The Untold Ranger Tales: Part Two
Authors' Commentary:
A Look Back at the URT
by Indy and Chris Silva

Note: The format here is the same as a Director’s Commentary. We wanted to have a casual conversation about the Untold Ranger Tales and provide some authors’ insights. All the commentaries for the different parts have the same format, save for part ten, which Indy wrote alone.

Special thanks goes to Gyrotank for inspiring this idea, one which was overdue. For those who have read the URT, we hope you'll enjoy this "Directors' Commentary". For those who haven't, perhaps it'll give you a reason to jump in :-)

The Untold Ranger Tales Part Two: Living the Dream

Indy: Part two, "Living the Dream", continued the storyline from "Daring To Dream" with the highlight of Dale's proposal to Gadget and her acceptance. Lots more happens here, though, and we wanted it that way. Zipper finally gets to have a voice, for instance.

Chris Silva: We also decided to take it a bit easier on Chip in this story, particularly when he realizes the proposal is coming.  We had discussed how he'd react and decided it was best for him to take it with maturity.  I don't recall if the debate of C+ F or C+L had started at this point, but Chip is still unsure of his feelings for Foxglove here. 

Indy: Oh, that discussion was well down the line--Lahwhinie wasn't even a blip on the radar yet. But yes, Chip was allowing the lessons he'd learned in "Daring", particularly the talks with Higgins and Baloo, to sink in. He hadn't been looking at the world honestly, and it was the start of his time of soul-searching.

Indy: For Dale and Gadget, it was a time of great fun and discovery. Neither of them had ever been in a relationship where they were allowed to grow and be supported by the other person. The scene with them painting together was one I really enjoyed doing.

Chris Silva: In this story we began to hint that Bianca of the Rescue Aid society knew something about Gadget that she wasn't telling, something ominous.  We really began to explore Zipper and to flesh out Queenie.  They became more interesting characters now that could be in the limelight.

Chris Silva: I particularly liked how well the proposal scene turned out, as it could so easily have been forced or unbelievable.  I think we managed to make it come across as sincere and heartfelt.

Indy: And we gave Queenie a name, Honey--I think that suited her better than "Queenie", which is more or less a nickname.

Yes, the proposal scene had the ring of genuineness about it. We'd led up to it slowly throughout the storyline so it really wasn't that much of a surprise to the reader, but those who braved the storm were rewarded with a real heartfelt moment in that high school gymnasium. That seemed an appropriate place to me, too, because it represented Dale growing up and Gadget in a way getting the chance at happiness she'd missed in her youth.

Chris Silva: And having Chip and Dale meet up with a teacher who helped guide and inspire them, though they didn't realize it as kids, was a fun diversion from the growing tension.

Indy: Going back to Zipper, I think that gave me as much satisfaction in some ways, giving him a voice. We know that Tad Stones thought the Evinrude factor would make Zipper an instant favorite, but it really held his character back. With this story, we finally see his personality starting to grow, and he becomes a fully-realized character for the first time.

Chris Silva: For me it was the first time I liked Zipper as a character.

Indy: I also got to introduce the character of Dr. Batorious--an in-joke, based on the character Dr. Noah Pretorious played by Cary Grant in the movie "People Will Talk"--a wonderfully offbeat and well-written movie, I might add. I didn't picture Cary for the voice, though. That always belonged to James Earl Jones, and were the Rangers to make a movie with that character, I would insist it be Jones who does it. In my "inner theater", I could see how his voice gave the character heart and substance.

Chris Silva: Dale's parents also make their debut in this story, I don't recall if Chip's do.  We wanted to show that Dale's low self-esteem has been with him a long, long time and that even around his parents he had felt like a failure.  He had a long hole to climb out of; he and Chip both did, in their own ways.

Chris Silva: Dale had it easier, as he wore his hurt and immaturity on his sleeve while Chip kept his deeply buried and jealously guarded.

Indy: At the same time, Dale showed his budding maturity when he was willing to part with his prized comic books to get Gadget an engagement ring. Would Chip have been willing to give up his Sureluck Jones books in that same situation?

