WE CHEATED: Making Connections in the Savage Land

The first season of X-MEN:TAS we got away with something rarely seen in American animated television: we showed a continuing story set over 13 episodes.  For us to be allowed to do this was a tough fight since every business interest invovled worried that delays unique to animation could make us miss our planned air dates.  In the end they were right, and our connected storytelling cost them a lot of money.  They made much more when the series became a hit, of course, but the damage had been done: no more connected stories.  Occasional multi-parters might be okay (we pushed that hard), but episodes must STAND ALONE.  Well, we cheated.  We gave the network a two-part episode, then nine “stand alone” episodes, then a two-parter.  The trick was that the final two-parter resolved a problem (Xavier and Magneto kidnaped together) that we had set up in the opening story, and the nine episodes in-between all “touched base” with the kidnaped characters.  So to our audience, it felt like a continuing story.  This continuing background “B story” seemed to knit it all together.  I’m not sure what would have happened if the middle episodes had been shown out-of-order.  Our theory was that they would still make sense that way.  Perhaps we one day will make an experiment — starting with eps. 14/15 (“Till Death Do Us Part”), then mixing up episodes 16-24 at random, then concluding with the planned season finale of 25/26 (“Reunion”).  Or maybe some fans could make a weekend of it and let us know the results.  In any case, apologies to our network for bending the rules.  But we like the results.

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2 thoughts on “WE CHEATED: Making Connections in the Savage Land

  1. It’s a real shame that the networks fought you on this. Season 1 I feel is so strong because of the interconnected storytelling, and while the Xavier/Magneto arc in season 2 is nice, the fact that most of the A plot stories are stand-alone diminishes season 2 with respect to its predecessor. That being said, the only time where I think there was a real continuity issue from the interlinking is when some season 3 episodes didn’t come out until season 5. Jean flies off in the sun at the end of The Phoenix Saga and is suddenly back without explanation, an explanation that would have been provided had No Mutant is an Island had been shown in season 3. That was a real head scratcher at the time.

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    1. Yeah, that delay (by Fox) of what was in effect the sixth episode of The Phoenix Saga (Scott’s grief, Jean return) was terrible. We weren’t aware of it at the time (heads down writing new episodes) and we never got a proper explanation.

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