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Cold War Outline/Premise - Shard's Back!

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:48 am
by Kooshmeister

This will be my second summary of a story that wasn't used for the show, even as an unfinished episode, and unlike Blowout!, which was a full script that was redone wholesale and given a new title as season one's Katastrophe, this and Blackout never made it past outlines. So, Blowout! technically was used, just in a different form, restructured with a new title by a different writer.

So, all the episodes were first done as basic outlines detailing the plot, with key dialogue and such, submitted as a premise and then expanded into a full-length episode script if it was accepted. Apparently, all the episodes were done this way. In the Tremblays' art book, there is a glimpse of the first page of the story outline for season two's The Deadly Pyramid, and currently all we have of the unfinished episode The Doctors of Doom is its original outline.

But for whatever reason, Cold War and Blackout were never actually accepted. I'm assuming they were written to be season one episodes. Both were written and submitted by Lance Falk, and the reason we have them is the same reason we have the script for Blowout!, namely that Falk, in the early days of the fandom, provided them, and they were posted to the SWAT Kats Fan Fiction Archive of all places, I'm assuming for lack of a better place to put them.

Cold War would've featured the return of Rex Shard from Chaos in Crystal. Falk always had the idea that Shard would keep returning and trying to gain new powers in order to get revenge for his previous defeat, only to be bitten again, gradually losing parts of his body. An eye here, a finger there. Unfortunately, this unused premise represents the only attempt at this that I'm aware of.

So without further ado-do, let's dress warmly and get into Cold War!

We begin with the SWAT Kats testing a flight simulator thing where they fight holographic versions of past enemies. Sort of a more ambitious precursor to the reflex room, I guess. Our heroic duo are sitting in a mockup of the Turbokat's cockpit facing a big video screen (Falk describes it as resembling Star Tours), and Razor is controlling which enemies they're facing. Even though the two are seated as they'd be in the actual Turbokat, with T-Bone "flying" and Razor behind him as the weapons officer, T-Bone is the one who "easily defeats the first few targets." I'm guessing this is to hone his skills at using the auxiliary weapons panel, for those many times Razor is out of the jet and T-Bone has to use the aircraft's weapons.

Anyway, after effortlessly defeating some generic targets, T-Bone, always a thrill junkie, demands "a real challenge," so Razor activates a part of the simulation called "The Works," which basically puts the SWAT Kats up against a boss run. "You asked for it, big buddy!" Razor says.

T-Bone finds himself assaulted by Dark Kat's Fear Ship from The Wrath of Dark Kat (which subsequently to this I've confirmed is his airship's name, not "The Doomsday Express"), "the giant C-Kat-A" (I'm guessing the queen?), the flying Plantimals from Destructive Nature, the Red Lynx (simply called "The Ghost Pilot" and not his actual name), the Megasaurus rex, the Macro-Bots, a cyclops from Bride of the Pastmaster, a bacteria monster, Madkat in his giant octopus form, and lastly Rex Shard, "the dangerous crystal colossus."

The Plantimals seem like an odd addition. Difficult to defeat, yes, but hardly boss fight material.

The inclusion of Madkat and the Macro-Bots, both from late season one episodes, plus Cold War's date (October 10th 1993) has me rethinking which season it would've been considered for. October 10th seems too late to have gotten Cold War into production if it'd been accepted, so I'm going to assume it was intended by Falk to be a season two episode.

Anyway, T-Bone easily defeats all the enemies except Shard, who uses the move where he shines sunlight through his crystal hand to create a laser beam. It "bathes the hangar in a flash of light" and the screen goes dark. Game over. T-Bone got his butt kicked by Shard. Why didn't he just use another sonic boom to shatter him like he did in the original episode? Needless to say, T-Bone is a sore loser and whines that it wasn't fair, although he does have a point, pointing out that Shard in the simulation was a lot faster than the Shard in real life. This seems like he's accusing Razor of having made Shard faster for the test, something (kinda) confirmed when his partner just shrugs and says T-Bone needs to "keep sharp."

As they get out of the mockup cockpit, he wonders what ever happened to Shard. T-Bone doesn't give a crap. "After we zapped away that crazy power of his," he was restored to normal and arrested. That much we already know. But I'm assuming this quick oral recap of the end of Chaos in Crystal is for the benefit of people who didn't catch that episode, especially if Cold War was intended to appear in season two. What we don't know, though, and what we subsequently learn in answer to Razor's question, is that Shard was returned to prison - the Megakat Maximum Security Prison, specifically, which was rebuilt after being pretty much destroyed (and I also assume it has a new warden, too!).

