Episodic Review: Young Justice 25 &26

New challengers approaching!

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Episodic Review: Young Justice 24 (“Performance”)

“Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.”

I was never a fan of Batman Begins, but I do like this quote. Read more of this post

Episodic Review: Young Justice 22 & 23… and Ultimate Spider-Man

Blah, blah, blah, Superboy problems. While I do get a kick out of seeing Superboy serve as the team’s equivalent of the Hulk, I’ve never liked him enough to fully enjoy the episodes that focused purely on him. He comes off as being so intentionally flawed just so he can have more deeply rooted daddy issues when being compared with Superman, which just doesn’t make for the most interesting of watches.

… which is why I enjoyed the episodes B-story a million times more. I wasn’t that avid of a viewer when Justice League first aired, so I could be completely off point, but I don’t recall any point in the show that really went over the transition from the League being a small group of hand-picked people to how it stood by the start of Justice League: Unlimited. The joke about the Green Lanterns not wanting a third Lantern on the team, Zatara’s personality poking out of Dr. Fate, the intentionally awkward debate about keeping Captain Marvel… each bit of dialogue was interesting and kept me entertained, which was more than I could say about Superboy’s story. That’s not to say that Superboy’s story was a snore-fest; it’s just that it’s hard to be entertained when the story focuses on a character I personally don’t like all that much. Especially when that character’s into kinky role-playing with a certain shape-shifting alien.

Onwards to episode 23!

Wait… nevermind. Blah, blah, additional episode about a character I don’t care about made even less interesting by fleshing out a plot point I’m tired of. They’re so heavily suggesting that Artemis is the mole that there’s no way it would end up being her. And in the case that it was, we’re already told that she is, which just makes for bad story-telling.

Did kinda enjoy the small bit about her mom being the Huntress, though. I’m assuming she was a different Huntress from the one that’s buddy-buddy with Batman in the comics? Was there more than one character in the DC world that went by that name? Blah, comic continuity confuses.

So yeah, that’s about it for—

OMUHGUHWUDDUHFUUUUU

Izzat… izzat Josh Keaton voicing Black Spider?

Dear haters quoting Wikipedia articles to compare if Black Spider came before Spider-Man or not… regardless of who came first, it’s pretty obvious that in terms of the episode itself, Spider-Man was clearly being referenced. From the mentioning of a reporter, to the exact phrase “web-slinging” used, to using the voice-actor that last voiced Spidey in animated form along with the majority of the cast from that series in bit roles for Young Justice… I know the use of exact dates in the series makes people wonder if the creative team behind YJ was aware that the episodes wouldn’t be playing anywhere near the dates mentioned in the episode, but seeing this ripoff Spidey making a cameo the same weekend that Disney XD premiered Ultimate Spider-Man makes me think otherwise. DC, you trolls.

The feeling is even more-troll-tastic if you actually followed up and checked out Marvel’s latest work the next day.

This series already had a lot going against it. Josh Keaton being replaced by Drake Bell, the goofy asides, Man of Action as one of the major groups behind the show, but most importantly of all, the fact that this show is being followed shortly after the untimely death of the Spectacular Spider-Man animated series. Spectacular was able to fend off all the hate about its animation style and formed what most Spidey fans consider the best Spider-Man cartoon of all time. It was able to take on elements from multiple Spidey comics and successfully mesh them all together into one solid universe. Gwen Stacey was the love interest, Harry Osborn was a fellow nerd with well fleshed out daddy issues, Kong and Flash were a tag-team of sorts as school bullies that didn’t come off as too Saturday morning cartoon… even the special features from season one of the series mentioned that the creative team involved in writing for the series made a point to avoid using as much new characters as possible that weren’t from the comics since they knew that their main focus wasn’t to create something entirely new from the ground-up, but to breathe new life into the stories from the comics that fans identify as being Spider-Man through and through.

… instead, we get this. Don’t get me wrong; I was all for a Spider-Man show with a Teen Titans-esque sense of story-telling that was able to tell serious stories, but was willing to be weird on a regular basis. What we got in its place was an incredibly bland and uninspired take on Peter Parker, whose alter-ego of Spider-Man was even wimpier than Parker himself.

