Noel did also look at a draft of the series bible, but as it turned out to be an early draft where even the first season has striking differences from what made it to air, he's going to save that for a full article a few weeks down the road from now.
Written by Larry DiTillio
Power and his team are on the run after the destruction of the Power Base. They take refuge in the Passages, but Power is consumed by his desire for revenge on Locke, whom he blames for the death of Pilot. This ultimately brings him face-to-face with the new Lord Dread, a cyborg who is now far more machine than man, who decides it's time to re-establish his authority by reclaiming Tech City. Introduced is Christine O'Connor, who soon joins the team as Ranger.
Power attempts to find and activate a new Power Base, which had been created by his father somewhere within the Arctic Circle, but first they raid a Dread installation for supplies and fuel. Their mission is cut short when the Jumpship is severely damaged and crash lands in a densely forested area in northern Canada.
Says DiTillio, who was also story-editor on Season 2: "Power basically stops the war to take personal vengeance on Dread for Pilot's death. It was the beginning of an evolution that was going to make Power less of a goody-goody hero and more of a bitter, Mad Max kind of character. The heroic leader is a pretty limiting and thankless role. We hoped to add some real dimension to his character by having him evolve from a relative innocent to a bitter loose cannon.
"With Pilot gone, we felt we had to have another female in the crew and, from the beginning, we felt she had to be much tougher than Pilot, more of a commando type. Ranger would have presented some interesting departures for the show. Unlike Power and the rest of the Soldiers of the Future, Ranger has no problems with killing. She also isn't big on taking orders which would have been the cause for further conflicts. Plus, after Pilot's death, Power is reluctant to risk the life of another member of his group, especially another woman. Ranger was also going to figure in a possible relationship with Tank. Tank is uncomfortable around women so we felt it would make things interesting if we threw Ranger at him. In her first meeting with Tank, she was going to take one look at him and say, 'That's for me.' She was going to be hustling him.
"We basically got so wrapped up in the thread of Project New Order that we didn't realize the good chances we were missing with Scout. He played an important part in a number of the second season episodes. Scout also figured in an ongoing relationship with one of the new characters. And in the light of the fact that Power would get progressively crazier as the season progressed, we had plans for Hawk, who got quite a bit of play during the first season, to assume more of the leadership role for the group.
"Because the Power Base was destroyed at the first season's end, we would have had Power and his group running around without a way to recharge their power suits. They would only use the suits in an extreme emergency and would have spent most of the time running around in jungle camouflage.
"Dread's changes were going to be considerable. With his brain linked with Overmind, Dread was becoming more of a machine anyway, so we decided to take the character the next logical step and put his human consciousness into a machine body. He would become visually more imposing, a sleek killing machine who would begin thinking more and more like a machine, but whose lingering sense of humanity would slowly but surely drive him mad. Dread's agenda would also change. At this point, he's no longer interested in Digitizing human survivors. What he wants to do is wipe them out. Overmind was also going to be beefed up. He was going to come to the fore in the second season, unveil a hidden agenda and make it plain that he is the one running things."
Luc Mayrand (concept artist): "We had another design for the [Lord Dread] suit that was going to be him, full of blinkies and everything, and all that was rescued from him was just a tiny part of his brain and an eye, and everything else was basically a robot."
If you read our review of the series finale, you know things weren't exactly tied up with a nice neat bow. So I'm certainly not surprised that the proposed second season kicks off with everyone up to their waist in carryover business.
There aren't many surprises in the synopses themselves. It was clear the Power team would be on the run in Season 2, the good Captain would be strongly affected by the death of Pilot and that a replacement for her - likely a woman - would be introduced, and of course Dread would inch closer to achieving his goal of mechanical "perfection". But reading the comments by DiTillio got me excited and made me sad at the same time. There's so much awesome stuff there!
The idea they were going to push Power that far into the gray is incredible. I can't think of any examples in a show of this type where the squeaky clean hero is stripped of all that and sent down such a dark path. I also love the idea of them being on the run and not being able to rely as much on their
I also like pushing Dread further and further toward being a machine (with the results being not quite what he was hoping for), and the idea of a more overt power struggle with Overmind is something I kept waiting for in Season 1.
Where I'd be a little concerned is Ranger. I like just about everything about her save for two things: 1) The attitude could get old fast. Maybe I've just grown accustomed to how tight-knit the team has been to this point. 2) The potential romance with Tank. That just has awkward and flat written all over it. I really don't think my body would survive the amount of cringing I would do watching Tank being sexually harassed by his new teammate on weekly basis.
This definitely would have been a good start. Picking up right where the last episode ended, but calling back to past episodes with the revenge quest against Locke and a return to Tech City. I can see why they cut the reveal of Locke's motivation to sell out the team (to save children) was cut from the last episode, because it could be saved for here when Power is raging in his face with a gun.
