Friday, September 28, 2012

X-MEN Episode Eight - March 6, 1993



The Unstoppable Juggernaut
Written by Julianne Klemm

Summary: In the ruins of the mansion, the X-Men discover a gigantic footprint. Wolverine tracks the prints into the city, where he encounters a large mutant named Colossus. After initially mistaking Colossus for the culprit, the team soon realizes that the real villain is a behemoth called the Juggernaut. During their battle, Rogue tries to absorb Juggernaut's powers, only to discover that he has too much power to steal. However, she does learn that Juggernaut is Xavier's bitter stepbrother. After Wolverine removes Juggernaut's helmet, Jean Grey uses Cerebro to wipe his mind clean.

"Actiiing!": The debut of Colossus brings us the show's first horrific use of a foreign accent. I'm sure the lady who played Moira MacTaggert wasn't a true Scotsman, either, but that accent was subtle and understated compared to Colossus’ “Russian” accent.

Review: I'm trying to think of a decent Juggernaut episode during this series' run, and I'm coming up blank. I guess Juggernaut was used fairly well during the extended "Phoenix Saga" storyline, but I don't think he was the sole focus of an entire episode. The only good thing I can think to say about "The Unstoppable Juggernaut" is that it's better than the later episode that has an introverted nerd straight out of a 1980s teen comedy gain the Juggernaut's powers. And that's debatable. (Okay, in fairness, working in a Beast cameo during Colossus’ short jail stint wasn’t a bad move. The rest of the episode, however, is indefensible.)

This is the generic superhero version of the X-Men that the comic fans were paranoid FOX would produce. Right down to the clich├ęd lesson about the importance of putting aside differences and using teamwork to save the day, this is simplistic pabulum for little kids. Aside from being dull, what really annoyed me about this episode when it aired was the casual dismissal of Colossus at the show's end. The series had a terrible habit of introducing established X-Men from the comics, pairing them with the team for an adventure, and then having the character decline membership at the end of the episode. This got old very quickly, and I think the stagnant team roster is a major reason why the series seemed so tired towards the end of its run.

10 comments:

Dan Lichtenberg said...

The series had a terrible habit of introducing established X-Men from the comics, pairing them with the team for an adventure, and then having the character decline membership at the end of the episode.

I always hated that. If I'm not mistaken, this happens twice with Colossus, and Wolverine is the one who makes the offer each time. I guess the lure of being a farmer was just too great.

Can anyone educate me as to why this happened? Did the creators just not feel like changing the roster? Were they not allowed to? Was there a practical reason behind it, or did the thought just never occur to anyone? When watching this show for the first time, I automatically knew there was no way Colossus, Bishop, Archangel, Iceman, or Nightcrawler were going to join the team by episode's end, but I never really knew why.

Matt said...

I actually enjoyed that "nerd as Juggernaut" episode, in a so-bad-it's-good way. But yeah, other than the appearance in the "Phoenix Saga", I can't think of an especially good Juggernaut episode either.

dschonbe said...

I assume (without basis) that the static cast has to do with contracts for the talent. If you are constantly changing the team, you are constantly changing what actors you need to work with.

-Dan

arw1985 said...

I talked about the show on my blog back in January and watched a majority of the series at that time. This show (especially the first season) is pure nostalgia for me.

Out of all of the episodes of the first season, this one was definitely the weakest. It's not horrible though. Colossus is in it...and that's about it.

G. Kendall said...

One of the producers was asked this question during an interview, and I think his response was that they wanted the audience to stay connected with the core cast of characters and didn't want to bog the show down with too many mutants. Basically, they didn't seem to think kids wanted to see a different cast.

Matt said...

As a kid, I could've related to that. I was apparently a weird kid in that I wanted Transformers and G.I. Joe to stay focused on their original core casts and got disappointed when they started bringing in the second and third year characters. Something I loved about the Masters of the Universe and -- at least at first -- ThunderCats shows was that they did just that -- focused on small casts while bringing in other characters only for one-shot or recurring guest appearances. I have since learned that most kids didn't think that way though, and actually wantedall the newer toys to show up in animated form.

To add to my weirdness, I would've preferred them sticking with the smaller cast if only they'd chosen the right characters. I discovered the Byrne/Claremont back issues pretty much contemporaneously with the then-current stuff, and I felt even then that the "All-New, All-Different" team would've worked better for TV than the cherry-picked group they went with.

