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STEPHEN MELCHING'S X-MEN ANIMATED ARCHIVE

Note: The following content presented in this section was originally featured on the now-defunct "X-Men Animated Archives" website belonging to writer Stephen Melching. The following material has been recovered from the website, which is no longer online. Please note some content has been updated, edited or altered in order to preserve its integrity.


I wrote all these episodes with my old high school chum David McDermott. X-Men was the first series either of us wrote for, and it was a great experience. We learned all about the wonders of Broadcast Standards, the ideosyncracies of producers and executives, and the pain of trying to service such a large cast of characters in 22 minutes. We also tended to over-plot our stories, so nice character scenes had to be sacrificed to make sure the plot made some kind of sense and that there was enough action to keep the kids interested.


Click on BS&P NOTES and read what the "network censor" had to say... (A word in their defense -- these are the people who have to protect the network from the many so-called "media watchdogs" out there who would like to child-proof the world. I've seen some of the letters that these people write, threatening boycots of shows and sponsors over the strangest things. Also keep in mind that the FOX network in particular was under a lot of scrutiny at the time due to its prime-time programming, and the spectre of government regulation of content was looming ever closer)


TRIVIA ALERT!
Click HERE to see a complete list of X-Men episodes sorted by SCRIPT NUMBER. Click HERE to see them sorted by EPISODE NUMBER (there is a difference).


TITLE
SYNOPSIS
NOTES

Longshot


Original Airdate: 5 October 1996

Longshot, handsome rebel from another world, tumbles into this world with no memory and a murderous gang -- led by the six-armed woman warrior Spiral -- hot on his trail. It turns out that Longshot is on the run from Mojo, maniacal inter-dimensional TV executive. Using Jubilee as the 'prize', Mojo and his minions lure Longshot and the X-Men into a deadly contest which Mojo broadcasts 'live' to up his ratings.

Our very first professional sale! This was our (somewhat egotistical) effort to "correct" continuity errors in the "Mojovision" episode, and bring the TV series more in line with Art Adams' books -- which we're both huge fans of.


This script makes more sense than the televised version (since it's too long!), features talking Warwolves, alien bounty hunters, a slightly different opening scene, and it includes all kinds of great Mojoverse dialog, like "Fallen Messiah" and "Za's vid!"


For a variety of reasons this script differs quite a lot from the version that finally made it to the air (which, due to overseas animation problems, more that 2 years after it was written!).


BS&P NOTES

Sanctuary I: A Faithless Haven


Original Airdate: 21 October 1995

Weary of battling for mutant supremacy, Magneto offers to transport all mutants to an orbiting asteroid where they can live human-free lives in peace. However, the governments of the world feel threatened by Magneto's plan, and decide to destroy the asteroid -- until Professor X intervenes on his old friend's behalf. In an effort to understand his intentions, Beast, Gambit, and Xavier visit the peaceful asteroid, only to be implicated in Magneto's assassination!

This draft has a bigger fight on Genosha, more intrigue with Cortez, and a better cliffhanger.


This episode won an award for its sound mixing.

BS&P NOTES

Sanctuary II: Thou Fallest A Martyr


Original Airdate: 28 October 1995

As Magneto plummets helplessly to Earth, Fabian Cortez assumes control of Asteroid M, blames the X-Men for Magneto's disappearance, and holds the world hostage with the asteroid's stolen nuclear arsenal. Can the X-Men stop the deranged traitor in time or will Cortez succeed in his maniacal plan to destroy life on Earth?

We only wrote the outline for this episode, though segments of our script for part one were "shifted" into part two. The writer of this teleplay was also a veritable newcomer to the X-Men universe, so we tried to be as detailed as possible in our outline!

Available on DVD!

BS&P NOTES

weapon x, lies, and videotape


Original Airdate: 11 June 1995

A cryptic postcard unleashes a flood of maddening and painful memories in Wolverine that threaten to drive him insane. To keep his mind from being torn apart, Wolverine and Beast travel to the one location that may hold the answers to his hidden past: the ruins of the top-secret Weapon X lab where Wolverine's bones were laced with adamantium. There he encounters other former 'test subjects' -- Sabretooth, Maverick and Silver Fox -- who are suffering similar mental breakdowns. Old passions and rivalries are reignited as the four former government agents break into the lab, leading to an explosive climax and the realization that some secrets are best left buried...

Contains even more flashbacks! Plus it has a somewhat different final action sequence that's probably less exciting than the televised version.


We spent large sums of money on back issues to research this episode, then tried to make sense of it all in 22 minutes. Did we succeed? You be the judge....


The Powers That Be also decided to air this episode in prime-time, which was especially exciting for us, since this is the first thing we wrote to actually appear on television!

