Lance Falk's Episode Commentary
These were released by Lance Falk on AOL's Jonny Quest newsgroup as part of a behind-the-scenes look at his writing. #6 is missing, and probably covered The Robot Spies. Still, that episode is the season two finale, so perhaps there are more than 9 commentaries and 6 is something else entirely. If you recover these documents, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
#1 Rock of Rages
Subj: Behind the Scenes #1
Date: 97-02-08 13:40:06 EST
Hi everyone. This is the first in a promised series of Behind the Scenes of selected Jonny Quest episodes. I'm only going to cover the episodes I wrote because I would rather not speak for anyone else. This posting's about "Rock of Rages" which will rerun Tuesday, Feb 18.
I was working as a prop designer at Warner Bros. when Davis Doi (My former H-B boss and Producer on SWAT Kats) called me and offered me a writing job on Jonny. The WB job was nice, but Davis was offering me big promotion and a chance to do what I wanted. I gave Warner two weeks notice and began "Rock of Rages" at night and weekends to get a head start. (I actually finished the outline before leaving WB).
With "Rock" I wanted to do a generic Jonny Quest episode showing both sides of the series: Monsters/Action stuff. Also required: a tough badguy, exotic location, an "Old friend" of Dr. Q's, and an important part for each character (including Bandit). It was a lot of fun to write and I wanted to do Jonny justice because, it's always been my favorite animated series. I also have a solid reputation as a JQ expert and now I had to put my money where my mouth was.
Here are some Questoid Factoids about that episode:
1. The title is a play on "Rock of Ages" a Hebrew spiritual song. Appropriate, since the Golem legend is a Jewish one.
2. I did a Golem story to make fun of the lame-o "Hardrock" character from the 86 show. I wanted to show how SCARY a giant rock being was. Not a good idea for a cute sidekick.
3. When researching the ancient Golem legend, I found no two versions were identical, but they all pointed to Prague. I used information from several versions of the legend to fashion it's story as told by Benton. The scriv, however is a made up word and item.
4.I played off actual political events. Prague was the Capitol of Czecholslavakia untill the fall of the Eastern Block split the country into two: Slovackia and The Czech Republic. Vostok wants to restore Communist rule and since Prague provided him with the Golem, he started there.
5. Novak (the archeologist), Anton Karst, and Alena Stasny are all authentic Czech names.
6. Novak was originally shot by a gun but this made the censors nervous so we changed the sound to a dart gun and added Novak's moaning sounds after he hit the ground. (Do you think a dude as bad as Vostok would use a dart gun? C'mon!)
7. There was a longer Jessie scene of her going into a VR Information Retrieval program (ala "Disclosure") to get the goods on Vostok, but it was cut from the storyboard for time.
8. Another cut was Jessie saying to Race "If you recognized Vostok, than he must have recog...." Race interrupts: "No. He didn't get a good look at me". That's why, after the helicopter attack race says: "Well, I guess Vostok DID recognize me!" A punchline to a cut joke.
9. Don Messick was originally recorded as the voice of Dr. Quest, but we had to loop over all his dialogue with John Delancey. If you listen carefully, one line was missed: "And not a moment too soon!" is Don. Listen carefully. We love JD, but replacing Don was a sad thing indeed.
10. The Golem's relentless attack on the Presidential Palace (a real location, carefully recearched, inside and out) was an homage to the Spy's escape in the classic episode "The Robot Spy". Probably my favorite JQ ever.
11. Alena Stasny gets her last name from a friend of mine who was actually born and raised in Prague and was an invaluable source of information when I wrote the show.
12. Michael Bell (Anton Karst) is also the voice of Ezekial Rage. He was also in the first episode of Star Trek TNG as Groppler Zorn.
13. Alena Stasny want to college here in the States. She was best friends with Rachel Wildey (Jonnny's mom to be). She also had some real feelings for the young and oblivious Benton but kept them to herself for Rachel's sake. You can see a hint of her feelings for him when they meet at the Prague airport.
14. Vostok is named after a Soviet Missile.
#2 Other Space
Subj: Behind the Scenes #2
Date: 97-02-12 09:00:15 EST
Hi Questoids, here's the poop on "Other Space".
