RAJQ Behind the Scenes No. 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
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.