Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron
An overview and my perspective
Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron was one of the most amazing TV shows I ever remember experiencing. It was created by Christian and Yvon Tremblay and produced by Hanna-Barbera. It’s hard to believe that there were only twenty-five episodes of this incredible show – but that’s all it took to make an impact in the hearts and minds of many young kids. There was also a “special” episode which was somewhat of a compilation. Robert Alvarez directed every episode other than the special. The main writers were Glenn Leopold and Lance Falk. Other writers include: Jim Stenstrum, David Ehrman, Von Williams, Eric Clark, Mark Saraceni and Jim Katz.
The episodes hold up extremely well and they have an even deeper meaning and impact watching them now – they mature with you, which is a sign of great art. Yes, I am not afraid to say it – the show is great art.
The show was about Chance “T-Bone” Furlong and Jake “Razor” Clawson. It takes place in Megakat City – a booming metropolis that is rich in industry, a leader in technology and is at the forefront of scientific advancement. Chance and Jake were members of Megakat City's paramilitary law enforcement agency – the Enforcers. Commander Feral – an extremely proud, egomaniacal but in the end a well-intentioned leader – commands the Enforcers.
While in pursuit of Dark Kat, one of the main villains of the series, the two rebelled against Commander Feral's orders to fall back and leave Dark Kat to him. When they objected, saying that they already-acquired target lock, Commander Feral used his jet to slap their wing, sending Chance and Jake's jet crashing into the newly built Enforcer Headquarters causing Dark Kat to escape.
In his anger, Feral discharged Chance and Jake from the Enforcers and reassigned them to work at the city's military salvage yard to pay for the damage to Enforcer Headquarters – which would take them an entire lifetime to payoff at their pay rate.
Not wanting to leave the city to the protection of Feral – who they felt was inept – the two decided to become vigilantes. Using their ingenuity and the resources of the salvage yard, they built their own super sonic jet: the Turbokat – which resembled several different jet fighters, most notably the Grumman F-14 and the Saab Draken. They took on the aliases: T-Bone and Razor and called themselves the SWAT Kats – defenders of Megakat City. Other vehicles they built include: the Cyclotron, the Turbo Mole, the Hoverkat, and the Thunder Truck.
All their vehicles were stored – along with a training area and other fun toys – in a secret hangar below the yard.
The SWAT Kats were able to handle situations that often left the Enforcers helpless by using creative weapons and tactics. They took on some of the most vicious criminals and terrorists ever to grace the screen of a kids’ TV show, which include: Dark Kat, Dr. Viper, The Metallikats and the Pastmaster, they became the popular saviors of Megakat City.
T-Bone and Razor kept their identities secret from everyone, and their closest ally became Deputy Mayor Callie Briggs – who is pretty much running everything while the mayor is teeing off for another round of golf. Callie is often the insider who informs the SWAT Kats of impending emergencies so they can respond in a timely fashion.
Their methods did not endear them to Commander Feral, and the three (the Swat Kats, Callie, and Feral) often clashed. Lieutenant Felina Feral also become the Swat Kats’ ally – she disagreed with her uncle's view.
Lieutenant Felina Feral
The Swat Kats were the epitome of cool – as you were watching the show you might have felt that it was way too good to be on TV. The incredible awesomeness of this show felt unreal – maybe you were in a dream watching this show from inside your dream . . . something your mind made up to capture everything that you would ever want in a great show . . . deep stuff.
Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron became the number one animated syndicated show of 1994. Then suddenly with three unfinished shows, towards the end of the second season, in 1995, the show was cancelled. It was too good to last. The reasons were: violence, inability to move merchandise, and a general growing disinterest.
Those issues were addressed by one of the writers, Lance Falk:
“The way I heard it was that Ted Turner himself simply thought the show was too violent for kids, so it was downplayed to fail. Buried on early Sunday Mornings (a ratings death slot for this kind of show), no decent merchandise to speak of (though it would have been a toy company’s dream). I’m surprised we got to do a second year. I know in my heart if we had a juicy afternoon spot, opposite TMNT or an anime import, we would have kicked ass. “
The claws, angst, explosions, and the deaths is what I think did it. Ted just wanted to get rid of it – felt it was harmful for kids. So he made sure the show lost money and lost ratings so he would have an actual valid reason to get rid of it and replace it with “wholesome entertainment” – whatever that means.
I just wanted to revisit it in a short article and do a general overview – and maybe have some of you who have never experienced an episode of the Swat Kats think about experiencing them. For those of you who are already familiar with it, this might just be fun to glance over.
Also, I understand the Swat Kats are not comic book or comic book movie related – they are a TV show, but I would love for them to be available in comic book form and then have a resurgence, which eventually leads to a movie. They deserve that. And the beginning of that is more people knowing about them and knowing is half the battle :)
I might add some more stuff to this . . . maybe . . . I'm tired though, I don't know how you guys do it. More power to ya.
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