I avoided Questworld scripts for four shows before it was my turn. Nothing against it really, I just prefer traditional JQ type stories with exotic locations around the world. By the time I came on board, the Questworld ideas looked used up to me. There are only so many "Video Games that almost kill you" adventures before Dr. Quest would logically pull the plug. (I have the same problem with Star Trek holodeck episodes) To be fair, Mike Ryan and Glenn Leopold seem to have a real handle on this stuff. They keep coming up with great Questworld stories. Finally, it was my turn.
I decided to "Cheat" around the problem much in the same way Project Gateway cheats around space and time. What if another dimension was discovered, one with the same properties as Questworld, but it was a REAL PLACE? That way Dr. Q. and his brood (ALL experts, not just Benton) could be called in with a database of already built Questworld gear and a working knowledge of the unknown territory.. Well, it was an idea that seemed to work for everyone, it was written, recorded, storyboarded, designed, etc THEN we found out it was not possible to do CGI for that episode. (don't ask) So I had to do a series of fast rewrites giving you the show you now hold.
The funny thing to me is that THIS world is now more exciting than the Other Space dimension. Originally, Jonny and Jessie fought the alien beings with an array of VR gear, broke Dr. Quest from his prision with another, etc.Whenever I watch it, I mourn for the middle Questworld sequences. They don't really work for me, but no one out there seems to mind, so I'll let it go. Larry really made it exciting, Davis has been very complimentary, the feedback from you folks has been very sweet so maybe I'm being too picky. It came out pretty neat in spite of itself.
Here are some Questoid Factoids about it:
1. Diana, Chris, and Marcus are all named after friends of mine in the animation biz.
2. Diana was originally hispanic but Larry grabbed onto the "Bodyguard" aspect of her former relationship with Race and ran with it. (which worked out fine. Sharri Bellifonte was great). Producer Larry denies the Whitney Houston / Larry Houston connection, but I'm not buying it!
3. Colonel William Marcus was played by Carl Lumley, formerly known as M.A.N.T.I.S. on Fox, among other things He was so good as Marcus! "Maybe they're just rude!" Ha ha!
4. Brian Toshi was Ken Otsuki. He's been in a LOT of stuff. (Remember "Space Academy"?)
5. The creatures were meant to evoke the "Dr. Strange" comic book work of Steve Ditko (the FIRST Spiderman artist) I sort of ruff designed the humanoid beasties myself. Jim Stenstrum, Mark Lewis, and lots of post production effects gave them their final cool appearance.
6. Contrary to rumor, "Stargate" was not a big influence on the story. (though I like that film) I was really going for a classic "Outer Limits" feel. "The Belerro Sheild", "Galaxy Being",and especially "The Borderlands". Our Music composer did a great Outer Limitsy job. Listen closely to the score, it's dynamite.
7. Those video effects (the humanoid energy creatures, sky, Gateway, etc) were expensive and time consuming to do. It seemed the best way to tell the story however (Aren't they COOL?)
8. "Other Space" is a play on "Outer space. Duh.....You knew that, I'm sure.
9. Diana Cruz was Race's bodyguard assignment (eight or nine years ago) just prior to the Quest job. He must have done a good job, cause she's still around, right?
That's all that occurs to me. I'll do my other brush with VR ("Thoughtscape") in a few days.
Subj: Behind the Scenes #3
Date: 97-02-14 10:39:37 EST
Today's subject: "Thoughtscape": My second journey into VR. Again, I wanted to avoid the "Deadly Video Game" stuff, so I came up with the "Virtual Voyage" idea. Surd could smuggle a whole army right inside Jessie's head.
We were beginning to use VR for more than games and the VR stories started getting better. ("Cyberswitch": Body snatching, "Other Space": Interdimensional Exploration, "Thoughtscape": Brainwashing, "Edge of Yesterday": Time Travel, etc.) The CGI footage is also improving by leaps and bounds.
Originally, all the Jessie's mind stuff was supposed to be VR but again, production problems changed this at the last minute. So we planned out the show with traditional animation, THEN we found out that four minutes of CGI was required anyway. ARRRGH! What to do? The transition sequences. They were concocted by Producer Larry Houston and Storyboard Supervisor Vic DalChele. The Opening theater sequence was also Larry's idea and execution. The thing is, in THIS case, I'm glad the Mostly CGI fell through because this show has lots of character acting sequences which don't work as well in Computer animation. Also, Mook did an especially good job of drawing the characters in this one. I really like the way they look.
