The Untold Ranger Tales: Part Three
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 Three: Dreams at the Crossroads

Chris Silva: Part three, the day none of the veteran Ranger community would have ever dreamed would happen.  Dale and Gadget get married....

Indy: And the first fanfic to feature a full Ranger wedding--only nobody could have guessed who was giving the bride away.

Chris Silva: And of course, nothing can ever go easy for the Rangers.  There had to be a big dark secret revealed beforehand.  Something about a family Gadget didn’t even know she was a part of.

Indy: Precisely--we learned of the link between Gadget and Bianca, while giving Monty his “Darth Vader” moment with Gadget. “I am your father!” ;-)

Chris Silva: And someone who once suggested she and Gadget were like sisters reluctantly discovers that she is, in fact, Gadget’s sister.  I don’t really recall what started the thought process of Gadget’s biological parents still being alive.  But once we got the idea of how Monty could be her father, we just ran with it.

Chris Silva: For a while we had even considered Bianca being her mother.

Indy: True, and then that didn’t quite work, so we created Bianca’s sister for the role and gave her a unique backstory. Thus was born Eva Raboga--and for those of you who may not have noticed, her last name is simply Gabor spelled backwards with an “a” at the end to make it unique. I thought it was an appropriate touch.

Chris Silva: And of course, the actress doing Bianca’s voice was Eva Gabor.  So they were twin sisters.  Then we only needed to explain how Monty had been married, but never mentioned it to anyone, then how to explain how he had kids he didn’t know about (and still be a gentleman, at least) and then explain where his wife had been the last twenty years and how Lahwhinie had been separated from them for that long as well and how Gadget became a Hackwrench.  Nothing too difficult for us. 

Indy: Oh indubitably--when you’re a writer, you can do anything.

Indy: We also laid the groundwork for Chip and Foxglove’s future together--or I should say Noel’s future with Foxy as that version of Chip is the one that becomes a fully-realized character, not to mention a bat. Of course, that happens further downstream, but their brief interlude in the beach in chapter two paved the way for it.

Chris Silva: And in this story, Dale has to do the hardest thing he’s ever done, say “I do.”

Chris Silva: And the Rangers learn that it’s not enough to just be reunited with a family.  Lahwhinie doesn’t fall right in, there’s so much damage that’s been done to her that many worry if she’ll ever fit in.

Indy: Well, Dale also had to tell his parents he was getting married. Bringing in the Oakmonts was a big thing, because it started a trend of expanding the Ranger “family” to encompass all of their real-life families. It made for some challenging writing, but it also nailed down a lot of things about each Ranger’s character and how it came about.

Chris Silva: And they had a penchant for fainting at the new improved Dale and his antics. 

Indy: Oh yes--I think that’s a trait among the Oakmonts. Except for Sir d’Oakmont--I don’t think he fazed easily.

Chris Silva: Interestingly, this story is a turning point in the series, as up to this point, Dale had more or less been the main character, but once his story arc with Gadget came to an end, there really wasn’t much more to do with them.  They fit so well together, it was the match you’d want in real life, but in fiction, it just isn’t high adventure material.  Chip, who had taken such a beating in earlier stories now took over as main character, and being wiser and more mature, he was a whole new person.

Indy: Well, he had the seed of a new person, but he still had some developing to go. Chip had been so focused on Gadget that it had hurt his own emotional and inner development. He was as immature as Dale in some ways, possibly even moreso. And yes, the story would have ended if it was all D+G. We really finished that arc of the story in three parts. I remember thinking about closing the book on it at that point, but the story itself didn’t want to end. There were far too many loose ends to deal with, and already we could see that Lahwhinie was going to be a part of the rest of the series. I’d always liked the idea of Chip and Lahwhinie ending up together. They seemed much more interesting than Chip and Gadget.

Chris Silva: And there was a new supporting character waiting in the wings, one who refused to let the door be closed before he had his grand adventure.  A little fellow named Theo.

Chris Silva: Without Theo, I’m pretty sure the series would not have gone on as long as it did.

