First airing on September 11, 1993 until its last episode aired on December 24, 1994, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, created by Christian and Yvon Tremblay for Hanna-Barbera, lasted for just under two seasons, and was the penultimate animated action/adventure program for the company prior to the Time Warner merger. Despite being cited as the #1 syndicated animated show in 1994, SWAT Kats was cancelled before production was finished on its final Season Two episodes
The show’s creators and other sources have commented that this was the result of criticism for the show’s violence and themes, originating in part from preferences expressed by Ted Turner, causing the show to be placed in the “death slot” of Sunday mornings, while others such as former HB President Fred Seibert have publicly stated that the show was cancelled for low ratings.
Despite its cancellation, SWAT Kats maintains a cult following online, eventually culminating in the long overdue DVD release of the show in 2012 at Warner Archive’s WBShop.com.
Your stomach tightens with excitement as you feel the building vibration of an experimental triple-turbine engine beneath you.
A quick pre-flight check of the Turbokat: the most advanced fighter jet the world has ever known-then, suddenly, your body is slammed deep into the pilot’s seat as you take off, building toward a six-G climb toward the beautiful and dangerous skies of Megakat City. Your mission: capture the most bizarre and deadly criminals known to Kat kind! It’s the SWAT Kats: the Radical Squadron! Hanna-Barbera’s new action-packed series!
Set in the imaginative location of Megakat City, a vast and varied metropolis, rivaling Planet Earth in size. The SWAT Kats are two ready-for-anything daredevil jet pilots, eager to do whatever it takes to keep their city safe, no matter how risky or insane! “SWAT Kats: the Radical Squadron” sports a bold, eye-catching and colorful graphic style to complement its exciting, energetic rock & roll sound. The series is produced by Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc., the company that invented animated adventure in television with Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Super Friends, and a pantheon of others.
SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron focused on the characters of Chance Furlong and Jake Clawson, two ex-Enforcer pilots. They were discharged from the Enforcers after disobeying the orders of Commander Feral, which resulted in the destruction of the newly built Enforcer Headquarters.
Having been blamed for the incident, the two were fired and sent to work in a military Salvage Yard to pay off the debt for its destruction. At their rate of pay, it would take them the rest of their lives.
Looking to “get back in the air and get back at Dark Kat,” the two decided to become vigilantes, doing things their own way this time. Using their own ingenuity and the resources of the salvage yard, they built their own super sonic jet: the Turbokat. Donning the aliases T-Bone and Razor respectively, they took to the skies as the SWAT Kats.
By using unorthodox weapons and tactics, the SWAT Kats were able to handle situations that often left the Enforcers helpless. Taking on adversaries such as Dark Kat, Dr. Viper, The Metallikats and the Pastmaster, they became the popular saviors of Megakat City.
“If this isn’t a SWAT Kat emergency, then I don’t know what is!”
The SWAT Kats earned the trust and respect of Megakat City’s Deputy Mayor Calico Briggs. As a result, Callie is often the insider who informs the SWAT Kats of impending emergencies so they can respond in a timely fashion.
Commander Feral generally detests the SWAT Kats as they often make the Enforcers look bad. He frequently refers to them as “reckless hotshots with no respect for authority” throughout the series. At first Feral treats the SWAT Kats purely as criminals due to their vigilante actions, and at numerous points aggressively pursues their capture and arrest. Towards the end of the series Feral comes to view the SWAT Kats as a relative force for good, even going so far as to credit them for their “minor assistance.”
Introduced in season 2, Lt. Felina Feral, niece of Commander Feral, became a recurring character – a fearless, “different kind of Enforcer,” who doesn’t take no for an answer. Felina often leads the charge into danger, much to her uncle’s chagrin. She views the SWAT Kats with a more friendly disposition, though she isn’t content to stand on the sidelines when trouble arises, and frequently joined the vigilantes (and even saving them on occasion) in their adventures.
The show lasted for a period of two seasons from 1993 to 1994 with a total of 23 episodes (including two “half” episodes). Turner Networks had expressed no intention of bringing the series back.
SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron has since generated a large and lively fandom on the internet, the focal points of which can be found on MegakatCity.com, Kristen’s SWAT Kat Gallery and @TheSWATKats on Twitter.
The series was created by Christian and Yvon Tremblay, with every episode directed by Robert Alvarez (with the exception of Special Report). Major writers included Glenn Leopold and Televison’s Lance Falk.
To learn more about the Tremblays, visit their official website at Tremblay Brothers Studios.