Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pryde of the X-Men

Season: 1
Episode Number: 1
Season Episode Number: 1
Production Number: Unknown
Airdate: Unknown, 1989

Writer: Larry Parr
Director: Ray Lee

Voices: John Stephenson (Professor X), Michael Bell (Cyclops, Colonel Chaffee), Earl Bowen (Colossus), Alexandra Stoddart (Dazzler), Frank Welker (Nightcrawler, Toad, Lockheed), Neil Ross (Wolverine), Andi Chapman (Storm), Kath Soucie (Kitty Pryde), Ronald Gans (Magneto), Susan Silo (White Queen), Patrick Pinney (Juggernaut), Allan Openheimer (Blob), Pat Fraley (Pyro).

Plot: Just as Kitty Pryde arrives at the X-Mansion upon the request of the Professor, Magneto steals a device that will allow him to control a passing by comet that will wipe out the human race, leaving only mutants to rule to world!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Despite being produced in the 80s, a time where animation was not at its finest, Pryde of the X-Men stands out as a cut above the rest. Paving the way with shows like Transformers, Muppet Babies, Dungeons & Dragons and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Marvel Productions spent the previous decade refining their skills as an animation studio, and in the late 80s some of their work is quite impressive.

Such is the case with Pryde of the X-Men which sports some great 80s animation with designs taken straight out of the Dave Cockrum and Jim Byrne era of X-Men comics.

Seeing as this was a pilot episode for a proposed X-Men series, I would expect the animation to be good as to woo the network into signing on for a season. Alas, this never came to happen.

The X-Men featured in this single episode are Professor X, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Dazzler, Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Kitty Pryde (who is not given the name Shadowcat since she isn't a superhero yet in this episode).

This may seem like an odd line-up of X-Men, but it represents the current roster at the time his show was made. Most of the original members had been "killed" by the Brood leaving Cyclops in charge.

Dazzler was a popular new recruit at the time which is why she was included here. It's too bad she didn't get more screen time. Had the series been picked up, she would have been a great character to have on the team as her sound powers work far better in a medium that actually includes sound.

This villains of the show are Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutant Terrorists, a title that wouldn't make it past the censors these days. The Brotherhood is made up of Juggernaut, Pyro, Toad, Blob and the White Queen, all of whom are portrayed quite accurately according to their characters in the comics at the time this was written.

Since there are over a dozen characters in this one episode, most of them only get one or two lines. Wolverine only gets to use his claws once and otherwise whines about the X-Men accepting kids. (And what's with his Australian accent?) Dazzler, Storm, Colossus, and even Cyclops are mainly used as background characters. It's really only the Nightcrawler that gets to be the hero in the episode.

Writer Larry Parr decided to make Kitty the focus of the episode, using her to explain the view of mutants in the public eye and giving her character an arc as she learns to embrace her abilities.

The story is packed with everything from the Blackbird to Asteroid M. We even get a Danger Room scene and meet Shadowcat's little dragon friend, Lockheed! And I'm sure that if the series was actually made, it would have been quite faithful to the comics and explored the histories of the characters in great detail.

The show has "80s" written all over it, especially in the music and dialogue, but I can help but wonder how the show would have turned out had the network picked it up. I would like to think that it would have been great.

Back to Pryde of the X-Men Series Information


Hero Supreme said...

Great story. Do you know why the show wasn't better received? Seems like it should have been a slam dunk. Where the X-Men still just not mainstream enough?

Kurtis said...

The X-Men were very popular at the time. The end of the 70s brought us the Phoenix Saga and the 80s had the Days of Future Past and God Loves, Man Kills storylines. And one of the most popular Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episodes is An X-Men Adventure in 1983.

But I'd imagine that the pilot wasn't promoted well, if at all. After all, the Marvel Action Universe was created for syndication which doesn't get as much of a promotion as network seasons.

Plus, it was shown once every thirteen weeks, and since the MAU only lasted for one season, it means that Pryde could have only been seen about about four or five times, without the aid of the internet to tell viewer when the next show was.

Fans today look at the show and see many things wrong with the characters and consider many of the elements super campy. But viewers of the time would have thought the campiness to be normal. After all, every show was like that. And the characters (aside from Wolverine's voice), were pretty close to the comics.

Orphen said...

I actually enjoyed this pilot episode I remeber I had it on VHS I believe, can't remeber if it was released or if I just taped it many years ago. It reminds me of the X-Men Arcade game.