While it’s true that in many iterations of Spidey in comic form, he’s been rather fond of the older superheroes in the Marvel universe and look up to them to some extent, it was very rare that such a point would be repeated to the point that it came off as more of parody than anything else. Even in his earlier years of superhero-ing, Spidey was fully capable of handling issues in his own way, with his own unique and more importantly, intelligent approach to take down his villains. And while he may have made some mistakes in his career as a hero, it was ultimately his intelligence and how he applied it in battle that brought the attention of the SHIELD organization in the Ultimate comics. Rather than focusing on all the good that Spider-Man has been able to contribute, the Ultimate cartoon really brings home the point of Spidey being a rookie with absolutely no experience whatsoever, which becomes even more baffling of a plot point when mentor Fury decides to make Spidey the leader of a group of fellow teenage superheroes. Add to this the most cheeseball of cheeseball of lines (seriously, puns galore) and you have one of the least desirable iterations of Spider-Man I’ve seen.

So with the main protagonist botched character-wise, is there any hope for the supporting cast? Well, actually, there is… or at least was. Mary Jane Watson, as expected by this point, is hinted at being Parker’s love interest. However, a decent job of throwing viewers for a loop was done when Parker mentions that romance was attempted when the two were younger… and it just turned out awkward. As for best friend Harry, he actually does keep to the Ultimate comics’ character of a popular rich kid that acts as something of a bodyguard to Parker at school. In the case of both characters, though, they’re given a good enough establishment, but by the end of the two-episode premier, they end up coming off just as stale as the show itself.

Even the hints of future villains in the form of Norman Osborn and the shadowy (and apparently somewhat shaggy and unkempt) figure of Otto Octavius aren’t enough of a curiosity to keep me watching. The general uninspired-ness of the premier episodes put me in a bad enough mood to indefinitely halt any and all plans I had of keeping up with this series.

Spectacular Spider-Man, please come back and save me from this atrocity of a show. If you could somehow incorporate Josh Keaton’s perfect Spidey voice when you do so, that’d be even better.

So I watched Toonami last night

As an April Fools of sorts, last night’s [adult swim] block on Cartoon Network was replaced with a Toonami block as hosted by the last good iteration of TOM.

So what can I say about bringing back a block chock full of action anime sprinkled with bits of new game reviews and voice work for TOM from the Steve Blum himself? Just that last night will be remembered by many as the night that many ’90s kids watched actual cable programming for the first time in years. Even if this was just a stunt pulled by the guys at Cartoon Network, you could tell that there was a good amount of time and effort put into things, from the choice of episodes to air, to the general mix of all things old and new from the programming block.

I’m sure I’ll be repeating myself from my ’90s Are All That post, but whatever. In a time when DVR and boxed sets of every show under the sun is commonplace, it’s made the general concept of plopping yourself on the couch in front of the TV to watch “whatever” rather outdated. Enter Toonami–the programming block that was ahead of its time. Unlike [adult swim] which has become a mishmash of random animated shows with crude humor awkwardly mixed in with teen-centric action anime, Toonami kept its focus on the action cartoons. From this focal point, Toonami expanded outward, with a robotic host on board his spaceship The Absolution, with female companion SARA at his side. The entire world of Toonami was just so immersive and was just as essential a part of the programming block as the shows themselves.

Today when you’re skimming through titles online, or even scrolling through sub-menus on your DVR, you might be presented with recommendations of other shows based on your search history. But at the end of the day, it’s ultimately your decision to decide to click on whatever item was recommended to you. While the same could be said about choosing to watch whatever comes next in a programming block, you have slightly less control in that the following program will play regardless of whether you like it or even if you even know of its existence. When watching Toonami last night, I was bombarded by its lineup, some I knew and some I didn’t. I was able to bask in the familiarity of the shows I grew up with, while also being put in a good enough mood by the block itself to be willing to take a chance on the shows I was previously too young to care about. Being dropped in an episode in what was clearly the middle of a story arc had me trying to figure out the basics of the world in order to better appreciate the action scenes that flashed before me on screen. It’s a feeling that most people are rarely able to experience nowadays since we’ve been given a more active option in picking and choosing exactly what we want to watch, whether it be through streaming or direct purchasing of series.