1. The movie billboard says:Doug and Ellen in: "Courtney & Lance". A double bill with "Cold War". Doug and Ellen are of course the Wildeys. "Cold War" was an unused title for "General Winter" Again, Larry's doing, that rascal.
2. It's subtle, but when Jessie drives through the house, she damages IRIS and shorts out the Mansion Security. (all part of Surd's plan) You can hear IRIS being cut off mid-word as the RV drives through. This damage allows Lorenzo to breach the lighthouse later.
3. The destruction of the "Grandparents style" Quest Stream RV was deliberate. I dislike it.
4. The Maine Mansion gets a good working over for the same reason. Davis noticed: "You REALLY don't like that place." I replied "Wait 'till you see my final script" Kaboooom!
5. There was a beat cut for time where Race insists on going into Jessie's head but Dr. Quest orders him to stay and "bodyguard" while they are in VR. Race reluctantly sees the wisdom in it, saying: "but I still don't like it!" I wanted to point out that Dr. Quest IS the boss when it comes down to it. (Like Kirk to Spock) Of course, Benton was right. If Race went and he stayed, Surd might have won.
6. I'm fond of doing the "butt-kicking Dr. Quest." He'll do this again. Race DID train him after all. I thought DeLancey was GREAT in this show. Those torture sequences give me the creeps. His "tough guy" beat was well played too. Just right
7.The Ghostly image of VR Surd leaving Wheelchair Surd (sold seperately!) was his VR body program being erased for all time. He's REALLY stuck like that forever. (unless someone undoes it later, but I hope not. It's just the right end for him, don't you think?)
8. I must give credit here: My original Surd fate was to have him real tiny in Questworld while an infinite barrage of giant (to him) VR Jessies nearly trample him, unnoticed. He's like an unseen bug, forever in motion to avoid being stepped on. I thought this was a humiliating fate for an ego like Surd's, then Davis said: That's soooo cruel. How about if we just make him a cripple in VR too?" As soon as I heard this, I knew it was the way to go. MUCH crueler I think! The ending's the best part. Wish I thought of it!
9. Jennifer Hale (Jessie's voice) hugged me when she showed up for recording (This is a GOOD thing. Reward enough in itself!) and thanked me for the story. Of course, moments like this, (and BritGriff's letter) make all the hard work so worthwhile.
10. Rob Paulson plays Lorenzo AND Hadji. He was having a conversation with himself!
That's all I can think of at the moment. next Behind the scenes: "Race against Danger" I'll do it over the weekend. By the way, I hope we've seen the last of those "You've made Jessie a wimp" comments.Thanks for watching!
#4 Odds and Ends
Subj: Behind the Scenes 4
Date: 97-02-23 03:55:18 EST
Hi loyal Questoids, this installment is devoted to odds and ends rather then one specific episode. (stuff I forgot the first time, basically).
1. Originally, the Real Adventures of Jonny Quest was formatted a bit differently. Like this: Teaser / Opening Credits / Commercials / Act One / Etc. This is how Both Seasons structured them which is why the first act is so short. For some reason, this was changed to the current structure: Opening Credits / Teaser / Commercials / Act One / Etc.
I still see them "Teaser first" in my head. (Like Trek and B-5) This is a Season One idea that I really liked. Too bad we didn't try it.
2. The Dragonfly Jet (white with the huge tail fin) is from the Classic Show. Season One chose not to use it. I made sure it returned in "Rock of Rages" as the official Quest transport. Its name was never actually given in a show but JQ creator Doug Wildey told me it's name (and HE would know).
3. Another thing we restored from the Classic Series is the jewel in Hadji's turban. He doesn't have it in Season One or our first two shows ("Mummies of Malenque" and "Rock of Rages") He aquires it during our third show: "Bloodlines" when his Sultan status is revealed. from then on, he wears it (even in Questworld).
