Monday, November 19, 2012

X-MEN Episode Eleven - March 13, 1993

Days of Future Past (Part One)
Written by Julia Jane Lewald

Summary: In the year 2055, Bishop is a hired mutant hunter. After he reaches his quota and is targeted by the Sentinels, he joins the mutant rebellion. Forge and Wolverine explain their belief that a political assassination in the past is responsible for creating this world. Bishop volunteers to take Wolverine’s place and travel to the past. He arrives disoriented, vaguely aware that an X-Man is the assassin. While Gambit and Rogue visit Beast in prison, Bishop attacks the X-Men’s home. They subdue him, until Gambit and Rogue return. An enraged Bishop turns his gun on Gambit.

Continuity Notes:
  • Forge makes his debut in the series as a much older man. He’s one of the few remaining rebels, and the inventor of the time machine.
  • Beast speculates that Gambit has been in prison before, based on his strange reaction to visiting Beast’s cell.
  • Jean Grey actually joins the team to battle Nimrod, who’s followed Bishop through time. Jean rarely participated in the action scenes, especially in the first season.
  • The concept of Bishop accusing Gambit of betraying the team comes from a long-running storyline in the comics. At the time of this episode’s production, it was still several years away from a resolution.
  • Here’s a continuity conundrum: When the team speculates about whom the assassin could be, Cyclops is adamant that it can’t be Jean. Jean responds that everyone has darkness inside of them, reminding Cyclops of her own “dark days.” This is obviously an allusion to the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” yet the show is years away from adapting that story. So what’s Jean talking about, if she hasn’t become Phoenix yet?
“Um, Actually…”: The original “Days of Future Past” introduced Rachel Summers and the adult Kate Pryde of the future X-Men. In the comics, Kate overtakes Kitty’s body in the present day and warns the X-Men about Senator Kelly’s assassination. Later, Rachel escapes the future and joins the X-Men, revealing to them that she was brainwashed into hunting down fellow mutants. Bishop was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #282 as a mutant police officer from a future where segregated mutants policed themselves. All of these elements have been jumbled together to form the animated series’ Bishop.

I Love the '90s: Bishop is explicitly sent to “the ‘90s” to stop the assassination. Jubilee’s future gravestone lists her death date as the faraway year of 2010.

Review: A part of me still can’t believe there was ever a Saturday morning adaptation of “Days of Future Past.” Even with FOX’s willingness to bend the rules of accepted kids’ programming of the day, this isn’t an easy fit for a cartoon adaptation. Apparently, the story was submitted during the brief period of time when FOX was open to ideas like this; as surviving censor notes show us, FOX will soon grow weary of even the word “assassin” (which is used around fifty times this episode.)

The original stories have been sanitized a bit -- no one’s explicitly killed onscreen and Bishop is a willing and eager mutant hunter as opposed to a brainwashed slave in a bondage outfit -- but the impact hasn’t been dampened. I can’t imagine too many kids were expecting the newest episode of X-Men to open with a close-up of the Statue of Liberty’s eye, crying tears of acid rain as she overlooks the bombed-out remains of New York. Wolverine’s now an old man past his physical prime, and strange new characters make up the X-Men in this bleak world overrun by Sentinels. Thankfully, someone’s decided to alter the color scheme in this episode, so the pastels are gone. This is dark, literally and figuratively.

Fans of the comic probably weren’t thrilled to see Bishop merged with two disparate characters, but the revisions Lewald has made make a certain amount of sense. Bishop was quickly identified as the “future X-Man” at the time, even though his personal story had virtually nothing to do with the “Days of Future Past” storyline. Bishop’s origin story of a cop chasing a crook through time isn’t inherently bad, but it certainly lacks the impact of “Days of Future Past,” which is a story that Marvel and the producers understandably wanted to see adapted. So, Bishop becomes a mutant hunter from the future, rather than a fugitive mutant hunter from the future. The audience still sees several of the great moments from “Days of Future Past,” and one of the more commercial X-Men of the time is introduced to a Saturday morning audience.

As an introduction to Bishop and the byzantine world of future X-Men continuities, this works very well. None of the time travel elements are confusing, the conflicts are engaging (plus, the Nimrod fight is smartly used to add credibility to Bishop’s story, a needed element since the X-Men have no motive for believing him), and the cliffhanger is great. I doubt anyone will say this surpasses the original “Days of Future Past” storyline, but it’s an admirable adaptation, and it’s a far more tolerable incarnation of the ‘90s X-traitor mystery.


Matt said...

Even though I basically got into the X-Men through the cartoon, I had somehow read the original "Days of Future Past" by the time this episode aired. I was then, and remain now, amazed that they took so many disparate elements from throughout the series and formed them into a coherent story that still rang true to the original Byrne/Claremont issues. I hope the upcoming "Days of Future Past" movie can manage even half as good a job, though I'm not holding my breath.

Also, I loved that western guitar twang that played whenever Bishop showed up and basically did anything.

Anonymous said...

This two parter really solidified Biship as one of my favorite characters. I was one of those impressionable kids that watched the show and thought the attitude+future+shotgun formula worked for him, much better than it did for Cable on this show. I do think that the writing holds up even today, but I probably would have liked him anyways if they didn't pull of this mix-and-match strategy so well lol6026eallygci

G. Kendall said...

I rarely noticed the different musical themes for the characters, but Bishop's always stood out. It's hard not to notice a harmonica in the midst of all those synthesizers.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know why Forge was connected to Bishop or the future here? Seems out of nowhere. I always liked the voice actor for Forge on this series. They kept the same one when he showed up much later in the X-Factor episode.

Matt said...

Oh right, it was a harmonica. Not sure why I was remembering a guitar. I just knew it was something "Old West" sounding.

Anonymous said...

I think him and Cable were the two guys with distinctive themes, although the harmonica makes Bishop's a bit more memorable

G. Kendall said...

I think Forge was chosen because of Bishop's comments in the comics about Forge becoming "Genesis" in the future, hinting that he's involved in the next generation of the X-Men. Plus, it's somewhat plausible that he could create a time machine.

arw1985 said...

This and the next two episodes are probably my favorite of the series. It even holds up pretty well. I know this may be wrong to some, but I like this adaptation of this story over the original one (which is good as well).

Here's hoping that the movie turns out to be somewhat decent.

Teebore said...

I remember really loving the run up to the finale - these two episodes and the actual last one of the season just seemed absolutely epic to me when I first watched them.

Looking back, it really is amazing how well they integrated the disparate elements of the original story as well as then-current mysteries (like the X-traitor business). Very impressive.

So what’s Jean talking about, if she hasn’t become Phoenix yet?

That time their bedroom role playing went too far? ;)

which is used around fifty times this episode.

Ha! I remember that and Bishop's musical twang all too well. The later for good reason, the former not so much.

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