It’s these exact feelings presented through such an immersive programming block experience that made Toonami what it was. And whether or not the stunt pulled last night was for kicks or for a serious testing of the waters in terms of viewer interest may still be up in the air, I sure hope that it’s the latter. I’ve lived in a time where the sun rose in a world without Toonami for far too long.

Episodic Review: Young Justice 21 (“Image”)

Oh, Young Justice. First you have the fake bro on sis scene in episode 11, and now you have the fake cougar on under-age Kryptonian this episode. Something tells me the show writers specifically wanted Ms. Martian on the team for the sole purpose of stretching that PG rating as far as it’ll go.

So considering how Gar mentions that episodes of Hello Megan are hard to find even online, I can only imagine Ms. Martian recording these on her alien equivalent of a DVR. Maybe saving them on her alien equivalent of an external hard drive after downloading them from the alien equivalent of a torrenting site. She could have even recorded them when they aired live. I mean, what else is there to do on Mars?

OK, so something, something fictional countries at conflict. Funny how an earlier Young Justice pitted two fictional countries at conflict because they were against unifying, and now we’ve got a case where the conflict comes from people against two fictional countries unifying. Slight nitpick, but the font size during the news reports seemed a bit too small in comparison to actual news reports. Reminded me of the miniscule font size used in some Blu Ray disc menus. Seriously, how large of a TV screen are we expected to have to play these things on?

Convenient plot device calling for a team of four this time around. I’ll let it slide just because I hate it when there are too many chefs in the kitchen resulting in Wily Kit and Kat only being there for C-level banter with the bad guys. Not sad that the new Thundercats didn’t show up under the list of returning shows next season. At all.

Ah, the Logans. Noting that the kid’s name is “Garfield” should be red flag enough to let peeps know that he’s probably a character from the comics. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the episode took an interesting route setting up what I’m hoping are seeds for future plot points. While Gar seems like a TV-standard hyper 8 year old, knowing the direction they’re taking him makes me tolerate him. As for his mom… iunno what it is, but her angry face reminds me of Desmond from Project Cadmus. Guess it’s a character design thing. Kinda like how everyone in the series has relatively curly hair, including the Joker.

I wonder just how many people that watched the episode grew up back when VHS was a thing. Though considering the PG rating and the general push to appeal to older audiences than you’d expect from a channel called “Cartoon Network,” I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a majority of viewers. Makes me wonder what year the series is supposed to take place in, though, since Wally knew enough about the video format to mock it. I have close to zero confidence that people under 18 care to know about now dead video formats.

I get that they were strapped for time here, but wouldn’t this suggest that Ms. Martian would have to make sure that the blood extracted from her be morphed to type O at all times? Do they go by Animorphs logic where if you’re morphed for a long enough time, you’ll stay in that form? Whatever; more Gar backstory is welcome.

Seriously, Mrs. Logan is kinda an S-level beezie. I’m sure that there are stresses I will never know of, not having been part of the one season wonder that was Hello Megan, but c’mon now. It’s one thing to be a jerk due to your show getting famous, or at least get a cult following and having people force you to say “Great Scott” during conventions, but apparently the show wasn’t even popular enough to get crappy recordings uploaded online. Shut up, Mrs. Logan. Nobody likes you.

Daw, flustered Robin is flustered. Really like his stuttered delivery when he was talking to Wally. *looks up his VA on IMDB* Oh god, I take everything back. Let’s all just pretend Robin’s VA isn’t Jesse McCartney. I think we’ll sleep better at night without that nasty bit of knowledge.

… speaking of nasty. You’d think Psimon would be powerful enough to make himself look less conspicuous. Also, I kinda snickered when I found out his name’s spelled that way. Oh comic books and your naming schemes.

So we have Apocalyptan tech, not to be confused with the Marvel villain that I blame for the cancellation of the Wolverine and the X-Men show. Darkseid… yeah, dunno too much about him except that he was in the less than enthralling Apocalypse movie I fell asleep to one day.

Also, Ms. Martian bails to hunt down Psimon, and yet Robin still had psychic connection with everyone, suggesting that Ms. Martian heard Robin’s ordered and left anyway. I get that Ms. Martian’s technically the Earth equivalent of a teenager, but the decisions she makes this episode just make me not like her.

wha…

da…

narwhals.

