REVIEW: TEEN TITANS GO! – SEASON 1-4

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Scott Menville (Full House)
Hynden Walch (Justice League War)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Greg Cipes (Anger Management)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Ashley Johnson (Avengers Assemble)
Freddy Rodriguez (Planet Terror)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Weird Al Yankovic (Halloween II)

“Haters going Hate”(Starfire). The line said by Starfire in the episode Dog Hand, which sets up the general feeling amongst the viewers who have declared this show an abomination, due to not following the original’s compelling story and characters we cared about. Like many, I loved the original Teen Titans, which pretty much was up there with series like Static Shock, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Batman TAS. The original Teen Titans will forever be a part of our childhood, and we as fans will go out in all lengths to defend the honor of the show, but many are missing the point to Teen Titans Go. In doing so, they are missing what seems to be a promising comedic spin on our Titans.Let’s start by stating that this revival of Teen Titans was never meant to follow or be like the original series. Those who thought otherwise did not read up enough on the show’s premise and details. Teen Titans Go takes our Titans and puts them in a skit. Teen Titans Go is a comedic take on the daily lives of our heroes, and has taken a break from all the serious action and storytelling that we all loved in the original. The mistake that fans do is that they take the show too serious and continue to compare it to the original, thus eliminating any chance for the show to strive. Once the public separates the original from the new, then the show’s genius will take off.
Now, you’re probably saying that there is nothing special or great about the show. It’s not funny or the animation is too grade school. That is all fair, perhaps the show is not your cup of tea, but here are some reasons why the show does excel. First reason; believe it or not, this show does a great job by paying tribute to its old counterpart. The episode Pie Bros highlights a familiar villain known as Mother Mae eye, which the old lady uses her customers as the secret ingredient to her delicious pies. Many Teen Titans Go episodes highlight concepts and villains that were present in the original, and put them into a comedic light. Raven’s daddy coming to visit, Jynx hanging out with Raven and Starfire or Speedy challenging Robin for Starfire’s love are but many episodes in which there are hints of our beloved series, but you have to have an open mind to see the hints to the original.
The argument of it being way too kiddy can be true at times, but many miss the wit that the show presents in subtle moments. The episode La Larva de Amor pokes fun at milk mustaches. At one point we have Cyborg look like Mr. T. Raven sports the Gandalf look from the LOR, and Beast boy does his Chewbacca impression. In the episode Tower Power, Cyborg references to VHS, Different Strokes, and The Pointer Sisters. Not to mention that stereotype on Mexicans in the episode La Larva de Armor. These jokes and pokes would fly over a child’s head. Teen Titans go has a little fun for all ages.Lastly, the characters on this show make it all worthwhile. The original voice cast is here and that authenticates the shows respect for the original. Robin is portrayed as being a control freak and has moments of rage and insecurities, sounds familiar. Raven is still emo and has her sarcastic wit that feels like Raven of old. Cyborg and Beast boy are still pals, and they have their fun. Starfire is still innocent at times and loves her Silky. You see, the Titans are still there, but they have transformed into Toon versions, and are put into a new world where doing laundry can be a great evil foe.Everyone has their tastes and by no means is this show perfect. However, the mistake is that going into a premiere with the expectations of a show being just like the original will set you up for disappointment. It’s happen to a lot of revivals that are good, but are ripped because it’s not the original. Teen Titans Go takes a step back from the original and focuses on lighter and wittier moments that make this show hilarious at times. The original will forever be superior, but this new take has its brilliance, you just need to let go for a moment and let the show take its course. Defiantly the show is worth a look or two.

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REVIEW: TEEN TITANS – SEASON 1-5

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Scott Menville (Full House)
Hynden Walch (Justice League War)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Greg Cipes (Anger Management)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Tom Kenny (Superhero Squad)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Tracey Walter (Conan The Destroyer)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dave Coulier (Full House)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass 2)
Ashley Johnson (Dollhouse)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Henry Rollins (Wrong Turn 2)
James Hong (BLade Runner)
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh (Cosby)
Freddy Rodriguez (Ugly Betty)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Jason Marsden (Return to The Batcave)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Judge Reinhold (Ruthless People)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander II)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)

Teen Titans centers around the five main members of the superhero team: Robin (Scott Menville), the intelligent, capable leader of the Teen Titans; Starfire (Hynden Walch), a quirky, curious alien princess from the planet Tamaran; Cyborg (Khary Payton), a half-human/half-robot who is known for his strength and technological prowess; Raven (Tara Strong), a stoic girl from the parallel world Azarath, who draws upon dark energy and psionic abilities; and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), a ditzy, good-natured joker who can transform into various animals. They are situated in Titans Tower, a large T-shaped structure featuring living quarters as well as a command center and variety of training facilities, on an island just offshore from the fictional West Coast city of Jump City.

