Blackout Outline/Premise - The City Is Sinking!

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Blackout Outline/Premise - The City Is Sinking!

Post by Kooshmeister » Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:06 pm

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I've been promising I'd tackle this, the final unused SWAT Kats episode premise we know of, for a while now, but RL has prevented me from settling down to do it until now. As with Cold War, Blackout was one of (at least) two episode ideas (Television's) Lance Falk did which never made it past the outline stage. At this point, I'm unsure why these two didn't make it as far as a full script the way Blowout! did. Perhaps someone can ask Falk about it sometime?

Anyway, whereas the Cold War outline and the Blowout! script featured the return of previously established villains (Shard, Dr. Viper, Dark Kat and the Metallikats respectively), Blackout would've seen the introduction of a brand new villain for the boys in red and blue to tangle with, a supervillain named Blackout who strikes during a storm, and, as his name implies, his shtick is depriving Megakat City of its electrical power.

I already went into some detail about these premises back in my post about Cold War, so let's just jump right into this one, the final of the unused SWAT Kats episode ideas (unless and until more surface), Blackout!

As the sun sets in Megakat City, a particularly nasty-looking storm front is approaching. In the salvage yard, Chance and Jake are having what Falk describes as "their usual battle of wits" with your favorite lowlifes and mine, Burke and Murray. Exactly what they're arguing about will have to wait a violent tremor rocks the earth, followed by a blackout. After advising Burke and Murray to go home , Chance and Jake fetch some flashlights and go down into the hangar. The power is out even down there. It seems the entire vicinity is affected. Jake manages to get the hangar's emergency power going, and he and Chance turn the hangar's big viewscreen on to watch the news. Onscreen is Ann Gora ("from show one," indicating Blackout was written before Ann had been decided on as a regular character, as Falk here is treating her like just one of the random reporters from The Giant Bacteria).

Kat's Eye News is broadcasting live from the epicenter of the blackout, which isn't affecting all of Megakat City. Yet. Ann explains that the reason for the power loss is that the entire power station has disappeared! Just poof! Vanished! Gone! How, you ask? Well, judging by the enormous and seemingly bottomless pit where the building used to be, it's apparently been sucked underground by an as-yet unknown force. No word on whether the station's employees managed to get out safely.

Figuring this is a job for the SWAT Kats (Chance has got to catch the umpteenth eighty-hour marathon of Scaredy-Kat!), hop into the Turbokat and fly off towards where the power station is--or rather where it used to be. mWho could be behind this dastardly disappearance? Why it's none other than a new villain named Blackout! We know this because upon the SWAT Kats' arrival, three drones fly out of the big hole where the station used to be and form a triangular holographic viewscreen in the sky displaying out villain's visage.

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He's described as being armored, and presumably therefore masked. Falk further tells us he is "impressive" and "intentionally megalomaniacal," suggesting that this is all just for show to some extent. But while his theatrics are hammy, it's obvious that Blackout himself is quite dangerous, given that he has the power to steal buildings by sucking them underground somehow.

He demands "full political power" (what, does he want to be mayor?) over Megakat City, or else he'll steal more of the city's power stations in this manner, plunging the metropolis "into darkness and chaos!" As Falk so eloquently puts it, our heroes are "having none of this" and vow to put an end to their new enemy's schemes! It turns out, though, that the three drones forming Blackout's projection screen ain't just for show; they're also armed and capable of attack, and an aerial battle between then and the Turbokat ensues. They fire lasers and prove challenging for our heroes, but, in the end, the SWAT Kats prevail. Through T-Bone's "peerless combat flying" (and presumably Razor's arsenal of missiles), our heroes blast Blackout's attack drones into bits.

T-Bone then makes the mistake of flying low over the big hole where the stolen power station used to be so he and Razor can get a closer look at what they're dealing with and maybe figure out how it is that Blackout is stealing the buildings. They get their answer pretty much immediately. It turns out that Blackout uses a gravity beam to drag his targets down underground, and this weapon is unleashed against the Turbokat, threatening to pull our duo down into the depths as we cut to a commercial break!

See, Cold War? This is how you do a proper act break!

