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Dinosaurville

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed
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KooshmeisterKooshmeister

Coming out of the time vortex, the SWAT Kats find themselves in prehistoric times, and T-Bone finally manages to regain control of the Turbokat.

Razor, who apparently passed out again from the G-forces, wakes up and notices they ain’t in Megakat City anymore, as evidenced by all the dinosaurs congregating in the tropical scenery. After concluding that “that giant lizard smashed us into the past,” they notice that they’re leaking fuel.

T-Bone crash-lands the jet on the shore of a swamp lake. Razor gets out, saying he’ll fix the torn fuel line, but T-Bone reminds him that it won’t do any good because, “The closest gas station is only a million years away.” And, although it’s never actually stated, we’re left to assume that the portal closed after them (a theory that’ll be reinforced by dialogue later on in the episode).

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

Suddenly, a pair of Plesiosaurs emerge from the lake and start towards the Turbokat. Razor ducks back into the cockpit, and then the SWAT Kats eject from the jet in their “Ejektor seats” (no, that’s not a typo), which, in addition to being obvious ejector seats, are also self-propelled rocket chairs.

“I guess we showed them!” quips T-Bone, he and Razor having knocked the two Plesiosaurs over backwards by clipping their chins as the Ejektor seats shot upwards (which, I imagine, should’ve sent the Ejektors spiraling out of control or something). Razor agrees, but then points over at something and says, “But now we have to show them!” As it turns out he’s pointing to a flock of long-necked, winged reptiles (identified in the model sheets as, aptly, “Long-Necked Flying Reptiles”) headed towards them.

We cut back to present-day Megakat City, where we find the Megasaurus Rex lumbering down a city street, a crowd of citizens fleeing his approach en masse with cars crashing and such in a scene that’d make Toho proud. Ahead, the Enforcers have constructed a blockade of patrol cars right alongside what a sign identifies as the Megakat City Tar Pits, and numerous commandoes fire upon the dinosaur with rocket launchers.

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

The Pastmaster, we see, is now riding on the dinosaur’s nose. Thumbing through the Tome of Time and ignoring all the missiles and such that are whizzing by him, he observes, “Ah, there is a way to destroy this modern monstrosity called Megakat City, and bring back the Dark Ages!”

At the blockade, an Enforcer patrol car differant from the rest pulls up (the “normal” Enforcer car has a white and gray color scheme, while this one is white and blue), and a tall, robust fella with a big chin and a black crewcut wearing a uniform trenchcoat gets out. This is Ulysses Feral (Gary Owens), Commander of the Enforcers. We see right away that he’s got the J. Jonah Jameson role of this series (that is, disliking the heroes), when he observes that “those meddling SWAT Kats aren’t here.” One of the commandoes informs him that “they got taken out early,” and Feral tells him to launch gas grenades at the approaching dinosaur.

The Pastmaster, meanwhile, still has his nose buried in his book. He’s found the spell he needs, and, according to the book, it must be cast from “the tallest clocktower in the land.” He muses that, “once, that was my tower,” (a fact which will be ignored when he returns in “Bride of the Pastmaster”) when suddenly he’s enveloped in gas. The Enforcers are launching those gas grenades as per Commander Feral’s orders, and, disoriented, the Megasaurus Rex stumbles right into the nearby tar pits. What are the odds, huh?

The dinosaur quickly begins sinking into the tar, with Commander Feral observing, “They’re not going anywhere.” Suddenly Callie and Dr. Sinian run up, Sinian telling Feral that they need to get the spellbook away from the Pastmaster. Feral responds by saying that he’s in charge (and he has a point), and Callie reminds him that Dr. Sinian is the curator of the museum and, therefore, she knows what she’s talking about. Giving in, Feral orders his men to throw a net over the Pastmaster.

Speaking of whom, the Pastmaster is now just sitting on the Megasaurus Rex’s head looking in the book. The dinosaur has, apparently, stopped sinking after he’s in up to his neck. In the Tome of Time, the Pastmaster finds a drawing of a Pteranodon. He repeats that simplistic incantation from before, with one minor change: “Hear the spell of this immortal, send these creatures through the portal!”

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

Once again, reddish energy shoots from the pages of the book as he holds it above his head, opening another portal through which several Pteranodons fly.

One of them swoops down and grabs the Pastmaster in its talons, pulling him off of the Megasaurus Rex’s head just as the net is thrown over it. Callie bitches at Feral for not acting quickly enough, and Feral grabs a radio and calls for “chopper backup.” And once more, we’re left to assume that the time vortex closed after the Pteranodons came out of it (and I have another thing to say about this particular portal-opening, but that’ll have to wait for the right time).

Still being carried by the Pteranodon, the Pastmaster spots City Hall, one of the tallest buildings in Megakat City and, ironically, a clocktower. He tells his winged companion that “that clocktower will do nicely,” and is deposited neatly on the rooftop below the huge, Big Ben-esque clock face. We also get our first glimpes of Callie’s boss here, Mayor Manx (Jim Cummings). He’s practicing his putts in his office (he’s a golf nut) when he’s startled by a Pteranodon flying past the window.

Back in prehistoric times, the SWAT Kats are doing their best to evade those long-necked flying things, trying to outmanuever them with some fancy flying (or, at least, as fancy as the decidedly nonstreamlined Ejektor seats will allow). There’s four in all, and they take out the first two by launching Spider Missiles at them. Yes, apparently, the Ejektors can carry weapons. Spider Missiles, meanwhile, are essentially little bolas. They wrap around the two winged creatures, pinning their wings.

