes T-Bone to lose control of the jet (yelling "It just kicked our tails!") and go spinning right into the still-open time vortex.

Looking on, Callie and Dr. Sinian are horrified. And now suddenly down on the street. Huh, they must've jumped. They spout the usual, "Oh, no! The SWAT Kats are gone! Who will save Megakat City!" as the Megasaurus Rex stomps off down the street, grinding Enforcer patrol cars underfoot. Well, certainly not the Enforcers, that's for sure....
« Last Edit: July 02, 2007, 04:37:29 PM by Kooshmeister » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2007, 07:54:01 PM »

« Last Edit: July 02, 2007, 07:59:19 PM by akiratubo » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2007, 02:37:02 AM »

The same thing that happens to Bruce Wayne's pupils when he becomes Batman.
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2007, 07:23:21 AM »

She and Dr. Sinian here are our first two examples of what the characters sometimes call "she-kats," that is, female "kats." Pretty much all the female cats in this show resemble human females with cat ears and noses stuck on, a tactic/style choice that I find intensely annoying.

I always found that a little odd as well, honestly.  The reason is obvious enough; just think of the target demographic.  A little sex appeal does wonders for getting little boys to watch cartoons, and I guess somebody thought having the females look more human would do the trick.  However, this made the male and female characters look so different one could be forgiven for not realizing they are the same species.  Even the robot Molly Mange looked downright human compared to her "male" counterpart, who was definitely a cat.

I liked SWAT Kats, a little, and caught most of it in reruns.  The animation style is good and some of the villains are cool.  Well, Dark Kat was, anyway.  Dr. Viper (or did they spell it "Vipurr" as a cat related pun?) was serviceable.  I think I liked Commander Feral the best of all the characters.  There was also an underutilized female Enforcer, a Vasquez-wannabe, whose name escapes me at the moment, whom I also liked.  T-Bone and Razor never made much impression on me.  They were both a little too interchangeable for me to remember them except as, "the big one and the skinny one".  And I had forgotten Callie completely until you mentioned her in your review.

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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2007, 08:05:29 PM »

I liked SWAT Kats, a little, and caught most of it in reruns.  The animation style is good and some of the villains are cool.  Well, Dark Kat was, anyway.  Dr. Viper (or did they spell it "Vipurr" as a cat related pun?) was serviceable.  I think I liked Commander Feral the best of all the characters.  There was also an underutilized female Enforcer, a Vasquez-wannabe, whose name escapes me at the moment, whom I also liked.

Don't worry, it's Viper and not "Vipurr" (something I can attest to, having seen the original model sheets, plus the title of the second season episode "The Origin of Dr. Viper"). He'll be the main villain of the next episode. And, the Vasquez-wannabe is Felina, Commander Feral's niece. She doesn't appear until the second season premiere "Mutation City."


Coming out of the time vortex, the SWAT Kats find themselves in prehistoric times, and T-Bone finally manages to regain control of the Turbokat. Razor, who apparently passed out again from the G-forces, wakes up and notices they ain't in Megakat City anymore, as evidenced by all the dinosaurs congregating in the tropical scenery. After concluding that "that giant lizard smashed us into the past," they notice that they're leaking fuel.

T-Bone crash-lands the jet on the shore of a swamp lake. Razor gets out, saying he'll fix the torn fuel line, but T-Bone reminds him that it won't do any good because, "The closest gas station is only a million years away." And, although it's never actually stated, we're left to assume that the portal closed after them (a theory that'll be reinforced by dialogue later on in the episode).

Suddenly, a pair of Plesiosaurs emerge from the lake and start towards the Turbokat. Razor ducks back into the cockpit, and then the SWAT Kats eject from the jet in their "Ejektor seats" (no, that's not a typo), which, in addition to being obvious ejector seats, are also self-propelled rocket chairs.

"I guess we showed them!" quips T-Bone, he and Razor having knocked the two Plesiosaurs over backwards by clipping their chins as the Ejektor seats shot upwards (which, I imagine, should've sent the Ejektors spiraling out of control or something). Razor agrees, but then points over at something and says, "But now we have to show them!" As it turns out he's pointing to a flock of long-necked, winged reptiles (identified in the model sheets as, aptly, "Long-Necked Flying Reptiles") headed towards them.

We cut back to present-day Megakat City, where we find the Megasaurus Rex lumbering down a city street, a crowd of citizens fleeing his approach en masse with cars crashing and such in a scene that'd make Toho proud. Ahead, the Enforcers have constructed a blockade of patrol cars right alongside what a sign identifies as the Megakat City Tar Pits, and numerous commandoes fire upon the dinosaur with rocket launchers.