And this is where Falk decides to have an act break. I can't remember if Glenn Leopold's Doctors of Doom outline specified where act breaks would've gone. This seems like it would've been a really, really short first act for this episode, devoted entirely to the SWAT Kats in their flight simulator thingie. Falk must've really been banking that the producers would love his idea of a "greatest hits" compilation of past monsters before getting to the actual story if he was willing to devote the entire first act to it! And, again, as with Blowout!, regardless of what the first act is devoted to, the big revelation (which isn't really that big) that, once returned to normal, Shard was sent back to prison, is an odd place for an ad break...

When we return, we find Shard as part of a chain gang working at the Megatech Power Station, an alternate energy research lab "on the edge of town." What? Why is Megatech using convicts to work around delicate equipment like this? And, we'll soon learn, while an important experiment is being conducted! Yeah, they're being watched by armed guards, both lab security and from the prison, but it still seems like way too big of a risk just avoid paying contractors to do your construction work for you.

I'm reminded of the movie Ricochet, where the prison guards are allowing the inmates to use power tools like drills and saws to do construction work in the hallway outside the room where John Lithgow's character Earl Talbot Blake is having his parole hearing. And do you know what happened there? Yeah, they used the power tools to kill the ridiculously inattentive guards, free Blake, and stage a murderous prison break.

Anyway, Shard is ranting to his fellow cons as they're working, complaining that such menial labor is beneath him. He had godlike powers, he insists! He basically lectures the other prisoners that "power is the key," and he needs to get some. "Watch out, Megakat City!" he promises. This passes without comment from either the other cons or from the guards, so I'm assuming he rants like this a lot, to the point where everyone just ignores him.

How he escapes is that one of the lab guards "stumbles over Shard's chain." Shard attacks him and takes his gun and his keycard. He rushes through the facility--Wait, how did he get unchained? Or are the prisoners not chained together, only chained with one ankle to another? If so, running fast enough to outdistance the pursuing, unchained guards would be really difficult, and it also makes me wonder how you trip on a chain between someone else's feet. Either way, we'll just assume that Shard gets free somehow, and now he has a gun and a keycard granting him access to secured parts of Megatech.

The guards - both lab security and the ones from the prison - chase after him. Sloppy security here at Megatech, and I don't mean the clumsy guard. You'd think that as soon as they realized he got a keycard, they'd radio the control room and either do some kind of emergency lockdown, or get that particular card deactivated. Which may actually be what happens, since, despite taking a keycard, Shard is described as needing to use the guard's gun to shoot his way through a door. That's one of the drawbacks of these pretty basic premises (and Falk's are more basic than Leopold's; no offense, Lance, I'm well aware of why); we have to kind of assume some things.

So, anyway, now Shard is now in the room containing Megatech's experimental power reactor. The guards in this part of the facility are in radiation suits, so I'm guessing the escaping con is exposing himself to some pretty lethal stuff here. They "look on in horror" as Shard shoots and blows up the reactor controls. Only then do they think to surround him and attempt to apprehend him. I'm wondering what his end game is here. If he wants to get away, why does he run deeper into the building? If he's after the experimental energy Megatech is fooling with, which would make sense given his earlier comments about wanting to get more superpowers, why does he blast the controls, which would risk shutting the reactor down, denying him access to that precious, precious energy? Considering his approach to opening the storage compartment of the Gemkat 6000, a device he knew nothing about, was "hit it with a rock," I don't think Shard exactly qualifies as a criminal mastermind and, his rant about wanting powers aside, I'm going to assume his mindset here is just "run around creating as much chaos as he can until he's stopped."

Anyway, the radiation-suited guards surround him. Rather than gun them down, he simply declares he isn't returning to prison, shoots the remaining control console, and then "dives into the glowing heart of the reactor." An enormous explosion takes out the entire building, and since we're never told what became of them, we're left to assume all the Megatech scientists and personnel, plus the other prisoners and the guards who came along to oversee them, died in the explosion, which, short of any scenes or dialogue calling for a mass evacuation, would mean the biggest confirmed loss of life in this show since the subway train being eaten in The Giant Bacteria, had Cold War been made.

In the garage, Chance and Jake are "enjoying a Scaredy-Kat cartoon." I'd say it should say only Chance is, but we've seen in Metal Urgency that Jake enjoys them too sometimes, just not as... enthusiastically as his friend. The cartoon is interrupted by an emergency news bulletin. The edge of Megakat City has been suddenly consumed by "an area of sub-zero temperature," and glacial masses accompanied by huge blizzards are "spreading by the minute." In what direction(s), we aren't told, but I think it's safe to say it's Megakat City. All disasters, natural or otherwise, make a beeline for that burg.