As the Turbokat plummets down into the yawning abyss, Razor deploys "bungee grapples." These shoot out from the jet, grab the sizes of the pit, and their elasticity allows the jet to "sproing" (Falk's words, not mine) free of the gravity beam, and our heroes successfully escape. Once they're out of harm's way, Callie contacts them and tells them to come in for a meeting. Where, Falk doesn't say. Let's say either City Hall or Enforcer Headquarters. Although it could be the middle of the street nearby for all the detail Falk gives (I know, I know, it's just an outline). Introducing them to Enforcer scientist Elliot Kliban, Callie explains that Megakat City can't afford to lose another power station. If it does, the entire city will be plunged into total darkness this time for real (the show has always been inconsistent about just how easy it is for Megakat City to lose power; episodes like The Giant Bacteria and Night of the Dark Kat suggest that all it takes to black out half the city is to cut one or two powerlines, but then Razor's Edge suggests Megakat City can lose multiple substations before everything starts going dark).

As for Elliot Kliban, the outline describes him first as "a police scientist," but later clarifies he works for the Enforcers, reinforcing the notion that the Enforcers are "it" when it comes to law enforcement in Megakat City. Anyway, Kliban (named for artist Bernard "Hap" Kliban who was known for drawing cats and who had actually passed away a few years before SWAT Kats debuted) is described as nebbishy and with a tendency for overreacting. Nevertheless, Callie recommends him because he's a genius, insisting he can help the SWAT Kats predict where Blackout will strike next. Kliban stresses the danger posed by Blackout and warns against engaging him directly (bets on how T-Bone and Razor will follow that bit of advice!). No sooner are those words out of his mouth than another tremor rocks the city.

Meanwhile, Mayor Manx and Commander Feral are arguing. Manx wants to give in to the villain's demands (because of course he does!), while Feral insists that the Enforcers resist Blackout at all costs. Feral makes his case, confident he can beat Blackout, pointing out the edge the Enforcers have in their top scientist Kliban being able to predict where the "techno-terrorist" will strike next, Manx (very) reluctantly agrees to hold off in giving in to Blackout's demands.

Can the combined might of the SWAT Kats and the Enrforcers, with Elliot Kliban's predictions, stop Blackout's reign of terror?! Stay tuned!
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Re: Blackout Outline/Premise - The City Is Sinking!

Post by Kooshmeister » Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:42 am

Kliban predicts that Blackout's next target will be the main power plant of the city, the one supplying City Hall and "Police Headquarters" (don't you mean Enforcer Headquarters, Lance?). So what is Commander Feral's big plan that he talked Manx into? Surround Blackout's next target and protect it at all costs! Brilliant, Commander! I guess he forgot that this week's villain doesn't attack on the surface but pulls his targets down from below. Bow is he in for a surprise when the power station gets sucked underground right under his nose (spoiler: this is exactly what ends up happening).

The storm that's been brewing since the beginning of the episode finally hits, and showers Megakat City in a torrential downpour. The SWAT Kats arrive at the power plant in the Turbokat, watching as the Enforcers, led by Feral, surround the facility. That oughta show that pesky Blackout! Some really interesting imagery here as the Enforcers tensely await the predicted attack in the pouring rain. There's a flash of lightning, a rumble, and then the power station is suddenly pulled violently down. Like I said, apparently Feral forgot that Blackout takes these things from underground, making his plan to prevent its theft by surrounding it at street level completely useless. This isn't Commander Feral's finest hour.

Falk is also adamant that this is the first time we actually witness the building sinking into the earth "in all its violent glory," with the street splitting and electrical towers falling down in showers of sparks. Imagine the scene in Ghostbusters where the street outside the apartment building breaks apart, with huge chunks of asphalt being heaved upwards, a police car sliding into the abyss, and the Ghostbusters falling through a huge crack formed in the ground. In order to avoid getting electrocuted, Feral and his men have to leap out of the way as downed lines land in the street, which is flooded with huge puddles from the rainstorm; some of the live wires hit some Enforcer cruisers, causing them to explode. Lance Falk notes in his summary that Blackout doesn't "pull any punches" about the "violence aspect of bad-guy behaviour," although it's unclear whether we're intended to have seen people get killed as the building sinks.

This act is described as "more than the SWAT Kats can take." Deciding to disregard Elliot Kliban's warnings about confronting Blackout directly, T-Bone flies the Turbokat down into the newly-formed abyss in pursuit of the sinking power station. It proves to be an incredibly deep hole, roughly a mile. At the bottom of the pit are a pair of huge doors which open so the gravity beam and pull the stolen station inside. They slam closed after it, the gravity beam switching off after the doors close. T-Bone lands the jet on the closed doors and he and Razor get out. Suddenly, a second set of doors slide shut above them, trapping them here between the two sets of doors.

