Welcome to It’s Saturday morning – Do you know what your children are? – a series of posts taking a look back at the Saturday morning cartoon, X-Men (aka X-Men: The Animated Series). Over the course of multiple posts I will be taking a look back at X-Men, through a complete re-watch of all 76 episodes of the show.
These posts will be appearing on a semi-regular basis (not always on a Saturday – today is Tuesday) and will discuss the episodes as I watch them – usually in a batch of half-a-dozen or more. I’m watching the episodes in standard definition as X-Men: The Animated Seriesis not currently available on Blu-ray (boo) or in HD.
And now for Part 4…
Previously on It’s Saturday morning – Do you know what your children are?, I’ve worked my way through X-Men Season One (Part 1 & 2), as well as the first half of Season Two (Part 3). Today, I will be finishing off the second season with the next seven episodes.
Let’s kick off with a FANTASTIC two-parter…
Time Fugitives: Part One
This episode is a direct sequel to the Season One two-part story, Days of Future Past, which saw the mutant, Bishop travel through time to stop an assassination attempt in the 1990s. Although the assassination of Senator Kelly was averted, when Bishop returned to his timeline, things were still looking bleak and now we find out why…
2mins – The opening to this episode looks like it was ripped straight from The Terminator. Robots everywhere, the world in ruins etc. Where’s John Connor when you need him?
2mins 40secs – To put things into context, the opening of this episode takes place in the far-flung future, where Cable is (just about) surviving in a desolated world controlled by Apocalypse. This isn’t Bishop’s future – this is a time period long after that.
6mins – OK, so now the episode has jumped to a different point in time – Bishop’s timeline. As detailed at the conclusion of Days of Future Past, Bishop succeeded in his mission, but as it is now being revealed a plague has wiped out most of the mutant life on Earth. Oh, and the X-Men don’t exist.
7mins – Bishop has travelled back to the 1990s to stop the plague from happening and to find out what happened to the X-Men.
8mins – It is being established here that the plague is man-made and not caused by mutants. However, mutants are purposefully being blamed to ensure they are a target of yet more hatred.
10mins – Had FOX thought about it, the studio could have easily created a series of movies based on these Bishop storylines. I would have much rather have watched something like this as the sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), than watch X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).
14mins 45secs – A few cameos here for Gamesmaster, War Machine, G W Bridge and Nick Fury. None of these characters ever get a name check or a proper introduction in the series. If you don’t know who they are (or at least, you didn’t know who they were in the ’90s) you’d have no idea if they were important or not.
20mins – This first part ends on a great cliffhanger. After helping the X-Men uncover the truth about the plague – i.e. Apocalypse created it – Bishop destroys the virus, saving countless lives! Hurrah! However, by saving his timeline, Bishop has altered Cable’s timeline – something which Cable is not a fan of, as countless people will never be born. Oh, and Apocalypse has also killed the X-Men!
I told you it is a great cliffhanger!
At this point in time, when I watched these episodes during their original TV run, I couldn’t be any more of a fan of the X-Men. In fact, I was so into the show, the comics, the toys, the trading cards etc that X-Men was pretty much all I thought about.
This obsession lasted throughout the majority of the 1990s. Sure, I was into Batman: The Animated Series, computer games and Spider-Man during the ’90s, but X-Men was my jam!
I must have watched some of these episodes 20 times, so you’d think I’d be bored of them by now. I’m not – I’m STILL loving them.
Loving them so much, I need to crack on with the next episode!
Time Fugitives: Part 2
4mins – This is a very clever episode, which plays with the conventions of time travel. Cable has travelled back in time to the exact point where Bishop has arrived in the 1990s. None of the latter events of Part 1 have happened yet, so I’m about to witness a slightly altered series of events.
6mins 30secs – Some of the same scenes are playing out as they did during Part 1, only this time with Cable making some appearances. This is a great way to reuse footage while still presenting a great story!
11mins – Cable has just devised a way to save the future. Wolverine is the key!
13mins – Graydon Creed, the leader of the Friends of Humanity, features heavily in this two-part story.