When they were dropping hints about Ms. Martian being white and not green, I was expecting it to be something along the lines of a simple palette swap and the gang to be willing to accept her regardless of the color of her skin and we start to live in a world where kids can go for a Skittles run without living in fear of discrimination. But this… well played.

I’m guessing it’s safe to assume that the League doesn’t know about Ms. Martian, but the episode wasn’t exactly clear about Martian Manhunter’s knowledge. He could very well have been keeping the secret, with Megan fearing that she’d be sent back to Mars if other people found out about her, but the way things have played out so far is pretty fuzzy on the details. Still, at the end of the day, I feel that at the least the League would be understanding of things and wouldn’t care all too much since so far the only difference is physical. As for her teenage counterparts, I’m gonna predict some drama in the inevitable episode where they finally find out what’s what.

Major props to Ms. Martian for her hammy performance. It’s small details like that that clue you in on the old-school American shows her uncle would send her while she was on Mars.

Dunno what Robin’s deal is here. I guess the mission didn’t go as smoothly as he wanted it to be? Still, as Kid Flash said, he did a pretty good job as team leader saving an entire country from an evil dictator.

Yeah, lies. As interesting as it is having Megan lie to the team all while there’s still talk about there being a mole in their group, I feel like I’d be frustrated if they have this point drag on for too long.

OK, and now you’re telling me that Megan’s willing to endanger tons of peeps all for the sake of literally saving face? It’s such a high risk over something so trivial that I don’t think I could stomach this side story being stretched for more than half a season.

Episodic Review: Young Justice 20 (“Coldhearted”)

Whee, the Wally episode!

Comparing everyone’s home life, Wally definitely has the most normal of the group and as such is one of the most relatable of the cast. Add monologues to the mix and you essentially have the DC equivalent of a Spider-Man episode… which isn’t a bad thing.

So the floating island from the Gorillaz Feel Good Inc video is causing weather related chaos and it’s up to a Justice League plus their minor counterparts to put a stop to things.

(Random aside: I haven’t heard from Gorillaz in what feels like forever. Checked out one of their latest music videos on a whim and… wow. The CG is slightly off-putting at first, but honestly, it’s a good notch or two better than the CG’d crap they’re passing as cartoons lately. Check ‘em out. Really.)

… and more fodder for Robin/Zatanna shippers. Again, both characters’ adorableness is off the charts, so I don’t mind the non-canon-ness of it all. A++, Gabe-approved, would do business with again.

Super awkward for Wally/Artemis shippers, though. I’m glad the whole shtick with Wally hitting on Ms. Martian is finally over, but it begs the question of just how the writers are gonna gradually introduce Artemis into the mix. Signs point to the team possibly thinking of her being the mole. Then again, I’m pretty sure their guard’s been down ever since the whole Red Tornado dealie. Meh… iunno.

Wally’s face when he finds out he’s not invited to the big superhero crossover shindig. Real world equivalent: logging on to facebook to see a ton of your friends tagged in an album during an event you weren’t invited to. Don’t trip, Wally; your solo adventure was a million times more fun than any group shenanigans with the Justice League.

… so the YJ group’s got winter camouflage, but the Justice League doesn’t? Something tells me the League won’t like knowing that budget cuts are going on in favor of investing in the younglings. Then again, it’s not like the YJ group’s got a watch tower, so I guess it balances out.

(Second random aside: What is the deal with Warner Home Video releasing Young Justice in single discs? I thought we abandoned the single disc release ten years ago. Are people actually still willing to hack over $3.75 an episode in 4-episode-per-disc chunks? Even Amazon’s instant video for the series has a better option, which is saying something. The last multi-season DC title that I can think of was the DC shows from ten years ago, and those all had perfect season DVD releases, so I must repeat… what’s the deal? If a season set’s not announced by the end of the first season’s airing, I just might have to invest in Amazon’s instant video release which doesn’t nearly look as pretty sitting in my video folder in comparison to on my shelf. Guess it’s a balancing act between aesthetics and practicality.)

