In the course of maintaining this page I've been fortunate enough to
get in contact with some of the people behind ExoSquad the show. Those
that were nice enough to respond to my e-mails often answered questions
and provided insights. I've thought that perhaps fellow fans would like
to see some of what they've said (these quotes are editted from larger
responses), and hope that since these people didn't mind me sharing with
the mailing list they won't mind this page.
Plenty of others have written to me, but none of them really said
anything that was the sort of thing I'd put up there. I'm
going to try to contact them and get them to contribute a few words.
Michael Edens (story editor for the second
"-- Ketzer was lying when he said Nara would become just like him. In our
minds, he was always tinkering with his process and really didn't know exactly
how it would change her. The fact that her DNA might be subtly different
because of her birth on Venus might have been a factor, too. We had not completely
worked it out yet -- that was to be part of a third season, if it had been
done. The general thinking was that Ketzer's "creations" would be important to
defeating the new alien menace -- the exact nature of which, we had also not
worked out yet.
-- About a third season and/or movie. We (the story editor and
immediate Universal executives) wanted to do a third season and had started
some general discussions. All we really knew: (1) as I said earlier, Nara and
Ketzer's "creations" would be important in the fight against the aliens; (2) the
unactivated clone of Phaeton seen in the last episode would be activated to
lead the Neosapiens against the aliens alongside the humans -- raising a
question of how much he could be trusted; (3) Dark Matter would be the key to
defeating the aliens -- that was why they got rid of the planet Chaos, the source of
the Dark Matter used in the series. There were also plans for a spin-off
series tentaively called Exo-Pirates which would have followed the adventures of
those pirates, jumptroops, and E-frame pilots who were on Chaos when it was
"transported" to another dimension/part of the universe (hadn't decided on which
yet) when the aliens first invaded. A third season and Exo-Pirates was
supposed to dove-tail so that Exo-Pirates ended with the planet Chaos returning to
the Solar system in time to help the ExoFleet and its allies defeat the aliens
with the Dark Matter from Chaos. As for the movie, we had begun some
preliminary work on that, but had not gotten very far. We were leaning toward
insectoid aliens with a collective consciousness, but then stepped back from that
because of story-telling concerns -- i.e. what would a collective consciousness
mean for being able to do something without all the other aliens knowing what
you were up to. Also, a couple of Universal executives thought it might be a
better idea to tell a story for the movie from the Neosapien War that we had
not told in the series. The writers did not want to do this. While we were
kicking around these ideas, we did not know anything about a possible
ExoSquad/Robotech deal. I was surprised when I saw the two lines brought together in
the toys. I would have been happy to incorporate stuff from Robotech if it
would not tie our hands on what we could do with the ExoSquad side of things.
-- How human is the new DeLeon? Once again, we had not
fully worked that
out. You're right in saying that he could not reproduce. Other than that, we
were not sure exactly what issues would be raised. I can't tell you how much of
this stuff is done on the fly and is dictated by your feelings for the growth
and development of the characters as the scripts start coming in. We started
off the second season with a rather broad outline that was mainly about the
ebb-and-flow of how the war would shape up -- modelled on a vague pattern of
WWII with the war in Europe and the Pacific mixed together: for example, we had
our "Battle of the Bulge" episodes when the Neosapiens tried to retake Venus
and the capture of the moon was based on the battle for Okinawa, the final
battle for Chicago was the Battle of Berlin with Phaeton's bunker substituting
for Hitler's bunker -- of course all these things had our original twist, but we
thought that if we followed the outline of how an actual major war went, then
we would never stray from the realism that made ExoSquad so good and that it
would help translate into how we dealt with our characters. Originally, we
didn't know that when Ketzer injected Nara, it would lead to Nara killing
Phaeton in the end. But as the series developed, it just felt right, so we did it.
Originally, we had no intention of bringing DeLeon back. As a matter of
fact, we had originally intended to kill DeLeon on Mars when it blew up -- if you
carefully watch the episode set in Australia "The Dream War" (I believe
that's the title), you will see that DeLeon's death on Mars is foreshadowed there.
One of the executives at Universal strongly objected to killing a major
character so we settled for the temporary supposed death of Torres. However, an
executive at Playmates found out about our original idea and really liked it --
so we killed DeLeon on the moon and then brought him back, primarily because
of the Black Box idea we built into the Mars episode. The character of Thrax
is also one of those who took on a life of his own. Originally, he was only
supposed to appear in one episode -- when he dueled with Takagi on Mercury. But
we fell in love with his character and brought him back as a disaffected
Neosapien in the Ketzer episodes.