Chris Silva: I think so, as that was his crutch, his escape, and as he grew up, he'd leave his dependence on them behind.  Foxglove was very needy in this story, desperate to find what she believed to be happiness. It forced her to put a lot of pressure on Chip to marry her, but he knew that wasn't something you just do out of desperation, even though part of himself desperately wanted to marry her as well.

Indy: And Foxy was developing as a character too--just like Tammy, she was a one-episode wonder so she was pretty much a blank slate to work with. At first, she was just as clingy with Chip as she had been with Dale in "Good Times, Bat Times". I think that was appropriate at this point. We needed to see her that same incomplete person who's obviously seeking after someone to care about.

Chris Silva: But having lived such a sheltered life, she didn't really understand what love was, feeling it was just a state of not being alone.

Indy: Which was a common thread with all the younger Rangers. None of them really knew what life was all about. Monty was the one person they could go to at first, and we really put the ol' Aussie through his paces. He should have started charging them by the hour!

Chris Silva: And even he had a rough history with love, as would be revealed in the next story.

Chris Silva: And our penchant for happy endings started to really take hold.

Indy: That was another reason I was glad we brought in Bianca and Bernard--we needed more voices of maturity, and in Gadget's case we needed that more mature woman's voice. Plus it reasserted the ties we'd already established between the Rangers and the RAS in our other stories.

Chris Silva: Plus we're both big fans of the Rescuers and wanted to bring them into the story.  I don't think at this point we had decided fully on Bianca's relation to Gadget.

Indy: No, we hadn't. It was more of a necessity for the story, but Bianca's presence allowed us to expand the story in new directions. It really paid off down the road.

Chris Silva: I think we had been debating Bianca's role as early as the first story when Bianca appeared with the fictional characters in Gadget dream to give her advice.

Indy: And then there was Mutant Bagpipe Killers of Scotland. Tell them the story behind that unique movie title.

Chris Silva: Well, you had come up with that one.

Chris Silva: I'm not sure where that came from.

Indy: True--it was to plug you for that scene. I wanted to see how you'd react to that one, coming out of left field. Plus I knew your love of B-Movies, and that sounded like on that you'd have seen  

Chris Silva: I'm sure I would have watched the movie too J

Indy: And by story's end Chip and Foxy were closer than they had been. It took a long time for Chip to understand Dale and Gadget's feelings, but once he did then he was able to open more of himself up to Foxy and that paid dividends.

Chris Silva: Plus, the stress of his unrequited feelings for Gadget were finally dealt with, so that was a huge weight lifted from him. The underlying feud with Dale was gone as well, so he was finally free.

Indy: Which in a way was scary, because it meant we'd have to strike new ground with him in the next story--little did we know the heights that chipmunk would scale. I might add that I was the one who wrote the epilogue--I was still concerned that our audience was having problems with the whole notion of the URT. Today, it wouldn't bother me, but now when I look on it, that bit reminds me of how far we've come as writers.

Chris Silva: The stories ended with a character breaking the 4th wall and speaking to the reader, but that eventually ended.  I didn't like it and Indy indulged me and the process stopped.

Indy: And that was the value of having a good co-writer. Sometimes you do things that are more harmful to the story than good. Having that other voice there can help keep the story focused and out of trouble.

Indy: And other times both of you can write 50 thousand words and realize you're in a blind alley ;-)

Chris Silva: That was an easy conflict to resolve, but there were bigger ones coming down the line.

Indy: Oh yes, much much bigger.

Chris Silva: Yes, we discarded a lot of material over the years.  We revisited one of the stories, and released it separately as the "Theo's Origin" story.  That was a discarded first and second draft combined into one draft that we discarded even so.

Indy: We probably had at least half as much material that never saw the light of day was what made it through the final draft.

Indy: So, let's wrap this up while they're still reading this. What did you want the reader to take away from "Living the Dream"?

Chris Silva: Your dreams can be realized, but you're going to have to risk your dreams of things to try to make those very dreams come true.

Indy: Well said. There was risk all through the URT. I think also the idea that real love is more than just a physical relationship. It's about real commitment and sacrifice, and giving of yourself to the other person. Having that "other-centered" mindset that we see all too rarely these days.