As for that, I don't know about sending Power down a hot-headed Max Max route. Maybe for a few story arcs, but him being the stalwart leader who holds things together and inspires everyone around him is kinda the entire point, and I don't think getting rid of that makes for a better character or a better show. Sure, Hawk trying his best to keep the team anchored while Power is flying off and going rogue could be neat now and then, but not as a new status quo.
Though I do like the idea of them being stripped of resources and having to be more picky about when and where they break out the Power Armor due to limited recharges. I hope this wasn't them shying away from the armor and kiddie stuff, as again, that's a huge part of the show's appeal and does look awesome, but it can definitely make for nice storytelling to have it be something they're much less reliant on, and them having to raid Dread fortresses, not just for destruction but now to rob them of supplies, is good stuff. The backup base in the Arctic Circle definitely allows them to cover a much broader swath of the world than Season 1, though I hope it's a much more limited base so as to keep them from settling back in too much.
I'm guessing much of the change in Dread was David Hemblem no longer wanting to continue with that makeup and costume, and I don't entirely blame him. I noticed at some point in Season 1, they gave up on the animatronic robot right arm they were harnessing to him and just let him use his own arm, but I'm guessing the suit was never the most comfy. Hopefully he would have stuck around to continue doing the voice, as while I'm sure a skilled stuntman could make the physicality work, and would love to see the makeup of that single rolling eye in an otherwise fully mechanical head, that voice, that cold, humorless voice which nonetheless has a faint air of loss and regret beneath it, that really needs to stay.
Ranger sounds... hmmm... A skilled and brazen warrior woman can be neat, but I worry about how it would play by giving her affections toward Tank this predatory angle. Cat calls and forceful pursuit of someone who doesn't want such is never an awesome thing, even when the gender roles are reverse, and this could have gotten old pretty quick, especially given Sven-Ole's limited ability to play off it. Part of this may be I just recently watched two 90s action toons that did the same thing - Conan the Adventurer, with the sorcerer Mesmira constantly in pursuit of Conan, and Street Fighter, where Cammy keeps forcing herself on the already engaged Guile. I'm not saying it can't be pulled off, but it can also make things really uncomfortable, especially if you're just aiming for it as a joke.
Written by Christy Marx
"Part 1: The Order of the Arrow"
Crashing in the Great Northern Forest, Power and his men are attacked by Troopers, then captured by a group carrying high tech bows and arrows who call themselves "The Archers". Angry that the Jumpship's crash has destroyed a large amount of prime forest, and fearful it will draw Dread's forces into their land in greater numbers, the Archers threaten to kill Power and his team.
"Part 2: Visions in Ultraviolet"
While Power and the team are gaining the trust of the Archers, Dread seeks an alliance with the Baron, a tyrant who attempts to rule the forest people through use of force. Learning of this alliance, the Power team and the Archers mount a joint recon mission. But then Power finds himself in great personal danger when his Power Suit runs out of juice just as the Troopers attack.
"Part 3: The Willow and the Oak"
Unable to find Jonathan after his fall from a cliff, the remaining team members go with the Archers to a meeting with a man they call Trader. Unbeknownst to his team, Power was rescued from the river by Trader, who identifies him as being wanted by Dread. Dread sends his newest Biodreads, glowing balls of destructive energy called Hunter-Seekers, to attack the Archers group, who find the new units nearly indestructible. The group manages to escape, but Dread orders them to surrender at once or he will create a plasma storm which will burn everything within a 1000 km radius.
"Part 4: Plasma Storm Raging"
The Hunter-Seekers begin igniting a plasma storm while Power's team watches in horror from a distance. Dread vows to destroy the entire forest unless Power surrenders to him. Ignoring the Captain's orders, Hawk attempts to stop the Dreads from spreading the holocaust, but when his suit's power begins to fail, he's shot out of the sky and falls into the middle of the raging plasma storm.
"Part 5: Death and Beyond"
After finding parts to repair the Jumpship in a raid of the Baron's warehouse, Hawk and Scout struggle to repair the ship while Tank, Ranger, and the Archers attempt to capture the Baron's laser cannon. Only the cannon has enough power to hold off the growing plasma storm, but Dread has too many forces protecting it. Power draws attention away by challenging Dread to a fight to the death.
NOTE: The scripts for this entire 5-part story can be purchased directly from Christy Marx's own shop. Noel wasn't able to spring the $50 for it in time for full reviews as a part of this project, but if he ever does some day, we'll definitely update with a look at them.