Of all the series I've worked on, I'm proudest of ExoSquad. I still see Jeff
Segal (the executive producer and one of the creators of the series) from
time to time and we still talk about it fondly. We'd love to do something more
with the series and the characters. I've always encouraged eveyone I know to
contact Universal to get the whole series released on DVD. If that were done
and if the DVDs sold well enough, it might spark some interest on their end to
continue the series. That's the only way I can see to resurrect
"ExoSquad was the high point of my animation career so far -- a real
labor of love."
"The main reason no third season or movie was ever produced was the sudden
and almost complete collapse of the tv syndication market in animation. There
was rapid change in the business in the mid-90s. There was a lot of media
consolidation and synergies being created between in-house production companies and
growing networks like the WB and UPN. A lot of independent stations were
eaten up and taken into the new nets, who wanted to supply them with their own
product. The weekday afternoon syndication times remaining were often filled
with Oprah clone talk shows, which could be cheaply produced and were very
successful -- at least for a few years. If you remember the time, it seemed like
anybody who could ask a reasonably coherent question had their own talk show.
Weekday afternoon animation blocks almost completely disappeared -- unless
like the WB net they were filled with exclusively Warner Brothers animation.
Universal syndication scrambled and actually sold the show broadly, but the times
were almost all terrible -- there were a couple of places where we were on at
4 in the morning. In the few decent time slots we got, the show drew a good
audience. It was an old tv problem -- the few people who actually saw
ExoSquad liked it a lot, but most people didn't even know it existed. Overall, the
numbers for ExoSquad were disappointing, which in turn led to a
less-than-enthusiastic drive by Universal to commit to a movie. Jeff Segal, who aside from
being executive producer and one of the creators of ExoSquad was president of
Universal Family Entertainment and its off-shot, Universal Cartoon Studios,
tried to keep the movie idea alive, but Universal's feature film division was
cool to the idea. When the ratings numbers finally killed a third season, that
also killed the movie.
I talked to Jeff yesterday, and he would still like to make an ExoSquad
movie. The only problem now is that, since he is no longer with Universal, he
would have to get their permission to develop a movie. It's an extreme long shot,
but keep your fingers crossed. As I said the other day, if we could get them
to release the whole series on DVD and it sold reasonably well, we have a
better chance at getting them to do more with the franchise -- a third season or
a movie. Unfortunately, we're stuck in the same position Star Trek was in
after its network run was cancelled. We have a relatively-speaking small, but
devoted fan base and an excellent series. Syndicated re-runs allowed enough
people to see Star Trek to resurrect the franchise, bringing movies and spin-off
series and a fortune for Paramount."
Bob Forward (author of Betrayal and
coauthor of The Embassy):
"Exosquad was a unique experience as the shows were worked out beforehand
by the story editors and the writers were given fairly detailed outlines
to work from. In other words, I knew very little other than what was
spelled out for me."
David Kaye (voice of Draconis, Hallas, and Vince Pelligrino):
"....Robbie Benson was
recorded seperately in LA. Gordon Hunt the director always read his
lines or one of us would read 'em just to keep the flow. I was brought
in in the 2nd and 3rd season and had a great time. Sometimes if Gordon
couldn't make it up from LA to direct, we'd do a phone patch. We could
hear him in our headphones (most of the time !!) This always gave Gary
Chalk a chance to throw something at somebody !!"
Rob Morton (voice of Typhonus and Peter Tanaka):
"In total, there were only 52 episodes made. We did the pre-lay (voice) at
Ocean Sound in Vancouver.
We were patched through to L.A. and worked with the director and producer
over the phone lines. It is the most fun work that a performer can do. No
costumes, no make up, no lights, etc..... Coffee and spit balls were the
normal. It was a very good crew to work with and if you look around at other
cast lists such as Reboot, Beasties, GI. Joe, you will see many of the same
You will also see many of these names appear on the credits of shows like
X-Files, Outer Limits, Poltergeist and Millennium.
It is unfortunate that it was canceled. I rather liked the continuing nature
of the scripts. It wasn't just the same old characters meandering through
different unjoined scenarios. Reminded me of Babylon 5....
As for where the scripts were heading, we were never informed. It is common
practice to keep these sort of things secret. We would only be given scripts
for the two episodes that we would be recording that day. Sometimes we would
be given a hint as to what might happen in the next episode but that usually
only involved the death of a character.... "
Wally Burr (voice casting and first season voice director):
"...Universal wanted to
take advantage of the Vancouver, B.C. actors' fee structure then in
effect (the main attractions were considerably lower session fees
than those demanded by SAG as well as a "no residual payments"
provision as part of the B.C. contract. The studio also balked at
weekly airfares and per diem for me to round-trip L.A.-to-Vancouver,
so they asked me to direct via phone patch from L.A., a technique
that I'd previously used successfully on some 70 "Conan The
Adventurer" episodes, 13 softer "Conan" episodes for CBS-TV and
26 "My Little Pony Tales" scripts..."
Return to Patrick Danner's ExoSquad page.