Chris Silva: He has a cameo as a fan and gets to sit in on the wedding in this story.

Indy: Theo’s role in things began as a separate story--a good one in itself--and we realized the gold mine we had in the character. Chip had always been a loner and had never really taken on the close family ties the other Rangers had. Theo was the answer to that, the son he never had.

Chris Silva: We didn’t want to saddle him with a newborn.  He needed a son old enough to be part of the adventures.  So we followed the path taken by Goslyn Mallard and Kit Cloudkicker, and made Theo an orphan.

Chris Silva: And knowing that the readers would expect some silliness at the Ranger wedding, we decided to play it both ways.  Dale’s nightmare about the wedding where everything goes wrong, then the real one that goes right.

Indy: Indy: Yes, that funny version of the wedding was as much fun for us as anyone J

Indy: We also got to re-introduce the R.A.S. and their adversaries the R.O.D.E.N.T.S. into the story. Eva was a member of R.O.D.E.N.T.S., but in the end she worked to sabotage the organization and get her children free of it. She succeeded with Gadget, but Lahwhinie was another story. And thus was born the idea of Project Phoenix, the rebirth of R.O.D.E.N.T.S. through a new generation of brainwashed children.

Chris Silva: And in this story, Chip finally gets the kiss from Gadget he’s always dreamed of.  And that, in a way, finally sets him free from his desire for her.  A new love now held his heart, one whose kisses he desired more. 

Indy: Quite so. We also have the genesis of the Lahwhinie/Foxglove issue, which culminated in a real battle royale between us and one of the more unique solutions we’ve come up with in our stories. But for this story, Foxglove was more the focus at first. Still, you could see the clouds on the horizon.

Chris Silva: In this Chip takes on one of his most difficult cases.  He decides to find Foxglove’s parents, despite having almost nothing to go on, but he knows she’ll never be complete until she learns what happened to them, if they were separated by force, of if they didn’t want her.

Indy: Which in itself makes for a great adventure and instantly helped to form the framework for the next story.


[Then Dale’s attention turned to the picture in Gadget’s hand. “C’mon, Gadget, let’s have a look at your mom!” Gadget handed Dale the picture, and Dale looked at the face he’d only briefly seen before. “Hey, she looks almost just like Bianca! Well, I don’t see much family resemblance there for you, Gadget. You must take after your dad’s side.” Dale handed the picture around to the others.
       Everyone made comments, including Zipper who noted how cute Gadget was as a baby. Dale giggled at that, which drew a momentary look from Gadget. The last one to see it was Monty. He smiled as he took the picture, but then the smile disappeared. The big Aussie got woozy, and reached for the back of the chair in front of him.
       Gadget was by his side in a moment. “Golly, are you okay, Monty?” Dale came over to steady him. “Maybe this was a big surprise for him too.” Monty rubbed his forehead, and blinked as he looked at the picture again. “I’m...I’m all roight everyone. I think it’s just the shock of the discovery and all...]

Indy: Monterey Jack: the latest victim of the Paternity Plot Twist ;-)

Chris Silva: Yes, the moment Monty realizes he finally found out what happened to his long missing wife.

Chris Silva: Little expecting that fate had made him the surrogate father to his own biological daughter.

Indy: We have a lot of Ironic Convenience in our stories, and that perhaps was our crowning moment for the URT. And I should also mention that Gadget’s grandparents, Viktor and Ilsa Râboga, were named after the husband and wife team in Casablanca, one of my favorite movies.

Chris Silva: And Rick from Casablanca appeared in this story as well, in Hawaii.

Indy: Ah, true. This part of the story was so big, I think I’d have to go back and re-read it to catch all the in-jokes.


