The Legend of Korra [2012] Season 1: 12 Episodes

All Your Old Friends (are poorly replaced)

Look, it’s Aang from the original show! Why so angry? Oh, you watched this series… Well, we only get a few confusing flashbacks of you anyway. (Nice hipster beard.)

If you liked Avatar: The Last Airbender for all its interesting qualities, the sequel series, The Legend of Korra may not be for you. Avatar groupies who like anything Avatar (including the live action movie, and even James Cameron’s Avatar) should read with caution.

Brace yourself for the world’s worst love quadrangle.

We were fond of the original Avatar series. It depicted a carefully crafted universe influenced by the few who could “bend” elements. It featured a likable cast, deep backstory, and plots both personal and grand. Korra portrays:

  • The entire bending universe haphazardly transported to the American 1920s.
  • One supporting cast brother who is overly stiff and unlikable.
  • The other supporting cast brother who is a total goober and whose misspeaks get old.
  • A lead character who goes from annoying to… er, no change there.

Meet the new avatar. She’s churlish and puerile! (Uh, those aren’t good qualities.) She’s a jerk in a world of jerks, weaklings, and megalomaniacs.

You will also find episodes that are consistently no fun because:

  1. The “good guys” always lose, being one step behind.
  2. Our “heroes” make the world’s worst decisions without fail.
  3. The romantic narrative is purposely uncomfortable.

Tensin is opposite to young Aang in every way, despite being his son. (He also spends the season being the straight man for every joke at the hands of his kid’s and Korra’s childishness.)

Why are we in the 1920s? Was the previous setting so bad? Dull? Uninteresting? They went all out: Cars, airplanes, and even a 1920s radio newsie narration. For technology to have advanced so far in just 70 years was bizarre. Seeing Korra ride down the street on a polar bear was just dumb.

Oh, did we mention there are also combat mech suits? What the heck?! Someone mentioned to us that the show felt a little like a “Batman Universe.”

One of these characters is interesting, and the other a dipstick.

The show does have some bright spots. The voice work was well done. The main villain’s voice especially, which carried well his malevolent intent. Most of the voice cast hit the mark, but this does not mean the lines they said carried an enjoyable plot.

The art direction was also very good, especially noticeable in the vehicles (airships, mech suits, etc.) and specialty sets (like the bending competition arena). The character design was less impressive overall, but with solid hits like Amon and Asami. She was visually different and well done. Almost out of place among the standard dull designs of many other characters.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful… or rich, or smart, or brave, an excellent driver, master martial artist…”

The new avatar is an aggressive, annoying, headstrong, unwise, impulsive (have we said annoying?) teenaged girl. She lacks respect. This is the lead protagonist of the entire show? A poor foundation indeed. If she has a true internal arc of growth, it has not started despite a whole season’s worth of episodes.

A stiff, a fox, and a dullard (in that order…). Is this show even about bending?

The romantic interaction was a real turn-off. Manipulative on purpose. The stiff, dull brother has a brief infatuation with Korra before getting into a relationship with the surprisingly smart, competent, pretty and undeniably interesting Asami. Then he makes an abrupt, completely witless, and disrespectful turn back to Korra. Those two dull lumps deserve each other. Never was there a romance for which we rooted less…

Ugh. Korra actually surpassed Bella from Twilight (okay, almost) as the new “least interesting girl in the world.”

There were a lot of political messages. The shallow appeal of the communist, “Equalist” message apparently appealed to the moronic city populace, and we gained little care for their welfare. Nor did we for the feckless and impotent ruling council swayed by the underhanded antics of every bad guy that came along. The whole season felt insular and small.

Asami knows how to strike a pose, but does she know her own father? (She may also wonder what she is doing in this series). She turned out to be genuinely nice and true, and did not deserve the treatment she got.

The most fun we had with this season was during professional arena bending games shown in the first few episodes (and then stopped in lieu of stupider plot prospects). It was an interesting set up with engagement zones and 3-person teams, each set up with water, fire, and earth benders.

“Wave to the crowd and have fun! (It’s the most you’ll have this season.)”

