The other day, whilst in a converation with another grown up person I inadvertly blurted out the phrase “Oh man! I forgot to record Thundercats” without a hint of irony. I am 33 years old.
Of course, this was all my daughters fault.
A couple weeks ago a new trailer started appearing on the Cartoon Network in heavy rotation. It was for a new Thundercats cartoon, a reboot of the original 80’s/90’s toy pimping phenomenon. I was partial to a bit of Thundercats tom-foolery when I was (much) younger and the interest my daughter showed in this new series was all the excuse I needed to tag along and check it out.
The thing is, so far… it’s good. Pretty good in fact. Again, I am 33 years old.
Thundercats circa 2011 takes the story back to the beginning, Lion-O is waiting to be king but is stuck in the shadow of his adopted brother Tygra. Their father Claudus (in a nice touch voiced by original ‘Lion-O’ Larry Kenney) also feels that his bloodline son is too distracted by myths of technology to be a suitable ruler. Meanwhile an ongoing war with the Lizards escalates into a full blown invasion of Thundera with repercussions that set events in motion for the rest of the series. (I honestly cannot believe I am writing this with a straight face).
What’s immediately striking about this show is the new approach taken by the production team. Gone are the brightly coloured visuals and the standard ‘Saturday Morning’ goodies vs baddies storylines. Instead we have story arcs, characters with flaws (as much as you can have in a kids cartoon) and some pretty kick arse action sequences. The design is darker, the tone is more cinematic and the animation (with its anime-style flourishes) for the most part is excellent.
Despite these sweeping changes there’s a clear reverence for the source material. The producers have expanded on what originally worked and junked anything that wasn’t necessary. And yes, Snarf is present but here he is thankfully silent immediately making him more likeable in the process.
There’s no more ‘I learned something today’ moments at the end of each episode either. By the end of the two-part season opener we’ve had a couple of plot twists (one I guessed, the other I genuinely didn’t see coming) and the shit has pretty much hit the fan for the good guys. Kids cartoons have certainly come along since I was the target audience.
So, two episodes in and at 33 years old (armed with a healthy dose of nostalgia) I am sold enough to stick with it for a bit. My daughter sadly not so much.
At least one of us can be grown up about these things.
I should have updated this post some time ago as I ended up giving up on this after only five more episodes. After a promising opening two-parter the series immediately offered a particularly lousy episode where Lion-O acted like a dick and nearly got everyone killed. In fact, the repeated character inconsistencies from one episode to the next were constantly annoying. From there it just kept getting worse. Another episode actually culminated in a montage sequence entirely made up of moments from that very same episode resulting in an unintentional spoof of montage sequences. It’s my own fault for expecting something along the lines of the excellent Avatar : The Last Airbender (not the shitty film, I mean the far superior animated series), plus the fact that I am 34 and clearly too old to be thinking about stuff like this. Shame on me.