Old School Fox Kids (1990-1998)

Discussion in 'Misc. TV Series' started by Jess, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. Pimpjuice16 Man Of Steel

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yea man i used to watch around the twist everyday after school andi even still remember part of the theme song
     
  2. Pimpjuice16 Man Of Steel

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes it is all bad because not everyone has digital cable. I still have basic cable and no since the got rid of etex on abc family its sucks. i keep telling my mom to get digital cable but she always says ill do it tommorow.
     
  3. Silver Sable Wild Pack Commander

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2004
    Messages:
    27,576
    Likes Received:
    0

    C'mon, you know I love ya :cwink:

    Ahhhhhhh London.One of my favorite cities in the world :yay:
     
  4. Abaddon Watching

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Messages:
    38,941
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bobby's World was excellent.
     
  5. The Apocalypse Registered

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Messages:
    8,866
    Likes Received:
    1
    Erie Indiana and Goosebumps rocked the body the rocks the party!
     
  6. arachnid-guy Registered

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    Messages:
    3,113
    Likes Received:
    0
    I remember Around The Twist!

    [Well...the theme tune, at least!]

    It WAS SO GHETTO! :woot:
     
  7. Pimpjuice16 Man Of Steel

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    0
    Lol
     
  8. Artistsean Monkey Boy

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    7,265
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cartoons on Saturday used to be something to wake up for.
    The Tick, Batman the Animated Series, Superman, Batman Beyond, X-Men, Spider-Man, Bobby's World, Eek the Cat, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs.
    Man I miss them.

    they should put all of them on DVD, if they haven't already.
     
  9. 3dman27 super-hero wannabe

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2002
    Messages:
    40,547
    Likes Received:
    1
    i hear you
     
  10. Ceb-Man Registered

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2003
    Messages:
    2,539
    Likes Received:
    0
    Man Fox Kids was great! Batman: The Animated Series, The Tick, Life with Louie, X-Men, and Spider-Man were my favorates. Fox now is awful!
     
  11. Bastila Deathdealer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2006
    Messages:
    10,081
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oh yeah I just about remeber the theme tune..............must search for it lol, can only remeber parts of it lol.
     
  12. Jess Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    0
    Just so everyone knows, you tube has lots of great Fox Kids bumpers and programs available on the site posted all over. Including all 76 episodes of X-Men, many episodes of Spider-Man. The entire series of Attack of The Killer Tomatoes, many Power Rangers and Silver Surfer etc.
     
  13. Catman Registered

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2002
    Messages:
    29,047
    Likes Received:
    0
  14. SuperT Boom Shaka Laka

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    7,422
    Likes Received:
    40
    Man, I use to love Fox Kids. Coming home from school, and sitting on the couch watching X-Men, Power Rangers, Beetleborgs, Goosebumps, Bobby's World, Digimon and everything else.

    Then getting up on Saturday mornings and watching the other cartoons they had. Sooo awesome.
     
  15. DCnightwing23 Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    2,552
    Likes Received:
    74
    I think they should make a network just for these great shows, i mean all these shows were hits. They should be a network for these retro shows and that network would be a sure hit.
     
  16. 3dman27 super-hero wannabe

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2002
    Messages:
    40,547
    Likes Received:
    1
    agreed dcnightwing23
     
  17. Dr. Fate Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    12,741
    Likes Received:
    0
    Isn't that what Boomerang's for?
     
  18. Jess Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    0
    Or have DVD's. Problem is the Disney Jetix by out from Saban keeps so many of these shows like seasons of X-Men from coming out in season boxsets on DVD. Fox Kids should have a rewind collection like Nickelodeon.
     
  19. Jess Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interview with Sidney Iwanter, VP of Fox Kids (1990-1998)


    To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the premiere of X-Men on the Fox Kids Network on Saturday, October 31, 1992, Blast From the Past recently had the opportunity to interview Sidney Iwanter, the Vice President of the Fox Kids Network from its creation in 1990 up until 1998, about his role as the creative executive at the network put in charge of overseeing the X-Men series.
    BFTP: What exactly was your role as the Executive Director of the series?

    SI: I was the network executive in charge of shows such as X-Men, Batman the Animated Series, Spider-Man, Beetlejuice, Goosebumps, Silver Surfer, and Sam and Max among others. Each show that airs on a network has a 'suit' in charge of it. The executive assigned to a show okays all premises, outlines, scripts, storyboards, first cuts and final cuts. Usually these executives also okay all writers involved with the series. Many times, this power goes to their heads and they lavish each script with enough notes to sink an iceberg. Many times their notes are small minded, insignificant, and totally misread what is in front of them. That is why they pay story editors so much money.

    BFTP: Were you ever a fan of the X-Men comics before working for the series?

    SI: I bought a lot of them in the sixties along with Mad Magazine, DC Comics, and Playboys. All were thrown out by my mother in one fell swoop one day when I was not looking. I never spoke to her again.

    BFTP: Did you use the late 1980's 'Pryde of the X-Men' pilot episode as a guide on what to do and not to do with the series?

    SI: I used 'Pryde of the X-Men' as a template for what not ever, ever to do with the Fox X-Men series. I watch that video online every time I have to have surgery of any kind. This episode so dulls my senses I have no need for any forms of anesthesia. This was the X-Men Fox was putting on the air and not Casper and the Space Ghosts. The opening title would be straight heroic music without any childish lyrics. We all love Stan but we believed there was no need for any forms of internal narration. If the viewer could not follow the story without any internal narration, the writer was shot. We kept Will Meugniot because he is Will Meugniot.

