Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Talk about the most awesome show in the world, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron.
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Lombax
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Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Post by Lombax » Sat Oct 20, 2018 6:34 pm

I loved Swat Kats when I was a kid, but prior to a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t thought about it since the mid 90s. After randomly coming across a clip, I decided to rewatch it for that sweet nostalgia high. Going into it, I hardly remembered anything about it other than I enjoyed it as a kid. This was an interesting experience because while I had a sense of nostalgia, I didn’t really remember anything; it felt completely new.

Overall, I did enjoy rewatching it, but there was quite a bit I found that I didn’t care for much. I learned that there was (is?) an attempt to revive the show. I couldn’t find any recent information on it, and I don't know if it's still happening, but I wanted to air my thoughts about what would and wouldn’t transfer over well, or if it should be done at all. This all might have already been discussed already, but if not, here it is. Also disclaimer: these are just my opinions, obviously. I'm not trying to state anything fact.

The biggest issue I had was with how formulaic it was. Each episode could essentially be boiled down to: a) the city is in danger b) enforcers are completely ineffective c) Swat Kats stop the threat. I don’t think this would work too well anymore. I’m not necessarily opposed to the monster of the week format, but it does seem like a product of pre-internet times where missing an episode would mean that you're simply SOL if crucial information is revealed. If the idea behind the revival is this format, I would hope to at least see an overarching plot in the background that ties episodes together.

Next was how completely ineffective the enforcers were and the invincible villain trope. This might be a more personal preference, but I don’t like it when something is basically invincible except for the one weakness that the heroes find and exploit. I’d rather see threats that a conventional military isn’t meant to handle, or that red tape and bureaucracy prevent from handling well, and therefore the vigilante Swat Kats excell at defeating.

I would also like to see “smarter” combat. Stuff like being held up at gunpoint but diving away safely… eehhhh. There’s a lot of deus ex machina in the combat. Getting away from that would be a huge improvement in and of itself. I’d also like to see T-Bone and Razor use different fighting styles while on the ground, each having advantages and disadvantages. It seemed like it was implied that Jake was skilled with some sort of martial arts, while Chance was just a big dude who can throw down. I saw a little of them working off of this in the Deadly Pyramids episode when T-Bone throws Razor up and Razor does some ninja moves on the mummies.

I’m a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson’s books. If you aren’t familiar, he’s a fantasy writer. What distinguishes him from other fantasy writers, though, is he writes like he’s writing science fiction. His books involve magic, but they are systems with rules. This basically eliminates lazy writing and deus ex machina cop outs. For example in regards to Swat Kats: how many munitions can the turbo kat carry? How much weight can it lift? (Giant mummy? Probably not.) What’s the capacity of their glovatrix? Rules should apply to everything else as well, including the enforcers and the threats.

There should be some sort of theme. An obvious choice would be vigilantism. It’s kinda sorta in the original series, but never really touched on beyond “Damn those Swat Kats for destroying half the city!” Do the duo feel any regret for causing the destruction? Do they see it as simply a necessity in dealing with a threat? I get a sense of the latter, but it never really gets brought up much except by Feral.

There can be entire episodes around this concept, too. For example: where do the Swat Kats get the fuel for their jet? Surely fuel wouldn’t be offloaded at a scrapyard. There’s no way they could buy it, either. As far as I’m aware, it costs thousands of dollars an hour to fly a jet. Since they’re vigilantes, maybe they get fuel through black markets? They could be trading favors to criminal organizations to keep their jet in the air, seeing it as a necessary evil to fight greater threats. Maybe the enforcers start dismantling this organization, and the Swat Kats have to make a moral choice about protecting criminals from the enforcers to keep their supplies coming in.

Those are really the biggest issues I had with the show. I think the setting is interesting and can still work today. The characters are good, especially Jake and Chance. I thought they played well off of each-other. In fact, I found that what I enjoyed the most while watching was their interactions while they go about their day. I would like to see some conflict between them. Some disagreements that cause strife. Character development in generally, really, for all of the characters in the show. That’s another downside to the old format is it’s hard to give characters growth.

Another thing that I think would be really helpful is to dedicate some time to worldbuilding. I’m curious as to the society they live in. All we ever really hear about is Megakat City. Is it a city-state? It seems like it since they never receive aid from outside the city. How does Megakat City interact with entities outside itself? How big is the city? Is Manx a dictator of sorts with direct control over everything? The fact that the Swat Kats were forced to work at the junkyard seems to imply something like this.

I could go on, but I’ve already said a lot more than I intended to when I started this. Ultimately, the fact that I took the time to even say all this must mean I think there’s potential in a revival. I’d say the strongest thing going for it is the setting and the characters. Everything else needs some degree of improvement, especially if the goal is to bring in new blood and not just appeal to the now-adults who remember it from their childhood.
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Re: Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Post by MoDaD » Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:55 pm

Welcome to the SWAT Kats fandom!