The team deals with all manner of criminal activity and threats to the city, while dealing with their own struggles with adolescence, their mutual friendships, and their limitations. Slade, their main enemy, is a newly designed version of the DC villain Deathstroke. The team encounters several allies throughout the series; including Aqualad in the first season; Terra in the second season (who is integral to that season’s story arc), as well as Speedy, Hotspot, and Wildebeest; Bumblebee and Más y Menos in the third season (who join Aqualad, Speedy and bumblebee to form ‘Titans East’), and numerous other heroes adapted from the DC universe in the fifth season to aid in the battle against the Brotherhood of Evil.

I admit I wasn’t sure what to expect from Teen Titans. The show is nothing like the Teen Titans comic books, which it is based on. It ended up being more of a kids show. The characters are quite different than their comic book counterparts.


The animation is definitely inspired by Anime. It is borrowing elements from several children’s anime. There is a emphasis on exaggerated character facial expressions, that definitely add to the charm of the show. The show isn’t shy to admit its cultural inspirations by enlisting the Japanese pop band Puffy AmiYumi to perform the catchy theme song.
Teen Titans isn’t for everyone. Overall, I quite enjoy the show. It is worth giving it a try.

REVIEW: DC SUPER HEROES: THE FILMATION ADVENTURES

 

CAST (VOICES)

Bud Collyer (Flesicher Superman)
Marvin Miller (The Invisibile Boy)
Ted Knight (The Love Boat)

In 1967, the Filmation-produced Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure featured short animated segments with additional DC characters. The Superman and Aquaman segments have previously been released on DVD, and the rest are now available as the two-disc set, DC Super-Heroes: The Filmation Adventures.
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These discs feature three seven-minute episodes each focusing on:

The Atom
The Flash
Green Lantern
Hawkman
The Justice League of America (made up of the above heroes, plus Superman)
Teen Titans (Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, and Aqualad)

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I’ve never seen these before (I grew up on Super Friends), and it’s hard to not compare them to the Bruce Timm-designed Justice League cartoons, which benefit from 30-odd years of advances in animation techniques (and technology) and storytelling — not to mention a decent budget. The stories are simplistic, the villains’ motivations even more so; lots of footage is re-used, and the heroes are flat. But the action tends to be wild and crazy, in keeping with the comics of the time.
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In fact, a lot of the aspects that stand out when viewing these today are true to the source material. This was deep into the Silver Age at DC, and wild and crazy sci-fi adventure hadn’t yet given way to the more street-level storytelling of the Bronze Age. The excessive narration, while annoying at first, recalls the heavy use of narrative captions to point out exactly what’s going on — how the Flash can run across water, for instance, or reminding us of the name of Hawkman’s mascot Screel (I’m sure I spelled that wrong) even when he calls the bird by name. It also gives the features the feel of a radio play with accompanying visuals.

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Almost every villain is an alien trying to invade the Earth. There’s the occasional mad scientist or mutated creature, and in two of the Green Lantern stories, an alien trying to invade Oa. Only one villain from the comics makes the cut: Evil Star, who appears in one of the Green Lantern shorts. The villains are all one-dimensional, but they’re at least differently one-dimensional. They range from pranksters to military commanders (even the ones shaped like beetles) to mustache-twirling megalomaniacs.

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As far as the video quality is concerned, the shows themselves have been remarkably well-preserved or restored. The opening sequences have fared less well, with plenty of scratches and the occasional problem with the sound. The Flash stars in three segments, and appears in the three Justice League episodes. His civilian ID as Barry Allen is mentioned, but his job as a police scientist is only used as set dressing. (The Atom sequences make the best use of a character’s civilian ID.) Meanwhile, Kid Flash appears in two of the Flash episodes, and the three Teen Titans segments. Wally appears out of costume just once, and the fact that he is Barry’s nephew is not mentioned.
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The Flash’s costume is simplified somewhat for ease of animation, with a plain belt instead of a lightning zigzag, and yellow gloves instead of lightning cuffs around the wrists. (Though the wings on his cowl are clearly wings, not lightning bolts as they appear in Justice League.) Less explicable is the change to Kid Flash’s costume. It’s fairly simple: they reversed the yellow and red. But it’s hard to imagine why. The Flash episodes feature a wide range of uses for super-speed. He and Kid Flash not only run fast, but vibrate through walls, create vacuums, launch themselves into the sky like helicopters, run up the sides of buildings and across oceans, clear rubble and tie things up at super-speed. In doing so, they fight a mutated giant ant (created by radiation, of course!), a mad scientist with what we’d now call a mecha suit (and a number of autonomous robots), and an alien speedster who manages to keep one step ahead of them.

