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Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

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Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
Main title card
General Information
Format Action/Adventure
Science fiction
Comedy-drama
Country of Origin United States
Languages(s) English
Executive Producer(s) Tad Stones

Mark McCorkle
Bob Schooley

Writer(s) Gary Sperling
Director(s) Don MacKinnon
Composer Adam Berry
No. of Seasons 2
No. of Episodes 62 (65 including the pilot)
Production Information
Animation Studio(s) List of animation studios
Production Companies Walt Disney TV Animation

Pixar Animation Studios

Distributor(s) Buena Vista Television
Original Channel ABC
Running Time 22-24 minutes
Picture Format 480i (4:3 SDTV)

1080i (16:9 HDTV)

Audio Format Stereo
Original Run August 8, 2000 – January 13, 2001
Status Complete

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, also known as BLoSC by fans, was an American animated series, produced by Walt Disney Television. Based on the best-selling film trilogy Toy Story, the series followed the adventures of Buzz Lightyear, one of the two main characters of Toy Story, and exists as a metafictional series within the trilogy. The pilot, which was later on split into three episodes, first aired on August 8, 2000 on ABC as part of Disney's One Saturday Morning programming block. The series soon followed, the first episode airing two months afterwards from October 2000 to January 2001, spanning 2 seasons with 62 episodes in total before it was concluded without a proper finale.

Story

Taking place in a far-off galaxy in a far-off future, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command can be considered a blend of space opera and soft science fiction.[1] Many compare it to series and films like Star Trek and Star Wars due to puns and jokes that pay homage to both franchises.[2]

The show follows the exploits of Buzz Lightyear, a famous and experienced Space Ranger who takes three aspiring rookies by the names of Mira Nova, Booster and XR under his wing. Together, they are known as Team Lightyear, and they fight against crime as they work to make the galaxy a safer place. Their base is Star Command, a military-like police force that serves as the galaxy's primary line of defense, which orbits Capital Planet, the headquarters of the Galactic Alliance.

The Galactic Alliance's main arch-nemesis is the Evil Emperor Zurg, an intergalactic menace who rules an empire of heavily-armed robots and alien races and is the galaxy's most wanted criminal. Although Team Lightyear comes across several other one-time and recurring villains during the course of the series, Zurg is the most prominent, and Buzz wants nothing more than to take him in and put a stop to his plans once and for all to ensure peace throughout the galaxy.

Production

History

Tad Stones, Mark McCorkle, and Bob Schooley had barely finished producing Hercules: The Animated Series together when Tad Stones was approached by Disney to create Buzz Lightyear of Star Command on an eight million dollar budget. As Stones reflected in one of his interviews, it was not common for producers to get involved in new projects so soon, so the threesome initially found it hard to juggle the responsibilities of two shows at the same time, especially McCorkle and Schooley, who were still rather involved with Hercules: The Animated Series. Therefore, Stones created a preliminary picture of the show, steering it towards comedy-adventure elements. but when McCorkle and Schooley were finally able to devote time on the project, it changed drastically from the original picture Stones had painted. Although Stones enjoys being able to guide the story and visual as a producer-director of any show, he found it frustrating that he didn't have much control over the storytelling aspect of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.[3]

In a recent podcast interview with The Animation Guild, Stones doubted whether John Lasseter, the creator of Toy Story, would have liked his original idea for the show, remarking how he had recently heard that Lasseter hated the show, despite Stones having initially pitched the idea of the show to Lasseter, Joe Ranft and other key members of the films at the time of its creation.[4]

"I have no clue whether John would have liked my version better. I suspect not when I finally see Buzz in those little dream sequences and things like that they do in Toy Story, it was... it's plain the Big Adventure, and this—this heroic guy who could do anything... and that's not the show that could sell to our guys down at Disney. So we were trying to get the feel of Buzz Lightyear being a fish out of water that was in Toy Story, except we were doing a story where he's a fish in the water, but we had to get that humor..."
Tad Stones from TAG Blog: A Talk with Tad Stones, Part III[4]


Lee Unkrich, one of the film editors for Toy Story and later on film editor and co-director of both sequels, originally had concerns about the show because he believed that "traditional, flatter animation wouldn't do justice to Buzz", even though Pixar had always intended for the first Toy Story film to open with a Buzz Lightyear cartoon done in traditional animation that Andy would be watching.[5] But Unkrich ultimately decided that it didn't matter and was quoted saying that Buzz Lightyear of Star Command "could actually be the cartoon that Buzz originally came from."[6]

Despite the series not being a joint effort between Disney and Pixar as many seem to think, Pixar acted as Disney's consultants and contributed to the show's opening sequences that featured all of Andy's toys gathering together to watch the show.[7] Pixar was also undergoing production for Toy Story 2 during the time Buzz Lightyear of Star Command was nearing completion, and it was ultimately deemed unwise to release the show before the Toy Story 2 sequel. Despite that leading to the series not being able to be released upon its completion, it gave Stones and the others the opportunity to begin work on "The Adventure Begins", which detailed the events that led to the formation of Team Lightyear. They had everything already at their disposal, from character designs to layouts and backgrounds, which meant there was an "incredible increase in production value", despite the pilot chronologically being made after they had completed their work on the series.[4]

Crew

Main article: List of writers and story editors

Unfortunately, we don't know much on what the crew's tasks were besides editing and mixing audio tracks, dialogue direction, supervising production, and making sure everything ran smoothly. However, most episodes featured different writers, possibly freelancers who were hired to write each episode. Sometimes a Story Editor would also be necessary. There were also several directors who worked on the show, fluctuating every so often depending on the episode.