Geez, Wally just can’t catch a break today. Having to deliver a heart to a Vlativian Queen with second-rate bad guys hounding him… not exactly the best of days. Still, the story itself was solid and was more than enough to make up for villains I’ve never heard of (also helps that a good chunk of the plot was taken from the comics). Kid Flash’s greatest physical strength would be his speed, so to have him fail to deliver something when given a time limit gives great depth to his character. Hands down the best YJ member when it comes to straight-up sympathy from the series episodes and not comicbook backstory when looking up other characters’ respective Wikis (that would go to Robin).

Not one, but two fake-outs? With the second time involving recording the villain admitting to his heinous crime? Best kind of justice—via tape-recorder (or whatever modern day equivalent that was).

Who else thought it was a giant Chinese take-out box at first? Really digging Wally’s souvenir wall. All he needs now is a giant penny and a replica of a T-Rex and he’s set.

Best episode of the bunch so far, with lots of character building without having to go with the ol’ reliable that’s dipping into character backstories. I’d say it played well to Wally’s strengths and weaknesses, but to say that wanting to defeat a baddie when time’s of the essence of more of a priority issue than a full-on weakness. Either way, it does a good job of building up Wally’s likability, which when you’re given a full cast of heroes to deal with is more difficult than you’d think.

Episodic Review: Young Justice 19 (“Misplaced”)

Shorter intro is shorter. And spoiler-free, which I guess is a good thing.

A couple episodes behind, but figured I’d pick up Young Justice starting from the season (er, mid-season) break onwards, since the episodes have definitely picked up quality-wise, unlike some other Cartoon Network shows which I’m dropping due to lack of further interest. Anyways…

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Klarion the Witch Boy. His design and voice always seemed more fitting in a Teen Titans episode than in a Young Justice episode. Still, his involvement this time around along with his interactions with the heroes (his condescending line to Zatana about “baby magic” was great) added some check-plusses in my book. It also helps that I finally realized that he’s voiced by the guy that did The Tinkerer in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon.

Random aside: not exactly having the highest of hopes for the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. Regardless of Spectacular’s animation style, it was able to hold solid story-telling throughout each and every one of its episodes. Ultimate seems to be taking a page out of the ‘90s cartoons in terms of animation style, but story-telling looks reminiscent of Teen Titans, which was hit or miss. Also Drake from Drake and Josh voicing Spidey… no. If they couldn’t get Josh Keaton, my number two would have been Michael J. Fox. Just imagine Marty McFly’s voice coming out of Spidey’s invisible mouth and smile only to follow it up with a cry knowing that it’ll never happen.


So I get that Zatanna isn’t this old in the comics and that any romantic tension between her and Robin shouldn’t be there, but she’s just so adorable, that I don’t care.

… that and it’s not like Barbara will be donning the Batwoman getup anytime soon, so I think it’s only fair to give Robin something along the lines of an office wife. And this one knows magic.

… a little too well. I didn’t like it when Aang was able to master unlocking his chakras over the course of less than a full episode, so to have Zatanna be able to pull off a tracking spell even after saying that it would be difficult to do just by copying off surveillance footage of her dad rubbed me the wrong way. But it’s magic, so whatever.

Honestly, even in the case of a worldwide epidemic in which all adults have inexplicably disappeared, I still feel like the most active forum topic on a teen board would be Hunger Games related. I personally take no preference when it comes to Team Gale or Team Peeta. I will say that Gale had the bigger muscles in the movie version, though.

I must say that even with his daddy issues, SuperBoy seems to get along well with the kiddies. Reminds me of a study on 20/20 a while ago about how kids react more positively to better looking people regardless of their (lack of) experience in the teaching field. Good-looking bastards.

I never understood whenever someone was able to take over all TV stations and they’d demonstrate by showing a bunch of TVs in a shop turning on. I’d assume a majority of them wouldn’t even be plugged in. Then again, I don’t know any shops around here that even do that kind of thing, so meh. I did like the Our War Game style where even people outside of the states are getting the transmission.