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The Justice League of America segments all involve alien invasions of one sort or another, and all pair up the Flash with the Atom. Despite creative use of his powers in his solo stories, the Flash doesn’t do much more than carry the Atom around in the team-ups. Maybe the cast is too big for the seven-minute length. Kid Flash fares better in the Teen Titans episodes, particularly in “Operation Rescue,” in which he breaks his teammates out of a cell, helps Wonder Girl trip a group of attackers with her lasso, and single-handedly protects the T-Copter during takeoff.
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While the stories are played straight, the villains and situations are also way over the top, making for a great deal of unintentional humor. It would probably be better to watch an episode or two a day, rather than all in one weekend like I did. Still, as I worked my way through the set, there was a sense that anything could happen in the next episode. As groan-inducing as the dialog can be, or the ridiculous situations, it’s hard to deny the fact that these are fun.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (Super hero Squad)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Corey Burton (Critters)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Vyvan Pham (Generator Rex)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Mikey Kelley (TMNT)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Will Wheaton (Powers)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Jeff Bennett (James Bond Jr.)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies)
Armin Shimmerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers II)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
James Remar (Flashforward)
Jeffrey Combs (Gothman)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
William Katt (Carrie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam West (BAtman 60s)
Julie Newmar (Batman 60s)
Dana Delany (Body of Proof)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and Thje X-Men)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Revels)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

There’s a gloriously meta moment in the back half of this season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold where the show’s producers are raked over the coals at Comic-Con. One of the twentysomethings in the crowd grouses and groans about how the Caped Crusader in the cartoon isn’t his Batman, and…well, he’s not wrong. DC’s comics anymore are joylessly grim and gritty…22 monthly pages of misery and scowling and torture and dismemberment and death and high collars and way too much crosshatching. Batman: The Brave and the Bold, meanwhile, is defined by its vivid colors and clean, thick linework. It’s a series whose boundless imagination and thirst for high adventure make you feel like a six year old again, all wide-eyed and grinning ear to ear.


You know all about The Dark Knight’s war on crime, and in The Brave and the Bold , he’ll duke it out against any badnik, anywhere. He doesn’t go it alone, either, with every episode pairing Batman up with at least one other DC superhero. Heck, to keep it interesting, The Brave and the Bold shies away from the obvious choices like Superman and Wonder Woman. Instead, you get more interesting team-ups like Blue Beetle (more than one, even!), Elongated Man, Wildcat, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, and B’wana Beast.
Other animated incarnations of Batman have been rooted in something close enough to reality. Sure, you might have androids and the occasional Man-Bat, but they tried to veer away from anything too fantastic. The Brave and tbe Bold has free reign to do just about whatever it wants. One week, maybe you’ll get an adventure in the far-flung reaches of space with a bunch of blobby alien amoebas who mistake Batman for Blue Beetle’s sidekick. The next might offer up Tolkien-esque high fantasy with dragons and dark sorcery. Later on, Aquaman and The Atom could play Fantastic Voyage inside Batman’s bloodstream, all while the Caped Crusader is swimming around in a thirty-story walking pile of toxic waste. He could be in a Western or a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a capes-and-cowls musical or even investigate a series of grisly something-or-anothers alongside Sherlock Holmes in Victorian England.

Batman has markedly different relationships with every one of those masked heroes. There’s the gadget geekery with an earlier incarnation of the Blue Beetle. With the younger, greener-but-still-blue Beetle, Batman takes on more of a mentor role.

More of a stern paternal figure for Plastic Man, and a rival for Green Arrow. Sometime it might not even be the most pleasant dynamic, such as a decidedly adult Robin who doesn’t feel like he can fully step outside the long shadow that Batman casts.

There are some really unique takes on iconic (and not so iconic!) DC superheroes here, and far and away the standout is Aquaman. This barrel-chested, adventure-loving braggart is my favorite incarnation of the king of the seven seas, and if Aquaman ever scores a cartoon of his own, I hope he looks and acts a lot like this. Oh, and The Brave and the Bold does a spectacular job mining DC’s longboxes for villains too, and along with some of the familiar favorites, you get a chance to boo and hiss at the likes of Kanjar Ro, The Sportsmaster, Kite Man, Gentleman Ghost, Chemo, Calendar ManKing, Crazy Quilt, and Shrapnel. The Brave and the Bold delivers its own versions of Toyman, Vandal Savage, and Libra while it’s at it, the latter of whom has the closest thing to a season arc that the series inches towards.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is every bit as fun and thrilling as you’d expect from a series where every episode’s title ends with an exclamation point. Each installment is fat-packed with action, and the series has a knack for piling it on in ways I never saw coming. Even with as imaginative and off-the-walls as The Brave and the Bold can get, it still sticks to its own internal logic, so the numerous twists, turns, and surprises are all very much earned.