Below follow photographs of crew members who worked on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, as taken by Bob Foster, one of the storyboard artists, and shown on The Animation Guild blog.

BuzzCrew1
Back row, left to right: Bob Zamboni, Craig Kemplin, Dave Schwartz, unknown, Denise Koyama, Dana Landsberg, Chuck Puntuvatana, Sean Read, Sean Bishop.
Front row, left to right: Cris Collins, Troy Adomitis, unknown, Carin Ann Anderson, Vic Cook, Jung Ja Wolf, unknown, Niki Kopp, Gordon Kent.
BuzzCrew2
Back row, left to right: J.K. Kim, Cris Collins, Mitch Rochon, Sharon Forward, Bob Foster, Bill Turner, Garret Ho, Bob Zamboni, unknown, Kenny McGill, John Miller, Debra Pugh, Ron Erhear.
Front row, left to right: Niki Kopp, unknown, Zoe Seals, Donna Prince, Ginny Suess, Don MacKinnon, Katherine Victor, Plamen Christov
BuzzCrew3
Back row, left to right: Justin Thompson, Plamen Christov, Jim Finch, Rich Chidlaw, Marsh Lamore, unknown, John Miller, Greg Guler, unknown, Nick Filippi
Middle row, left to right: Steve Loter, unknown, Jessica Portillo, John Ahern, John Kimball, J.K. Kim
Front row, left to right: Cris Collins, Rick Evans, Mike Karafilis, Linda DeLizza, unknown, Sharon Forward, Niki Kopp

A crew member recalls how John Kimball would traditionally make espresso for them a lot of afternoons on the set, a habit of his that he held true to on every set he worked on.[8]

Voice Cast

Main article: List of voice actors

In order to select voice actors, they had to pass by an audition, which Jamie Thomason was presumably in charge of. According to Mark McCorkle, they chose their voice actors because they had some sort of science fiction heritage to them and to bring a little fun into the series. [9]

Interesting to note is the amount of A-list voice actors that worked on the series such as Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, Jess Harnell and Gary Owens who provided the opening narration for the theme song.

Animation

Main article: List of animation studios

Working on a tight budget meant that several animation studios worked on the show, and that the animation quality varied from episode to episode. "The Adventure Begins" was understandably the episode with the highest quality, being made after the show's completion and with the majority of the character designs and layouts already taken care of. Other episodes of high quality are "NOS-4-A2" and "Lost in Time", the only episodes animated by Walt Disney Animation (Japan), Inc. and the first two episodes in production order.

Music

Main article: Music

The musical score was composed by Adam Berry, who started working with Disney in 1998. After Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, he cooperated once more with Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle on series like Kim Possible and The Penguins of Madagascar.

The work Adam Berry did on the show's musical cues was extensive. He wrote and recorded twenty-one minutes of music every two weeks for over a year.[10] A soundtrack was never released, but he has some of his favorite tracks up on his personal website.

Continuity Issues

With Toy Story

John Lasseter, the creator of Toy Story, always imagined Buzz as the "ultimate cop in space" and that depiction is faithfully represented in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command with his famous exploits at Star Command.[11] Although Toy Story came first chronologically, being released in 1995, it was always implied that Buzz Lightyear of Star Command existed within the film trilogy as a "Saturday morning cartoon" and is the origin of Buzz Lightyear and his toy franchise.[6] With the release of "The Adventure Begins" on VHS and DVD and the toys eager to watch "the new Buzz Lightyear movie", that belief is further strengthened, despite the in-universe continuity issue of "The Adventure Begins" coming after the show in Toy Story.

Broadcast Order versus Production Order

When shows are released for syndication, the episodes are usually aired in any order that comes to mind. Thus, one of the biggest issues in Buzz Lightyear is episodes airing out of chronological order. "Wirewolf" and "Revenge of the Monsters" are the most important examples of such a continuity issue. "Wirewolf" is set in Season 2 but clearly precedes "Revenge of the Monsters" which is set in Season 1. To add to the confusion, when the series first aired, Season 1 and Season 2 were aired almost at the same time, but on different channels and time slots. Hence, chronologically speaking, "Wirewolf" did precede "Revenge of the Monsters" when they first aired on October 28 and November 14 of 2000 respectively, but since then "Wirewolf" has always been aired several episodes afterwards on reruns, in accordance to their Season 1 and Season 2 slots.

Another example of continuity error comes with the episodes "XL" and "The Planet Destroyer". In the latter episode, Mira's father teaches her how to "sift" through someone's brain for information, but "XL" aired before it with Mira already having known the ability. Production-wise "XL" follows right after "The Planet Destroyer", but broadcast-wise they are separated by a few episodes with the former airing first.

References

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