Last Friday (9/16/2011) was what I consider the first big television night of the fall season.
No, it wasn’t my girl Zooey Deschanel on her new Fox sitcom, or the long-awaited return of an old favorite… But an action-packed evening on Cartoon Network!
I have been on mono-cartoons on Friday nights for at least the bulk of 2011. I have no clue what is on any regular teevee network on Fridays (though I do DVR Smackdown in preparations for some future rasslin’ site I have been spitballing with some other community members). Anyway, following are my reactions to this week’s first “the biggest night of action”…
While I generally like my “four perspectives” paradigm for reviewing stuff, since there is basically no buy-component to watching a single episode of basic cable cartoons, I will vary a bit for the purposes of this review (hope you don’t mind).
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
“Scorn of the Star Sapphire”
Batman and Green Lantern team up to face Star Sapphire.
What was great about “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”?
Batman: The Brave and the Bold is just so deliciously over-the-top. Every situation on the show is basically the furthest extreme of what you might see in a comic book in terms of scale. At the same time, the universe of Batman: The Brave and the Bold seems to draw on everything anyone who likes comics or comics-related media has ever liked. Case in point, the opening James Bond-esque vignette at the beginning of “Scorn of the Star Sapphire” was a Wonder Woman team-up that included — I spit you not — the Lynda Carter version of Wonder Woman from the old live-action television show, complete with the old theme trumpeting as the background music during the rescue / beatdown segment. I pretty much adored that.
Plus, there is Batman’s scathing crime fighting quip, “If it weren’t for your tattoos, Tattooed Man, you could be working in that bank instead of robbing it!”
What gave me pause about “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”?
The introductory scene with Caron Ferris and Hal Jordan (testing a prototype Batmobile) is extremely reminiscent of the scene in the summer’s Green Lantern movie (I disliked the scene, and didn’t particularly like the movie) [Hal crashes stuff for seemingly no reason].
I thought Loren Lester as Hal Jordan sounded like kind of a wimp. Hal Jordan is supposed to be a fighter pilot / beat cop (as Green Lantern… his “beat” being all of the Sector). Lester made me feel like I could put down a Green Lantern with “one punch” … Not convincing in my opinion.
The overall conflict — and conflict resolution — seemed pretty goofball. I guess you can count on this show for goofball stories, but nevertheless I thought this one was a mite eyebrow-raising.
Why would someone want to watch Batman: The Brave and the Bold?
Batman: The Brave and the Bold is maybe the funnest cartoon incarnation of Batman, ever. It doesn’t have the depth and complexity of the 1990s Bruce Timm / Paul Dini animated series / Gotham Knights incarnations, but like I said before… If there is something about DC comics or related media (up to and including the Adam West-type stuff) you love, it is in there. Batman: The Brave and the Bold is kind of like the Joyce’s Ulysses of Friday night comic book cartoons 🙂
Watch / Don’t Watch?
(no clue; I don’t watch Generator Rex)
Red Arrow is pitted against dangerous assassins.
What was great about “Targets”?
Red Arrow is probably my second-favorite character in the current incarnation of Young Justice, and he takes center stage. I love his attitude, I love how he fights, and I even really like his voice actor.
“Targets” really dangles a lot of interesting future possibilities in front of us, including Ra’s al Ghul as one of the principal antagonists, and — by the end of the ep — quite a bit of fill-in on the overall Young Justice backstory.
“Targets” does a superb job with its villains, and it is fun for longtime comics fans to see the interplay between Red Arrow and Cheshire (in the comics, Cheshire is the mother of Red Arrow’s child). Even Sportsmaster (an old time villain based on sporting goods… seeing how a wooden baseball bat can get through Alan Scott’s particular brand of Green Lantern) seems pretty cool / formidable.
What gave me pause about “Targets”?
I am used to Clancy Brown — the em effin’ Kurgan from Highlander — as my Lex Luthor. Mark Rolston, by comparison, seems downright effeminate. I like nine things about Young Justice for every quibble like this, but to me, Lex didn’t have the appropriate follow through.
Why would someone want to watch Young Justice?
BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME.
Watch / Don’t Watch?
DID I MENTION IT’S AWESOME?
Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
Old George reignites a war against all aliens on Earth.
What was great about “The Purge”?
Nothing really great. Fair amount of enriching world-building… I can see something coming on the horizon… but not “great”-great if you grok.
What gave me pause about “The Purge”?
Logistics, mostly. I mean why do the bad guys even give the aliens they catch a choice? Why not just off them if they have no fear of the Plumbers? Early in the ep it looked like they were taking on Plumbers head-on, even.
When Ben beats the bad guy end boss, why does he power down back into sixteen-year-old human mode so that he can pontificate? Why is it not “honorable” to use his Way Big alien mode to win the fight, but it is okay to use Ultimate Spider Monkey (the sentiment behind this sentence made as much sense to me as it makes to you, and I watched the show)? Does Ben really need to soapbox in that spot?
The Ben 10 universe has some of the highest highs (when it is “on”), but the average ep at this stage is pretty hit or miss, and this one was medium at best.
Why would someone want to watch Ben 10: Ultimate Alien?
I actually adore the Ben 10 cosmology… the different incarnations of the most powerful weapon in the universe… the fact that it / they is / are in the hands of a ten-year-old (now sixteen-year-old) adolescent who isn’t actually the nicest kid in the world. There is a deep idea of redemption, and sometimes good guys get hurt or even killed. Heck, good guys kill (and on occassion, needlessly). The combination of interesting universe-building and an actually surprising level of emotional engagement (for a half-hour cartoon) make it worth tuning in every week. Considering the fact that Ben 10 was at one point one of the most desirable licenses in the US means that I am no the only one.
Watch / Don’t Watch?
I’d say watch, but mostly because if Old George is going to be a central character to this season, if you don’t watch, I fear you will have no idea what is going on.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
“Water War; Gungan Attack”
Inhabitants of Mon Calamari are on the brink of civil war; the Jedi realize they need help from a powerful and amphibious ally to drive out Separatist invaders.
What was great about “Water War” and “Gungan Attack”?
This was a full hour season premiere, with the first half being “Water World” and the second half being “Gungan Attack” … The best thing about these eps (in particular the first one) was the underwater fighting! We have seen swordfights, space dogfights, but never before a large scale underwater fight like this one.
We have a shirtless Kit Fisto, Ahsoka Tano fighting with two lightsabers, and some kind of shark bad guy who apparently doesn’t need weapons. Lots of battle, lots of fun.
What gave me pause about “Water War” and “Gungan Attack”?
You can probably tell from the DVR summary (and the name of the second episode) what the proposed resolution is… and the cavalry that comes a-comin’ is a planet full of Jar Jar Binks. I’d almost not be rescued at all.
Why would someone want to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is absolutely gorgeous. This one was a sight to behold, actually… So different, so inventive. There is nothing else on television like it. Also lightsaber fights.
Watch / Don’t Watch?
Watch / Watch / more-or-less Watch / Watch – That was pretty easy 🙂