… don’t like this, though. You cut to Dakota City and yet you don’t show Static Shock and instead show (checks the YJ wiki) Rocket? And it looks like it hasn’t been her first appearance, either. I get that DC’s got quite the plethora of heroes to choose from and they’re giving the more obscure ones their chance to shine, but really. Needs. More. Static. Hell, I’d settle for Gear’s backpack, even.

Had some serious flashbacks about Gremlins here. Say they had to cross over into a different time zone. Would the effect still take place according to the exact time she was born? And that’s assuming she was born at exactly midnight, which I seriously doubt. Mehr, magic, so whatever.

Cool twist having Billy being able to play for both teams, but seeing the conversation made my head hurt. I’m assuming they just had Ms. Martian have some kind of cross-dimensional mind linkage dealie. Would be pretty annoyed if I were Billy saying “Batman wants me to tell you that Robin still has cleaning duty in the batcave this Wednesday.”

So there are some limitations when it comes to split dimensional magic. Kinda makes me wonder what would happen if someone in the adult world put on the helmet, too. Or if it would even exist? Would Nabu be merged with two people once the worlds merged back, or would he hold American Idol style auditions to figure out which host he’d make sign a life contract with?

… though, thought it was a bit weird that even with half his strength, Nabu was apparently only able to break through the dome with everyone else’s help. In the words of Jackie Chan’s uncle, I thought “magic must defeat magic.” And back to the dome, you’d think the baddies would have been smart enough to make it a full on sphere, going underground, too. Then again, it’s thinking like that that limits the possibilities before you even try something out, which is what I think made Captian Marvel shine this episode. Best kid in the show without having to deal with any teenage angst.

Something of an awkward escape on Klarion’s part, a la Raven’s sudden mass transportation powers whenever the situation called for it in Teen Titans. You’d think he’d teleport away while keeping the dome working or something like that. Again, magic, so mehr whatever.

Best dad in the world. Of all the adult heroes in the series, Zatara seemed the most down to Earth. He’s got a kid that’s following in his footsteps, but is hesitant in having her walk down that same path. Superhero-ing doesn’t exactly have the best health care package. Still, I feel like if anyone were best suited to play roomie to Nabu, it’d be him. I think the Earth explode from the over-abundance in amazing if Batman were to take on the helmet.

And finish it off with a shot of the real baddies. I have to admit, I’ve been getting tired of the episodes ending with the real baddies being engulfed in shadows, so it’s good to finally see a face or two, even if that means seeing the baddies that were part of the worst Teen Titans season ever. Where did the Doom Patrol go after those first episodes, anyway? Yeah, Titans season 5 sucked. Hard.

Episodic Reviews: Thundercats (2011) 07 & 08

Ah, the back-story episode. As straightforward as they are, the glimpse of the past from episode 6 was enough for me to wonder exactly what happened a long time ago in a galaxy supposedly far, far away. Yeah, expect those kinds of references this post.

Seriously, what up with the Star Wars references throughout the series? Seeing the weird elephants had me anticipating a separate cell full of Jabba the Huts, which actually really grosses me out now that I think about it.

“I can’t airbend in the Spirit World.”

Eeyup, and if it’s not Star Wars references, it’s gonna be Avatar references. Still, good to know that Jagga’s found a place even after death as the Roku to Lion-O’s Aang. Hopefully this won’t lead to crappy live action movies where director’s insist on racist casting. For one, I don’t think cat-people exist anymore.

… or Planet of the Apes references. As hokey as the trailers were, I couldn’t help but take some kind of interest in the movie. Maybe not enough to watch it, but still… any movie that’s able to trick me into thinking it’s actually the trailer for Spider-Man 4 gets kudos in my book. As to what flavor kudos, that’s debatable. Damn you, James Franco.

Must Cree Summer be the voice of every strong female protagonist in a series? Not the I mind. I frikkin’ loved Disney’s Atlantis and while I never bothered to backtrack to it, at the least I do support the Ducky-style circle glasses in A Different World.

Good to know they’re giving plenty of toy options for those taking a pass on the Mumm-Ra Mobile. I just wish the armor didn’t remind me so much of Magnamon, which for the record still sucks in comparison to the likes of WarGreymon. Just saying.