That's often an issue when it comes to re-watching things we haven't seen in a long time yet have feelings of nostalgia for. Sometimes they hold up, sometimes they don't RazEmbarrassed

But, it's good to hear that you still enjoyed the show. A lot of the items you've outlined have been major points of discussion among fans for several decades. Many have even been delved into by fan writers as inspiration for their various stories. Some have even proposed that one of the reasons for SWAT Kats continued (if somewhat niche/cult) following is attributed to the open-endedness of the world of Megakat City. A world with a lot of potential that's yet to be fully narratively realized.

As for SWAT Kats Revolution, that's a relatively recent development over the past 3 years. It's had several setbacks and there's been a long period of quietness on the official Kickstarter, though the Tremblays have been participating in a number of SWATKATS.info related activities during that time.

If you haven't already seen these, they might be of interest to you:

2017 Live Stream:
https://youtu.be/duwaCxL3iv8

2017 Interview:
https://youtu.be/duyKw220eFk

2018 Music Reunion:
https://youtu.be/gki0TcAj00s

Once again, welcome to our corner of the internet!
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Re: Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Post by Leon Mane » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:57 pm

I think the 90s, and to some extent the 70s and 80s, relied a lot on Monster of the Week, simply because it meant less work for the writers and creators, at least in the long run. No need to really flesh out the characters or world, so there's less work to be done, which made for easier episodes to write for. Now, I don't think MOTW would do much beyond provide an excuse for action, but trying to add more story to a revival of a 90s cartoon while relying less on MOTW would be a noticeable change. At least early on, should the reboot come to pass, there might be a mix of the two, followed by a more serialized form taking over as they find their new comfort zone.
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Re: Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Post by Lombax » Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:50 pm

Thanks for the welcome.

I think I might have come off a bit harshly... like I was just ragging on the show. My thoughts ended up turning into criticism more than anything and I rambled on a bit too much. I just want to clarify and say that I think the positives outweighed the negatives and it seemed to be heading in a good direction before it got canned, which is a shame. I think I made it sound like I didn't like the action bits, but I really just didn't like the cop-out insta plot resolution stuff (which was probably more an issue with time restrictions that anything). There were a lot of action scenes that I really liked, like the cyclotron through the future Metallikat city.

That music reunion link was pretty neat. I like seeing creators see their influence in their fans like that. That's another thing this show had going for it was the music.

I'm curious... is there any merchandise for this franchise? I have a "nerd shelf" on my desk at work. Probably a long shot considering how long it's been off the air, but if there's any good displayable merch out there, I'd like to open a spot up for SK.
Leon Mane wrote:I think the 90s, and to some extent the 70s and 80s, relied a lot on Monster of the Week, simply because it meant less work for the writers and creators, at least in the long run. No need to really flesh out the characters or world, so there's less work to be done, which made for easier episodes to write for. Now, I don't think MOTW would do much beyond provide an excuse for action, but trying to add more story to a revival of a 90s cartoon while relying less on MOTW would be a noticeable change. At least early on, should the reboot come to pass, there might be a mix of the two, followed by a more serialized form taking over as they find their new comfort zone.
True enough. That's a pretty tricky thing to get around when rebooting an old IP I imagine. Appealing to just the people who grew up with it probably isn't sustainable, but at the same time you want to keep the spirit of the original. I definitely don't know what the right thing would be. A balance of the two, I guess. Or like you said, phase it out over time.
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Re: Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Post by MoDaD » Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:22 pm

Lombax wrote:I'm curious... is there any merchandise for this franchise? I have a "nerd shelf" on my desk at work. Probably a long shot considering how long it's been off the air, but if there's any good displayable merch out there, I'd like to open a spot up for SK.
You can usually find the actions figures and VHS tapes on eBay listings. Occasionally you'll get lucky and see a production item.

Dominick DeSantis recently shared photos of his personal collection, can be found here.

Other merchandise (official and unofficial) is listed here, the hot items lately being the Anime Matsuri T-Shirts (long sleeve & short sleeve).

Kris also has a list of items here.
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Re: Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Post by Cait » Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:35 am

If you are fast and have a Twitter account, you can also try this for a chance of a 25th annyversary coin :3 (art used for the coin is not official, but by the amazing artist Poecat)
https://twitter.com/TheSWATKats/status/ ... 5318587392
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Re: Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Post by Leon Mane » Tue Oct 23, 2018 4:37 am

I'd say less phasing out and more, saving Monster of the Week as breather episodes after or between bigger plot points. After establishing that first major foothold, gradually introduce an overarching background plot, then continue that until season arcs can be the standard, with random baddies and monsters to let things settle down a little, then back to the important stuff.

In a sense, while not a reboot, Steven Universe seems to follow that exact pattern. Started with random monster attacks, added plot like a seasoning, and eventually they reversed it with big plots followed by light-hearted episodes to give the cast and audience time to decompress. Side note, in a joke episode of SU, SWAT Kats had a very brief mention on a list. Nice to see the creators of SU giving a shout-out like that.
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Re: Thoughts after Re-Discovering

Post by invincible » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:33 pm

It is a real well done good of a surprise, to sight Swat Kats again still in good order after a long while. Real fluent and fun model of the past though there can be argument that it can be even better not sure what went on that yields the show but at least the bundle is still around of a few seasons to rummage through of excellent quality. Good stuff! ChristmasRazor
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