The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ahab Vs the Sarlacc

Actually, this is a review of the third episode of "ThunderCats." My negative review of the pilot garnered a lot of attention. Why some kind soul even went as far as to pretend to be me and post a link on 4chan to guarantee I got trolled. I wasn't sure if I was going to continue watching after the premiere, but I figured it couldn't hurt.

I went into this episode with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I didn't love it, but it went over better with me. I suppose one could say I only enjoyed it because of the low expectations, but I don't believe that. I went into "Transformers Dark of the Moon" with the lowest expectations in the world, and it was even worse than I expected.

Pilots are hard to do. They're a difficult balancing act between introducing an entire cast of characters, an entire world, and setting up the inciting incident of a series. Some shows are lucky enough to have great pilots ("Gargoyles," "Batman the Animated Series," "Superman the Animated Series," "Young Justice," and most Disney Afternoon shows), and some aren't but turn out to be great anyway ("Beast Wars," "Transformers Animated," "Avatar the Last Airbender," "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Babylon 5.") So I respect that it's a difficult balancing act. But don't expect me to backtrack on my review of the pilot anytime soon.

This particular episode was a gigantic homage to Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." I can say homage as opposed to "rip off" because it so clearly acknowledges the source, and it does so in a pretty fun way. I don't need to summarize the plot, you pretty much know what happens if you are the slightest bit literate. And if you don't, shame on you, go read a book.

This episode was about Lion-O learning not to let himself be consumed by a desire for vengeance. When the episode opens, he is so single-minded and obsessed with journeying to Mumm-Ra's lair to take vengeance that he doesn't care if anyone around him, even kids, live or die. Then he met a crew of anthropomorphic fish (it's better than it sounds) sailing on a sand sea, led by our Captain Ahab by the name of Koinelius. Lion-O and his friends hitch a ride and witness the story of "Moby Dick" unfolding before their eyes, and Koinelius is killed. While Lion-O doesn't give up his desire for vengeance, he does learn to prioritize.

It's a cliche also, but it was just one cliche, and better executed than the pilot which was a cornucopia of cliches. But, like I said, pilots are hard, and at least this time we got to a better sense of who these characters are, and what to expect as the series continues.

I was wrong about Jaga being dead, although he might be now, since Mumm-Ra imprisoned him in a lantern so that he could learn the location of the Book of Omens, which means he and our protagonists might be running into each other sooner than we think.

While this episode offered nothing new, it was visually stunning. So was the pilot, for that matter. While I don't think I'd go out of my way to recommend this show to anybody, it was an improvement, and I hope it stays an upward trend. I'll give this episode a solid B.

I loved how this episode's B-plot was about a fish who wanted to eat children. Someone's been reading Jonathan Swift.

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