    BFTP: How much control did you have over what did and didn't go into an episode script?

    SI: Well, Joe Calamari of Marvel and myself finalized all premises and everything else that went beyond that.

    BFTP: Do you recall the decision process on what characters would make up the main cast on the team? For instance, Gambit only first appeared in the comics in August of 1990, which was not long before production started on the series. Why was the decision made to include a fairly recent character opposed to others who already had well established backgrounds in the comics like Nightcrawler, Iceman, and Kitty Pryde?

    SI: That's a real interesting question because what was missing in 'Pryde' was what we extolled in every episode: while this was a world of superheroes battling super villains, it was also a world crammed full of down and dirty melodrama. Cyclops loves Jean Grey; Wolverine love Jean Grey; Wolverine is odd man out but he is also the most popular of X-Men. Rogue is a walking sob story. She has all the power of the world, yet can never touch anyone without draining its life force. Beast, a ferocious looking creature whose very appearance masks his temperament as a Bartlett's quoting college professor. We chose Storm because of her exotic backstory and her power to control the weather. Professor X and Magneto were givens. Jubilee was our kid representative. I chose Gambit because I always loved the Cajun accent and we always need an unctuous lady's man in the group. Pound for pound, the two most powerful X-Men were females Rogue and Storm.

    BFTP: The first two episodes were fairly controversial in that the X-Men lost the battle, with Beast being captured by the Mutant Control Agency and Morph initially being killed by the Sentinels. Was there any problem with getting these episodes past the censors?

    SI: The storyline was only controversial for its day because it appeared so mature for Saturday morning. Storytelling like this had never been attempted anywhere before either on Saturday morning or in kid's syndication. We had the brilliant story editing of Eric Lewald and his team. When you have writers of this caliber, you can push the envelope until it not only falls off the table, but crashes through the floor as well. The unsung hero of Fox Kids Boys Action Adventure was Avery Coburn, my Broadcast Standards and Practices person. I will say it right up front. Without her understanding of what we were trying to do, X-Men and most of the rest of the shows I worked on while at Fox would have ended up mindless Saturday morning fodder. Up to the advent of Fox Kids in the early 90's most of the Saturday Morning BSP (Broadcast Standards and Practices) personnel had the sense of humor of a rusty trap door. They did not censor scripts and action so much as gild, geld and garrotte them. BSP people have tremendous power to either enhance or destroy scripts because everything written must go through them. Don't believe anything you've heard about producers or writers galloping roughshod over the network and creating their own vision as if they were running the entire show. It doesn't work that way. If Broadcasting Standards does not want something in a script, it ain't going to be in the script. Period. End of statement. Without Avery, I could not have moved X-Men and other shows to the weekly level of writing that the viewing audience came to expect.

    BFTP: Was Morph originally included in the series just to be killed off? It wasn't really common for a cartoon series to kill of a main character and thus, was he just put in the series to show the X-Men's vulnerability and that they would not always win?

    SI: We thought it would be interesting to see whether BSP would let us kill off a character if we promised that we would eventually (like in daytime soaps) somehow bring him back later on. But yes, killing off Morph did show the vulnerability of our heroes and that not every story would end with everyone happy and laughing like a Scooby adventure.

    BFTP: In the premiere of the second season, Morph returned working for the evil Mister Sinister. Was his return due to demand by the fandom since he proved to be more popular than originally thought?

    SI: No, it was because I promised Avery that we would bring Morph back and I keep my promises.

    BFTP: Throughout the series, the show focused on mature social issues such as prejudice, intolerance, isolation, racism, and even religion, which is why the show holds up pretty well with adults and even with those who used to watch the show when they were younger. Was the show specifically designed for adults or did you not question the intelligence of younger viewers?

    SI: We were not going to strip away the content of what made the X-Men the comic series it was and still is. Why was this a mature way of handling these issues? We just didn't sugar coat the message and turn every episode into a pile of pablum. Mature social issues sounds as if it only affects adults, but all the examples you give affect kids from the earliest. And no, the show was always meant for kids 6-11...it was always a Saturday morning program.

    BFTP: Was there any storyline that you had written or episode that was animated that was not approved because it was deemed to include too mature content by BSP?

    SI: None that I can remember, but then again we never talked about child molestation, global warming, or flying civilian airliners into towers.

    BFTP: How similar or different was it to work on X-Men than from working on Spider-Man the Animated Series?

    SI: I personally like group dynamics. I also enjoy working on superheroes that have not been done every five years.

    BFTP: Is there any one particular episode that you're extremely proud of?

    SI: It was the end of the series and we had a five-part time travel extravaganza involving both Bishop and Cable and just about everyone else. It looked like curtains for the universe until Bishop saves the day. It was not lost on those who sent in letters (this was way before the internet) that it was a black X-Men who had outwitted Apocalypse.

    BFTP: The beauty of the X-Men series is that there are a ton of different characters and thus, it's easy for someone to identify with at least one of the mutants. Which mutant do you like the most and why?

    SI: Actually my favorite X-Men on the TV series was Beast. I just loved his soft spoken ways and his brilliant mind, both characteristics that I am totally devoid of.
    BFTP: Is there anything you would have done differently with the series now that you can look back at it?

    SI: I would like to have had the Warner Brothers Batman budget for animation production.

    BFTP: Was there any reason for its cancellation in 1997 when it was still on top in the ratings?

    SI: Like Bob Dylan would say, times they were a changing. New forces at Fox were afoot and I will leave the alliteration at that.