The Pastmaster, we see, is now riding on the dinosaur's nose. Thumbing through the Tome of Time and ignoring all the missiles and such that are whizzing by him, he observes, "Ah, there is a way to destroy this modern monstrosity called Megakat City, and bring back the Dark Ages!"

At the blockade, an Enforcer patrol car differant from the rest pulls up (the "normal" Enforcer car has a white and gray color scheme, while this one is white and blue), and a tall, robust fella with a big chin and a black crewcut wearing a uniform trenchcoat gets out. This is Ulysses Feral (Gary Owens), Commander of the Enforcers. We see right away that he's got the J. Jonah Jameson role of this series (that is, disliking the heroes), when he observes that "those meddling SWAT Kats aren't here." One of the commandoes informs him that "they got taken out early," and Feral tells him to launch gas grenades at the approaching dinosaur.

The Pastmaster, meanwhile, still has his nose buried in his book. He's found the spell he needs, and, according to the book, it must be cast from "the tallest clocktower in the land." He muses that, "once, that was my tower," (a fact which will be ignored when he returns in "Bride of the Pastmaster") when suddenly he's enveloped in gas. The Enforcers are launching those gas grenades as per Commander Feral's orders, and, disoriented, the Megasaurus Rex stumbles right into the nearby tar pits. What are the odds, huh?

The dinosaur quickly begins sinking into the tar, with Commander Feral observing, "They're not going anywhere." Suddenly Callie and Dr. Sinian run up, Sinian telling Feral that they need to get the spellbook away from the Pastmaster. Feral responds by saying that he's in charge (and he has a point), and Callie reminds him that Dr. Sinian is the curator of the museum and, therefore, she knows what she's talking about. Giving in, Feral orders his men to throw a net over the Pastmaster.

Speaking of whom, the Pastmaster is now just sitting on the Megasaurus Rex's head looking in the book. The dinosaur has, apparently, stopped sinking after he's in up to his neck. In the Tome of Time, the Pastmaster finds a drawing of a Pteranodon. He repeats that simplistic incantation from before, with one minor change: "Hear the spell of this immortal, send these creatures through the portal!"

Once again, reddish energy shoots from the pages of the book as he holds it above his head, opening another portal through which several Pteranodons fly. One of them swoops down and grabs the Pastmaster in its talons, pulling him off of the Megasaurus Rex's head just as the net is thrown over it. Callie b***hes at Feral for not acting quickly enough, and Feral grabs a radio and calls for "chopper backup." And once more, we're left to assume that the time vortex closed after the Pteranodons came out of it (and I have another thing to say about this particular portal-opening, but that'll have to wait for the right time).

Still being carried by the Pteranodon, the Pastmaster spots City Hall, one of the tallest buildings in Megakat City and, ironically, a clocktower. He tells his winged companion that "that clocktower will do nicely," and is deposited neatly on the rooftop below the huge, Big Ben-esque clock face. We also get our first glimpes of Callie's boss here, Mayor Manx (Jim Cummings). He's practicing his putts in his office (he's a golf nut) when he's startled by a Pteranodon flying past the window.
The King of Koosh!
Bad Movie Lover

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Must have caffeine...

« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2007, 12:53:00 AM »

Back in prehistoric times, the SWAT Kats are doing their best to evade those long-necked flying things, trying to outmanuever them with some fancy flying (or, at least, as fancy as the decidedly nonstreamlined Ejektor seats will allow). There's four in all, and they take out the first two by launching Spider Missiles at them. Yes, apparently, the Ejektors can carry weapons. Spider Missiles, meanwhile, are essentially little bolas. They wrap around the two winged creatures, pinning their wings.

Unable to fly, the animals fall from the sky and plunge into the lake, where they'll either drown or get eaten by the two Plesiosaurs, which we see rapidly approaching the spot where they fell in. Now T-Bone and Razor just have to evade the remaining two winged beasts, which Razor plans to do by flying into a live volcano; a plan that makes T-Bone declare, "Razor, you're crazier than I am!"

Into the volcanic crater they go, flying dangerously close to the lava. The SWAT Kats combat the fumes and heat by putting their oxygen masks on, but the two long-necked critters aren't as lucky. Overcome, they plunge into the lava. "Smells like prehistoric fried chicken," observes T-Bone, and they quickly vacate the volcano. After admitting that "volcano hoppin' was kinda fun," he adds that he doesn't "wanna spend the rest of my nine lives stuck in Dinosaurville." Luckily, Razor gas a plan that just might get the Turbokat flying again. Originally, the volcano sequence was supposed to lead into a commercial break, but in reruns of the episode they did away with that and instead there is no break.