If this show was no relation to the original Avatar series, and just called “Fred’s Elemental Powers Adventure,” we’d cut it more slack. But it’s not. So do the franchise justice, producers.

“Do the franchise justice, or I’ll use this on your face!”

Lin Beifong, daughter of the original series earthbender Toph, was one of the few characters that grew on us. She started brusque, but had a significant (and rare for this series) arc.

At the rate technology is advancing in the Airbender universe, Korra’s grandchild will be the space avatar of distant world Rigel 12…

“Is this Mars?”

Check out our Avatar related Takes:

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005–2008)

The Legend of Korra [2012] Season 1

 

She’s a jerk in a world of jerks, weaklings, and megalomaniacs.

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes [2012] Season 2: Conclusion

The 2nd (& final) Season Delivers Super-Heroically

The first season of the show was somewhat disjointed, but showed great promise. We are happily surprised to say that the second season lived up to that promise and then some. The shows credits are expansive, so we shall suffice it to say that whoever took control this season knew what they were doing.

What happened to the Enchantress? Oh, she’s agreeing that this season was on fire.

Oh look, Agent Hill was back. And she’s still an uber-jerk. (She needs to go on a date or something…)

It is not a kids show, although they will enjoy the action. It is a serious show well-suited to adult fans of the Marvel universe. The series smartly called upon some of comic’s greatest storylines. It is of course nearly impossible to do a multi-issue comics storyline in one or two twenty minute animated episodes. But props go to their trying, and for the most part succeeding.

Is Thor free from girl trouble? “I say thee nay.”

Uh, there’s no shortage of powerful females… with attitude.

This season dug into the personal stories of the avengers. Pulled from the pages of comic books, we got to see Capt. America learn of the Winter Soldier story and face off against his arch enemy, the Red Skull. We went through Hank Pym’s draconian Yellowjacket phase. And they did a pretty good job retelling the classic Beta Ray Bill story from the pages of Walt Simonson’s Thor.

“Verily, NONE can wield Thor’s hammer Mjolnir!”

“For sooth! Perhaps I was hasty…”

While the animation is just okay, the art direction is classic and well-done. The voice work is fitting and a lot of fun The soundtrack is good for such a series; listen for the awe-inspiring choral arrangements when Thor cuts loose. We still maintain that this show displays the best and truest depictions of Thor and Ironman we have seen in some time.

Uh, not that one.

Ah. that’s more like it. Yay repulsors!

Of course it wasn’t all flowers and roses. There were too many “evil twin” episodes for our tastes (oh those crafty shape-shifters). The depiction of the fantastic four was particularly bad (aside from Ben Grimm). Try not to cringe when you hear Reed Richards voice. also, the finale was fittingly against Galactus, arguably the heaviest hitter in the Marvel universe. However what could have easily been a two-parter or even an arc was crammed into one short twenty minute episode.

You can’t cram a foe of this scale… literally, into one episode. (We could barely cram him into one picture.)

They did, for the most part, keep the avengers foes on the upper and where they should be. This is, after all, a collection of Marvel’s most powerful heroes. So Kree and Skrull invasions, Doctor Doom, Kang the Conqueror, etc., are all in a day’s work. There was also excellent sub-plots with Hulk versus Red Hulk, and Ultron’s creation, the Vision.

“Red Hulk smash? …er, scheme!”

The “Emperor Stark” episode was incredibly ambitious, and our fave of the season. You sleep for a few days and wake up to this? Huh!?

They had a good grip on the characters, and few were shortchanged. Thor was depicted properly as super powerful, yet did not have to lead. Captain America was rising into the leadership role to which he is so well suited, despite being on the low-power end.

“I’m looking at YOU thunder god.”

The season was delayed. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. The show just hit its stride, and while not being cancelled, is transforming into Avengers Assemble, a new series. Was this season too good to be true? Hopefully this transition will be weathered as well as Justice League to Justice League Unlimited (although we did prefer the former).

Repulsors for everyone!

Bonus Quiz!

Who is this mysterious character?