    BFTP: Even after all these years, the series it still beloved by fans and was even shown on American television as recently as last year. What do you think it is about the series that allows for it to hold up so well despite its age?

    SI: We made the stories multilayered and the characters, including the villains, multi-dimensional. This is a show that is all about the writing. Without it, X-Men would now be another in a long line of forgettable superhero programs. We worked everyone's backstories so that when a character acted the way he or she did, it was for a reason based on their history. It was not some meaningless bombastic gesture. We came to understand the internal philosophies of Wolverine or Magneto or Juggernaut. The voice over talent was superb. With scripts way above the average of Saturday morning, the actors were able to use their theatrical skills to really emote. The success of X-Men proved that you did not need a Superfriends script approach to success.

    BFTP: Do you have anything you would like to say to long-time fans of the show?

    SI: Hopefully they will one day be able to tune in again to a show as rich, fulfilling, and provocative as the X-Men.

    Blast From the Past would like to thank Sidney for taking the time to answer our questions.
     
  20. Jess Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    0
    To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the premiere of X-Men on the Fox Kids Network on Saturday, October 31, 1992, Blast From the Past recently had the opportunity to interview Eric Lewald, the Executive Story Editor on the X-Men series.
    BFTP: What exactly was your role on the show and how did you become involved with it?

    EL: My final credits for the show were: "Developed for Television By" and "Executive Story Editor." Translated to English, that meant that I was asked to come up with the "Show Bible" (which lays out the series for business partners like Fox and Marvel, and which is used by the series screenwriters as a writer's guide) and then "showrun" the series. This meant that I was responsible to the Fox Network (through Sidney) and the production companies (Saban/Graz) and to the rights holder (Marvel) for all the written material. I, or the writers I chose and supervised, came up with all of the story ideas, developed those to full outlines, then expanded them to 22-minute scripts. At any stage along the way, my bosses could weigh in with concerns or ideas, but in the end, the writing was my responsibility. From Fox (Sidney and Broadcast Standards), this oversight was constant and detailed. Marvel's interest waxed and waned, though they were primarily looking for mistakes ("Not right for this character") rather than story micro-managing. Stan Lee, though not formally with Marvel at the time, had thoughtful notes on the first eight or nine scripts. Saban and Graz were only interested in our keeping the production within budget.

    I owe the job to Sidney Iwanter, the executive at Fox. I had worked with him a few years earlier, then had just edited 20 "Beetlejuice" scripts for him for Fox. I believe he "sold" me to the Fox president, Margaret Loesch, who had been working for ten years to get X-Men on the air and who, as President of Fox Kids, was in overall charge of the project.

    BFTP: Many of the storylines featured on the series were adapted directly from the comics. How familiar were you with the source material beforehand and how close were you required to follow it in your scripts?

    EL: While we worked very hard to keep “the spirit of the books,” the majority of the 76 episodes were new for the series. We and Marvel also realized early on that 22-minute animated stories are a very different animal than comic books. Time the actual action in a book and you get about 3 minutes. Longer series of books (Phoenix, Dark Phoenix, etc.) leant themselves more to adaptation, but there we had to deal with the various secondary plots that weave in and out of the main story in a series of a dozen books. Some fit. Some didn’t (weren’t there leprechauns somewhere?). For example, if you were to compare the actual “Phoenix” books to the animation story, I’d wager that about 50% of the original was trimmed away to focus on the core story.

    As far as knowing the books – I learned, quickly, on the job. When I read comics as a kid in the late 60s, I liked Marvel, but X-Men wasn’t a favorite book. I had huge help in this: Director/Producer Will Meugniot was a comics freak, as was Producer Larry Houston. Some of the writers (Bob Skir comes to mind) knew the books almost too well. I begged Marvel for every bit of research material and old books and ended up reading most of the 30 years’ worth. In the end, the key for the writers and for me was the same as in any series – know and care about the characters.

    BFTP: How intimately involved was Marvel Comics in the writing process?

    EL: Marvel was involved start to finish, heavily the first few months, then less and less as we went along. They learned to trust us, and we learned better and better how to make sure our stories fit their “universe.” Bob Harras was my contact from the start, and he was not only amazingly supportive, he knew every detail of X-Men history, so he always had answers to my questions. From about episode 40 onward a senior Marvel executive named Joe Calamari became more involved in overseeing the scripts, more form a story POV than character history. His instincts were tremendous. Marvel was going through some rough business times around then, so I was lucky to have such a smooth relationship with them.

    BFTP: Was an entire series worth of episodes thought out and written before any of them were animated, or would you write a script, get it approved, and then send it off to be animated? For instance, the first season of the series started with the X-Men losing to the Sentinels at the Mutant Control Agency and ended full circle with them destroying Mastermold, the source of the Sentinel robots. How difficult would it have been to edit some scripts for episodes during the middle of the season if you had to go back to ensure that all loose ends and storylines were developed through the season and tied up before the end? (I assume the same would also apply for multi-part story arcs like the Phoenix Saga).

