Thursday, January 23, 2014

X-MEN Episode Forty-Two - November 19, 1994

The Dark Phoenix Saga (Part 3): The Dark Phoenix
Written by Larry Parr

Summary:  Dark Phoenix attacks the X-Men, but doesn’t kill them when she has the chance.  She flies to the D'Bari Star System and feeds on a star, destroying the entire star system.  She then attacks the Shi'ar Star Cruiser crew that recorded the event.  Meanwhile, the X-Men prepare for another fight with Dark Phoenix.  After Beast devises a psi-scrambler, Cyclops senses that she’s returned home.  At Jean Grey’s childhood home, the X-Men again face Dark Phoenix.  Beast’s device is ineffective, but Professor Xavier is able to defeat Dark Phoenix on the Astral Plane.  Suddenly, a Shi’ar craft arrives.  Lilandra appears, announcing that Dark Phoenix must be destroyed.

Continuity Notes:  Dr. Strange, Thor, the Watcher, and Eternity all make cameos as Dark Phoenix leaves Earth.

Approved By Broadcast Standards:  The alien star system that Dark Phoenix destroys is referred to as uninhabited, as opposed to being populated by billions of broccoli-people, as seen in the comics.  The Shi’ar crew also survives their encounter with Dark Phoenix, which is a sanitized version of the events of the comic.  Following Dark Phoenix and Xavier’s psychic battle, Jean remains clothed this time, rather than what we (almost) saw in the comics.

Review:  Just like the previous episode, if you’re a fan of the comics, there’s a lot to enjoy here.  The X-Men versus Dark Phoenix in Central Park fight is another favorite from my childhood, so it’s great to see it recreated on the show, right down to the golden tree.  Wolverine’s reluctance to kill Jean, even when he knows he has to, also makes its way into the show, which is actually a bit of a surprise.  It’s a great moment; not so great it should’ve been used as the main internal conflict of the third X-Men movie, but it’s certainly a scene that everyone who read the original storyline remembers.

Of course, this is a kid-friendly version of a fairly adult story so you’re not going to get any wholesale genocides.  Nevertheless the episode still does a decent job of conveying the emotions from the original story.  The main failing would be the voice acting, which isn’t at its worse here, but still feels too…“Saturday Morning” to really capture the material.  Dark Phoenix is too shrill at times, and of course Cyclops has the personality of whatever inanimate object happens to be closest to you at the moment.  I also have to complain about another scene that’s been cut -- Jean’s reunion with her parents.  The Greys’ horrified reaction to what their daughter has turned into is one of the most emotional scenes from the comic, and it’s been cut for no discernible reason.  (Perhaps it was just too disturbing for kids’ TV?)  The Greys do make a brief, silent cameo towards the end of the episode, but it certainly doesn’t carry the same weight.

Credit to for the screencaps.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I wonder if they could've gotten away with just saying that she destroyed "a star system". No mention of inhabited or not, leaving it up to the viewers to discern. I could see something like that maybe working in the more lax world of syndication, at least.

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