  1. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.
  2. Darkseid.
  3. One of those Michael Bey transformers… they all look the same.
  4. War Machine

Check out our Takes on All Seasons

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2

Check out related takes:

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

Green Lantern: The Animated Series [2011] Season 1 part 1: Episodes 1-13

Power Rings for Everybody!

(Colors may vary; not available in all sectors.)

Green Lantern the Animated Series was a pleasant surprise, and for the most part surprisingly good. It only teased you briefly with a Green Lantern universe cliché before rocketing you away (literally) on a new adventure.

Cliche number one! The many, many trials of Hal Jordan…

The entire season in an emerald sentence: Outside of Guardian space, there are “frontier” Green Lanterns embroiled in a nasty war with vengeance driven Red Lanterns, although they are too far away to help until a friendly Guardian encourages Hal Jordan and Kilowog to steal an experimental ship run by a female AI who wants to be human (what else) and they arrive, marooned (conveniently) for the length of the season, where they make unlikely allies, encounter multiple shades of power ring, and teach the true meaning of love to an AI, a heartbroken Red Lantern, and the seriously messed-up Star Sapphires.

“Won’t someone teach me love?”

“…uh, except maybe you guys…” (Even an AI is smart enough to look for love advice anywhere but from the Star Sapphires.)

Aya the AI sounds a lot like this:

Placing the setting in a far-off region helps the producers with one Green Lantern problem. That being the literal army of Green Lanterns ready to jump in and aid our heroes if called upon. That was good, since life and death were on the line in many of the episodes. We give the show props for mature themes and scenarios that included the vengeful death of entire planets, self-sacrifice for family, lost love, …and the rather cruel affection of the Star Sapphires.

A sad, conflicted man–silhouetted by the girly lavender glow of Star Sapphires?

One Green Lantern cliché that they did not avoid was the plethora of power rings. We say this out of well-rounded general knowledge of that universe, not out of detailed comic book information. So the Green Lanterns with their green power rings are fighting Red Lanterns with their red power rings. We know that Hal Jordan’s arch enemy, Sinestro uses a yellow power ring. And from a source we cannot even guess, someone becomes a Blue Lantern. Yet there is still one entry to make our kaleidoscope complete.

We don’t even know where you came from.

Buy one power ring at full price, get two free! While supplies last. Green is almost out of stock.

The Star Sapphires are a dangerously superpowered order of women scorned by men. They are bitter, good-looking shrews with the power to transport over great distances using the power of their misguided notion of love. Oh, and of course they use purple power rings. Hal Jordan’s sometimes angry girlfriend is transported to them and turned into a scornful Star Sapphire. The order apparently believed that love entailed imprisoning their men forever in crystal, and tapping their life energy. Some of you may be able to relate.

She’s not your friend Aya. Look at her eyebrows. She’s evil!

The character art direction was un-apologetically stylized and fun, not lacking in any department. Human characters looked sufficiently manly or pretty, many of the humanoid aliens looked sufficiently–er, alien. And even the alien girls looked pretty. Ah, except for Kilowog’s new girlfriend (just imagine a female version of him) who also stupefyingly gets turned into a Star Sapphire.

Oh Hal, you’re such a smoothy.

Wait, she’s a Green Lantern too?

The art direction for settings, ships, camerawork and special effects was also handled well with no glaring faults. We felt like they showed us a lot in 13 episodes. Jam packed into them were numerous planets, multiple cultures, spaced stations and alien nasties. Oh, and space battles, lots of space battles.

With a stained glass window depiction like this, how bad could Atrocitus really be?

You may ask to what extent a green energy cannon manifestation can damage a ship of metal and energy shields. Issues like that highlight the sometimes amorphous nature of the Green Lantern’s power. It can make the drama harder to frame, so the show occasionally falls back on more solid plot devices like rings running out of power, or areas that block their energy.

Oh boy, lookout Hal. Even your girlfriend, Carol Ferris, becomes a Star Sapphire. (Although, the mask IS kinda cute.)

A fine climax, played out with impressive visual scale. We would recommend this season. It has action enough for younger viewers, and maturity enough for the rest.

