Ah, it’s been a while since I did a SWAT Kats review. Originally I intended to skip this episode and go right to episode five, The Metallikats, because I didn’t have it on tape. But luckily my friend David Monid in the UK managed to get a copy of it on tape.
Today’s episode is episode four, Destructive Nature, the first of several episodes in the series written by Lance Falk and, so far, the only episode that actually aired in the correct production order (i.e., The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice aired first but was actually episode three, The Giant Bacteria aired second but was episode one, and The Wrath of Dark Kat aired third but was actually episode five).
This is an episode I’m not terribly fond of, and I don’t really know why. I admit to liking the previous three episodes dearly in spite of their myriad of crippling flaws, both in animation and in story, but something about Destructive Nature never sat well with me. Anyway, on with the review!
"Greed brings out the best in you, Mr. Mayor."
The episode begins with a shot of the Megakat City skyline as we move in an improbably tall building that literally towers above the rest. A voiceover by Mayor Manx – soon revealed to be inside the building – informs us, “At three-hundred stories, Megakat Tower is the tallest, most modern office in the whole city.” Three-hundred stories? Yikes. Inside the penthouse of the building we find Mayor Manx and three well-dressed Siamese cat businessmen standing by the window. Ha-ha, get it? Japanese businessmen?
The main Siamese cat is Mr. Young (voiced by Robert Ito), distinguishable from his fellows by the fact he wears large square framed glasses. His two companions go unnamed, but one is tall and skinny and the other is short and fat. I’d say that these guys are stereotypes, but that’s a given. Young says the building is impressive, and Manx replies, “It’s the perfect place to house your corporate headquarters, Mr. Young.” Young and his buddies all turn to face the Mayor as one and Young says, “Mmm, perhaps.”
For some reason this makes the Mayor nervous and he loosens his tie, then turns to Callie Briggs who is also in the room with Ann Gora and Ann’s cameraman, Jonny K. The Mayor asks Callie, “How’m I doing?” and Callie says, “Greed brings out the best in you, Mr. Mayor.” Okay, I admit to liking that bit. He thanks her, and then Callie turns to Ann Gora and explains that the Mayor “sunk most of the city treasury into this place,” but that this is “off the record.” Ann says she understands, and thanks Callie for “giving me the exclusive.”
Back over to Mayor Manx and the Siamese businessmen, Manx puts an arm around Mr. Young (which seems to make Young extremely uncomfortable) and suggests they continue their discussion at Megakat Golf Course. Young’s mood brightens and he says the tower is in an excellent location because it’s so close to the golf course (which we learn is a ten minute drive away). They exit.
We wipe to an extreme closeup of Chance Furlong gritting his teeth in anger, muttering, “Not this time, sucker! You’re dead meat!” as we hear laser blast sounds. He’s then revealed to be playing an arcade game of some sort, the object of which is to fly around and shoot enemy fighter craft or something, and Chance really into it, to the point he punches the screen when one of the alien ships or whatever does a “sneak attack.” Boy, Chance has some real anger management issues. Nearby, we see Jake Clawson watering a potted plant. In fact there appear to be plants all over the place, including atop the arcade game Chance is playing.
After zapping a few more alien ships, Chance amasses a whopping two-million points in the game and declares, “Two-million points and I’ve saved the universe!” But apparently “saving the universe” doesn’t mean the game is over because he then goes right back to playing it. Jake, meanwhile, says, “Well, I’m trying to save this place from the smell of sour milk.” Chance exposits that that’s what “all this plant business” is about as Jake uses a stool to stand up and water the plant sitting on top of the arcade game. “Yup,” he replies, “good for the environment, good for the air.” Thank you, Captain Planet.
Somehow this causes the plant to instantly grow, its leafy fronds draping down over the game screen and blocking Chance’s view of what’s going on. He moves the fronds aside but it’s too late and his little ship has been blown up, and the screen is flashing “Your Loss! Game Over!” Replying to Jake’s “good for the environment, good for the air” line, Chance grumbles, “But not so good for my game score. And I was goin’ for a personal best, too!” He even pounds the screen again, this time with both fists. Jake tells him to relax and presses a button on the game’s console, prompting an annoying musical jingle to issue forth and a highly computerized voice to say, “Spaaaaaaaace Cat!” Hmm, must’ve been the reset button. “There’s always another universe to save,” Jake adds and resumes watering his plants.
We cut back to the Megakat Tower, where a suspicious looking, short individual wearing a big coat and a baseball cap pulled down over his eyes is also watering the multitude of potted plants that fill the lobby. Whoever he is he’s got green fur and a big chin. Hmm. He ducks out of sight as Callie, Ann Gora and Jonny get out of an elevator nearby. As Jonny films her with his camera, and while the suspicious, yellow-eyed individual watches from behind one of the plants, Ann says, “Today, only a few potted plants occupy the Megakat Tower. But when it opens next month, this place is guaranteed to be a bustling business center.” She concludes this sorry excuse for a news report with, “This is Ann Gora, Kat’s Eye News.”
She and Jonny then head out through the glass double doors, and as Callie follows the doors swing shut and close on a file folder she’s carrying for some reason, making her drop it and spill paperwork all over the place. “And this is Callie Briggs, klutz,” she mutters. As she stoops down to pick the stuff up she happens to see that suspicious guy in the baseball cap and coat go running past in a badly-animated shot. “No, it couldn’t be!” she says, and goes back inside to check it out. She sees him disappear through an open doorway.
Outside, Ann tells Jonny to get some good shots of the building’s courtyard. Jonny is doing just that when suddenly the ground begins to shake. The cement splits apart between Jonny’s feet, but he has the good sense to leap to one side safely rather than trying to keep both feet on either side of the widening chasm. He and Ann back away as giant, thorny beanstalk things come rising out of the massive crack in the ground. More of them begin to erupt from the ground, hilariously bulging the cement out like rubber before bursting forth, and begin to grow right up the side of the Megakat Tower as Ann and Jonny (wisely) vacate the premesis.
"But I count on you, my creations, to protect me from Feral, his Enforcers, and most of all, those meddling SWAT Kats!"
Inside the tower, we see that more icky-looking plants have sprung up in there, too. We hear the all-too familiar cackling of Dr. Viper, the half cat, half snake mad doctor from The Giant Bacteria, and sure enough, down in the basement that suspicious looking fellow removes his baseball cap to reveal himself as the evil genius in question. Oddly, he seems to have had this planned for a long time considering he’s got a chemistry set laid out on a table down there. A few odd-looking little critters scurry over to him.
Viper exposits, “Thanks to my growth formula, this building is now imenetrable!” Pointing at the odd-looking critters, he continues, “But I count on you, my creations, to protect me from Feral, his Enforcers, and most of all, those meddling SWAT Kats!” He now doffs the big coat he was wearing to reveal that he has his several-sizes-too-large lab coat on underneath it, and then Callie peeks in and looks down at him and his, uh, “creations,” gasping, “It is Dr. Viper!”