Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Thoughts 22

So this Thanksgiving brought some great food and some good toons. That's right, cartoons. Now, most people would be excited about the football games. Not me.

It was sneak peek week for the newest versions of both G.I. Joe and Transformers. They debuted on the joint venture cable channel between Hasbro and Discovery Networks called The Hub. Both were supposed to have been ready for the channel's relaunch (it was previously Discovery Kids) back in October, but were pushed back to Thanksgiving weekend.

As a fan of both properties you would think that I would be excited about this. I am, to some extent. I am very wary of getting too involved in these series though. More on that later, first let's take a brief look at each with minor spoilers.

First let's look at G. I. Joe: Renegades:

The title gives some clue as to the storyline right off the bat. Well, we join red-headed Army Intelligence officer Lt. O'Hara as she gathers various members of the military to escort her during an inspection of a Cobra Industries plant outside of Springfield. It turns out that she is not there to inspect with any authority at all and with only gut instinct telling her Cobra is up to no good [OK they are] means to infiltrate the plant and obtain proof of the evil nasty things Cobra is doing there. So these poor guys are dragged unwillingly into her promotion seeking move to impress her boss General Abernathy. Of course, things go badly when Cobra's personal security force try to stop them and open fire. In no short order, news of their "assault" is passed on to the military and the Joes are labeled as terrorists. It doesn't help that in the effort to get evidence to exonerate them they not only destroy the Cobra plant, but unleash a deadly Bio-weapon. Surprisingly one of the characters dies in the explosion that lays waste to the plant [something I wished would have happened to this character in the movie]. It was a bit surprising even if done off-screen. Needless to say, the Joes return to destroy the bio-weapon monster and sacrifice the chance to clear themselves by doing so. They vow to do whatever it takes to take down Cobra, thus setting up the very "A-Team" like premise for the show.

I liked the way the writer's came up with a new explanation for the Joes' code names, now they are just nicknames they call each other. A logical and realistic explanation. Aside from Scarlet, Duke, Roadblock, Tunnel Rat, Ripcord and Snake Eyes, Flint and Lady Jaye show up. Flint is now the "Col. Dekker" to the Renegades "A-Team". Showing up on the other side is the Baroness and Dr. Mindbender with mention of Destro and Cobra Commander shows up at the end. The animation was very much that "realistic" anime inspired and not bad. Snake Eyes kicks ass, of course.

I'm not too confident in Hasbro's commitment to the show. With Pursuit of Cobra figures still doing well and there's no news of a toy line supporting the show or an IDW comic even. Still the show doesn't officially begin until next year so there might be new developments by the New York Toy Fair in February.

Also on the Hub was Transformers: Prime. A CGI series:

Again focusing on a small group of heroes, this time the Autobots and their defense of Earth against the Decepticons. Drawing from Animated, the live action movies and the War For Cybertron video game for inspiration. The two episodes shown introduced the last Autobots (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Bulkhead, Arcee and Cliffjumper) hiding their existance from the world as they remain on Earth to link up with any refugee Autobots and defend it against Starscream who rules the Decepticons since Megatron left three years earlier. After Cliffjumper is killed [again with a character's early death?] Arcee is spotted by several human teens who become wrapped up in the robots' war. Megatron has returned to harness the power of the Blood of Unicron or Dark Energon. Showing off it's power he resurrects Cliff as a feral berserker only to kill him a second time [C'mon kids are watching!]

Again, Hasbro's backing of this series is dubious. With the Generations/Universe/Reveal the Shield line and another Transformers live action movie coming this summer are they going to be able to do anything with this version toy wise? Again, I have to say Toy Fair holds the answer. It will be very interesting year there.

And over on Cartoon Network was Young Justice:

A great revamp of the Teen Titans concept. We get introduced to Robin, Speedy, Aqualad, and Kid Flash as they finally get a tour of the Justice League's HQ. Speedy walks off because the JL won't let them in. The others stick around as the JL gets word of a fire at Cadmus Labs, but a volcano eruption takes precedence. Robin hacks the JL computer and finds out that the League is suspicious of Cadmus. The teens realize that they have not been barred from going to Cadmus Labs to help and to poke around. They find out Cadmus is cloning biological weapons and among them is Project Kr, Superboy. Cadmus responds to their discovery and though they escape with the clone the lab is destroyed. The League is not happy, but impressed with their resolve. So they convert their old HQ (Happy Harbor) to serve as a base for the young heroes training overseen by Black Canary and Red Tornado. They will run missions that the League cannot take because of political or other complications.

I already like the animation and the tone of this series. It seems that they will, like JL/JLU, go into DC Universe lore. I mean, to see Guardian and Doublex as part of Cadmus in the first episode was cool. It also seems that they will forge their own way too as the "Big Bad" is the mysterious group known only as "the Light". The series starts in earnest this January.

So, that was a quite a lot of toons to watch this weekend. If you want to see them they will be re-aired in January. All except the Transformers series, which airs the first five part mini-series this week. The Hub will be running a new episode each night (along with all the previous ones right before it).

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