Unable to fly, the animals fall from the sky and plunge into the lake, where they’ll either drown or get eaten by the two Plesiosaurs, which we see rapidly approaching the spot where they fell in. Now T-Bone and Razor just have to evade the remaining two winged beasts, which Razor plans to do by flying into a live volcano; a plan that makes T-Bone declare, “Razor, you’re crazier than I am!”

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

Into the volcanic crater they go, flying dangerously close to the lava. The SWAT Kats combat the fumes and heat by putting their oxygen masks on, but the two long-necked critters aren’t as lucky. Overcome, they plunge into the lava. “Smells like prehistoric fried chicken,” observes T-Bone, and they quickly vacate the volcano. After admitting that “volcano hoppin’ was kinda fun,” he adds that he doesn’t “wanna spend the rest of my nine lives stuck in Dinosaurville.” Luckily, Razor gas a plan that just might get the Turbokat flying again. Originally, the volcano sequence was supposed to lead into a commercial break, but in reruns of the episode they did away with that and instead there is no break.

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

Then it’s back to the present again. Several Pteranodons are perched on the roof of City Hall, an Enforcer chopper carrying Commander Feral hovering nearby. Feral, yelling into a radio, asks Mayor Manx to let him “blast that gnome and his buzzards off of there,” whilst Manx, yelling back into a telephone (!!), tells Feral that he won’t let him do so until he finds out what it is that the Pastmaster wants and who he is. Mayor Manx, by the way, is a short, fat guy with an Irish accent and a toupee, and the ultimate stereotype of the dumb politician intelligence-wise.

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

He hangs up on Feral just as Callie and Dr. Sinian come into his office.

Apparently having overheard the Mayor’s phone call, Callie tells him, “He’s an 800-year-old sorcerer from the Dark Ages!” Which isn’t exactly true; for him to be exactly 800, he’d have to have been locked inside that chest when he was a baby (as he told Jack and Tom earlier that he’d been trapped within the chest for exactly that length of time). Mayor Manx then tells her and Dr. Sinian to go up to the clocktower and “find out what he wants!”

We cut back to prehistoric times. This cutting back and forth between the past and present is extremely jarring, and is thankfully handled better in future episodes like “Bride of the Pastmaster” and “A Bright and Shiny Future,” wherein they don’t have two different stories occurring in different time periods to muck things up.

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

Anyways, Razor and T-Bone have somehow managed to move the Turbokat away from the lake to the base of the volcano.

Either that, or the volcano and lake are a lot closer together than they look. Razor crawls out from under the jet and tells T-Bone he’s modified the fuel tanks. We see why when, told by Razor to “gimme some gas,” T-Bone uses a bazooka (?) to shoot a hole in the base of the volcano.

This causes a jet of hot volcanic gases to come out, and T-Bone sticks a hose into the hole, the other end of which is attached to the Turbokat.

Yes, it seems they’re filling the (modified) fuel tanks of the jet with volcanic gases. T-Bone, rightly, asks if Razor knows what in the world he’s doing. Razor explains that the “natural volcanic gas mixture should get us off the ground… or blow us up.” Needless to say, scientific accuracy isn’t one of this show’s strong points.

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

Then it’s to the present yet again, where we find the Pastmaster alone on the roof of City Hall. The sky is beginning to darken and flash red lightening, while the evil little wizard looks at a picture in his book showing a medieval cityscape with similar weather conditions.

“Alas, it’s too late,” he says. Too late for what? He explains, to no one in particular, that when the clocktower strikes noon, “your Megakat City will be no more!”

He then fires a beam of energy from his watch into the sky, which is odd as, up ’till this point, they implied that the only way for him to open portals would be with the Tome of Time. All right, let’s stop for a second and see if I can get all this straight. Okay, the Pastmaster’s evil plan here is to turn Megakat City back to the way it was in the Dark Ages, when, as revealed in “Bride of the Pastmaster,” it was called Megalith City. All right, fine.

The spell to do so somehow involves the “tallest clocktower in the land,” and, apparently, opening a portal, but with his pocketwatch and not the spellbook. The Tome of Time is still involved, obviously, since it contains the spell in question (which we never hear). If all this sounds confusing and nonsensical, I’ve done my job.

Also, if the Pastmaster can send or summon living creaures through his time portals, why can’t he just hop through one and go back to the Dark Ages? Why all this complicated nonsense about turning one lousy city back to its former, Dark Age state? I’ll go out on a limb here and theorize that the Pastmaster isn’t aware that he himself can traverse the portals, but by this episode’s end he’ll have learned that he can and do so in his future appearances.

Dinosaurville - The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice Reviewed

Anyhoo, Callie and Dr. Sinian come out onto the roof now. Callie calls over to the Pastmaster and tells him that, “the Mayor has authorized me to give you anything you want!”

She offers him money and his own parade (!), but he brushes her off by saying he’s already getting what he wants as they speak. Realizing they can’t talk this guy down or bribe him, Dr. Sinian tells Callie, again, that they’ve got to get the book away from him (later episodes reveal that the source of the Pastmaster’s power is not his book but his watch).

They rush him, but he stops zapping the sky long enough to turn and zap them with the watch. The beam doesn’t kill them or even really harm them, merely propelling them back through the door and into the building. After telling them that they’re “really going to enjoy the Dark Ages,” he slams the door on them.

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