I'm actually a little confused by this one. While I admire the scope of the story, and how each plot leads into another, this doesn't feel like a plot which should necessitate such broad exploration. The Archers and the Baron are an obvious rip on Robin Hood and Prince John/The Sheriff, and the idea doesn't compel me nearly enough to want to spend 5 straight episodes exploring it. Trader and the Hunter-Seekers (a nice idea which they could easily implement with their CG - think an evil Cursor from Automan) could be its own story. Baron and Dread teaming up could be its own 2-parter. What I'm getting at is I'd almost rather see this storyline broken up and spread throughout the season instead of grouped together like this. I definitely would like to read Marx's scripts some day, but what I'm seeing here hasn't sold me yet.
Wow! Serializing the show to this degree would've been a risky move, but it certainly would've paid huge dividends from a storytelling perspective. And this new "on the run" story really demands at least some serialization.
I particularly like the concept of these new Hunter-Seeker Biodreads (less excited about them might be the estate of Frank Herbert, but I digress). Soaron and Blastarr had run their course, having long since lost the menace they had when they were first introduced. Too many easy defeats had rendered them impotent as even generic henchmen by season's end and a more formidable foe was long overdue.
I'm not certain what to make of the Archers with the scant information we're given. I know they could do with a less obvious name. I do like the idea of the Baron, though. This world definitely needs more secondary villains.
"A Passion Forged in Steel"
Written by Steve Gerber
The Power Team picks up refugees after staving off a Dread attack. Power suspects a spy amongst them and dispatches Scout to work out who it is. A mysterious operative named Morganna II is introduced.
Ditillio: "Morganna II is, to an extent, an android-like creation. She's human consciousness transplanted into a metal body and a creation who is very beautiful, very lethal, and very mysterious. Her storyline would have been a surprise and would have opened up an additional threat for a planned third season. We were going to have her become involved in a relationship with Scout. They're both fascinated by machines so we felt it would be interesting to throw them together and see what developed."
Not only is it a great concept full of ongoing dramatic possibilities, but finally, FINALLY, Scout gets his own storyline. I love this. LOVE this.
This could be one of those great little one-off potboilers of an episode which also sets in motion a broader arc which could last the entire season. Scout trying to find a spy embedded among refugees, I love that idea. Psychological tension, some nice John Carpenter's The Thing atmosphere as they try to sort out who's really who. And Morganna II also sounds interesting. I wonder if she was going to be done CG or practical, and what I haven't seen explained anywhere is whether she was going to be fully human in appearance or visibly cybernetic.
Still, would like to have seen what they would do with this, and getting the late, great Steve Gerber to write it is the icing on the cake.
"Face of Darkness"
Written by David Bennett Carren and J. Larry Carroll
We actually have the script for this one and will cover it in a full review next week.
"The Blood Dimmed Tide"
"Part 1: The Ceremony of Innocence"
"Part 2: Tyger, Tyger"
"Part 3: Ozymandias"
Written by Michael Reaves
While attempting to gather more data on Dread's Project Rebirth, Captain Power, Tank, and Ranger are marooned on a tropical island where the evil Dr. Severius is carrying out horrific experiments for Morgana II, developing Bioformates, half-human, half-animal mutants with strange powers. While Power strives to persuade the mutants, led by a half-wolf named Talon, to ally with them, Hawk, Scout, and TNT must hold out against Dread and his forces all by themselves.
TNT, a new member of the team, is Andy Jackson from "The Intruder".
Again, I don't know why this is a story they feel the need to take multiple episodes to explore. The obvious Dr. Moreau plot could easily be done in one, then if you want to keep the Bioformates around, have them swing back in and out of things as you go along. It's odd how many parts of this season are structuring themselves in clusters instead of letting threads be intertwined. On the one hand, classic Doctor Who did this all the time with much success, but on the other, it worked there because it rarely had (monsters aside) the same guest casts recurring throughout each season. I guess you could justify it with them globe-trotting, shifting from broad locale to broad locale every few weeks, but I'm not entirely sold on it. And Michael Reaves is a writer I used to love, but have since seen work of that wasn't very good (Pole Position), so I'm left mixed as to how this could have turned out.
As for TNT, it's nice they're expanding the team a bit, but I wasn't all that much into Andy Jackson the last time around and don't have much interest in him coming back.
Did Reaves really just flat-out take "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and plop our characters down in it? This seems like a very odd left turn here. I can kinda-sorta see how it could tie in, but this just feels wrong somehow. Not to mention, I would imagine this island setting full of strange hybrid creatures might be a little tough to pull off and could get all kinds of wonky real fast. Would make for some cool toys, though. No doubt about that.
On a more positive note, the return of Andy Jackson is a welcome one. Less welcome is his Blaxsploitation-esque moniker. Andy Jackson is not really the "TNT" type. He's more of a... Rowsdower.