    EL: Animation takes a long time – many months from a completed script to when an episode is ready to view. This can be frustrating. We have to write 13 or 26 or even 40 episodes of a series (depending on the order for the “season”) before we see how they work. In live-action TV, you can see a roughly completed episode 1 before you finish writing episode 2, so you can adjust. In animation, we have to trust what we hope will get produced. X-Men was done in chunks. The first season order was 13, standard for a network show. You noticed that the Sentinel story wrapped up at episode 13 (Mastermold), and that was because we weren’t at all sure there would be more than 13. In fact, given the previous weak track record of Marvel animated adaptations, there was great fear that X-Men would fail. You can’t blame the people who were risking the money for being nervous about producing 13 of something before they had a clue if people would like it. (We had great pressure during the initial writing to make it funnier and “younger,” but all of us on the creative side fought this.) Luckily, when the first season became a #1 hit, they immediately ordered 39 more. After that, it came in bits and pieces. Also, the fact that the first 13 “progressed” was a fight we had to make, since TV producers and networks like to have individual episodes that aren’t in any order (like “Law & Order) for easier re-selling or pre-empting. After the first 13, however, almost the only real connected progressions were in multi-part episodes.

    BFTP: Was there any point in the series where you decided you would possibly expand the team roster? Episodes throughout its run with Colossus, Morph, and Nightcrawler, for instance, hinted that the option was always open.

    EL: The idea of the core roster of characters was crucial to the series from the first day of pre-production. With dozens of mutants to choose from, we needed to decide early what the best mix was. Marvel was central to this discussion. There were some no-brainers, like Professor X, Scott and Jean, and Wolverine. But beyond that, any out of a couple dozen major mutants could have filled out the rest of the core. We had to keep the number of leads down to a manageable seven or eight. (If you think about favorite TV shows, when the cast gets to big, people get lost.) So who? Storm’s weather powers were great for TV. Rogue had an emotional draw for us (unable to touch), and her flight and strength helped in big fights. We needed a “kid”, and Marvel was higher on Jubilee than the alternatives. Gambit was a Marvel choice, perhaps for balance, perhaps because they had hopes for him.

    Morph wasn’t considered a core character. We added him specifically to have a sympathetic best-friend-of-Wolverine’s to be killed in the opening. He only appeared in a couple of books. (I may have dug him up, I don’t remember). In fact, in the books, the character was named “Changeling.” We were forced to come up with a new name because there was a D.C. character with that name. Even though Marvel’s Changeling pre-dated D.C.’s, the nervous lawyers made us make the switch. Anyhow, Morph proved so popular, and it was a month-long struggle to be allowed to have him killed (and I believe Sidney may have helped make a deal with Broadcast Standards) that we were, to my complete surprise, asked to bring him back again after the first 13 episodes.

    BFTP: Where there any mutants from the comics that you look back at now and wish you had written an episode about?

    EL: To be honest, there was always a tension between adding characters as guests and spending time with the core ones we had to develop them more deeply. There were writers who knew and loved unused characters from the books and were anxious to give them new life on TV. (A good example is Len Wein, the actual co-creator of Wolverine in the books, who lobbied to get a Captain America story in, which had to be a flashback.) My motivations were always: who makes for the best story? If a guest could bring out something special in a core character – like Cyclops’ father, who abandoned him, showing up – I was excited to use him. But I was less interested in the guest’s powers than in his or her personal relationship to one of our leads.

    BFTP: How were you able to take complex social issues such as prejudice, intolerance, isolation, racism, and religion and translate them into a format suitable for a Saturday morning program?

    EL: I was the luckiest man on the planet. Sidney wanted me to tackle serious themes; the Standards executive (Avery Coburn) understood and let us push things; and the X-Men franchise, particularly the 70s books, was really about a bunch of adults having adult personal crises. As I mentioned before, we got serious pressure to “simplify” or “make it younger.” But the moment the first 13 episodes debuted to huge ratings, the complaints vanished. We were able to do the next 63 with little creative interference.

    BFTP: The X-Men guest-starred on Spider-Man the Animated Series during its second season. Were there ever any plans to do the same on X-Men with Spider-Man or any other Marvel superhero?

    EL: Those kind of crossovers are always fun. Because they were both Fox series, Sidney asked me to help showrunner John Semper supervise the two-part Spider-Man/X-Men crossover. But no, since there were hundreds of characters already in the X-Men universe, the temptation to grab from other books wasn’t very strong.

    BFTP: Did you ever write any episodes that never made it past the preproduction stages?

    EL: I was so busy trying to keep the whole project going in the right direction that there wasn’t much time to assign myself any scripts. Of course almost every revision made to the premises, outlines, and scripts was up to me, so I feel like there is lot of my writing in there. Often we would be lucky, and the notes from various partners were light, and the writer really nailed the script. But if there were problems – including the occasional page-one rewrite – that was on me. The one script I did write from start to finish was “A Deal with the Devil.” That happened because another script (which I had liked) was tossed out by Fox and Marvel. They never really “got” the original story, but I pushed to let the writer finish. So, since we had paid the writer for all his work, but now had no script, I had to come up with one for free by myself (no extra money in the budget). Finally, most of the writers were friends, so I always felt close to the writing. You’ll notice that there were a good 20 writing credits for the name “Edens” – Mark or Michael. Since these guys are writing-partner buddies from college, it was very much a family affair.

    BFTP: Are you particularly proud of one specific episode?

    EL: There are a few, though it’s hard to remember after over ten years. My wife Julia came up with the idea for “Beauty and the Beast,“ where Beast falls for a blind girl who regains her sight (a bit of a “City Lights” homage). I was fascinated by the fact that, though Beast was the strangest looking of all of the principal X-Men, he was the most at ease with and reconciled to his mutancy. What would it take for him to lose his composure and struggle with his fate? Caring for someone who has never seen him, but soon would, seemed a perfect set-up to explore his character. I was also pleased with “Storm Front,” where we set up Storm to feel alienated by her mutancy, then look to a charming man to take her away from it all – only to discover he was evil. And I liked “One Man’s Worth” because it hit the theme of a single person’s (Xavier’s) effect on the world around him. Of course Len Uhley’s story that introduced Nightcrawler will always be a favorite – the idea that we could explore characters’ religious faith on Saturday morning was wonderful.

