SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is an animated television series created by Christian Tremblay and Yvon Tremblay and produced by Hanna-Barbera and Turner Program Services. The series takes place in the fictional metropolis of Megakat City, which is populated entirely by anthropomorphic felines who are just like people, known as "kats". The titular SWAT Kats are two vigilante pilots who possess a state-of-the-art fighter jet with an array of weaponry. Throughout the series, they face various villains as well as Megakat City's militarized police force, the Enforcers.
The show originally premiered and ran on TBS's syndication block "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera" from 1993 to 1995. Every episode of the series was directed by Robert Alvarez. The bulk of the series was written by either Glenn Leopold (13 episodes) or Lance Falk (6 episodes). Jim Stenstrum contributed two episodes, while David Ehrman, Von Williams, Eric Clark (with Lance Falk), Mark Saraceni and Jim Katz all contributed one episode each. There were a total of twenty-five finished episodes and a special episode, that features a report on the SWAT Kats and of all their missions and gadgets as well as three unfinished episodes and two episodes still in the concept stage. The show later re-aired on Cartoon Network and Boomerang.
Chance "T-Bone" Furlong and Jake "Razor" Clawson were members of Megakat City's paramilitary law enforcement agency, known as the Enforcers. Unfortunately, the Enforcers were commanded by Feral, an incompetent, overbearing and inflexible Enforcer who was believed to have owed his position entirely to political machinations. While in pursuit of Dark Kat, one of the main arch-villains of the series, the two rebelled against Enforcer Commander Feral's orders to fall back and leave Dark Kat to him. When they objected, citing their already-acquired target lock, Commander Feral used his jet to slap their wing, sending Chance and Jake's jet crashing into Enforcer headquarters and allowing Dark Kat to get away. In his anger, Feral discharged Chance and Jake from the Enforcers and reassigned them to work at the city's military salvage yard to pay for the damage to the Enforcer Headquarters.
Using discarded military parts and weapons from the salvage yard, Chance and Jake built themselves a three-engine jet fighter called the Turbokat, which resembled several different jet fighters, most notably the Grumman F-14 and the Saab Draken, along with a handful of such other vehicles as the Cyclotron, a motorcycle built into the jet; the Turbo Mole, a subterranean vehicle used to drill underground; the Hoverkat, a militarized hovercraft, the Thunder Truck, a militarized Jeep modified from their tow truck, and they also built two jet skis which they used in the second season episode Mutation City. All these vehicles were stored, along with a training area and other equipment, in a secret hangar below the yard.
They commenced to patrol Megakat City as the SWAT Kats, defending it against any kind of menace that threatened the city. Their enemies included the criminal mastermind Dark Kat; the undead sorcerer The Pastmaster; the mutant evil genius Doctor Viper; and the robotic gangsters the Metallikats. The SWAT Kats also faced many villains-of-the-week, such as Madkat and Volcanus.
T-Bone and Razor kept their identities secret from everyone, and their closest ally became Deputy Mayor Callie Briggs, a character more important than the mayor himself. Their methods did not endear them to Commander Feral, and in the series the three often clashed. The Metallikats were the only characters in the series to learn their true identities, when they invade the secret hangar. In the second season, Feral's niece Lieutenant Felina Feral, who disagreed with her uncle's view about the SWAT Kats' activities, became another ally.
- Main Article: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron Characters
The series focuses on Chance "T-Bone" Furlong and Jake "Razor" Clawson, two vigilante pilots who possess a state-of-the-art fighter jet with an array of weaponry. Throughout the series they face various villains as well as Megakat City's militarized police force, the Enforcers.
- Main Article: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron/Episodes
The series consists of two seasons containing a total of 23 episodes and 1 special. Most episodes of the series were originally preceded by a short prologue in which Razor would say, "Today on Swat Kats...," with a brief action scene from the episode. After most episodes, there was a small clip called "Secret Files of SWAT Kats" which gave information about the Heroes and Villains from the show.
Reception & Cancellation
SWAT Kats became the number one syndicated animated show of 1994, according to Nielsen Television Index (NTI) and Nielsen Syndication Service (NSS). Hanna Barbera Productions also stated this in a SWAT Kats Poster ad that they were going to release new episodes, posters, and other works in 1995. Toon Magazine also published a section about the success of SWAT Kats in Fall 1994 issue. Modelsheets of characters were also released in the same issue. The show was canceled with three unfinished episodes. Hanna-Barbera ended their syndication block The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera to focus mostly on producing original content for Cartoon Network.
In July of 1995, Hanna-Barbera released three VHS collections with two select episodes on each. These releases also included some of the "Secret Files of SWAT Kats" clips that ended each episode in original airings. The VHS releases were titled: "Deadly Dr. Viper" - featuring "Destructive Nature" and "Katastrophe". "Strike of Dark Kat" - featuring "The Wrath of Dark Kat" and "Night of Dark Kat". "Metallikats Attack" - featuring "The Metallikats" and "Metal Urgency".
On December 14, 2010, Warner Archive released SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron- The Complete Series Collection on DVD in region 1, as part of their Hanna–Barbera Classics Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and Amazon.com. It should be noted though, that the episodes themselves aren't remastered, but are from the best quality master tapes available and contain no extras or bonus features aside from the episodes themselves. Three scenes that were originally cut from the show were released on DVD. They are the title card of the episode "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice", the Farmer Scene from the episode "The Giant Bacteria" and the Guidance System scene from the episode "Chaos in Crystal." But the "Today on SWAT Kats" and the "Secret Files of SWAT Kats" segments are not available on the DVD set.
Most episodes of the series were originally preceded by a short prologue in which Razor would say, "Today on SWAT Kats...," with a brief action scene from the episode. After most episodes, there was a small clip called "Secret Files of SWAT Kats" which gave information about the Heroes and Villains from the show and Warner Bros didn't release any information about the 6 unfinished episodes of the show. Another issue with the DVD was the end credits of the show. Warner Bros put the end credits for the episodes in the wrong order, meaning voice actors either aren’t credited for episodes they were in, or are credited for ones they weren’t. Only a few episodes had their proper end credits in tact.
On March 3, 2011, Warner Bros removed SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron from its DVD page, most likely to remove the current set, this is because on January 19, 2012, Warner Archive re-released the Swat Kats set with the end credits corrected, but still without the "Today on SWAT Kats" or the "Secret Files of SWAT Kats" segments.
- Remco produced a line of action figures in 1994 which included T-Bone, Razor, Dr. Viper and Dark Kat. Other products were produced including a Super Nintendo game, a handheld game, posters and fast food tie-ins at Carls Jr. and White Castle.
- The game SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron developed by AIM was released by Hudson Soft in August 1995 for the SNES. It is a 2-D Action Platformer with RPG elements in which you can play as either T-Bone or Razor. It features a password system and third-person flying sequences in the Turbokat Fighter. It is based on various episodes of the show and features a different boss for each world, with Dark Kat as the final boss. All worlds contain an urgent message from Mayor Manx prior to the start of each world.