Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teen Titans Go! Impressions

I am a big fan of the previous Teen Titans cartoon series that aired on Cartoon Network. It was a great mixing of comedy and seriousness that I thoroughly enjoyed. When I heard a new Titans series was being created, I was genuinely excited by the idea, despite the fact that it would be a comedy spin-off. I genuinely believe that a more comedy focused version of Teen Titans is perfectly feasible. So with an open mind, I have watched the first six episodes of Teen Titans Go! My reaction to the show, however, was not something I even considered could happen.

I should explain.

As I mentioned, Teen Titans Go! is a direct spin-off of the previous Teen Titans and reuses several elements. All the character designs are the same, which I feel were handled correctly. Given that this is a comedy, I feel the art style works really well. The character designs remind me a lot of Naruto Spin-Off: Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals. Each character is drawn with proportions that are less realistic than their previous cartoon iteration. Along with the bright and simplistic design of the world around them, I think the visuals complement the intended tone of the show.

In addition to the character designs, the voice cast from the previous series all return to reprise their roles in Teen Titans Go! The entire cast have done an amazing job performing their roles again and really show off the potential for this show. It's not easy to prevent myself from comparing Teen Titans Go! to Teen Titans. It's obvious that the show is riding on nostalgia while trying to create something that is both fresh yet familiar. Overall, the voice acting and art direction do a great job of finding a balance between the two. There's just one little problem:

The writing is absolutely atrocious.

I'm just going to cut to the chase; I hate this show. I hate the rehashed story lines, the cliché punch lines, the nonsensical endings, and the absolutely terrible male characters. The “trying to get the pizza guy to arrive late so you can score free pizza” storyline? This show has that. The overused “good guy doesn’t know he’s helping the bad guy” storyline? This show has that too. The “pet gets lost and goes on a wacky adventure” storyline? Yes, this show has that as well. Memes? It’s bad enough when an internet video uses them. A Benny Hill reference? F**k you. Yes, I actually yelled “f**k you” at the screen when I saw them scrape from the bottom of the barrel of overused jokes. I’m honestly surprised no one has said “Say ‘hello’ to my little friend!” yet.

Clip from "Driver's Ed." Easily the worst episode so far.
What’s really baffling about this show’s writing so far is how little it has to do with them being superheroes. Very few of the stories focus on the Titans fighting evil. In some cases, the bad guys are nonexistent. You would think a show about superheroes would feature said superheroes doing superhero things. Instead, most of the episodes feature plots that could be about any group of people. It’s a complete waste of potential.

Easily the part of the show that angered me the most are the character traits of the Titans, specifically the males. Raven and Starfire are pretty much unchanged in this iteration and their characters, for the most part, work. Robin, however, is an oblivious, narcissistic, bossy idiot of a leader. He is nothing but annoying and has little awareness of his wrong doings. Easily, he is the worst character of the show. On top of that, Cyborg and Beast Boy are a pair of annoying friends who can be as loud and annoying as well as downright mean.

And that’s ultimately my biggest problem with this show. Some of the actions of these so-called heroes really just rub me the wrong way. It’s one thing to make jokes through misfortune. Hell, there are plenty of Cartoon Network shows past and present I feel do this well. In this show, it feels like the Titans are just bullying each other. Considering Cartoon Network has been pushing their Stop Bullying campaign these days, it’s really uncomfortable to see Starfire say that it’s fun to laugh at other’s misfortune followed by an ad for The Bully Effect. It doesn’t help that these situations rarely have a punch line or even get resolved during the episode. It’s not funny. It’s just awkward.

Personally, I still believe that a more comedy focused version of Teen Titans is possible. That said, in its current version, Teen Titans Go! is not a show I can support. While the show certainly can get better in the future, there’s no point in me continuing to watch the show at this time. It is simply not worth the headaches.

Clip from "Laundry Day." Personally, I feel this is the best episode so far.





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