Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sketched TV: Teen Titans Go!

Get out your sandwiches and pie, we're reviewing Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go follows the Teen Titans – Raven, Beast Boy, Starfire, Cyborg and Robin – as they fight bad guys, go on silly adventures, and learn about friendship.

No, it's not Teen Titans. Yes, it IS actually good, as long as you don't expect it to be exactly like Teen Titans

It's hard to compare Teen Titans Go to Teen Titans because Teen Titans was such a magical show. Amazing designs and style, great animation, phenomenal voices, and awesome action with deep and intricate storylines: TT had it all. And, every once in a while, a musical episode. This is a much younger and sillier TT cartoon. This is your Batman: Brave and the Bold (or even Batman '66) to your Batman: TAS. This is your Transformers: Rescue Bots to your Transformers Prime.  There's no way TTG could replace the original, and it's not trying to. It's just a funner, sillier version for a younger audience.  And maybe that's not your thing, maybe you prefer more action-y shows – that's ok. But here are a few reasons to take a look at it anyway.

All the original voice actors of the main cast are back, and they're all still great. Cyborg's still Cyborg, Raven is still Raven, etc. It's hard to say that the voice acting is as good as the original because TT had a much more dramatic script with more opportunities for emotional acting. Not to say this is one is lacking. It's just sillier and, well, there's more mugging to the camera. 

But all your favorite characters are here! If you want those heroes to be super-serious, brooding drama all the time, or if can open yourself up to letting these characters have some fun, will determine whether or not you'll like the new show. (And if you think the original TT cartoon was super serious all the time, remember that there was an episode in which Beast Boy fought sentient Soy so he could get a moped to impress the ladies. Yeah, that happened.) All the characters are incredibly silly and it's one of the things I absolutely love about it. Robin gets caught dancing in a car while waiting. Raven can't get enough of their version of My Little Pony. Beast Boy sings about pie. Cyborg gets a puppy hand! Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like, and OF COURSE it can range anywhere from cute to angry.

The story lines are much sillier as well. Gone are the days of Robin brooding about Slade every other episode. In one short, Raven's dad (who was a major villain in season 4 of the original) comes to visit and acts like an over-protective father in a sitcom who wants her to be more demonic. And then there's the episode where they go on a quest to gather four parts to create the most delicious sandwich in the world. And then there's the episodes in which Robin has to earn his driver's license… again (for crashing the Batmobile, of course). They are pretty incredible, and this is coming from a guy who hated the musical episodes of the original series. Come to think of it, I hope they do bring back Slade. It would be fitting to see him constantly playing pranks on Robin, who in turn will have no choice but to shout Slade’s name every five seconds.

The art style with the big heads and simplified deigns looks at first to be a bit too kiddy. That is, until you realize that the art director is Dan Hipp. Dan Hipp, who, you may have heard, has created marvelous mash-up illustrations of Mario and Batman and Star Wars and Adventure Time, which are gorgeous and silly and wonderful adventure landscapes to gawk at. His style  is evident throughout the entire show. It's super pretty to look at, dang it! And the animation is still very good. The fight scenes, though no longer the main focus, are still interestingly choreographed. I especially like Beast Boy, who they always find useful and inventive ways to use and transform. 

It might not be for anyone, and you might want to rewatch all of the original Teen Titans episodes, and I am sad that they canceled two great adventure shows in favor of a comedy show because they thought that would do better with kids (it probably will) AND I wish they had picked one of the great original DC shorts instead of retooling something they already had (COUGH COUGH SUPER BEST FRIENDS FOREVER COUGH), buuuuuuuut getting over all that and just looking at the show itself, I can tell you without a doubt it is a really fun, well-made show and you should give it a try.

  • THE GOOD: Funny, light-hearted, designs by Dan Hipp, original voice actors, characters given a sillier take, cute stories, good animation.

  • THE BAD: It's not Teen Titans, it may be too cutesy and silly for the hardcore fans.

  • THE VERDICT: $$$$ Check it out! I've seen the first two episodes and they're both incredibly fun. You should at least give it a chance for a couple of episodes. 

  • SHOWS LIKE IT: Teen Titans, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Powerpuff Girls, Transformers: Rescue Bots

  • ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Raven tells the gang about a mystical sandwich that is the tastiest in the galaxy, and gives each team member different parts to track down so they can make the perfect BLT. Once they're gone, she puts MLP on the big screen and brings out her ponies to play with. It. Is. Adorbs. 

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