Razor suggests that since they can't go back up the way they came, or down any further, they may as well explore the level they're on. Using night vision goggles, the SWAT Kats leave the Turbokat sitting on the bottom set of doors and hop on a version of the Cyclotron with a sidecar (!) so they can explore the subterranean warrens underneath Megakat City which their enemy calls home. Razor rides in the sidecar while T-Bone is on the main part of the Cyclotron. They pick a cavern more or less at random and it leads them into a "high-tech" metal corridor, where they're attacked by the automatic defenses of Blackout's underground lair. Here we see the reason for the sidecar rather than the usual two seater configuration; upon being attacked, the duo split up, with Razor in the sidecar detaching from the Cyclotron so he can drive himself, allowing him and T-Bone to go in two different directions.

They "blast through a gauntlet of lethal devices." It's weird that Blackout apparently relies entirely on automated defenses and has no henchmen or guards, as though he's working completely alone, something which will actually make sense here in a minute. Said defenses include (in Falk's words) "lots of cool stuff," like whirring blades (which I think Falk recycled for the "antibodies" in Unlikely Alloys later), nozzles that spray acid, and a giant robotic squid that shoots laser beams from its eyes (cue Spectre General's "Nothing's Gonna Stand In Our Way"). The battle with the robot squid causes a cave-in that separates our heroes from one another (even though they already were), and T-Bone crashes the Cyclotron into a wall. This wrecks the motorcycle and poor T-Bone is knocked unconscious by the impact.

Blackout and some of his robot sentries find the unconscious SWAT Kat and take him prisoner.

Whatever will become of T-Bone? Will he escape? Will Razor rescue him?!
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Re: Blackout Outline/Premise - The City Is Sinking!

Post by Kooshmeister » Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:44 am

After we return from the commercial break, T-Bone awakens to find himself held captive in Blackout's control room somewhere in the middle of the huge underground base. Like a movie serial villain, Blackout can't resist gloating to his captive audience. Some of the things he says sound awfully familiar, and T-Bone guesses that Blackout's secret identity is none other than Elliott Kliban, the very same scientist assigned as an expert on the case! Rather than deny this like an sensible person would, Blackout admits that this is the truth, going so far as to remove his helmet as he talks to T-Bone; he is indeed Elliot Kliban! He explains he's been leading a double life: Enforcer scientist by day, supervillain by night. This presumably also explains his reliance on robots; ordinary henchmen might talk.

But as he brags about using his position into the Enforcers to misdirect them, I'm sitting here wondering... did he? Did he really misdirect them? Because as Kliban he sent Feral and co. right to the very next power station he intended to steal, which is kind of the exact opposite of misdirection. Misdirecting them would be telling them Blackout intended to steal that power plant, then stealing a completely different, unguarded one in another part of the city. In fact, given his M.O. of using a subterranean gravity beam to pull the chosen power stations underground, I'm not sure he needed to misdirect the Enforcers in the first place. He's proven already that they could be right there at the scene and still be unable to prevent the station's theft. Oh well.

Anyway, after some more eviil ranting, he tells T-Bone that because he guessed that he's Blackout, he has to kill him to keep his secret. Although since Kliban's goal is to rule Megakat City (assuming that's what he meant by full political power earlier), he would eventually need to come out as Kliban once he took over, so past a certain point, what does the dual identity even matter? My only guess is he needs to keep the charade going at least a little while longer, until Manx capitulates, and until then he isn't taking any chances. In another side note, Falk assures the reader that the dialogue in the final script would be a lot more natural-sounding than Kliban's melodramatic rambling here.

Meanwhile, Razor (presumably still puttering around in the detached Cyclotron sidecar) returns to where he and T-Bone left the Turbokat earlier. He hops in and flies it through the caverns utilizing the jet's VTOL mode, searching for T-Bone. Back in the control room, instead of killing his prisoner, Kliban continues ranting to him. I guess it gets lonely down there with nobody but robots to talk to. He reveals he intends to use his gravity beam weapon to steal a "third and final" power station unless Manx caves, and T-Bone asks how a "weenie" like him managed to get his hands on all t his supervillain type tech. It isn't immediately clear, but we're apparently meant to envision Elliot Kliban as being similar in physique to Baron Violent from The Tick; a scrawny guy who uses technology to bulk himself up (a suit of menacing-looking armor in this case) in order to conceal the fact he's actually a very unintimidating individual. Although perhaps Syndrome from The Indredibles might be a more apt comparison.