4. In "Rock of Rages" there is an apparent mistake. (but it isn't) Early in the show, the Golem goes "Dead" when the scriv is knocked from Vostok's hand. Later, when Jonny knocks away the scriv with a rock, the Golem is still on a rampage, not affected by Bandit, Jonny, or not being held at all. The explination: When Karst and Vostok wrestle over the scriv, the strain breaks it (You see this as a flash of energy). The resulting Scriv damage turns the Golem into a beserker, bent on fufilling his last command: "Destroy the President!" I think a line explaining this was cut for time. (I DO think these things out, y'know!)
5. Vostok does not see himself as a villian. He really believes Communism is the correct path for humanity. When the Iron Curtain collapsed, he kind of snapped and decided his great destiny was to show the world the error of it's ways. Another cut line explains this a bit. When the Golem is first ordered to get the Quests, Benton pleads to spare the youngsters. Vostok replies: "Sadly, the innocent must sometimes perish when great destinies are to be forged. Regettable, but historically inevitible, yes?" A nice character bit but understandibly expendable. Vostok sees himself as a Caeser or Alexander the Great doing destiny's work. He thinks God won't let him die until he remakes Earth in a Communist mold. Vostok really believes in this stuff.
6. Jonny and Hadji each speak some Japanese in "Thoughtscape". They say: (Jonny) "Welcome to our Country, Ambassador" (Hadji) "We hope you have a pleasant stay."
I picked Japanese because we had a handy language coach available: Producer Davis Doi. He worked with Rob & Quentin (Hadji & Jonny) for fifteen minutes until their pronunciation was flawless with no trace of accent. (It's real easy for the writer to script phrases like: "Jonny says in perfect Japanese....."). Rob & Quentin really liked doing it. Quite a trick to pronounce something in a very different language WHILE sounding in character if you think about it.
That's all for now. Tomorrow, I'll give you the whole scoop on "Race Against Danger"
#5 Race Against Danger
Subj: Behind the Scenes 5
Date: 97-02-23 11:19:58 EST
Hi Questoids, as promised, here's all the news that's fit to print on "Race Against Danger"
Back in 86, H-B started a thirteen episode run of Jonny Quest. I was just an HB stock boy at that time, trying to break in to the toon biz. "Jonny Quest!" I thought. "I have to work on that. It's my all time favorite cartoon!" I tried everything including a few story ideas. None of them sold (very understandable, as I look on them now. Pretty clunky stuff) As it turned out, my drawing skills were further along and Jim Stenstrum gave me my big break as a model artist for the show. (Jim is the Season Two art director too. A great guy).
Flash forward a decade. Now I have a lot more experience and writing ability than the kid in the stockroom had. A few Produced scripts behind me (SWAT Kats mostly) got me the opportunity to write for JQ (finally!) Just for fun, I dusted off my old ideas and a few seemed pretty usable. "Race Against Danger" was the only one that got made but it's remarkably similar to it's humble beginnings. All mis-spelled and awkwardly worded on a single sheet of typing paper. I wish I could go back in time to show that stockboy it finally got made. Two of my other old ideas are workable and I might use them yet if the opportunity arises. What have we learned today?
A. Keep at it.
B. Never throw anything out!
Okay, time for the Questoid Factoids on "Race Against Danger"
1. The original title was "Race Against Death" I liked this title so much, I built a whole story around it. Then someone got skittish about the word "death" and we had to change it. It is still refered to around the office as "Race Against Death" which is an actual phrase AND a play on words. "Race Against Danger" doesn't really mean anything. sigh.......
2. Corbin is a character from the Classic Series. ("Mystery of the Lizard Men" and "Riddle of the Gold") He's used here as he was then: Race's boss. Corbin's original voice was the late, great Daws Butler. Our Corbin is Greg Burson, Daws' protege' (the new Yogi Bear).
3. 'Kreed' is Julian Sands from the Warlock movies. The ladies went a bit nuts, let me tell ya.
4. This show features Race's first field assignment (in flashback), and explains where the "Race' nickname originated.
5. Clark and Hill are named after two good friends who worked with us on SWAT Kats. (Eric Clark and Scott Hill). Scott said to me: "Thanks for tossing me into a spiked tiger pit, pal!"
6. An early idea also had Jessie and Jade cuffed together running the maze with Jonny and Race, but there was no time, so we moved the Jessie/Jade meeting to "Diamonds and Jade"
7.Another scrapped idea was my "Fanboy gallery" rather than multiple Kreed holograms, Jonny and Race were going to be shot at by a Classic JQ rogues gallery (Which would have been known to Temple as a thing to rattle Jonny and Race). A Robot Spy, Baron Von Froelich, Zin's hovercraft goons, etc. Davis was right in changing it. Too "inside".