And end the episode with a shot straight out of Empire Strikes Back (with an even creepier kiss between Lion-O and his possible great grandmother). I guess if you’re gonna reference something, reference something good. And seriously, Empire is hands down the best of all six movies. Especially when considering the new changes being made for the Blu-Ray releases. Hell yeah for bringing life to inanimate Yoda muppets.

Right, I get that Lion-O’s the main character, and he has gone on solo missions in the original series, but it just doesn’t feel right. Thundercats is more of a team series than a solo hero series and should be treated as such. Translation: where the hell is my Kit and Kat screentime? Not only do I feel like they’re underutilized, but as a whole, it just feels like the writers don’t know how to write for younger characters and simply sees them as immature, annoying and in the way just because they’re not old enough to be angsty and broody 24/7. Five shame, guys.

Okay, so last episode, we learn that a good number of other anthropomorphic creatures crash-landed on Third Earth along with the Cats… so who the hell is this guy? For all we know, his people could have been the planet-wide equivalent of Native Americans and he’s just trying to make a living, earning respect from those that insist that they were the first to colonize the planet. Seriously, can someone pick me up as a script writer?

…insert your cross between David Carradine and Lucky Seven Sampson and the rest of the episode pretty much handles itself.

Pretty solid episodes so far, but I’m still waiting for the one episode to blow me away. And considering that the DVDs are taking the 3-4 episode per release route, that’s even more reason to up their writing. I’d rather not buy that kind of release, but I’d gladly break the rule for something along the lines of A:TLA’s Blue Spirit… or Teen Titans’ Haunted… or DBZ’s Super Saiyajin 2 episode. The list goes on.

Episodic Review: Thundercats (2011) 06

I was gonna combine episode 6 and 7’s reviews, but going through the nonsense that happened last week’s episode, I couldn’t help but give it its own post. So here’s basically what went down at the start of the episode:

And with even Cheetara’s erm… “influence” not getting Lion-O’s “sword to work,” it looks like it’s time for another character-building adventure.

Normally I’d nitpick at just how easily the gang was able to find the entrance to the Tower of Omens, but believe me when I say that there is just so much more to nitpick this episode that I’m gonna let this one bit slide.

First time I watched the episode, I could have sworn that they re-used the same frames for Tygra and Lion-O, but a second time through, they’re clearly different. Still, I’m no animation major, but the fact that it even crossed my mind couldn’t be a good thing. I mean, it’s not like pointing up or giving a thumbs up is Tygra’s thing—he just does it these episodes and it comes off as just plain weird.

Still not as weird as Mumm-Ra’s coffin being able to morph into a fully-functional land vehicle. Growing up, there were plenty of series out there with according toys that would have the most bizarre capabilities. In particular, I remember having a Power Rangers figure of the White Ranger that came with a sword that could shift into a car. Yeah, never in the series did that happen, as bizarre as the series itself was. So to have Mumm-Ra’s coffin also act as his means of transportation just screamed “available at a Toys R Us near you” even moreso than it should have.

Next up is Panthro’s complete pussification. I get that given his bad-ass re-introduction, it only made sense for the writers or whoever to tone down is bad-assity for the sake of giving the rest of the cast their time to shine, but to think that the head of the Thunderian army rushed in headfirst into such an obvious setup to a classic Indie-style trap. I can forgive that he can’t swim (given that he was awesome enough to hold his own breath for that long, he kinda redeems himself), but walking square into a trap like that… unforgivable.

Even if you were to accept all the previous stuff that’s happened this episode so far, I can’t help but think that everyone had to have realized just how awkward and old-school Scooby-Doo the animation got when Panthro lifted up the cage to free the rest of the gang. I mean… they were all just there like they were posing for a family portrait or something—no signs of fatigue, or even struggling to get out of the flooded room into the dry one, just lazy all-around.

Then there’s the fight against Mumm-Ra itself. You’d think something like this would have been used as a mid-season finale kind of dealie, but no… episode six. You barely have any of the characters that well established and yet you move right into a fight with the final level boss already? Iunno, additional weird.

