Between Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and The Looney Tunes Show, Cartoon Network is so far two for two on their cartoon reboots. But in a further attempt to take the kid programming crown away from rival Nickelodeon, the network has gone back to the nostalgia well again, and this time they pulled out the beloved favorite, Thundercats.
Now before everyone stars rioting outside the Cartoon Network HQ, let me say that they are probably one of the most creative networks in the business and the idea of a Thundercats reboot can work in the right hands, and guess what.
One of the producers of the new series, Michael Jelenic stated during production that, “The old show felt more like a Saturday morning animated series and this feels more like a movie.” And based on what I saw from the one-hour premier this past week, that’s true.
From the first frame featuring the the main character for the series, Lion-O (who had yet to be revealed at this point), one gets the sense that there’s a definite grand scope at play. The mysterious figure looking to help those less fortunate than him, that’s classic story telling, and it seems like it’s being handled in a mature way. Characters, despite being man-cats, have a human quality to them. They feel relatable, and their world feels rich and full of life.
The most similarities can be found with Avatar: The Last Airbender. The style, the dialogue, and the story-telling are all very similar to the hit Nickelodeon anime series. Perhaps the one thing this series has that Avatar doesn’t is backstory. When Avatar begins, we are already thrust into a world at war where evil has gained control. However in Thundercats, the one-hour pilot is spent showing how the world gets to what it will be for the rest of the series.
Beyond Lion-O, the series also boasts a strong supporting cast of characters. Tygra feel like he’s going to be the lovable, hot-headed one of the bunch that could be easily manipulated if his motivation is for the good of his people. Cheetara is a clearly strong, and what will hopefully be a well-rounded heroine. And Snarf is cute and lovable, and also believable as an eccentric pet that will likely get himself into trouble more than once as the series progresses.
Basically what I’m saying is that I liked what I saw from the series premiere, and will be continuing with the show for the foreseeable future. Thundercats seems to fit right in with the recent crop of children’s programming that works for adults, just like Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Looney Tunes Show before it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find my Sword of Omens before I walk outside again…
To listen to the latest episode of Merrill’s TV Podcast, The Idiot Boxers with Kevin Carr, head over to Fat Guys at the Movies.