8. The double twist at the end was made up on the spot and doesn't exist in the outline. (Showing a difference in sophistication between now and my 86 plotting abilities, I guess)
9. We get a glimpse of a young Dr. Zin (with hair yet!) in the flashback sequence. Little does Race realize that he has been thwarting Zin for years. Kreed, then Temple as Kreed has been supplying Zin (and other badguys) with sinister gear for years.
10. The "Racer" thing was just a plot point and will not resurface. We'd have to keep explaining it for those who missed R.A.D. Not worth the trouble. He HAS a nickname anyway, right?
11. The ending can be taken in two ways (up to the viewer to decide)
A. The logical, rational explination: The island's programing malfunctioned in just the right way and time to kill Temple OR...
2. The symbolic answer: Temple was killed by the spirit of Kreed. A man who's life he had stolen.
The show was so "Tech" that I wanted to add a hint of the mystical, I guess. I like a mixture.
#7 Nuclear Netherworld
Subj: Behind the Scenes # 7
Date: 97-03-06 10:35:11 EST
Hi gang. Here's the skinny on "Nuclear Netherworld". To fans of Classic Quest, this episode will be an obvious labor of love and tribute to that great show. (Still my all time favorite "kid's show"). It was a deliberate attempt to do a Classic-style show right out of '64. (Lots of "Calcutta Adventure" and "Fraudulent Volcano" elements are in it.)
When I got this job, I knew that I wanted to somehow tribute the Late, great Doug Wildey, who, of course created the Jonny Quest show way back when. Doug was also the producer, art director, and primary story plotter as well. (talented guy). I had the pleasure of knowing Doug for the last few years of his life and am proud to consider him a friend. Dave Stevens' "The Rocketeer" comic stories feature Doug's likeness and personality in the character of "Peevy" so I thought, I should put Doug in a show he created. I really envy Dave. He use to work for Doug. His widow, the incredibly sweet Ellen Wildey, gave me her blessing to use him.
1. The show is co-written by "Chip Baloo". Actually a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. The very first working title of the JQ show was "The Saga of Chip Baloo". Really. Doug wisely changed Chip's name to Jonny back in 1963.
2. Doug was a real fan of the old west, so I made "Grandpa Doug" a modern day cowboy. His ranch logo is a variation of the Wildey signature.
3. The character model was designed by master comic book artist and good friend Steve Rude (who was also Doug's pal).
4. Doug's voice was Harve Presnell. Some of you more mature viewers may know him as the grumpy, wealthy dad from "Fargo" (my best picture hopeful). Harve was called in to play a helicopter flying, cattle rancher. So, knowing NOTHING about the character, he comes to recording wearing a flightsuit. He says something like "Well, I just flew in from my ranch". Davis and I looked to Donna, our casting director and asked "Where do you find these guys?" Born for the part, Harve did one the best voice jobs of the series. His line that begins "VonRomme, I hold you personally responsible for what happened to my Grandson..." was amazing. His voice was actually cracking with rage and grief. It was on his face. Incredible.
5. His Security Cheif, Mr. Corey (named after my computer doctor) was voiced by Jerry Doyle, Babylon 5's security cheif, Garibaldi. (I wish I gave him a bigger role before killing him!) JD is also the voice of "Captian Simian". Very funny, nice guy.
6. The locations are assumed to be a section of Carlsbad Caverns which is a mostly unexplored network of 300 miles of subterranean caverns. I LOVE CC! I've made a few visits. Incredible.
7. Some "cut for violence" bits include: Doug grabbing the flamethrower from a dead guard's hand while saying "That's for Felipe, you rat". Originally, there were THREE jetpack guys sent after Jonny and Co. Doug blasted the first one. Couldn't do that. A "Mystery of the Lizardmen"-like downshot of VonRomme's men covering up their faces as the cave collapses. Actually, we got away with a lot in this show, mostly in dialogue. "Plenty of chores where you're going, Hank". Heh heh.....