Then it's back to the present again. Several Pteranodons are perched on the roof of City Hall, an Enforcer chopper carrying Commander Feral hovering nearby. Feral, yelling into a radio, asks Mayor Manx to let him "blast that gnome and his buzzards off of there," whilst Manx, yelling back into a telephone (!!), tells Feral that he won't let him do so until he finds out what it is that the Pastmaster wants and who he is. Mayor Manx, by the way, is a short, fat guy with an Irish accent and a toupee, and the ultimate stereotype of the dumb politician intelligence-wise.

He hangs up on Feral just as Callie and Dr. Sinian come into his office. Apparently having overheard the Mayor's phone call, Callie tells him, "He's an 800-year-old sorcerer from the Dark Ages!" Which isn't exactly true; for him to be exactly 800, he'd have to have been locked inside that chest when he was a baby (as he told Jack and Tom earlier that he'd been trapped within the chest for exactly that length of time). Mayor Manx then tells her and Dr. Sinian to go up to the clocktower and "find out what he wants!"

We cut back to prehistoric times. This cutting back and forth between the past and present is extremely jarring, and is thankfully handled better in future episodes like "Bride of the Pastmaster" and "A Bright and Shiny Future," wherein they don't have two differant stories occuring in differant time periods to muck things up.

Anyways, Razor and T-Bone have somehow managed to move the Turbokat away from the lake to the base of the volcano. Either that, or the volcano and lake are a lot closer together than they look. Razor crawls out from under the jet and tells T-Bone he's modified the fuel tanks. We see why when, told by Razor to "gimme some gas," T-Bone uses a bazooka (?) to shoot a hole in the base of the volcano. This causes a jet of hot volcanic gases to come out, and T-Bone sticks a hose into the hole, the other end of which is attached to the Turbokat.

Yes, it seems they're filling the (modified) fuel tanks of the jet with volcanic gases. T-Bone, rightly, asks if Razor knows what in the world he's doing. Razor explains that the "natural volcanic gas mixture should get us off the ground... or blow us up." Needless to say, scientific accuracy isn't one of this show's strong points.

Then it's to the present yet again, where we find the Pastmaster alone on the roof of City Hall. The sky is beginning to darken and flash red lightening, while the evil little wizard looks at a picture in his book showing a medieval cityscape with similar weather conditions. "Alas, it's too late," he says. Too late for what? He explains, to no one in particular, that when the clocktower strikes noon, "your Megakat City will be no more!"

He then fires a beam of energy from his watch into the sky, which is odd as, up 'till this point, they implied that the only way for him to open portals would be with the Tome of Time. All right, let's stop for a second and see if I can get all this straight. Okay, the Pastmaster's evil plan here is to turn Megakat City back to the way it was in the Dark Ages, when, as revealed in "Bride of the Pastmaster," it was called Megalith City. All right, fine. The spell to do so somehow involves the "tallest clocktower in the land," and, apparently, opening a portal, but with his pocketwatch and not the spellbook. The Tome of Time is still involved, obviously, since it contains the spell in question (which we never hear). If all this sounds confusing and nonsensical, I've done my job.

Also, if the Pastmaster can send or summon living creaures through his time portals, why can't he just hop through one and go back to the Dark Ages? Why all this complicated nonsense about turning one lousy city back to its former, Dark Age state? I'll go out on a limb here and theorize that the Pastmaster isn't aware that he himself can traverse the portals, but by this episode's end he'll have learned that he can and do so in his future appearances.

Anyhoo, Callie and Dr. Sinian come out onto the roof now. Callie calls over to the Pastmaster and tells him that, "the Mayor has authorized me to give you anything you want!" She offers him money and his own parade (!), but he brushes her off by saying he's already getting what he wants as they speak. Realizing they can't talk this guy down or bribe him, Dr. Sinian tells Callie, again, that they've got to get the book away from him (later episodes reveal that the source of the Pastmaster's power is not his book but his watch).

They rush him, but he stops zapping the sky long enough to turn and zap them with the watch. The beam doesn't kill them or even really harm them, merely propelling them back through the door and into the building. After telling them that they're "really going to enjoy the Dark Ages," he slams the door on them.

Then, *sigh*, we cut back to prehistoric times again, thankfully for the final time. The Turbokat is now by the lake again (reinforcing my theory that it and the volcano are unusually close together), but the jet fails to start up. T-Bone mutters that mabe they should've tried "the unleaded volcano," and Razor says that, hey, at least they didn't, like, explode or anything.

Suddenly those two Plesiosaurs return. And despite failing to start mere seconds ago, the Turbokat now roars to life without a hitch and lifts into the sky before the two aquatic dinosaurs can take a bite out of it. Razor then spots another time portal opening (calling it a "time hole"), and T-Bone flies towards it. This little phenomenon is "explained" (or at least hinted at) in "Bride of the Pastmaster": That whenever the Pastmaster opens a time vortex, similar portals open in all time periods, all leading to where the Pastmaster is.