    BFTP: Multiple production delays with the animation overseas prevented some episodes from airing in their original production order, such as ‘Longshot’ and ‘No Mutant is and Island’, and often confused viewers as to where they should have been placed in the series. Is there an ‘official’ list of the episodes in their original, intended order?

    EL: The list on the IMDB shows the 76 air dates, but you’re right, a couple were delayed. I have a list of the original production numbers (the order they were assigned), but really, the only order intended was numbers 1-13 -- with an ongoing parallel plot with Xavier (a minute a two an episode) in 14-26. After that, the only real intended ordering had to do with multi-part stories. Sidney and Fox originally planned on “ending” the series with a big bang (“Beyond Good and Evil – parts 1-4”). We even had planned to have characters leaving the team at the conclusion. But then they asked for eleven more episodes, so we “ended” things again with “Graduation Day.”

    BFTP: The final episode in the series’ Graduation Day’ provided a nice way to culminate everything from the series and tie it all together. Was the idea for such a script always written in the back of your mind or was it put together knowing that the series was cancelled? Obviously, the style of animation indicates that it’s from the final season, but the actual script could have been written at any time.

    EL: As indicated above, this story was crated specifically to say goodbye to the series. It had been ordered in weird chunks of episodes (13-39-13-6-5), but this time we were all sure it was the end.

    BFTP: How was Beast decided to be the one who would be captured at the Mutant Control Agency? Obviously you didn’t want to choose someone like Wolverine since he would have missed most of the season.

    EL: There were two principal reasons we chose Beast to be captured. The first, believe it or not, was that in preparing for the first season (1-13), we hadn’t included Beast as one of the core characters. So, since he was a “guest” or secondary character, we felt he could be off-screen a lot. (After writing the first 13, Beast so grew on us all that we asked that he be added to the core group, and everyone agreed.) The other reason came down to his character. Beast is so articulate that he works beautifully in a court scene. And he is so reasonable and likable, it’s hard for the prosecution to make him out to be a monster. (If Wolverine were on the stand, a reasonable judge might think it wise to lock him up.)

    BFTP: The beauty of the X-Men series is that there are a ton of different characters and thus, it's easy for someone to identify with at least one of the mutants. Which mutant do you think is the most like you and why?

    EL: It’s odd, but after 15 years I’d never thought about this. The writers and I had to imagine ourselves as each character so we could write them well (writing Wolverine after a big creative fight was easy). I am not generally an angry guy, and I can be a little bookish, so Beast comes to mind. But Professor X cared for and felt in charge of a disparate group of mutants at the same time that I was trying to coordinate a dozen different writers, many of them my friends, so Xavier may be a better choice.

    BFTP: Despite premiering 15 years ago, X-Men is still the longest cartoon series based on characters from Marvel Comics. Why do you think it was so successful?

    EL: The set-up and the characters. First, you have a classic heroic situation where your protagonists are dedicated, self-sacrificing, and painfully misunderstood and persecuted. Balancing and adding to this was the fact that they were such different people that they could drive each other crazy. A big problem in TV storytelling, especially in “kids” programming, is that everybody is too similar or gets along too well. (I’ve received notes like that from lesser programming executives: “Why do the characters have to argue about stuff?”) The X-Men characters have deep personal concerns that put them at odds with one another, yet they obviously care deeply about each other. We can thank Stan for the template, and Stan and a few dozen others for making it grow into something special.

    BFTP: Do you have anything you would like to say to long-time fans of the show?

    EL: Thanks for watching. We writers work pretty much in isolation. It’s always gratifying to discover that we have an audience. It helps make the effort worthwhile.

    Blast From the Past would like to thank Eric for taking the time to answer our questions.
     
  21. Jess Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    0
    To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the premiere of X-Men on the Fox Kids Network on Saturday, October 31, 1992, Blast From the Past recently had the opportunity to interview Margaret Loesch, the President of the Fox Kids Network from its creation in 1990 up until 1997, about her influence on the X-Men series.
    BFTP: Back in the late 1980’s when you were worked at Marvel Productions, you were the executive producer of the X-Men pilot ‘Pryde of the X-Men’, which was the first attempt at bringing the X-Men to Saturday mornings. What do you think it was that caused network executives to pass on giving it a series pickup?

    ML: I got very clear responses from the networks. Almost without exception, the responses were the same but always in different words. I can actually specifically quote one of the network executives: “Margaret, you have to stop pitching us these comic properties. Don’t you understand that comics are read by 18 year old nerdy boys and that they’ll be of no interest to anybody else? It’s for a tiny, little population of nerdy, young men and it definitely won’t make good television. Just because they’re good comics doesn’t mean they’ll translate to television. The comics are so complicated and overwritten that talk, talk, talk, they’ll never make good television. Don’t come back with another comic…you’ve pitched Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Silver Surfer…don’t come back anymore.”