8. A related note. I had a line which begins "VonRommes Foreign customers will pay whatever we want...." The word "Foriegn" is considered a no-no, aparrently. So we changed it to "International". I have NO IDEA how "foriegn" made the bad word list. It's pretty neutral for "not from here".
9. I like to put Jonny in situations where Race would have been handy and THEN leave Mr. Bannon out of the episode. I'm kinda' mean that way.
10. No. VonRomme will not return as some irradiated bad guy. He's paid the ultimate price for his evil. Ironically too, considering how he kept threatening his underlings with radiation exposure.
11. Voice director, Kris Zimmerman actually got teary-eyed about the ending. She's so sweet. she called me a "sentimental guy". That's good, right?
12. Doug "rides into the sunset."
As do I. Next time: "Diamonds and Jade"
#8 Diamonds and Jade
Subj: Behind the scenes # 8
Date: 97-03-22 23:43:35 EST
Hi folks, here's the scoop on "Diamonds & Jade." This idea was pitched to me by Shaun McLaughlin, a fellow W B. Employee. Shaun did a stint of writing for DC comics which includes a dozen terrific Aquamans and a Hawkman. Shaun currently serves as a Production Big-Wig on the "Superman/Batman" shows. (I don't know his title, but he has an office which I never did there!)
I loved his Wayang shadow puppet come to life idea. It had a real "classic JQ feel to it. Intrigue, suspense, an exotic locale, a GREAT monster with a link to a real cultural mythology. Add "Jezebel" Jade to the mix and the show is a "Must Do". (One of only two outside story pitches we used for our 26. The other was Bob Goodman's smart-blob idea "DNA Doomsday").
Shaun turned in his work in record time (pretty good, considering his lovely wife, Patricia had their first kid (Hi Lauren!) during the assignment.) For complex reasons, we decided to rework certain plot elements. (this happens all the time, yes, even to me!) Since Shaun had done all the work required of him, I was given the task of doing another draft. (Probably because the classic-type shows are my forte. I wanted to do a Jade show too.)
It ended up using a lot of Shaun's concepts but the plot spun off into another direction. Because of the time crunch, I called in "Chip Baloo" to help me crack some of the new ideas. "Chip" is also a real devotee of the Classic shows and a much needed fresh eye. The good news for Shaun is that he was able to parlay his JQ asssignment into some JQ comic writing. He wrote several of the issues, including his almost sold Vostok story "Countdown to Chaos". Check 'em out. They're great.
I hope Shaun likes what I did with his idea, he's a good friend. My only problem with this episode is it's "anime-ish" look. Probably my least favorite animation of our season. (Though "General Winter" which was my next show, came out perfect. as you'll see when they run it.)
You want Factoids? You got 'em......
1. This was my most research-intensive episode. I had to do a lot of reading on Jakarta and even went to a local College where there was a two-hour Wayang Kulit show. "Chip" and I videoed the whole thing and he interviewed the puppeteer afterwards. It was VERY cool.
2. I took the Jade from the Classic series. (Ignore the TV movie Jade. IT IS WRONG ABOUT HER). Jade's new voice was Tasia Valenzia. She knocked out all us poor, helpless males by exuding feminine grace. Kris Zimmerman, our fantastic voice director noticed this and kept teasing us about it through the recording ("Getting a little warm in here boys? You're all sweating") Tasia was incredibly good and we were happy to bring her back as Jade for "The Robot Spies".
3. All the names are authentic from that part of the world. (D'jalong [which actually kind of means "puppeteer"], Mohasson, Kumar Mukharno, Mantjur, N'Joman [the bodyguard guy].
4. There was a cut line about Jade having some old run in with the local law. (That's why Mantjur is a bit rude with her at first.) A cut bit where Jonny and Jessie manipulate Race and Jade into taking along to the theater: I'll recreate it here because I like it. (though it WAS expendable for time)
Right before we chased that scarfaced creep, we ended up in a theater. There was this guy there, a puppeteer...
He had a puppet just like that monster....
Hmmm... sounds like more than a coincidence to me.
CLOSER ON RACE. He keeps his eyes on the road.
Do you remember how to get to that theater?
ON JONNIE AND JESSIE:
(winks at Jessie)
But we have to show you in person. We don't remember the name of the street.
WIDER ON GROUP. Race has a frown on his face. He sighs.