Wait, the PLANET is a Green Lantern too? Who isn’t a Lantern this season?

“Oops. Did I do that?”

Check out our Green Lantern takes:

Green Lantern: First Flight [2009]

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights [2011]

Green Lantern: The Animated Series – Season 1 [2012]

Check out our other DC Comics takes:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 1

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold  Season 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 3

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [2010]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

All-Star Superman [2011]

Superman vs. The Elite [2012]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Young Justice [2010] Season 1

Wonder Woman [2009]

Young Justice [2010] Season 1: 26 Episodes

Extremely Competent Teenagers

(with chips on their shoulders, …and angst)

If you thought a show called, “Young Justice,” would be about teenaged superheroes looking for their shot at the big leagues, you would be right. If you thought these sidekicks would be out to prove something to their mature counterparts, you would be right again. Finally, if you thought they would seek justice with sarcasm, attitude, and a good portion of angst, then you’re more on target than a batarang wrapped around one of Green Arrow’s bolts.

Lots o’ attitude and suspicion. We have not seen this many evil looks in continuous episodes since Merlin Season 3!

(Merlin BBC Season 3)

Uh, somebody misinformed Superboy. He decided to get in on the– expressions? Not too unstable looking…

Not the best looking take on the Watchtower we have seen. Those extra rocky bits do nothing for the view.

“Mount Justice?” Is that really its name? Why don’t we just mount a huge neon sign flashing, “Secret Good Guy Base.”

Season one in a sentence: Sidekicks yearning to stretch their wings but not yet ready for the Justice League are given their own minor-league superteam (with attitude) and a secret base in the middle of a remote mountain, while collecting kooky vehicles, defrosting a Superman clone, befriending an overly powerful Martian, and angering a bunch of major league villains, all the while learning the true meaning of friendship and the politically correct meaning of acceptance.

“You’re not ready for the big leagues. Now stop whining. Hmpf. Kids.”

Real heroes can mix it up even wounded. Young Justice reasonably portrayed Black Canary hanging with the A-Team.

Superhero teams are generally diverse by their nature, taking members from all over the world and sometimes other worlds. That adds fun and spice as long as it is done for the betterment of the show, and not heavy-handed, politically correct reasons. Jackson Hyde, the new black aqua lad benefited the show with a solid, if slightly wooden, character. (We appreciated his minimal angst.) You can decide for yourselves if the eleventh hour inclusion of Icon and his teenaged sidekick –with attitude, was done for diversity or not. It really came out of nowhere, with little foundation.)

We were not overwhelmed by the visual presentation of Young Justice’s Joker. By the way, nice hipster hair.

Three depictions we found particularly well done were Robin, Zatanna, and Lex Luthor. Robin, who we think in the past has been overdone as angry and resentful of Batman, this time was depicted smart, happy to be detective, and just a little too young to lead. Zatanna seemed a lot more powerful at the end than she did at the beginning, and was surprisingly handy in some of the larger climatic battles. Finally, Lex Luthor was so precisely just what you would want out of that character: Scheming, overconfident, more scheming, and well-dressed.

“If you’re trying to stop me, see my attorney.”

Pleasing art direction on heroes that you really never see.

We give props to season one for quality. There is nothing at all to complain about regarding the backgrounds and animation quality. The art direction was different and well done, depicting the characters in a new, less-bulky light. They were not as stylized and fun as Justice league, but 603% better looking than the hideous Justice League: The New Frontier. The youngsters were depicted teen slim, but so were the Justice League crew like Superman and Batman, where one might expect a little more meat. Still, all the hero characters were visually pleasing.

We enjoy Black Manta’s recent string of appearances. He has returned from C-tier villain obscurity. Alhough his voice did not make an impression like in Batman the Brave and the Bold, his look was cool.

(Batman the Brave and the Bold)

The voices were decent, but did not overwhelm despite some A-listers. It was a bit of a non-standard voice depiction. Honestly, some sounded a little “run-of-the-mill.” It was as if your friends all got together and skillfully dubbed it, –but still sounded more or less like average, normal people. Perhaps the voice director played it too subtle to match the plot.

