Tag Archives: pilot

On Television: Thundercats (2011 Series)

Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! Thundercats, Hooooo!

This evening, the new prequel series of ‘Thundercats’ premiered on Cartoon Network, and I cannot lie that I was super excited to watch (I am a sucker for nostalgia). Having been born in the ’80s, ‘Thundercats’ was a staple of my cartoon watching childhood, so I was beyond ecstatic to see this reboot. But I must say that having seen the old cartoon almost became a detriment while watching the new series’ pilot episode.

I knew when they announced the new series that they wanted to make it a bit more serious and currently, along the same veins of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ (Cartoon Network) or ‘The Last Airbender’ (Nickelodeon), but after watching the premiere, I was surprised at how different the reboot was tonally and contextually to the original series. Aside from the animation style and character appearance, the characterization/personality of some of the characters was very strange and numerous things seemed out of continuity with the old show. For instance, Tygra, who always seemed to be  cerebral and level-headed in the old series, was somewhat of a cocky jerk in this new show, criticizing and chiding Lion-O constantly. Also, if I remember correctly, Wilycat and Wilykit were members of Thundera’s noble families in the original series, which I think was explained in the 1985 pilot episode, but in this, they are mischievous, thieving orphans. So by halfway through the first episode, I had no choice but to attempt to disregard my memories of the old series, and accept the new one for what it is: a action-packed, overtly political coming-of-age story.

But I will not lie, when the lizards attacked the Thundera capital, I was excited to see how things progressed. The Trojan Horse scheme, which seemed a bit obvious once you recognized the similarities between Thundera and ancient Western cultures, the mech-warriors, missile attacks, betrayals, deaths, the first yelling of “Thundercats, Ho!” and the emergence of Mumm-Ra with his quintessential line “Mumm-Ra, the ever-living” finally had me engaged in the story. Not to mention, getting a little giddy when I heard those old school lines. For the better, the show picked up and was nonst0p until the end of the hour.

As a final note on the premiere, I thought the voice-acting was a bit forced and awkward and that some of the plotting was a bit obvious. I called multiple major episode plot points before they ever happened, which I always find disappointing, but I am hopeful that in future episodes the characters will become more dynamic, the plot will thicken, and the rest series will be entertaining on its own merits, regardless of the way things were in the old series.

Right now I plan to give the show a few more episodes to see if it is worth it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I am a bit skeptical.

Rating: B-

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On Television: Camelot (Starz)

Ep. “Homecoming”

On Friday, Starz showed the first hour of their upcoming historical-fantasy-drama, Camelot, as a sneak preview following the finale of ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’. A week ago, I was very sad and upset that the Spartacus miniseries was ending after only six episodes, but having seen the Camelot pilot, I am excited that something is ready to take its place.

Even though Starz only broadcast the first hour, this new series looks to promise the same level of violence, sex, struggles for power and intrigue that have become a trademark of the hugely successful ‘Spartacus’ series.

And this rendition of the Arthurian legend looks to be nothing like what has previously been shown in mainstream media. Rather than some musical or a kiddish version of the story, Starz has sought to develop a more well-rounded cast with a much, much more adult vibe.

That being said, I am still a bit skeptical if young Jamie Campbell Bower has the acting prowess to hold his own against a juggernaut of a cast, but I am hopeful.

Scene-steeling vixen, Eva Green, however, was unbelievable as Arthur’s vengeful sorceress/half-sister, Morgan, who appears to be hellbent on ascending as queen. She provided a strong, emotional performance that embodied the character flawlessly and was by far the shining talent in the preview.

Joseph Fiennes as Merlin is one casting I cannot definitively decide on. The character of Merlin looks nothing like what is traditionally considered (no beard, not very old), but I am excited to see where the role goes. Judging from the first hour, Merlin appears to be more of a soldier-monk with a hidden agenda. He obviously is going to take his place as Arthur’s mentor/adviser, but I wonder if there will not be numerous instances where Merlin attempts to use his influence for his own personal gain. I like the perceived duality of his character and I’m interested to see Merlin’s magical abilities in upcoming episodes.

However, all this promise could be for not if Joseph Fiennes happens to over act the part like he did in Flash Forward. I know he is a talented actor, but I am leary that the costuming and setting might overwhelm him to a point where he becomes too much.

All in all, after watching ‘Homecoming’ I am excited to see the full pilot on April 1, 2011. And I cannot wait to see how they integrate the stories of Guinevere, Lancelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake. There is so much source material with T.H. White’s The Once and Future King (one of my favorite books of all time) and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur that I don’t think the series will ever find themselves hunting for plot.

With HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ scheduled to premiere on April 14, 2011, it will be interesting to see if there is room for two fantasy-epic series to share the same space on premium cable.

Rating: A

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