BS&P NOTES

The Phalanx Covenant I


Original Airdate: 7 September 1996

Rushing to investigate a disturbance downtown, the X-Men find Sabretooth on the rampage again -- but realize too late that it isn't really Sabretooth at all! It is the Phalanx, a voracious alien life-form that can assume the guise of anything or anyone. Before long, the X-Men are all captured, except for Beast, who must find a way to stop the alien horror from devouring the entire Earth.

This draft has a different (and we think superior) opening scene with Wolverine fighting Sabretooth that was changed due to its proximity to the weapon x script. The Phalanx's capture of the mansion is expanded, and much creepier. All in all, the script is better paced.


Unfortunately, it was also deceptively long! Leave it to us to team up the SLOWEST-talking characters in the series (Beast, Sinister, Forge, and Magneto).


BS&P NOTES

The Phalanx Covenant II


Original Airdate: 7 September 1996

Snatched from the jaws of the Phalanx by the villainous Mr. Sinister, Beast and Forge search for allies to help them battle the alien threat. Gathering assistance from such unlikely sources as Magneto and Sinister himself, they embark upon a daring and risky plan to free the planet from the clutches of the Phalanx by traveling straight into the belly of the beast.

The final battle was somewhat reduced, presumably for budgetary or time reasons (there are strict limits on the number of speaking parts per episode; that's why we rarely got to use the entire team).


BS&P NOTES

The Fifth Horseman


Original Airdate: 8 February 1997

In order for Apocalypse to return to the material plane he requires a mutant vessel, to be procured for him by his "failsafe" servant Fabian Cortez. During a research expedition in South America, Beast and Jubilee are captured by Cortez's mutant-hunting Hounds, led by Caliban. Cortez uses his powers to turn Beast into a monster worthy of his moniker, forcing him to confront the animal side of his nature. Jubilee, meanwhile, is made ready to receive the essence of Apocalypse. Caliban's loyalties are put to the ultimate test -- will he remain faithful to Cortez, who gave him strength, or Jubilee, who befriended him when he was a Morlock...?

This script contains several extra scenes that expand on Caliban's predicament, specifically his relationships with Jubilee and Cortez, and the painful choice he must make. We also see much more of what Beast went through in his "feral" state, and how the experience both unnerved him and helped him better understand Wolverine.

This episode also won an award for its sound mixing.

Hidden Agendas


Original Airdate: 6 September 1997

Sam Guthrie, a teenager who possesses the mutant power of a living cannonball, lives a quiet life in a small Southern mining town. But his idyllic life is shattered when a sinister government agency decides to recruit him into their top secret weapons program. To force his decision, they use shadowy tactics to turn the townspeople against the "mutant freak" who lives in their midst. Rogue, meanwhile, visits Sam's family in an effort to recruit him into Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, and in the process experiences longings for the childhood she never had. When Gambit and Xavier learn of the government's plan, they rush to Rogue's aid... only to be caught in the middle of a showdown between Sam, the townspeople, and the sinister forces that wish to use his powers for their own twisted ends...

Yes, we were just as horrified as y'all to see the Guthries with brown hair and Rogue making skin-on-skin contact.


This script features a dilemma for Rogue (she realizes that Sam is living the life she never had), more anti-mutant sentiment being stirred up, more stuff with Gambit, and a big fight between Rogue and a confused Sam.


Also, the entire X-Men team doesn't show up at the end only to stand around and do nothing.


BS&P NOTES

Descent


Original Airdate: 13 September 1997

London, 1888: Dr. James Xavier, ancestor of Charles, helps Scotland Yard track down Jack the Ripper, who may be the key to finding the renegade scientist Nathaniel Essex. As they follow the trail, Xavier recounts the events of 1859 that turned Essex into a monster. An early supporter of the theories of Charles Darwin, Essex believed that mutants represented the next evolutionary step for humankind. But his experiments on captive mutants, his ailing wife, and finally himself hasten the development of the mutant bloodline, create the beginnings of anti-mutant hatred, and warp the once-respectable man of science into the fiend who would later become known as Mr. Sinister!

Depending on who you talk to, either one of the best loved or most reviled episodes in the entire series....


Contrary to popular belief, this episode was NOT an adaptation of the Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix comic book miniseries. We took inspiration from a rough version of the first issue in the series and brief outlines for issues two and three provided by Marvel. Our script was finalized without ever seeing the concluding chapter, and months prior to the actual publication of issue one.


We took the story in a very different direction, preferring the classic horror approach (the mad scientist blinded by love and ambition destroying himself) to the Marvel Comics trend of the time to link everything together (it's all Apocalypse's fault).

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