Articles and review of SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron featured in Toon Magazine’s Fall ’94 preview issue (Vol 1, No. 5).
Source: Toon_ Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 5, Fall 1994
Hanna-Barbera’s SWAT Kats: The Best New Action-Adventure Series To Come From Hanna-Barbera In Years!
by Michael Swanigan
Hanna-Barbera’s _SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron_ already has proven to be a bonafide hit. Arriving nationally in syndication and on TBS Superstation in September of ’93, the thrills and tactics have put Hanna-Barberasquarely back at the forefront of action-adventure genre they pioneered in the 1960’s with _Jonny Quest_.
The crew at Hanna-Barbera wanted to create a cartoon pulsing with sensory overload. SWAT Kats takes passengers into the thingypit with two feline daredevils and their jet as they rip through skyscraper canyons and dash across the skies of Megakat City in pursuit of the world’s baddest kats.
Replete with nonstop video-game action, high-tech laser gadgetry, heart-stopping danger, daring rescues and a driving soundtrack, the all-kat world of SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron arrived on television. Two ex-pilots have assumed secret identities and taken to the skies in their incredible Turbokat jet.
Creators and executive producers, Yvon and Christian Tremblay, wanted a world infused with vibrant colors and roaring action. “SWAT Kats leap to life in comic book style taking viewers along for the ride, solving crime like no other superheroes ever have,” said Christian Tremblay. Each episode finds the heroes, Jake and Chance, challenged by one of the myriad of unique villains who inhabit the huge city populated only by cats. Jake and Chance transform themselves into the SWAT Kats, Razor and T-Bone, who battle Dark Kat, overlord of crime; the Pastmaster, a time-traveling evil creature; the Metallikats, a bionic clawing couple, and other larger-than-life foes.
This super-team distinguish themselves from other heroes with two qualities: inventiveness and speed. Instead of weapons, the SWAT Kats have developed a stock of devices that assist them in capturing criminals. New gadgets play a major role in the action and include the crook-catching Octopus Missile, Glovatrix and Cyclotron, among others. “Our Kats use their wits and ingenuity in settling the score. They use gadgets that stop villains rather than go after crime with brawn and armor,” says Christian Tremblay. “Ultimately their schemes and devices find more excitement and adventure than mere fighting would.”
As the world’s foremost expert fighter pilots, Jake and Chance bring determination, flair and skills to the skies. They met during Enforcer training and flew many combat missions together. An unlikely looking pair, they established a friendship in the thingypit, where it was camaraderie at first flight.
Together, they were their own “Radical Squadron.” But they disdained all the rules and regulations that Commander Feral and the Megakat Force laid on them. Feral, in turn, hated them for their independence, stubbornness and superior skills. On one fateful day, Commander Feral cut them off when they were in pursuit of Dark Kat. Feral’s reckless move clipped the tail of Chance and Jake’s jet which crashed into Enforcer Headquarters, almost destroying it. Afterwards Feral destroyed their careers, drumming them out of the service and relegated them to pay off their societal debt by running the Megakat City Salvage Yard.
The two mechanics eventually invented crime-fighting mechanisms from the junk surrounding them, and built their own one-of-a-kind Turbokat jet. Now they combat villains on their own terms. Music helps set the tone for the SWAT Kats’ mighty feats. According to Christian Tremblay, “How better to rev up the adrenaline than with a score that captivates the mood and accentuates the action.”
The music selection relies on Queen (the rock band) influences and adds effects that may be heard emanating from a neighborhood arcade. Since the SWAT Kats’ escapades speed along at video-game pace, the sound effects of the Kats’ missions could be mistaken as edits from the latest Nintendo craze.
Long regarded as the expert in animation sound effects (from the scrambling of Fred Flintstone’s feet to Jerry’s pulling of Tom’s whiskers), Hanna-Barbera continues its tradition with the soaring, roaring, dashing, crashing audio antics for the SWAT Kats’ series.
Big-framed, burly Chance springs into action as a leap-before-you-look daredevil who loves danger and daring-do. The riskier the enterprise, the happier he is. As pilot of the Turbokat, he jettisons the plane to heights never before imagined. His hard-core ways contrast his partner Jake’s naturally cautious bent. Secure and thingyy, Chance likes to ignore Jake’s warnings. He fancies himself a ladies man, but generally has more success in a maniac in the [skies].
As co-pilot, navigator, gadgets expert and idea kat, Jake has designed most of the special unique firepower the Turbokat carries. More comfortable around technical wizardry, Jake gets nervous around a pretty girl. Further clashing with Chance’s style, the smaller Jake conducts business in more laconic manner. But when confronted with danger and villains, Jake bursts into the situation, as agile as his partner.
A lean, tough, by-the-book police veteran, Commander Feral displays his militant, power-hungry way to prevent anyone from going around him. However, the SWAT Kats go around, up and over him. Furious that the SWAT Kats always end up doing his job, Feral boils over seeing his Enforcers look bad against Megakat City’s villains.
Always ready to come up with an excuse for getting out of a prickly situation, Mayor Manx happily leaves all the dirty chores to Callie Briggs. Despite his cowardice, he remains in office largely because the SWAT Kats always manage to bring Megakat City back from total catastrophe and destruction.
The fearless, strong-willed right-hand woman to do-nothing Mayor Manx, Callico (Callie) Briggs pounces on any situation that may put her beloved Megakat City in danger. Callie often becomes the trouble shooter who gets sent into dangerous situations so the Mayor can get information without endangering his life. Though she does not know the true identity of the SWAT Kats, Callie has a ‘hot line’ that can summon them when trouble arises.