The majority of the episodes have a cold open not related to the remainder of the episode. Despite its episodic nature, if you’re expecting a big storyline in these 26 episodes, you’re going to be pretty disappointed as the extent of an overarching story in the season is the occasional villain that appears more than once, like Starro, but that’s really the only connecting bridge between episodes.

Season 2 contains one of my favorite episodes of not only this particular season, but probably in the entire series, “Chill of the Night!”, which goes back to Batman’s origins as Bruce Wayne learns more about the man who murdered his parents, turning him into the crime-fighter he would become, it’s one of the most well known origin stories in media, ever, but it’s done so well here. Another reason I love this episode is my blinding nostalgia for the voice cast.

The original 1960’s Batman, Adam West, guest stars as Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne, while Julie Newmar, who starred opposite of West as Catwoman from the original Batman TV show, plays Batman’s mother, Martha Wayne. My favorite Batman of all time, theatrical or not, Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and various other series/movies/games, voices the Phantom Stranger. Lastly, the baddie of the episode, The Spectre, is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill, the definitive voice of the Joker.

The Episodes in season 3 are wildly imaginative; so much so that purists will probably be put off, at least initially. They range from “Night of the Batmen”, where batman is incapacitated and it is up to Aquaman, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel, and Plastic Man to don the cowl, and keep gotham safe. As weird as that may sound, this episode is pure fun, and a joy to watch. Other stand outs are the never before seen in the states “The Mask of Matches Malone”, “Shadow of the Bat”, “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”, and “Powerless”.

Special mention has to be made of the final episode of the series however, “Mitefall”. In this meta episode, Batmite does a fantastic job breaking down why the series is ending, and the disconnect of the so-called “purists”, whose baseless, closed minded, ignorance eventually doomed this excellent series.

When all is said and done, we received three outstanding, and criminally underrated, seasons and it is a joy to see.

REVIEW: THE ADVENTURES OF AQUAMAN

CAST (VOICES)

Marvin Miller (Perry Mason)
Jerry Dexter (Super Friends)
Diana Maddox (The Super 6)

Arthur Curry (aka Aquaman) has been around a long time, having debuted in More Fun Comics in 1941 and off-and-on starring in his own comic book. And, despite the longevity and near-but-not-quite iconic stature, there are busloads of people who just aren’t feeling Aquaman. And I guess I can see where they’re coming from. He’s a bit hard to pigeonhole, this outsider, as he’s forever tiptoeing the line of superhero and undersea sovereign. Priorities are a definite issue. With much cooler capes like Batman, Superman, the Flash, and Green Lantern doing their thing, Aquaman as a superhero pales in comparison, right? I mean, he’s a guy whose super powers are chit-chatting with fish, breathing underwater, and swimming really fast. And these talents don’t really translate well when he ventures to shore. Not to mention, remove him from his watery environs for longer than an hour, and he croaks.This Series Returns us to a time when Aquaman was perceived as clean-cut, straight-laced, and non-controversial.  The Aquaman cartoons shy from typical superhero fare, certain limitations coming with having the ocean as your workplace. No cops and robbers as we know it. No familiar cityscapes. The rules are different. And, yet, there’s evidently more villainy in the waters than one would assume. Assisting Aquaman (and sometimes hindering him) in his policing of the Seven Seas and safeguarding the domed city of Atlantis are Aqualad (a clear sidekick ripoff of Robin) and the lovely Mera, whom I don’t think is Aquaman’s wife here. Aquaman doesn’t really have a standout cast of supervillains on his rolodex, perhaps another reason why he’s not more popular. Black Manta, his most vaunted superfoe, makes two appearances (“Menace of the Black Manta” and “The Silver Sphere”).The Sea King is equally busy with other recurring nasties the Mer-Queen Vassa, the Fisherman, and the Brain. Aquaman also tackles a bevy of vile deep sea monsters or creatures and dastardly space aliens, one race of whom merely wanted to shrink and collect ocean life samples, but they should never have taken Tusky. And, sometimes, Aquaman’s adventures enter into the realm of the just plain weird. “War of the Water Worlds,” for one – in which Aquaman stumbles onto another water world lying beneath the ocean – is memorable for the grotesque fishes and monsters.
All 36 shorts are here in all their 7 minute glory, and they look fabulous on my screen. These Aquaman cartoons didn’t try to change the world or champion a cause or go overboard with plot or character development. At seven minutes long, is you crazy? Not much chance here for intricate world shaking stuff. Instead, these episodes are ideal for the kiddies and their minuscule attention span.The undersea world is conveyed in a wash of brilliant colors, lending it a truly mysterious and otherworldly feel. And I remember how I keenly marveled at the grace with which Aquaman and company navigated thru the deeps. For late ’60s animation, Filmation did excellent work, with special note to the characters’ smooth movements.