And to top it off, the episode literally went from this shot:

to this one:

Seriously, who the hell was the intern that storyboarded this episode? If it’s not one thing that’s taking me out of the action, it’s something else. And considering that I’m already suspending enough of my disbelief with the whole anthropomorphic cats having the most pun-tastic names available… just… just, no.

btw, awkwardly long shot of Cheetara holding a lantern is awkwardly long. And if that wasn’t enough…

I get how in cheap animation back in the day, things like opening up books right square in the middle and somehow being able to read page 1 of the book was a thing, but in 2011… really? Okay, so the twist here, is that the animation did get things right and have Lion-O open up to the first page of the Book of Omens, but then for him to assume that there was nothing in the rest of the book just because there was nothing on the first book is just absurd; surely, not every book he’s opened in his life didn’t start with the meat and potatoes of things. If anything, he should find it typical for the first page to be empty (it’s one of those things I never really understood, especially in our current “go green; don’t waste paper” age).

Iunno, this episode was just plain weird. Weird and sloppy.

Marathoning Musings

With the rise of movies and television being available not only through DVD and Blu Ray, but in Special Editions, Unrated Editions, Digital Copies, 3D Editions, Full and Widescreen, etc, it would be an understatement to say that we’ve reached the point that consumers have more than just a couple of options when deciding to make a home video purchase. And with even the crappiest of shows and movies practically guaranteed a release of some kind on the market, one must wonder what television’s fate has become in the midst of all this home release nonsense—in particular, scheduled television blocks.

While channels for the most part roll with your standard television schedule, I always saw block programming to be particularly interesting. Unlike commercials, I didn’t feel insulted when channels tried to schedule their programming days in accordance with the demographic that would most be likely to be tuning in at that particular time. Whether it be One Saturday Morning, Nick: GAS, or good ol’ Toonami, I could always rely on there to be something I know I’d be interested in between a block’s designated start and stop time.

But with the dawn of the modern home video collector, what’s there to stop someone from simply hoarding on their favorite titles and watching them at their own leisure, minus the commercials and with the inclusion of a pause button?

Such is the conundrum for today’s block viewers, who’d be more likely to marathon through their DVDs than stand slave to a television channel’s air times. But that exact same problem is why block programming still appeals to me. Rather than finding the various aspects of aired programming annoying, I’m starting to find them more like a novelty than anything else. Just the thought that some kind of team went to the trouble to finding which shows would best be suited to play after each other in combination with what types of commercials to air at that time mixed in with some quirky bumper mini-programming (ie: TOM and Sara’s banter during Toonami) and you have quite the interesting entity formed.

Even when taking into consideration all the signs of the times and the push towards being able to watch something on your time rather than the network’s, I find it interesting that the push for program blocking in some way, shape or form is just as strong.

Let’s look at Toonami (as if I haven’t done that enough already)—hours of action programming all bundled together nicely under the roof of TOM and Sara’s ship, the Absolution. Not only do the programs themselves complement each other, but the block’s hosts also do an effective job of setting the mood as well. Add in the occasional total immersion events and you have quite the programming block to deal with.

So, imagine my surprise when I find that Toonami—action cartoon programming king for 11 years before its untimely cancellation three years ago this month—is getting a revitalization of sorts in the form of Neo Toonami. I’d say more, but that’s what the video’s for:

 

Okay, maybe some explanation’s required. According to the site’s FAQ, Neo Toonami is a fan-run web stream, airing select action cartoons online without the restrictions that would otherwise be present if it were to be aired on television. Add to this a revived TOM, Sara and Optimus Prime-ish narrator, and you essentially have the ol’ cartoon block set in the present. Here’s where I’d make some kind of comment on how Toonami’s slogan was “The revolution will be televised” except swap out “televised” with “streamed,” but I couldn’t find a better way to do it other than the way I just did.

While the date of the first web stream has yet to be set, you have to give props to the team behind Neo Toonami for even getting this far. I personally can’t wait to be able to marathon through some choice action cartoons without the need of swapping out DVDs every 20 or so minutes. Not to mention that when I have personal marathons, I feel like I owe it to myself to actually sit down, pay attention, and absorb every second of what’s playing. With a block, I don’t feel that pressure and am able to watch it more casually, even as background noise in some cases. And that’s really what the heart of block programming does—it conveniences the audience by airing choice programming you can chill out to. They’re kinda like mix tapes in that sense, except without the connection to hipsters.

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