    And that in a nutshell was the sentiment all through that era, so much so I’ll tell you a little story. When I got to Marvel from Hanna-Barbera, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was already in production and had been sold to NBC. I was meeting with the head of kid’s programs at NBC and I said to her: “Listen, I just have a question. Why did you want to add his ‘amazing friends’ to Spider-Man? And she said: “How can we have a loner star in a TV show?” I told her that the whole point is that Peter Parker is a loner, that’s his plight in life. He’s got a lot of angst and that’s the whole point. She told me it wouldn’t work for TV. So that series was delivered and of course it did not succeed. Thus after X-Men when we did Spider-Man the Animated Series, once again, I said to Marvel that now we’re going to do it the way we always wanted to do it and we’re going to do it the right way, just like X-Men…we’re going to do the series by going back to the roots and we’re going to capture the essence of what has resonated with Spider-Man in the audience of readers over the years. Stan initially agreed to do Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends because he was just trying to sell a show. So that sums up the entire attitude in the 80’s that comics wouldn’t transition to television. However, it was very simple to me: good characters are good characters and good stories are good stories; it doesn’t matter where they come from.

    BFTP: How do you compare ‘Pryde’ with Fox's version of the X-Men?

    ML: I never found it necessary to reinvent good stuff. I guess it’s necessary sometimes to update it in such a way that the stories are relevant to the current audience, but to change the essence of what makes it work, no, I don’t have to do that. I didn’t do that with the Smurfs and I didn’t do it with many things that I’ve done…I’m certainly not going to do it with the Marvel characters.

    BFTP: There’s an old story that states you called Stan Lee up on the phone as soon as you took on the Fox Kids Network and told him that now was the right time to give the X-Men a chance. Is there any truth to this story, and if so, was this event the catalyst that got production started on the series?

    ML: Essentially yes, though the timeline is a little bit different. When I started Fox Kids, the President of Fox had already made a commitment for Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates, which we had some difficulty with. I actually tried to delay doing that, but he said no. I focused on trying to get that done and as soon as our initial schedule launched, which was fairly mediocre at best, I called up Stan and said: “Ok, I couldn’t sell it, but now I want to buy it. I know it’ll be a hit, I believe it in my heart. Though I want to give it some time and if we can get it started sooner rather than later, I’ll give you some extra months to get it done since I want to give you the extra time to do it well”. This is why we premiered the show in mid-season. However, this strategy was unusual since nobody delayed new shows. It would have been considered a non-starter since you just don’t do that and risk upsetting the advertisers. But I said no, this is what we have got to do to give it time. I also wanted to showcase the show in a special way and I just knew it would work. We had very good writing and everyone was very excited about it: my team and everyone at Marvel.

    So yes, that’s absolutely the truth. I did call Stan and he was delighted. I told him exactly what I was going to do and that I had a master plan. We were going to do X-Men and prove to the world that it’s going to work and work great. After that we would do Spider-Man and that’s exactly what happened.

    BFTP: How involved were you with the production of X-Men? I know Sidney Iwanter was the executive from the network in charge of the show, but did you often have a say regarding the development of the show?

    ML: Totally, I read everything when we started the series and I gave Sidney my comments until I was confident the series was on track. Sidney and I were pretty much on the same page. I really felt that this was my shot to prove that I was right, so I wanted to make sure that the show was everything that I thought it could be. I know you know this, but most people think it was Power Rangers that made Fox Kids number one, but it was really X-Men. People always forget that and I always tell them that no, it was X-Men.

    Interestingly enough, I know that this is about Marvel and the X-Men cartoon, but I had a similar experience with Power Rangers. Stan and I had the rights to Power Rangers to try and sell it. I’ve told this many times, but it never gets picked up. Back in the mid to late 1980’s, Stan came to my office one day at Marvel with a ¾ ‘’ video cassette and he told me I had to take a look at this since he thought I’d like it. So he left me with this cassette and I put it on and watched it. Afterwards, I walked down to his office and said: “Stan, what’s up with this? It’s all in Japanese!” He told me: “Yeah I know, but what do you think? I think it’s fantastic!” And I told him that I thought it was fantastic too! What had happened was that because the live-action Spider-Man that had been made years before and had became a big hit in Japan, Stan had become a big celebrity there. This was not just because of the comics, but also because the show had worked so well in Japan. So Stan became friends with a Mr. Watanabe at the studio where other live action shows were being done. He had the rights to the Japanese version of Power Rangers, which had been on the air for many years, and he told Stan to take a look at it. If he liked it, he could have a free ride by taking it and trying to sell it. So that’s when Stan came to me and I got very excited. Then I authorized our team to spend $25,000 and we put together a little pilot by plugging in American voice-overs (we didn’t shoot any original material) and cutting together really funny, action takes. But when I went around pitching it to all the networks, none of them would buy it. I was literally thrown out of the room at NBC since we had gotten kudos from doing things like Muppet Babies and now they saw this and thought it was horrible. So we pitched it to all of the networks and nobody would buy it. Then we went back to Mr. Watanabe, told him we tried to sell it but couldn’t, and relinquished the rights to the show.

    Years later in about 1992, I was meeting with Haim Saban and he was pitching me a bunch of cartoons from Europe. He had about 12 cartoons lined up in a stack of cassettes for me to look at. I got about ¾ of the way through and he came into the conference room to see how I was doing. I said: “Haim, these are all fine, but I’m looking for something really offbeat, zany, fun and exciting…I want a counter program for my morning lineup Monday through Friday. I don’t want to do light, fluffy stuff…I want to come in with something different.” And he says: “Hold it right there!” And he left the room and came back literally running down the hall with this cassette. He told me not to get mad at him and I asked him why I’d get mad at him. His response was: “Oh, a lot of people hate this. Let me show you this, take a look, and let me know what you think.” He put the cassette on and it was the same show, the same videotape that Stan and I had that had from Mr. Watanabe years before. I watched two minutes of it and I went next door to Haim’s office and said: “I love it…this is it. There’s changes that I want to make, there’s development we should do do, but this is the show…I’ll buy it and I’ll commit to it today.” And that’s the story, but it all started with Stan.