Once again, we return to present-day Megakat City. Callie, Dr. Sinian, and Mayor Manx have evacuated City Hall and are standing out front (Manx with his precious golf bag), watching as, with each flash of red lightening, the buildings are looking more and more medieval. Manx gets on the radio and tells Commander Feral he's got three minutes 'till noon to stop the Pastmaster. Muttering that Manx should've given that order already, Feral leads a squadron of choppers to engage the Pastmaster's Pteranodons.

Initially there seem to be about 50 choppers and at least as many Pteranodons, but we only see three choppers destroyed: The first, its tail clipped by one of the winged reptiles, spirals out of control and crashes into a second and they both explode. The third chopper, flown by Feral, mysteriously flies out of control (we never really see clearly what it is that makes Feral lose control of his craft) and crashes into Mayor Manx's office, much to the Mayor's dismay. Feral survives, but the Mayor's office is ruined.

Suddenly the Turbokat emerges from the "time hole," T-Bone giving a triumphant, "We're baaaaaack!" Razor comments that Megakat City is having "an identity crisis," and then Callie, who'd spotted them a moment before, radios them. I'm not sure how, since the communicator got destroyed. She must have a spare. Anyway she tells them have only one minute to "blast the Pastmaster out of the City Hall clocktower." Razor then gives the inevitable "can't fight City Hall" line you just know was coming.

The Pteranodons attack, one landing on the back of the Turbokat and refusing to let go. T-Bone makes it "eat afterburner" by pushing the throttle forward, frying the animal with the jet engine exhaust. 'Scuse me; the volcanic jet engine exhaust. Two more fly in, but T-Bone evades those by spiraling the Turbokat into a deep nosedive. Trying to follow, the two Pteranodons lose control and smack into one another, falling from the sky.

Razor, amazed that he didn't pass out, tries to inform T-Bone of this, only now it's T-Bone who's lost consciousness. Um, why? We never learn. And any suspense that could've been milked from the fact the pilot has passed out is thrown out the window when Razor manages to wake him up by simply telling him to, and he pulls them out of their dive. When asked why he didn't eject and save himself, Razor responds with, "And miss that look on your face? No way!"

And despite the fact that, as I mentioned above, there were about 50 Pteranodons earlier, the SWAT Kats have no more aerial opposition from this point onward. I'll say it's possible they're still fighting with the other Enforcer choppers that suddenly weren't there anymore, but it'd be nice if they'd made this clear.

Razor then stops the Pastmaster's fiendish plans by launching a missile (a plain, ordinary one this time) that jams into the clock face of City Hall, between the hour and minute hands and preventing them from coming together and striking 12:00. While this is actually quite clever, and exciting, there's no way Razor could've known that the clocktower was the key component in the Pastmaster's spell, especially from the extremely scant information that Callie gave them. That, and he's also completely disobeying the Deputy Mayor's orders to deal with the Pastmaster himself and not the clock.

The Pastmaster, now riding on another Pteranodon with the Tome of Time tucked under one arm, flies up to the clock face. The Pteranodon tries, without success, to pull the wedged missile free from between the hands, and the Turbokat flies close enough that the resulting sonic boom knocks them both away from the building. Or something along those lines. I'll take that back and say it wasn't a sonic boom 'cause the clock didn't shatter, but something knocked the Pastmaster and his Pteranodon away from the clock face, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a breeze.

In the process, the Tome of Time flies from the Pastmaster's hands and is sucked into the intakes of the Turbokat and shredded completely. He and the Pteranodon then get sucked into the still-open time vortex, which closes after them. Down below, Mayor Manx says he wished the SWAT Kats had gotten back in time to save his office, while Dr. Sinian catches an examines the falling pieces of the Tome of Time, lamenting that the book won't be a museum exhibit anymore. "But, at least we don't have to worry about the Pastmaster anymore," she admits. Ha! That's what you think, lady.

The episode then concludes with the Turbokat flying off into the horizon, the SWAT Kats shouting triumphantly, "Rock and roll!"

Oy. So there you have it. Taken at face value, "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice" is an okay, but not great, start to the series, clearly letting any newcomers know that SWAT Kats will not be a deep show; it is, in fact, really shallow, existing purely to provide some cool action sequences. Which it does. Still, it annoys the absolute hell out of me that not only does this first episode have way, way too many plot holes and unanswered questions about the villain's evil plot, but it also doesn't even try to properly introduce any of the main characters. There are, of course, further problems in this series, but I'll be covering each episode individually, or at least try to, and tackle the various problems as they arise. Until then, I leave you with "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice".
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