Okay, okay. You can tag along. I know better than to argue with the two of you.
Race spares a look at Jade. Jonny gives Jessie a thumbs-up.
(shrugs to Jade)
They'd just show up anyway.....
5. Our great music composer, Gary Lionelli used our video tape reference to do some authentic-type wayang music. You can hear it mostly as Jonny and Jessie walk across the courtyard to the theater. Gary's the best. I LOVE his "Outer Limits" stuff for "Other Space".
6. A related note. The puppets and shadow stage were somewhat simplified from the same Video tape reference, but mostly accurate. (The creature aspect is made up however.) D'jalong's speech to Jonny is nearly word for word from an old National Geographic article on the puppets.
7. Jade was NEVER engaged to Race. She was lying to Jessie as a way of tricking the girl into liking her and into doing the job at hand. Jessie's very smart, but Jade is a master manipulator. Race's line at the end "Stepdad?" confirms this, but it's rather subtle.
8. A bit cut for violence. At the police investigation, Inspector Mantjur was supposed to point out some chalk line drawings of the shadow victims. They were in sections. Too gruesome I guess (Hey, I think it would have been funny! but that's me).
9. The mirror had special properties. That's how it was able to affect the Shadow Warrior (I think a cut line explained this).
10. This might be the first-ever chase scene with a whole house! (though I sort of got the idea from "Lethal Weapon II")
11. I take a bit of heat for my Jessie's cattiness, but in Jade's case, I think it is very understandable. The Jade/Jessie Dragonfly hold scene is one of my best, I think. Jennifer and Tasia LOVED playing it. Nailed it in one take, I recall.
12. Not a factoid exactly, but it was sure fun to do a Classic style JQ after the two VR ones
I think that's it. If I think of anything else, I'll post it.
"General Winter" is the next Behind the Scenes feature, but I won't do it 'till it airs.
#9 General Winter
Subj: Behind the scenes # 9
As I've mentioned, this is the episode I'm the most proud of out of "my" nine scripts. I'm fond of it for a number of reasons.
A. The animation is especially good. Our Season's best, I think. Mook really outdid themselves on this one. The Overseas director is Kenichi Shimizu. I love his work and instincts. He also helmed the animation work on my best SWAT Kats episode: "Unlikely Alloys". In fact, I was so happy with both, I sent him a Jonny Quest watch. Hopefully, I can work with him in the future.
B. I was more involved in every step of production than before (or since). For a few previous shows ("Bangalore Falcon" and "Edge of Yesterday") Producer Davis Doi was letting me tag along during all his post-Production duties. Taking me to "Producer's School" you could say. I assisted him in looking over the raw animation and asking for changes, working with all aspects of sound FX and music, editing, and so on. This period was the most fun I've EVER had in this business. By the time General Winter had come along, Davis was comfortable enough with my instincts to let me get my hands further into the Post work (all while keeping a watchful eye on me, natch'). It was a ball helping to shape that episode from idea to final delivery. In short, GW is more "me" than any other episode.
C. I think it's simply my best overall writing for the show. It works best for me. It has my cleanest, quickest, clearest storytelling, best lines, and action sequences. For once, I was smart enough to write lean so I didn't have to cut out much material in subsequent drafts. It also came easier than any of the others. It practically wrote itself. It's my "work to top" in the future and the one I run when I want to show off.
Okay, let's hit those Factoids:
1. This episode marked the return (and demise) of Vostok. I love this character. Mark Hamill did an outstanding job with his voice and brought him so much energy. He was easier to write this time around because I had Mark's Vostok voice in my head from "Rock of Rages". I killed him for a few reasons. Mainly because I wanted him gone so no one else would come along after me and mis-handle him. "I killed him to save him" you might say. He was also conceived as a Political type bad guy and his politically-slanted comments kept being censored from him (don't ask me why). I saw no point in using him if this unique motivational trait wasn't allowed. Shaun Mclaughlin used him in one of the JQ comic books. The story is called "Countdown to Chaos" and it was an "almost sold" episode idea. Lastly, it's Quest tradition for their enemies to perish in battle! (Zin notwithstanding) It's a thing about the JQ series I like. Our heroes are a lot more effective than most because they take out their enemies. How many times has the Joker broke out of Arkham now? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Batman show and could never see killing the Joker, but I'm glad JQ has a different approach. It's refreshing.