    BFTP: When you were President of Fox Kids, you seemed to possess an uncanny ability to predict what shows could potentially become a hit. Take the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for instance…nobody believed you when you told them it could be the phenomenon that it actually turned out to be. What did you see in the X-Men that told you this was a must for Saturday morning?

    ML: I had been in children’s television since 1975. So by the time I got to Fox, and even at Marvel, I had seen a lot of kid’s shows and observed. I had been a part of some that worked and some that didn’t work. What I saw in X-Men was some of the same qualities that I saw in Spider-Man that nobody was dealing with and that is teenage angst: characters that were real yet worked in a fantasy situation, but their emotions were real. So with X-Men, I felt that the idea of a group of young people that were disenfranchised and had these real emotions and special powers that everybody would love to have except their powers were both a blessing and a curse. I felt that that human drama and tapping into the teenage 20-something angst was something I had never seen before in kids television…and I had seen a lot of stuff. That’s what excited me about X-Men. Interestingly enough, that’s also what excited me about Power Rangers, though slightly differently. With Power Rangers I felt what a hoot…what teenager wouldn’t want to have special powers and be able to transform themselves into superheroes to save the day and fight the enemy? Essentially with X-Men it was all about that angst and with Power Rangers it was about empowerment with teenagers. These are two themes I had never seen dealt with much in kid’s programming and I felt that the only way to make our network a hit was to try things that hadn’t been done before, or hadn’t been done in a long time. It wasn’t any great talent or any great gut that I had, it was my experience at seeing the same show done over and over again in so many different ways. I thought how I could excite kids with something they could identify with but was also fresh and different to them.

    BFTP: One thing that X-Men was always criticized for was its often sloppy foreign animation, which even led to production delays with numerous episodes. Was there any specific reason why X-Men was never given the same high quality animation that was shown in Batman the Animated Series, which also premiered around the same time?

    ML: Yes, there are a couple of reasons. We paid the top licensing fee we could afford for X-Men, but remember when that started, the network was very young. We didn’t have a lot of revenue. On top of that, X-Men was more difficult to do than a lot of shows because it had so many characters. This of course was before computer animation had been perfected, so everything was hand drawn. So what you saw on the screen was every single penny that we could pay. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that we paid a licensing fee for Batman too, but Warner Brothers supplemented and put a lot more money into the production themselves. Warner Brothers supplemented our license fees in such a tremendous way that they stepped up to the plate and invested in it. Additionally, they realized that they were making so much money from licensing and merchandising from the Batman movies that they could literally pour money into the program. In those days, Marvel didn’t quite have the same deep pockets. Look, Warner Brothers is a studio that produces and Marvel is a comic book company. Thus, they didn’t put the same resources into the production that Warner Brothers was able to do and that’s the difference. I would say that each Batman episode had at least $150,000-$200,000 more per episode spent and that’s because Warner Brothers had made the investment.

    BFTP: In terms of successful programs from Fox Kids, where do you rank X-Men? Like you said earlier, many people often forget that it was your first number one show and ultimately helped you claim a stronghold in the ratings.

    ML: I would say from a writing perspective that it’s number one. That’s my personal opinion and some of my colleagues may not agree with me, but I felt that while it’s true we didn’t have the production values that say Batman or some other shows had, the writing captured the essence of the comics and that was my dream. I think we had a lot of great shows and Batman was right up there with X-Men, so I’ll tell you my top shows: Animaniacs (including Pinky and the Brain), Batman, Spider-Man, Life With Louie, and Bobby’s World. We had a lot of interesting animated series, but those to me were the outstanding ones.

    BFTP: The beauty of the X-Men series is that there are a ton of different characters and thus, it's easy for someone to identify with at least one of the mutants. Which mutant do you think is the most like you and why?

    ML: It’s going to surprise you: Wolverine. I don’t know that I necessarily identify with Wolverine, but all the emotions and the anger that he was carrying with him made him fascinating to me. There are several Marvel characters that I find fascinating, but Wolverine I think is my favorite.

    BFTP: Even after 15 years, X-Men is still one of the most successful cartoon adaptation of comic book superheroes. What do you think separates the X-Men from a never-ending list of Saturday morning cartoons?

    ML: Definitely the stories and the characters. I’m sorry to say that we’ve gotten a little bit away from dramatic story telling in much of today’s kids’ programming but I know that the audience loves good story-telling, not just gag-oriented animation. There’s such a huge opportunity to have a resurgence of it or reemergence of telling a story with a beginning middle and end, and possessing a real story arc. I think the stories and the dynamics between the characters, the fact that they don’t get along, which by the way, was also something you never saw in animation, is very compelling to kids. You know, here’s this fantastic world that’s highly incredible and yet here are these characters that behave like siblings. That combination is what’s fascinating.

    BFTP: Do you think that it would be harder in today’s industry to try and do the same thing your group did back in 1990 to form the Fox Kids Network?