Kliban laughs and says he found it. All of it. The entire base. During a routine inspection as part of his duties in the Enforcers, the scientist stumbled across the secret subterranean base, which it turned out belonged to another villain named Blackout. To hear Kliban tell it, the original Blackout had all of this ready to go, intended to use his gravity technology to force a young Manx to give him $15 million, only to unexpectedly win $30 million in the lottery. Suddenly finding himself wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, he abandoned the base with wishing whatever enterprising criminal found it good luck. Dissatisfied with his job, Kliban emphatically did not report what he'd found, and instead decided to become the new Blackout! Kliban explains further than upon deciding to take this course of action, he based his version of the Blackout persona on the villains he saw in old movie serials when he was a child, explaining why Blackout as portrayed by him is so melodramatically over the top all the time.

This is all told in a flashback in which we're shown a younger Mayor Manx during his first term, meaning Blackout's abandoned base has been here a while. One wonders exactly how old Elliot Kliban is!

Back in the present, Kliban prepares to throw a switch to activate the gravity beam, which is weird. You'd think after blacking out City Hall and Enforcer Headquarters, he'd at least contact Manx to give him one last chance to roll over. But apparently he's gone completely loco at this point. We don't know which power station he intends to target (or even how he targets them; it seems to me he'd need a big digging machine to tunnel underneath the buildings before he can activate the weapon, unless the original Blackout already did that years ago). Before he can throw the switch, however, party pooper Razor comes crashing in in the Turbokat by blowing a hole in the control room wall.

Kliban sends a squadron of robots to attack him, but this ends up backfiring when Razor shoots the controls governing the robots' actions, keeping them obedient to Kliban. Without this device, Kliban has no way of controlling the robots, who attack him as well as the SWAT Kats. Worse, the machinery Razor destroyed controlled the entrances and exits to the lair, meaning the three of them are now stuck underground with out of control killer robots. Seems to me that Kliban should've studied this stuff a little more rather than just using it as he found it. For one of the Enforcers' top scientists, he's kind of an idiot.

A "well-placed shot" from Razor frees T-Bone from his restraints. He grabs a terrified Kliban and "stuffs him into the jet" before getting in, himself. At least they're not abandoning the viillain to die, but how are they managing this? Are they putting Kliban in the bomb bay like Manx in The Ghost Pilot and Dr. Sinian and Henson in The Deadly Pyramid? Or is Kliban (in full Blackout armor, remember) sitting in one of their laps? And do T-Bone and Razor switch places, or will Razor be flying while T-Bone sits in back? Apparently not. Later descriptions have T-Bone flying the jet again with Razor in back. Okay, Lance, I'll buy that they'd pause long enough to take Kliban with them, but I don't see them switching places during such a tense sequence just so they can be in "the correct seats."

To get them out, Razor figures out that the lair is actually below sea level (probably using the X-Ray Scope), with the ocean on the opposite side of one of the control room's walls, so he blows a hole through it. As seawater rushes in, taking out the rogue robots, T-Bone flies through the rushing torrent of water, out through the hole and into the sea, meaning the Turbokat is effectively flying underwater at this point (!), as the cascading water floods and destroys Blackout's lair. The entire place blows up. Because. Cut to the surface of the sea where the Turbokat breaks the surface and flies through the air on its way back home, with T-Bone, Razor and Kliban somehow having not drowned.

In another side note, Falk admits this entire sequence is BS, but that "it is an action cartoon!"

Cut to weeks later. We never find out what happened to Kliban, but I assume he was turned in. The SWAT Kats receive a letter from the original Blackout who expresses his disappointment "a weenie" like Elliot Kliban took up his mantle. "It’s weenies like him that gives us mad scientists a bad name!" he writes, signing the letter "The Real Blackout." Jeez, Lance, what's with all the weenie talk?

All in all this is a lot better than Cold War, even if a goodly chunk of it towards the end is a little silly, and I find some of Falk's terminology when describing how pathetic Kliban is supposed to be kind of immature and sophomoric.
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Re: Blackout Outline/Premise - The City Is Sinking!

Post by Kooshmeister » Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:32 pm

Hmm, and it appears that Blackout isn't helmeted or masked like I thought, judging by the concept art someone added, even though Falk's outline explicitly describes him as unmasking when T-Bone deduces that he's Elliot Kliban near the end. So is that what Kliban really looks like, or is he wearing a mask like the fake old couple in Razor's Edge? I'm gonna go with it being a mask. He'd have to be really stupid to broadcast his real face while pretending to be Blackout. What if some random Enforcer recognized him and went "Hey, isn't that Elliot from R&D?"
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