[Chromosome patterns look good...the bars seem to line up. Monty, I’ve got good news and bad news,” Sparky said. Monty felt like shaking, but he just stood there. “Okay, what’s the bad news?”
       “The bad news is I’ve got to get my back adjusted. You know how you get when you’ve been leaning over for five hours and studying petri dishes in a microscope? Believe me, it does nothing for your sacroiliac. Well, and then there’s...” Sparky started off naming the term for every vertebra in his back, and now Monty was sweating and wringing his hands.
       “Uh, Sparky? Could we leave off the bone lesson fer now? There’s something more pressin’ we need ta talk about, ain’t it?” Monty said, trying to hint politely.
       “Well, I wasn’t going to mention it, but I’ve been having these shooting pains up my spine, too. At first I attributed it to my shock therapy, but now I think it must be a pinched nerve. Oh, those vertebrae get out of line and they can do a doozy on you!” Sparky said matter-of-factly. Monty grabbed Sparky in a body hold and then with a single jarring motion adjusted his spine the way that the old Tibetan tiger of Shao Lin had taught him. “There! Now, how about them blinkin’ test results?!”
       “Wow, that
was real action without thought!” Sparky said. “Say, I’ll have to start coming to you for adjustments. Oh, the test results? That’s the good news - well, as long as you’re not about to owe someone child support or something. You’re a father!]


Indy: I absolutely enjoyed writing with Sparky. He’s been the inspiration for some of the characters I use in my own stories.

Chris Silva: In hindsight, we should have done more with him in the story.  He sort of ended up as a “DNA-test-o-matic” and little else.  He’s such a fun character to write for.

Indy: Maybe we’ll do a story sometime with him as the main character.

Chris Silva: My biggest complaint about the URT, not enough Myron ;-)

Chris Silva: And also in hindsight, I’m sort of surprised we never brought Kismet back.

Indy: Well, given time we probably would have. I liked the way things went with Fat Cat’s family, though. That was a lot more interesting in some ways.

Indy: Heh--I just realized I created a Kenyan mouse named Gabarah for the story and I actually met a real Kenyan named Kirouswa. Life is strange at times.

Chris Silva: I don’t recall which story it was where we introduced his family.  Giving Fat Cat a family was our compromise as to how to remove him as a real threat to the Rangers and their families.  I actually had suggested outright killing him off, but Indy didn’t want to take such a drastic step.  So we settled on giving him a wife who was going to put him on the straight and narrow, even if it killed him.

Indy: ::Grins:: It probably would’ve been fairer to kill him, but sometimes you just have to be ruthless.

Chris Silva: And we had a lot of fun writing their scenes together.

Chris Silva: Very much like the classic sitcom husbands and wives.

Indy: Oh yes--and there was plenty of material in part three, too. I’m reading back through the flashback with Monty and Eva, which I had to create ex nihilo, and I can see it helped to have Bianca’s talk about Eva prior to writing it. That gave me a little bit of foundation to work with, and the rest came together in my “inner theater”. Gabarah’s another character I enjoyed discovering--he was honest and simple, yet wise at the same time.

Chris Silva: Also by this time, Zipper and Honey began suffering from the same story flaws that afflicted Dale and Gadget.  The excitement and adventure leading to the courtship was gone, now that they were a couple, and they pretty much fade from the story, soon simply becoming background supporting characters with a few lines here and there to remind you they were present.

Indy: True, though I think it really couldn’t have been otherwise. Zipper’s emergence and romance was more like a subplot, and we’d never really planned to take it beyond the point of success for him. Doing more would have meant a major investment in time and effort, and we were already encompassed with Chip as the change character at that point.

Chris Silva: And I enjoy that we even got to give Pumbaa from Lion King a bit part in the Monty/Eva first meeting flashback.  That was big fun to write.  Writing a lovestruck Monty was hilarious.