    ML: Yes, I think it would be harder in broadcast television, though I think cable can do anything they want…they’re 800 lb. gorillas. If you have a 24 hour channel, you can do just about anything. But I do hope that dramatic storytelling comes back into fashion. In the vain of Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman, I think that there’s room for that to reemerge. Though I think that would be too hard in broadcast television today; we had this little window of opportunity with Fox Kids. Back in 1990, Nickelodeon was still airing just reruns and there wasn’t even a Cartoon Network. So we were able to outmuscle the traditional networks because we were on Monday through Friday and Saturdays too, but the other networks just had their kids’ programming on Saturday morning …and with cable just doing reruns back then, we could create a brand. But today, competing with cable is very hard, so you’d have to put that kind of programming on a cable kid’s channel and get support in that area.

    BFTP: How familiar were you with the X-Men comics before you started production on the series?
     
  22. Jess Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    0
    CONTINUED


    ML: I wasn’t very familiar with the X-Men until I became the head of Marvel Productions. When that happened, I sat down with Stan and I asked him to tell me his favorite Marvel comics besides Spider-Man. He said: “Well of course, Spider-Man is my favorite, but I have to say that I love X-Men.” So he gave me a stack of comics to go away and read. And I did. The comics that I enjoyed the most besides Spider-Man were the X-Men…they were number one because of all these qualities that I’ve mentioned already. I did really like the Silver Surfer too since I thought it was very provocative. I liked the Avengers and the Fantastic Four as well, but never as much as the X-Men…they just didn’t touch me the way X-Men did.

    BFTP: Is there anything about X-Men that the general public doesn’t know, but that you’d like to reveal?

    ML: I think that one of the more interesting things is that I read into X-Men a lot more than Stan originally intended and he shared that with me once. When I was first introducing the X-Men cartoon at an advertising upfront meeting, I talked about it representing the disenfranchised youth who always felt out of place and ill-of-ease. Afterwards, Stan said to me: “Geez Maggie, I never thought of that.” I’m not putting Stan down since he did think of that…he just never articulated it like that. Now Stan grew up feeling like the odd ball too, and his stories had that perspective. But he had never quite put his finger on what I as a fan had put my finger on and I thought that was interesting.

    Actually there is another story, but Sidney probably remembers it a little bit better than me. One of my favorite episodes was the Nightcrawler episode when Wolverine had a crisis of belief. We got a lot of internal resistance from that episode. Our Broadcasts and Standards asked us what we were doing with God…you couldn’t do that with kid’s television. Nevertheless, I was very proud of that episode and even my own staff thought Sidney and I had lost it….and that happened a lot! Throughout its course, X-Men remained somewhat controversial because people thought there was too much conflict for just kid’s television. They would say: “It’s too heavy Margaret…it’s too much dialogue burdened…you don’t know your audience.” So it was never easy, but we tried to remain true to the vision and it worked. The one thing that we always did besides thinking about our characters was thinking about the audience. We never talked down to our audience since we knew they would get it. But adults were worried with all these serious issues: it seemed too depressing, it was too complicated, too philosophical, too ‘talky’. However I am happy to hear that the show did connect with those who watched it when they were younger. It’s gratifying to know that we were correct. Unfortunately it’s still common for kids to be underestimated with respect to shows that bring up real philosophical issues.

    BFTP: Do you attribute the recent success in the Marvel movie franchise to what Fox Kids did in the 1990’s with its superhero cartoon series?

    ML: Absolutely. I could actually be more specific: I was the one who said to the Fox Feature Group that they had to do an X-Men movie. I originally tried to get them to do a primetime cartoon series, but things didn’t work out. We tried airing a few episodes in primetime but it didn’t do great in the ratings. You can’t just stick a Saturday morning episode in primetime and expect it to do well without being able to raise the bar a little bit production-wise. More importantly, you can’t succeed without promoting it a lot. Nevertheless, I did take the product to the Feature Division and the rest, as they say, is history.

    The same thing happened with Spider-Man. It was originally going to be at Fox because James Cameron had wanted to do it since he loved the story. I happened to sit on an airplane with him and he talked about how he was going to do the origin story. But when he got so involved with Titanic, the rights somehow went to Sony. Yes, I think Fox Kids definitely was the impetus for the whole comic book revolution since we dramatically raised the whole awareness of the Marvel characters.

    BFTP: Is there anything you would like to say to long-time fans of the show?

    ML: Yes, demand more. There’s a treasure trove of interesting stories that have yet to be told. Nevertheless, I’m very proud of the ones we did and to the fans, I would like to say thank you for living up to our expectations. I was so upset years before when the network executives said to me that the only people who read or like comics are 18 year old nerds. I was so offended on behalf of all the kids who I knew understood and read comics and got a lot out of them. I’ve always said in television to never underestimate your audience, which we still frequently do as an industry. The series was born out of a love for the project, but it was produced with respect to the audience. I did not want to disappoint the fans and that was my biggest fear, especially because at the time we did X-Men, the stories and the characters had evolved and yet, we chose to go back and start where it all began. To some extent, I wanted to capture the richness of what had come before but not make it irrelevant to the current readers. I was worried to death about disappointing the fans, so with every script that we read, Sidney would fight to get better and better scripts but stay true to the essence of the original comic books and Stan’s vision and philosophy. I supported Sidney 100%, but some writers would call me and complain. But I would say, look, X-Men has a huge fan base and we can’t disappoint the fans. And the fans made it a success because they got what we were trying to do. The most important thing to us was not to diminish the property.

    Blast From the Past would like to thank Margaret for taking the time to answer our questions
     
  23. Jess Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    0
  24. darkseid26 Registered

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    4,610
    Likes Received:
    0
    has there been a Digimon thread, love that show.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice
monitoring_string = "afb8e5d7348ab9e99f73cba908f10802"