Lastly, I was pretty touched when Mark Hamill said "Oh no. You killed off Vostok! I liked this guy"
2. True, I crashed the Dragonfly, but fear not. Dr. Quest has a spare. Don't forget that I was the one who brought it back in the series. I LOVE that jet. It's still my most wanted desk toy.
3. There are a few "cheated" inaccuracies in the story about sub operation, pressure depths and so on. I hope you'll forgive me for doing what I had to in order to get the story to work to maximum effect. ("Undersea Urgency" is LOADED with scientific cheats!). I strive for accuracy (as you know) but if it gets in the way of "cool", well, cool's gonna win out every time (as it should in this series).
4. My favorite moment was censored out. After Vostok's "General Winter" speech in the frozen sub base, he says, "Colonel, Order your men to secure the base". He then used an index finger to casually tip over one of the frozen-solid guards. There is an off-screen shattering sound. Vostok looks down and laughs cruelly, "You will find little resistance".
5. The term General Winter is a very real one. It's an affectionate nickname. Russia's fierce weather has indeed thwarted many an invasion. I gave two examples, Napoleon and Hitler, but there are MANY others.
6. The working title was "Cold War". I liked it but someone found the Political connotations too offensive (for some reason) so we were forced to change it. I'm fine with the back-up title though. It has a nice poetic ring to it, don't you think? Davis suggested it and I liked it right away. Our other Producer Larry Houston put the name "Cold War" on a theater marquee in "Thoughtscape", that sneaky guy!
7. Professor Erikson was taken from the Classic JQ episode "House of the Seven Gargoyles" There he invented an anti-gravity process called "Erikon". I figure if he's smart enough to beat gravity, he's smart enough to invent quantum freeze technology. Erikon is an expensive and unstable process and therefore not in wide use in the Quest universe. It's how their hoverboards work, in case you were wondering.
8. Yep. I killed poor Erikson off. As in "Rock of Rages", Vostok was given a dart gun (arrgghhhhh!) But you'll notice that the Quest family didn't bring him with them when they abandoned the base did they? If Vostok used a dart gun, you can bet it was a POISON dart gun.
9. The Freeze effect is called "The Bifrost Effect". A reference to both Norse mythology and Gunter Erikson's Norwegian origins. It works by sending out a wave effect which instantly halts all molecular motion to absolute zero. Objects become so cold that a layer of ice forms due to condensation. (yeah, I actually think this stuff through)
10. Character actor Gregg Burger voiced Captain Rossanov. I had Jonathan Frakes in mind when I wrote it, but was delighted with Gregg's work. He really got into it.
11. Similarly, I asked for Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5's G'Kar) for Nikolai. When he proved unavailable, we brought in Clancy Brown, who knocked us out. Clancy was recently seen in Starship Troopers as Sgt/Prvt. Zim (but I'll always think of him as the bad guy, the Kurgan, in the first Highlander film!) Clancy is also the voice of Lex Luthor on the nifty Superman toon. His last line to Vostok was "You've killed us all". Well, days after recording, someone freaked out and wanted "killed" changed to "doomed" or "finished" so rather than bring Clancy back for one word (which we WOULD have had to do) we just cast him in another episode ("More than Zero") So, when he came in for that part, we had him redo the one GW line. He's great in MTZ, so it worked out fine for all concerned. As a nice postscript, we did get Andreas Katsulas for my last episode "The Robot Spies".
12. Not a real factoid, but a last thought on Vostok: He does NOT see himself as a villain. He really believes Communism is the correct path for humanity. When the Iron Curtain collapsed, he kind of snapped and decided his great destiny was to show the world the error of it's ways. A cut line in "Rock of Rages" explains this a bit. When the Golem is first ordered to get the Quests, Benton pleads to spare the youngsters. Vostok replies: "Sadly, the innocent must sometimes perish when great destinies are to be forged. Regrettable, but historically inevitable, yes?" A nice character bit but understandably expendable (and a bit awkward, I admit). Vostok sees himself as a Caesar or Alexander the Great doing destiny's work. He thinks God won't let him die until he remakes Earth in a Communist mold. Vostok REALLY believes in this stuff.