(If "Pryde of the X-Men" had gone to series, I would've loved it.)

Of course, those characters were cherry-picked for a reason, being the more popular characters in the core titles at the time... but 13 year-old me would've been very happy to see Colossus join the team permanently when given the chance, and likewise Nightcrawler.

Also -- did Colossus ever wear his costume in this series? Most of the other guest stars who were actually X-Men did, but I don't recall Colossus doing so.

Dan Lichtenberg said...

I remember an irritating musical motif that they only used in this episode (or maybe only for Juggernaut appearances). Didn't like it.

By the way, can someone confirm that Juggy was revealed as Xavier's brother here? I didn't remember that. I thought the first hints of it were during Dark Phoenix before they outright confirmed it in that nerdy guy episode.

@Matt

As a kid, I could've related to that. I was apparently a weird kid in that I wanted Transformers and G.I. Joe to stay focused on their original core casts and got disappointed when they started bringing in the second and third year characters.


Never thought about that before, but I think we were in the same boat. I remember being particularly annoyed by the later GI Joe characters. Not only did they kind of steal the show from the originals (Cross Country even got his own episode), but they were just so damned annoying. I didn't even like Serpentor, not only because he was stupid but because I thought Cobra Commander and Destro alone were better. But watching GI Joe, it felt like these characters were coming out of nowhere (no idea if the figures came out first). With X-Men, you knew who these fringe characters were already and that they were supposed to be there, so you just waited for them to cut the bullshit and join up. Which, of course, never happened.

It might depend on the franchise and what you were exposed to first. Many current X-Fans will say the animated series was their first exposure. Probably makes some kind of a difference.

As for Colossus in costume, I don't remember it. He didn't have his 80's costume, either. He was always in black pants and a white shirt, if I recall. It wouldn't have made sense for him to have it, but I guess it didn't make sense for Cable to have an "X" uniform either.

yrzhe said...

As a kid, the problem for me wasn't so much that the cast was static as that the cast sucked. Even as a kid who hadn't read all that many comics yet, I knew I'd rather see Colossus and Nightcrawler every week over Jubilee and Gambit.

Matt said...

Dan -- I think I know the Juggernaut theme you're talking about, and I believe it was used in his subsequent appearances too. Composer Shuki Levy gave unique motifs to several of the show's main and recurring characters. For some reason I still remember Wolverine's, Rogue's, and Juggernaut's themes quite clearly. I know that at the very least, Cable and Bishop also had their own motifs.

Teebore said...

This got old very quickly, and I think the stagnant team roster is a major reason why the series seemed so tired towards the end of its run.

Agreed. It's all fun and games for the first season or two, but pretty soon, you'd like to see some of those one off characters stick around.

I remember being very disappointed that this episode shoehorned Colossus and Juggernaut into the same episode, feeling both deserved their own story. Then again, when the story is this thin, maybe it's better we didn't get two separate episodes for each character.

@Matt: I was apparently a weird kid in that I wanted Transformers and G.I. Joe to stay focused on their original core casts and got disappointed when they started bringing in the second and third year characters.

I was kind of like that, except that I wanted those shows to focus on my favorite characters, which didn't always line up with what was considered the core characters.

For example, I always liked Duke a lot more than Flint, for whatever reason, so I wanted Duke episodes more than Flint ones. Or, when one of the second or third wave of characters came along that I actually liked, I didn't mind when the show focused on them. So I was never a big fan of the Iceberg-turns-into-a-whale episode, not because Iceberg was third string, but because the character did nothing for me.

If "Pryde of the X-Men" had gone to series, I would've loved it.

Same here. I adore that pilot, even with the hideous Australian accent for Wolverine.

@Dan: With X-Men, you knew who these fringe characters were already and that they were supposed to be there, so you just waited for them to cut the bullshit and join up. Which, of course, never happened.

Good point. I also think that might be why I was more accepting of the later waves of GI Joe and Transformers characters; I never had a lot of the original toys, but I did have the later ones, so when they showed up on the cartoons, there was a feeling of "finally!" because I'd been playing with them for awhile and I was excited to finally see characters for which I had the toys on the show.

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