Television pilots are tough to make. It’s hard to introduce the concept and entire cast of characters of a show in one episode and still have that episode hold up on it’s own. But just because something’s hard doesn’t make it any more excusable when you fail spectacularly at doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Black Box, where we check out pilots that crashed and burned to see exactly what went wrong.
This week, the X-Men, cartoons, and stranger danger.
X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men was a half hour animated pilot airing on ABC (most likely) on September 16th, 1989. It was intended to be the pilot for a series but it didn’t make it. An X-Men show DID make it to air however, the better but kinda super hockey in hindsight X-Men ’92. This show though, it really isn’t good.
What they did right: The theme song is pretty darn catchy, and I adore Kitty Pryde, so seeing her in a cartoon made me happy.
What they did wrong: STARTING FROM THE TOP! First we get the theme song which is pretty kick-ass, even if the lyrics seemed to be “X-MEN, x-men, QU’EST-CE QUE, Qu’est-ce que!” Then, we get some Stan Lee narration explaining the central conceit behind the series.
We open on an army transport carrying Magneto across state lines, only to be interrupted by the White Queen, who saves him. And I’m pretty sure the casting director saw the word “Queen” and stopped reading the character description because this twenty-year old, model-esque blond aristocrat winds up sounding like she should be handing Cinderella a poison apple.
Next we cut to the X-mansion, where new recruit Kitty Pryde has just arrived. She was recruited, mind you, through a letter. If I got a letter saying I’d just been accepted to a superteam… ok, yeah, I’d probably check it out but that’s me. A person with actual common sense would ignore that shit as spam.
Plus, recruitment via snail mail seems like a bad idea. What does Xavier use nowadays? Craigslist?
Kitty steps inside and is approached by a psychic projection of Professor X who leads her to the real Prof… in literally the next room.
Didn’t feel like wheeling yourself ten feet, eh Charlie?
Xavier has giant ass tv screens playing trailer footage of all the other X-Men in action. This is how we meet our team. We have Colossus, the offensively Russian metal dude who also seems to generate his costume out of thin air, Storm, who may not have any dialogue in this I legit don’t remember, Nightcrawler, and who can forget Cyclops?
Seen here being super afraid of a net.
Cyclops sucks. So hard. No, not in this pilot, in everything. Cyclops is a black hole from which interesting character traits cannot escape. He’s also a massive tool. Like, he’s not even cool enough to be a dick.
He’s just a tool.
But enough about him, we also have the best X-Man in this show: Dazzler!
Dazzler effin’ rules! Her super power is to turn sound into light and then shoot that light at people like a laser beam. In the seventies, she used to roll around on roller blades and sing lasers at people. She fought Galactus. Dazzler is the bomb.
Oh, and Wolverine’s here too, whatevs.
So Kitty is being toured around the base when Nightcrawler, who is intensely German and looks like a literal fucking demon just teleports behind her and starts getting hands-y.
Kitty flips her shit (justifiably) and phases through the computer, destroying it. She is caught by the X-Men who welcome her to the team. Well except Wolverine who is a dick. But he’s a dick… WITH THE GREATEST AUSTRALIAN ACCENT OF ALL TIME!!!!!
“That’s not a knife, THESE are knives!”
I don’t know why they decided to change Wolvie from Canadian to Australian, but I am SO GLAD THEY DID BECAUSE “SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE” WOLVERINE IS THE BEST!!!!!!
And then Nightcrawler shows up again and creeps on Kitty (who is like fourteen) some more.
I find it appropriate that Nightcrawler’s name was the 666th word of this review.
A-hem. STRANGER DANGER!!!!! But that is all interrupted when the X-Men are attacked by Magneto. Xavier gives Kitty an important piece of tech and tells her to protect it with her life. So what does she do? FUCKING RUNS INTO A DEAD END. AND STANDS THERE. DESPITE HER FUCKING POWER, WHICH IS TO WALK THROUGH WALLS.
Magneto takes the tech from her and flies off into space to go back to his base on an asteroid. The X-Men go after her, and kitty manages to get it back, via the help of the X-Men and… Lockheed?
Lockheed was an adroable space dragon from the comics who had a bond with Kitty, but what he’s doing on Magneto’s space-base I have no idea. Maybe he’s a pest? Are space dragons normal? Like bed bugs? Does Magneto have to arrange transport for an exterminator? Are they gonna tent his asteroid? So many questions.
So Nightcrawler appears to have died, causing the team to freak out, especially Kitty, who feels bad for “being so mean to him.”
YOU RESISTED HIS RAPEY ADVANCES!!!!
THAT IS NOT MEAN!!!!!!
THAT IS THE BARE FUCKING MINIMUM OF WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED FROM YOU IN THAT SITUATION!!!!!!!
But Nightcralwer isn’t actually dead.
So we end with the X-Men all united off to save the day again, except for Wolverine, who’s still a jerk, Cyclops, who’s still a tool, and Nightcrawler, who’s still a pedophile.
But other than that, all good.
That’s it for this week, next week, I’m thinking’ Cop Rock?