13mins – Jean Grey has just scanned Cable’s mind, so she knows who he is.
13mins 10secs – It’s hinted here that Cable is the son of Scott and Jean, but it’s not made explicitly clear. For some reason, Jean opts not to mention this to Scott which is rather bizarre. She does the same thing in Season Three when she scan’s Corsair’s mind and discover’s he is Scott’s father. What gives, Jean?! Why are you keeping secrets?!
15mins 50secs – And now for a re-run of past events, as the X-Men are about to uncover Apocalypse’s plan (again). So, how will Cable ensure a different outcome without letting Apocalypse win?
18mins 30secs – This time around, Cable let’s Wolverine get infected by the virus. Due to his mutant ability to heal he will be fine, plus his body will create antibodies that ensure there is an antidote should Apocalypse try to unleash the virus again.
20mins – Bishop has travelled back to his own timeline, to discover the future is… still screwed.
20mins 30secs – Cable has travelled back to his timeline to discover his timeline remains intact.
I can’t even begin to tell you about the waves of nostalgia I felt watching this episode. It genuinely transported me back to the moment I first watched it on a Saturday morning, followed by the subsequent viewings when I’d re-watch it on a battered VHS tape.
A Rogue’s Tale
2mins – After a brief pause for Time Fugitives: Part 1 & 2, it’s now back to the character focused stories, this time with a Rogue-centric episode exploring her past.
2mins 45secs – Mystique is now working with Mister Sinister. She gets around a bit.
6mins – A Rogue’s Tale is a great episode and a much-needed one too! Up until this point in the series, Rogue’s powers have been a little confusing to say the least. It’s been made clear that Rogue has the ability to absorb another mutant’s powers through skin-to-skin contact, but it’s not clear why she’s super strong or why she can fly. After all, these are NOT her mutant powers. So, what gives and why is she being haunted by visions of a mysterious woman?
13mins – A flashback starts here which explains the details…
15mins – Whilst working on a mission with Mystique, Rogue crosses paths with Ms. Marvel (aka Carol Danvers). Rogue makes skin contact with Ms. Marvel, in order to absorb her powers. Unfortunately, Rogue holds on too long, absorbing Ms. Marvel’s abilities and her psyche and leaving her in a coma in the process.
A really good episode which doesn’t shy away from the fact that Rogue’s encounter with Ms. Marvel was tragic – for both characters. Ms. Marvel is only ever seen in this episode, so we never get a resolution to her situation, but there is a suggestion that she may awake from her coma.
Beauty & the Beast
3mins – The character-focused episodes continue with a story that centres on the Beast.
4mins – Graydon Creed and the Friends of Humanity reappear in this episode.
5mins 30secs – Meanwhile, in the Savage Land…. Amphibious makes his debut.
11mins – This episode centres on the Beast and his relationship with his patient – a blind girl called Carly. Unfortunately, Carly’s dad has issues with his daughter pairing off with a mutant and a story about bigotry and ignorance follows. It’s not subtle in its message, and it’s not the greatest episode, but it does serve a purpose in this run of episodes.
19mins – And now the truth comes out about Graydon Creed – he is the son of Sabretooth!
19mins 30secs – With the revelation that Creed is the son of a mutant, his association with the Friends of Humanity comes to an end.
Watchable, but not the best story in Season Two. Of course, it’s not the worst *cough* X-Ternally Yours *cough* and it does serve a purpose.
Time for the next episode… and something rather different.
2mins – This episode introduces the characters, Mojo, Longshot and Spiral. Although it isn’t the case here, in the comics, Longshot was once a member of the X-Men. His mutant ability is the power of luck!
2mins 15secs – Dazzler gets a cameo here – as Longshot’s hairstylist. Dazzler will get a proper appearance during Season Three.
2mins 20secs – Little factoid for you: Prior to the debut of this X-Men TV series, Marvel tried to get another X-Men animated series off the ground. The show never made it past the pilot episode, but that pilot did feature Dazzler as one of the core X-Men.
