Saturday, May 19, 2018

Thunder. Thunder. ThunderCats. Noooooooo

by Christopher Scott

*Aggravated Sigh*
Apparently Cartoon Network has been digging through its vault of underutilized properties again, and this time they’ve gone too far. With the announcement of their latest show, ThunderCats Roar, I felt the need to give my 2 cents after a nearly 5-year hiatus on this webpage. Yes, it’s that serious.

To give you some backstory, my name is Chris Scott and I am a former contributor on TheTalkingBox who used to cover animated shows including The Invincible Iron Man, The Awesomes, and ThunderCats (2011) which was probably my main staple. Through the good and the bad, I provided updates and synopses along with my own opinion during the one-year revival of the series. The show was not perfect (not really even close), but it gave us brief glimpses of greatness and ultimately did a decent job in filling the shoes of its inspiration.

Yesterday, however, Cartoon Network teased a new show in development using the ThunderCats license which reminds us that Cartoon Network is creatively bankrupt in 2018. According to the wildly misleading press release, “Staying true to the premise of the original series, Lion-O and the ThunderCats — Tygra, Panthro, Cheetara, Wilykat, and Wilykit — barely escape the sudden destruction of their home world, Thundera, only to crash land on the mysterious and exotic planet of Third Earth. Lion-O, the newly appointed Lord of the ThunderCats, attempts to lead the team as they make this planet their new home. A bizarre host of creatures and villains stand in their way, including the evil Mumm-Ra, Third Earth’s wicked ruler who will let nothing, including the ThunderCats, stop his tyrannical reign over the planet.” Cartoon Network, how dare you use such a vague and nostalgic description of this new series to obfuscate what is really going on here?

Cartoon Network / Entertainment Weekly 
By taking a moment to look at the official keyart for the series, depicting a chibi art style and goofy expressions, it is painfully clear that this is merely a shadow of what ThunderCats has always stood for in the hearts and minds of its audience. This is more like if the entire cast of the show was replaced by various incarnations of Snarf. To further envision the style of the show, it is being created by producer/cartoonist, Victor Coutright (Mighty Magiswords, Pickle and Peanut, and OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes). With only a brief introduction to his former works, it is clear that this show is an attempt to join other reviled shows on the Network such as Teen Titans GO! and Unikitty! Additionally, there is an official teaser out there, but it is just too infuriating to give a link here. Just go to YouTube and search ThunderCats Roar, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, for those of you who believe I might be a 30-something millennial who is blinded by nostalgia glasses and who can’t just let kids enjoy the shows they like, I completely understand your point of view. I constantly struggle to keep nostalgia in check and I would be lying if I said I didn’t fail from time to time. That being said, there is a place for action-oriented, exciting, and story-driven animation in today’s market. There is a reason Japanese animation is being picked up by Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming networks. Shows like Gravity Falls, DuckTales, and Star Vs. The Forces of Evil are all performing very well in the space, offering variety in stories and adventure that comedic shows simply cannot. And just think about it from your own childhood. For every Reboot, Thundercats, and Batman The Animated Series that are cemented in our memories, there were dozens of Samurai Pizza Cats, Eek The Cat, Mega Babies cartoons that barely remain in our subconscious. And if Cartoon Network simply must create another humor-driven cartoon to add to their already overloaded lineup, why must it be done using the ThunderCats reputation? There is still outcry to this day over their misuse of the Teen Titans license for Teen Titans Go! I am just not sure it is necessary in this case seeing as how the license doesn’t really resonate with today’s children, but will absolutely infuriate those who loved the original series.

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I am in the minority here. Let me know in the comments below! Would you rather see the ThunderCats return in this incarnation? Or would you prefer they come up with some new license and keep the original spirit of the show untouched? I’d love to hear your feedback!
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