[“The ol’ Erskine charm ain’t ever worked that well before. Okay, she’s...kindly disposed toward me, that’s a start. I’ll just keep it nice and easy,” Monty said. Gabarah laughed like a mouse that knew how, and slapped Monty on the back. “She will make you good wife.”
       Monty hoped Evelyn hadn’t heard him, and spoke low through this teeth. “Whoa now! It’s a moite early t’be makin’ plans like that. I just met the lady yesterday. Marriage...that’s a long way down the line yet. She’s just a visitor here, and she’s likely got a classy home far away somewhere. She don’t strike me as the mousewife type.” Gabarah smiled knowingly. “I see what you do not. I see her look at you, I see you look at her. My thoughts say, ‘mouse and wife.’ It will happen, Monty Jack. It will happen.”
       “We’re too young fer settlin’ down,” Monty protested. Gabarah smiled the more. “You think you too young. The mouse she smile at, she not think he too young. Mouse and wife.” Monty found himself cringing, and made himself stop. “Well, you keep that to yourself fer now, mate. I don’t want her hearinya talkin’ like that.” Monty could hear Pumbaa chuckling and leaned over toward his ear. “That goes for you too, lad.”
       “No problem, Romeo...uh, I mean Monty. My hips are sealed,” Pumbaa said, as he began chuckling again. Monty shook his head, “That’s lips, lad. And they’d better be.”

Indy: Yep, that was choice stuff. I think that the length of the URT allowed me to experiment in ways I hadn’t before, and it really served as a training ground. I’m sure I’ll pull more out of the URT as our writing careers continue.]


Chris Silva: It was a learning experience for both of us.  We learned that there needs to be conflict in relationship to keep it interesting in the context of a story. That’s why the Chip/Lawhinie pairing worked so well and D+G and Zipper and Honey didn’t. 

Chris Silva: And we didn’t want to artificially introduce conflict for its own sake.

Indy: Well, I think C+L was interesting because you had two type-A personalities butting heads, and it made for constant conflict, yet also set up some wonderful romantic moments. D+G has two type-B personalities who were instantly comfortable with each other and while they had an occasional scuffle it wasn’t with the some emotional fire as C+L. D+G was a “cool” relationship, where they were willing to talk things out.

Chris Silva: Which is great in real life, but not so much for fiction.

Indy: Well, I think such relationships are useful, in their place. It can help to have a couple who have a “cool” relationship as an emotional anchor in a story with another couple that has a “hot” one. It helps to keep some balance, and perspective. Sort of like it was in “Gone With the Wind”. Rhett Butler’s “cool” relationship with Melanie helped him to survive his “hot” relationship with Scarlett.

Indy: Monty as Gadget’s father worked well, I thought. Then, in the spirit of “we can’t have anyone with an unhappy ending” we brought Eva back from the dead, which also helped to bring Lahwhinie into the story.

Chris Silva: Yeah, we couldn’t even leave her dead.  We had to find a way to have her still be alive ;-)


[“Uh, I’d like you two to meet Foxglove, the newest member of our team,” Chip said. Foxy smiled a bit, trying to be friendly. “Hi...” Cheddarhead doffed his hat. “Where are me manners? Another lady present, and Cheddarhead Charlie didn’t even take proper notice!” Cheddarhead kissed her hand, which made Foxy giggle.
       “Hello, Mr. Charlie. I’m Foxglove,” Foxy said. Cheddarhead was all gentlemouse at once. “Call me Cheddarhead, lass! Say, is this fair one your girl, Chip?” Chip blushed, knowing he was on the spot. “Well, we are seeing a lot of each other...”
       Cheddarhead slapped his back. “Ho, ho! You always had a way o’ puttin’ things, boyo! Someday, you’ll be as good at that as Cheddarhead Charlie!”]


Indy: And Cheddarhead and Kate were favorites too--like Monty, but on steroids.

Chris Silva: And it helped to show where some of Gadget’s quirks came from, genetically speaking.

Indy: Quite so. Well, time to wrap it up. What would you say was the best highlight of part three for you?

Chris Silva: The wedding, making it sincere and very believable and doing so without it feel as if we were mocking those who opposed the pairing.

Indy: The wedding was a special moment, and a satisfying one. I thought long and hard on the details of it, and even managed to get the estimable Shelley Pleger to do some concept art for it. It was the completion of a long journey for Dale and Gadget, as well as the start of a longer one for one Chip Maplewood.