6mins – Mojovision is a bit of a daft episode, but it has its charm. The premise is that Mojo, an alien from a media-obsessed planet, has chosen the X-Men to be the stars of his latest reality TV series. He captures them and makes them take part in ‘shows’ in order to achieve high ratings.
10mins – The first show is Miami Mutants – a sort-of spoof of Miami Vice. Storm and Cyclops are the ‘unwilling’ participants.
13mins – The second show is Rogue Star – a sci-fi show. Beast and Rogue are stars. This show features alien creatures that look a lot like the Brood – an alien race that have appeared in the X-Men comics.
15mins – The final show is I Dream of Jean – which is NOTHING like I Dream of Jeanie. This show includes cameos from the Punisher and three members of the Imperial Guard. The Imperial Guard make their proper debut during the third season.
19mins – Before the show reaches its conclusion, the (bizarre) dinosaur-man-mutant-creature, Sauron is introduced.
And now I head into the final two episodes of the season – concluding the story threads that have been in place since Til Death Us Do Part. It’s time for a reunion…
Reunion: Part 1
3mins – A catch-up with Xavier and Magneto. They’re still stuck in the Savage Land and by the looks of things their only hope is a rescue. Hmm… I wonder what will happen?
5mins 15secs – Meanwhile, Morph has reached out to the X-Men for some help.
8mins 30secs – Ka-Zar is introduced.
16mins 30secs – Mister Sinister has Magneto, Xavier and Jean Grey all held captive in his citadel in the Savage Land.
17mins 15secs – And now for an explanation as to why Xavier can walk, making sure viewers are aware that his disability has nothing to do with his mutant powers.
20mins – The X-Men head out on a rescue mission.
Straight into the second part…
Reunion: Part 2
3mins 30secs – Now that they’ve arrived in the Savage Land, the X-Men have discovered they have lost their abilities, causing a little bit of confusion for viewers not well-versed in X-Men lore. You see, despite his lack of powers the Beast still looks all blue and furry and there’s a reason for this – his appearance is not a result of his mutation, but rather a side effect of his own meddling. Comic book readers or those who have now watched the movie, X-Men: First Class (2011) will know this, but back during the ’90s viewers were probably a tad confused.
7mins – With the exception of Wolverine, all of the X-Men have been taken captive by the Nasty Boys.
12mins – Sinister is still being creepy, wanting Scott and Jean’s DNA.
12mins 30secs – I love Magneto in this episode – he’s so sassy.
14mins 5secs – A touching moment as Gambit tells Rogue that he loves her.
16mins 20secs – The X-Men get their powers back, but there’s a slight animation error here. As their abilities return, Jean Grey can briefly be seen in her X-Men uniform, rather than in the civilian clothes she has been wearing all episode.
16mins 25secs – And now Jean is back in civilian wear.
18mins – Cyclops Vs. Mister Sinister!
18mins 30secs – Morph is trying to decide if to help the X-Men defeat Mister Sinister, or if to continue betraying them. With a little help from Xavier, Morph sides with the X-Men. It’s worth noting that a split-second before he made his choice, Wolverine charged at Morph, ready to take him out if necessary.
19mins – With Morph’s help, Cyclops is able to shatter Sinister’s body into countless pieces. Jean scatters the shards out into the Savage Land. Sinister isn’t dead, but he will be incapacitated for a while.
20mins – As the episode and the season draws to an end, Magneto is given the opportunity to join the X-Men, but he declines.
A great, action-packed end to Season Two, which in itself is another fantastic season. All of the plot lines are neatly tied up, with a few threads left for future tales.
At this point in the show’s life-span the X-Men was ticking all the correct boxes. It wasn’t at the levels of popularity experienced by the Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it was chugging along nicely with a dedicated fan base.
In terms of its broadcast history on the BBC, as it headed into Season Three the show would continue its weekly broadcast schedule, but sadly not for long. I’ll explain what happens in the next post.
And that’s the end of Season Two. Don’t forget, if you want to talk about these episodes, share your thoughts or have a general discussion about the X-Men, then head to the comments section and start the conversation.
Next time I’m talking Season Three!