Suiting up as T-Bone and Razor, the SWAT Kats hop into the Turbokat and fly out to the affected area on the edge of town, where they encounter Shard, who has been transformed into what Falk describes as a two-hundred foot tall black giant surrounded by fire, "a humanoid eclipse with a raging corona." Hey, there's kids present! Watch your language--Oh, a corona is an aura of plasma surrounding a star. Nevermind. Carry on.

"Hi, SWAT Gnats!" sneers the villain, using the one clever insults he managed to come up with last time. "Remember your old pal Shard?!"

Wow, who'd have thought that the very villain they were discussing before, and failed to defeat in their training simulation, is the one who'd be behind this latest attack against the city? Small world.

Oh, and still no further word on Megatech, the people working there, the other members of the chain gang Shard was part of, or the prison guards overseeing them. I guess they all did either die in the explosion or get flash-frozen to death. Yikes. Anyway, this is a much better place for an ad break than the one Falk chose, so I'll choose it to leave off. Cheerio!

Re: Cold War Outline/Premise - Shard's Back!

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:41 pm
by Kooshmeister
Razor's instruments indicate that their old enemy is now a living heat sink who absorbs all the warmth from the area surrounding him, leaving frozen destruction in his wake. And remember how he could form and hurl crystal shards from his hands and body in Chaos in Crystal? Now, he can pull off parts of himself and fling them as flaming black globs, which have the same heat-leeching abilities he does even once detached from his main body. Anything they hit has the heat sucked right out of it, freezing it solid. This all would've made for some pretty cool (no pun intended) visuals, so it's a shame this premise never got picked up. I daresay the way Shard looks and the way his powers function here would've more than made up for the clumsiness of how he obtained them narratively (which, as with Doctors of Doom, I assume would've ironed out in the final draft).

T-Bone manages to avoid the first few of the globs, and Razor fires some missiles. But they freeze up the second they get within striking distance of Shard, turning brittle and shattering upon impact (more cool visuals). Shard gets a little luckier, since we're just at what Falk indicates is to be the second act break; one of the heat-sucking blobs hits the Turbokat. The engines freeze solid, but, somehow, the two kats inside are, as far as I can tell, unaffected. The jet plummets downward. T-Bone uses manual control over the flaps to do an emergency belly landing in a part of the city that is described as being hilly like San Francisco. And since Shard is in the vicinity, everything is frozen, so despite crashlanding, the Turbokat doesn't stop, sliding wildly down the steeply-sloped streets like an out of control sled. T-Bone continues utilizing the flaps to steer around buildings and other obstacles before suddenly they come to "a fatal drop hundreds of feet." What is this fatal drop? Where did it come from? Is it the crater where Megatech used to be? Falk doesn't specify. Use your words, Lance!

Returning for the third and final act, using a combination of the braking chute and grappling lines fired from their Glovatrixes, the SWAT Kats manage to halt their impending hundred foot descent into doom at the edge of the giant hole in the middle of the city that came from nowhere (I really am just gonna have to go with "this is where Megatech used to be," because nothing else makes sense). Getting out, the duo dress in arctic survival gear referred to as Sub-Zero Suits, as well as "special devices" and a tracked snowmobile type vehicle called the Super Snow Kat (elements of which Glenn Leopold would recycle for Turmoil 2). I'm unsure why they have these. I mean, clearly, they brought them in case of a crash after learning about the unexplained glacial phenomena overtaking the city, but I wonder if they would've really had time to load up the jet. After all, it hasn't been that long; it doesn't seem like Shard has penetrated into the city more than a few blocks beyond wherever it is Megatech was located. And where are the Enforcers during all this? At least they got a token "The Enforcers are helpless" during the finale of The Doctors of Doom's outline.

It turns out Shard is pretty deep into the city after all. That, or he moves quickly. By now, a quarter of the city is frozen. Driving uphill in the Snow Kat, the SWAT Kats engage Shard directly. If his heat-sucking powers are so strong, then I don't care what kind of arctic survival suits these guys have got on, they and their fancy snowmobile should've frozen solid like their missiles did as soon as they got near Shard. Everything about Shard's abilities in this story suggests he has to be fought from a distance, and the SWAT Kats are doing the exact opposite, driving right up to the guy. They blast him with missiles, causing an avalanche. From where? The buildings? Falk's descriptions of this battle sequence seem to vary depending on what he wants to accomplish narratively, so it goes from being described as an urban environment to a more rural one with hills and such. But anyway, Shard is buried in an avalanche. It's hoped that enough cold will kill him by "snuffing out his flame." But even the snow contains heat for him to absorb, as it gets colder and turns into a giant ice block around him which he easily shatters, and then he destroys the Snow Kat ("We are having a bad vehicle day!"). The two SWAT Kats barely leap free in time.

