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STORY EDITOR: Michael Reaves
WRITERS: Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia Marano
The first appearance of Anton Sevarius and the MUTATES: Maggie the Cat, Fang and Claw. Derek had appeared before, but this was TALON's "first appearance" as well.
In our original development, the Talon character was called CATSCAN. He wasn't Elisa's brother. In fact, he was sorta Sevarius. That is, he was the scientist who created the mutagenic formula. At first he works for Xavier (Xanatos), but later -- when he realizes that Xavier was responsible for the "accident" that turned him into Catscan -- he tries to hunt Xanatos down, forcing Goliath to actually protect Xanatos in order to save Catscan's soul. This version of Catscan was basically the inspiration of my good friend Fred Schaefer, who was a Disney Development Associate at the time. Part of the team. Oh, and Catscan was a solo act, there were no other Mutates. And he didn't have wings either. He fired some kind of radiation bolt from his eyes.
Later, we began to prep Derek for the Catscan/Talon role. I don't remember if we knew Derek's fate way back in "Deadly Force", when he was introduced, but we definitely knew by "Her Brother's Keeper". One of the reasons we made him a pilot was to give him some flight background to justify how quickly we needed him to learn to fly. This was emphasized HERE by putting him in a glider.
Anton Sevarius became a separate character obviously. Michael Reaves, I believe, came up with his name. At first, I didn't like it. I thought it was too cartoony. Now I think it suits him.
Rereading my memo, it seems I was thinking of Brent Spiner to play Sevarius. I hadn't remembered that. Of course, no one else could be Sevarius except Tim Curry. And Brent was a perfect Puck for us too. So all's well that ends well. (But can you imagine if somehow the rolls had been switched?) Tim has some great lines here: "...Or has that changed?" is one of my favorites. He's so hungry.
FYI - That's Jonathan Frakes voicing Fang's one-liner in this episode. We couldn't afford to hire a separate actor for one line. So Jonathan stepped in. Of course, later Fang was taken over by Jim Belushi. But I don't think anyone noticed.
Gotta love the Snidely Whiplash reference.
As I mentioned in my last Ramble on "Leader", Xanatos' plans were getting more and more sophisticated. Here we had two humdingers in a row. The one in "Leader" is just a lot of fun. This one is cruel. Throughout the story, we (I think) tend to believe in Xanatos' mea culpa and his outrage regarding the Mutates ("They'll crucify you. And if they don't, I WILL!!"). Why? Because he's so darn likable we want to think well of him. (Who was fooled? I'd like to know.) Also his story rings true. When he tells Sevarius, "I've been in prison before." We know he has. We believe he could take it again. It's that touch of truth amid the lies that makes him so sharp.
And Owen was complicit. On one level, that shouldn't be surprising, yet there's something of the Mr. Spock about Owen. As faithful as you know he is, you don't actually expect him to lie.
And frankly, the plan is SO complex. I hope it's believable when all is said and done. We made a real effort to make sure that it could have worked, that if it hadn't gone EXACTLY as depicted it would feel like there would have been alternative scenarios that would have generated the same result. Of course the master-stroke is Sevarius' death. Our S&P executive raised an eyebrow over that, as she finished reading Act Two. Fortunately, she was the type who finished the script before knee-jerking us with an objection. We got away with depicting a violent death on-screen -- because it was fake. (But who was fooled?)
We tried to play fair with a number of clues throughout. We used Xanatos' own security team as the "hired mercenaries" that Sevarius was using. Only Xanatos checks Sevarius' pulse. When Matt and Elisa are later investigating the scene, there's no body and NO CHALK OUTLINE either. They have no idea that anyone even theoretically was supposed to have DIED there. And Sevarius is SO OVER THE TOP. That should have been a stylistic clue. It was way fun to do -- and it took great acting on Tim's part to act that badly and still make it play.
For once the script came in a tad short. So the board artist added the bit where the gargoyles break out of stone and we see the debris rain down on the people below. Pigeons fly off into the night. (Just a little touch of realism.) Very nice.
I was never too fond of Elisa's Zen Master joke. Still, in the comic book story I wrote before the Marvel comic book was cancelled, I created a Zen Master character. (Just compulsive I guess.)
My original plan for Gen-U-Tech was to abreviate its name as G.U.T.S. As in the company that twists yours up. (The full name is Genetic Undiscovered Technical Systems.) Instead it became Gen-U-Tech, which is probably better. But I can't remember who made the change. The script has plenty of GUTS references in the descriptions. But it may have escaped my notice that it has none in the dialogue. And the logos designed all read Gen-U-Tech, not guts. I wonder if Frank & Michael were slyly protecting me from a mis-step?
I like the conflict between Brooklyn & Broadway here. All the interplay with the trio is very well handled, I think. Were people really rooting for Brooklyn & Maggie to wind up together?
Not our best animated episode. Both the modeling and the animation leave a bit to be desired. Derek's ears look mid-transformation long before he's hit with that dart. Makes me cringe, but I guess if the audience isn't expecting him to get changed, they don't notice the subtle pointyness to the ears, until after the contents of the dart are revealed. But on a second viewing...?
Maggie Reed: "I'm from Ohio." As if that should explain EVERYTHING. I love that line.
"Morgan Reed", by the way, was one of our may early names for what eventually became Elisa Chavez, Elisa Bluestone and finally Elisa Maza. (I never waste anything.)
Observations from my daughter Erin:
1. "I like the click of their boots." [Erin complimenting the foley during the recapture of Maggie in the alley.]
2. "His hands ARE tied!" [My clever Erin catching the irony. Elisa says "My hands are tied." Brooklyn responds, "Well mine aren't." But then he turns to stone, prompting Erin's observation.]
3. "Hudson and Bronx always stay home." [Erin commenting on our proclivity for leaving Hudson & Bronx behind at the castle or clock tower when Goliath and the Trio go off. It is kind of a rip.]
Another great series of endings and false endings.
Xanatos tells Owen to bring him the "best geneticist on the planet."
The gargs arrive and fight the Mutates. Elisa arrives. Xanatos asks her to "stop this senseless violence". [Ahh, what a lovely bastard he is.]
Maggie makes the accurate observation that Brooklyn wants her to stay a monster. And yet despite that incite, she clearly still believes that both she and Brooklyn ARE monsters. She's as bound up in appearances as he is.
Talon names himself. It's kinda odd. But I think it works.
Elisa declares war on Xanatos. And for a split-second it registers on his face. Something has actually given him pause.
And then Owen brings in the best geneticist. I still wonder if it's immediately clear that this "new guy" IS Sevarius. He looks SO different. And Tim wasn't using the hoky accent anymore. Was anyone else confused, even momentarily? But anyway, it's another stunner Xanatos Tag. Did your eyes bug out? Or did you know by this time?
And finally, back to the Tower. Brooklyn is in a funk. But Elisa...
This entire episode is obviously a direct sequel to "Brother's Keeper". Right down to the end. In the end of that one, Elisa can do nothing but stare sadly out at the snow. But we're past that now. Now she cries. Xanatos doesn't wind up with the Mutates, though he correctly predicts there eventual return, but this is his clearest victory yet. The Mutates blame the gargs. Talon still believes X is his best chance at a cure. And he has an emotional and physical weapon against Elisa and the gargs. I was proud of us for ending a "cartoon" on such a relatively down note. Can't always have happy endings. How many people were surprised we ended it that way?
That's it. Comments welcome...