"Code Name: Ranger"
Written by Larry DiTillio
No summary available. Presumably, it has something to do with Ranger. :)
Written by Mark Cassutt
A force from space - either an alien race or some human exiles who escaped Earth - has been watching the conflict and quietly sitting in judgment over the participants. One member violates their non-interference directive and comes to the aid of Power and the side of the humans.
After such a strong start, they're suddenly throwing in some awfully far fetched stories. I fully endorse mixing it up and trying new things, but where the whole "Island of Dr. Moreau" arc merely felt like an odd turn, this just seems beyond the concept of Captain Power to me. Execution would be the key, but I don't know. Just doesn't feel right.
Well this sounds entirely out of left field! This is one of those stories which would really depend on execution, because I'm not sold on it on paper. The obvious ripoff of Fantastic Four's Uatu the Watcher aside, we really don't need to suddenly drag aliens into the mix with everything already going on and an entire planet still needing to be explored. The possibility of them being humans who fled Earth during the Metal Wars is promising, but I don't know that this is the right plot to bring that thread in. And as for an outside party watching over the war who nudges forward with some half-hearted support for the humans, isn't that what Eden II is for? I know from DiTillio's interview that Eden II was supposed to be a developing thread throughout this season, so this idea does ultimately feel redundant.
As for Cassutt, he has very few credits to his name, so I can't offer much in the way of thoughts as to how he'd handle it. I did see his Beauty & the Beast episode "Fever" not too long ago. It was one of those okay stories, neither great nor bad. Can't say much more than that.
Additional scripts may have been written by Rich Hoag, Craig Noonan, Mark Nelson, and Michael Cassutt, though we can't find any info on their titles or stories.
DiTillio: "There was also a very real possibility that Soaron would have a falling out with Dread and join up with Captain Power. Things were definitely going to change."
J. Michael Straczynski: "We had the whole arc with Captain Power's mother that we were going to get into, because we don't talk about her much at all. For her, I kept seeing this image of a very badly done Digitization into a metallic form. So you would see this shuffling, shambling thing, half-metal, half-human, in this all white room with white curtains, white furniture, that was half-mad.
"I saw, in Season 2, Dread emerging fully machine, except for his consciousness and his mind, losing his humanity. And over the course of that second season, coming to grips with the fact that he lost that which gave him meaning and striving to get it back somehow, and eventually going into battle against Overmind. Because Overmind's goal was quite simple: collect everyone's bodies, to get all of humanity digitized... and hit "delete". Once Dread would find that out, he would have to strike back, and you would have a war. Overmind over here, and Dread and Power working together to stop Overmind from destroying humanity."
I definitely think they were on the right track with a lot of their ideas. Broader world-view, shake up the dynamics a bit, take each character further down their paths, bring in new characters and new monsters, this is all good stuff. What I'm seeing of the structure, though, that feels messy, like they weren't sure how to map things out, so they'd just squish it into these little clumps before moving on. It feels surprisingly scattershot, given how much other stuff I know was mapped out ahead of time, to the point where I can't even tell if the neat nuggets Straczynski mentioned above were even still on the table. He straight up says on the DVD that he was no longer working on the series by the time Season 2 actually came around, and it was all in DiTillio's hands. Which isn't a bad thing, as DiTillio (often with collaborator Bob Forward) went on to put together some darn good shows of his own, so it definitely wasn't in the wrong hands.
I should also note that Luc Maynard, in the save DVD featurette, shows a lot of concept sketches for groups like Amazons, the Wild Bunch (cowboys), and a young sidekick named Compu-Kid (he's a hacker and his Power Armor has a laptop that folds down from his chest-plate), but we didn't go into them above because they mostly seamed like brainstorming spitballs with little actual story development behind most. They're neat to see, though, and I definitely recommend getting the DVD for that featurette alone.
It's a shame, though, that for all we know about the supposedly fully scripted Season 2, so little of it has actually surfaced. I know there's always talk of a relaunch, through either television or comics, so I can understand them not wanting to spoil all the ideas they've been sitting on, but I do wish they'd taken advantage of the DVD set by putting the scripts on as a DVD-Rom feature. Hell, I wish more things in general would put scripts on the DVDs, and the universe has yet to fix that. Alas.
Overall, doubts and questions aside, I definitely wish we'd gotten to see more, and I'm glad what little above I could find is at least out there so we can have some taste of what could have been.
After getting off to an absolutely pitch-perfect start, things really took an odd turn. It's tough to get the full picture of how all of this would've connected and played out from just synopses, but my initial enthusiasm was definitely doused by some of the head scratching and seemingly incongruous turns they planned to take in the latter half.
That said, I still feel robbed. I really believe this show was, if not hitting its stride, then starting to figure out what it was by the end of Season 1. If what we've read here is any indication, Season 2 would've delivered an even more mature and sophisticated storyline with a ton of potential. It's a damn shame we didn't get to see it.