Now, "Mega-Skis" extend from their snowboots (more stuff that would be revisited later on in Turmoil 2) and start attacking him again. This is kind of like how in Gorgo, the British military actually attacks Gorgo's mother with increasingly less powerful vehicles and weaponry as the movie progresses, beginning with battleships, destroyers and depth charges, then setting the Thames on fire while shooting at her with uns and rockets. If the Royal Navy didn't stop her, what do they think a few Bren machine gun nests and armored cars are going to do? Similarly, the SWAT Kats have lost their primary vehicle, the Turbokat, and been forced to rely on a less effective one, the Snow Kat, which they then also lose, and now they're literally skiing around the giant monster shooting stuff at him from their Glovatrixes. And why aren't they frozen yet? It would've been neat if Falk had introduced the idea that they can only be so close to Shard for so long that even their thermal survival gear begins to fail, adding an extra element of danger.

Shard stomps the ground, causing a big crack to up in the earth. Our heroes fall in, but, of course, save themselves using the grappling hooks from their Glovatrixes. They extend clawlike blades from their gloves and boots to climb out (oh, hi, more future Turmoil 2 stuff) for the final showdown with Shard, who apparently is just waiting up at the top for them with nothing better to do, when this would've been a perfect opportunity to have the Enforcers come in and try their hand at battling the monster. Shard being distracted by newly-arrived opponents would explain what he's been doing while the SWAT Kats climb up, because otherwise it seems like he just sort of politely waits for them out of a sense of fair play. Some confusing descriptions follow. T-Bone uses his Mega-Skis to "ice up" the ridge (I think Falk means he's skiing up it?), while Razor fires a few "ineffectual" bazooka blasts. Wait, where did the bazooka come from?

Despite being ineffectual, getting hit with the bazooka blasts makes Shard angry, and he tries to step on Razor, but fails. On the ridge, T-Bone "fires at the ledge" while Razor loads and fires the story's so far only new missile, the Lava Missile, into the bazooka and launches it. A projectile of "astonishingly hot temperature," it appears the idea is to overfeed Shard so he'll blow up. And, yep, that's exactly what happens. This, combined with T-Bone shooting "the ledge" causes Shard to fall thousands of feet (I'm assuming he's falling into the big crack he made earlier, since the crater where Megatech used to be was only a hundred feet deep). As he falls, Shard apparently becomes very brittle and shatters upon hitting bottom. Upon impact, all the heat he sucked up is released and it melts the snow and ice, which flows away into the ocean.

Somehow, he survives (yeah, it didn't make any sense in Chaos in Crystal, either), and he's also back to normal (something that did make sense in the previous episode, because the SWAT Kats zapped him in his weakened state with the rewrite Gemkat 6000 prototype; here, Shard is just suddenly back to normal with, apparently, no ill effects, not even any of the missing body parts Falk promised). The Enforcers finally show up, and either Shard is retrieved from the crevice or they go down to him, because the episode ends with Commander Feral personally cuffing the defeated villain, who vows revenge.

So, my thoughts? Like Blowout!, it feels very rushed and ruthlessly economical, but I'll let that slide here because it's just an outline vs. a full script written by a man burned out by too much work. I'm sure that, had Cold War been accepted as an episode, the full script would've added more scenes and characters to flesh everything out (like what keeps the Enforcers from showing up, and whether everyone at Megatech died or not). As written, though, even if those things were added, I feel like this would've been an episode that was heavy on action and light on plot, and consequently a good contender for a short, assuming Hanna-Barbera planned to continue those in the hypothetical third season.

I'd also like to point out that, at least here in this rough outline, nothing the SWAT Kats do in the flight simulator has any effect on how they battle against Shard, making the fact that it takes up the entire first act very bizarre.

Re: Cold War Outline/Premise - Shard's Back!

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:36 pm
by Tarnish
Kooshmeister wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:41 pm
I'd also like to point out that, at least here in this rough outline, nothing the SWAT Kats do in the flight simulator has any effect on how they battle against Shard, making the fact that it takes up the entire first act very bizarre.
My take is Lance wanted Shard to be brought up in a conversation between T-bone and Razor, and the whole flight simulator thing was just his tool to make it feel natural. Why he thought it was important to bring up Shard's name instead of just simply opening the episode with showing him in prison tho, is a different question.

Re: Cold War Outline/Premise - Shard's Back!

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:55 pm
by Kooshmeister