We appreciate fairly well known actress Kelly Hu. She voiced Jade. Why so many villain roles Kelly? We remember your bad girl in The Librarian.

(The Librarian Series)

A well done depiction of “The Immortal Vandal Savage.” But how long must he live before he learns his lesson?

Finally, there was lots o’ conspiracy going on (perhaps too much for the sudden and somewhat flat payoff) .

For an “oh-so-secret” conspiratorial group, you are pretty detailed with your silhouettes…

Yes! An update of the ultra classic Hall of Doom from the Superfriends era.

  1. Is there a mole on the junior superteam?
  2. Who is this super shadowy group trying to stop our plucky teenagers?
  3. What family secret is Artemis hiding? (Counseling is in order.)
  4. Is Superboy into tattoos? (What is this? The 1990′s?)
  5. Are Martian teens REALLY ugly?
  6. How many golf balls are there on the moon?

Sure, so comely and carefree on the outside. What could she possibly be hiding underneath?

Five out of six of the preceding questions will be answered. Overall, Young Justice season one is slow to payoff, but entertaining along the way.

“It is Fated that you read more FortressTakes.”

Young Justice takes:

Young Justice [2010] Season 1

Young Justice [2012] Season 2

Check out our other Batman and DC Comics takes:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 1

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold  Season 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 3

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [2010]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights [2011]

Green Lantern: First Flight [2009]

All-Star Superman [2011]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Wonder Woman [2009]


 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4: 22 Episodes

All Your Favorite Characters

(are hardly in this season)

If we may start in the movie-guy voice: “In a world– er, universe, where everything goes wrong for the good guys, and Jedi are ineffectual playthings to be outwitted, tortured, and slaughtered…”

See Anakin outwitted (not too hard in his case) by Dooku.

See Obi Wan Kenobi beat up, tortured, and enslaved. Ugh. He deserves better.

The series continued its format of filling 22 episodes with four or five multi-part arcs. It worked, allowing deeper plots and characterization than possible in one-off 20 minute episodes. This meant the choice and quality of story and writing were more important than ever. A bad writing effort could now sink three episodes at once! That’s bang for your writing buck.

Sadly, this was too often the case regarding the last couple seasons of this series. Really good visuals tied to high school writing efforts. The franchise, we must reiterate, did not do itself any favors placing the setting between Star Wars Episodes II & III. It is the darkest, most depressing era of the timeline, capped by the empire’s complete takeover in Revenge of the Sith. Anyone would be hard pressed to make a balance of episodes in that environment, much less writing interns.

Like all female TV partner interns, Ahsoka gets sent undercover in fetching outfits.

Ahsoka protects the little boy king… “I know he’s a squid, but isn’t he dreamy?”

However, the visuals continued to impress. From underwater environments to desert; daytime scenes and moody night, the visual team knew what they were doing. Considering the colossal scale of scenes thrown at them, and the number of different characters, and the tremendous amount of scene blocking, they did an entertaining job with the writing they were given.

What? Even Hutts get into the action? Nice headpiece. You playing on your X-Box or something?

The series was still seriously lacking in comeuppance. The good guys lost lives by the star destroyer loads, while the bad guys usually just lost a few machines. Bad guy leaders killed indiscriminately for episodes, only to receive no justice, or a quick end not fully satisfying the penalty for their gratuitous homicide.

Sharky here killed for three episodes with incomplete comeuppance satisfaction.

“Anti-depressants we have. Yeeass.”

What about first tier characters like Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi? Yeah, we did not get to spend much time with them. We got episodes where C3PO somehow bumbled into being a hero spending time with boring aliens for which we cared little. Speeder loads of second tier characters interacting with whiny arc characters.

“Pay attention you must. Hardly in this season we are.”

Oh look, we got to spend three episodes with no-name characters after spending a couple with the droids as the stars… all in a row? Noble clones got their lives uselessly thrown away by a jerky, uncaring  and ultimately turncoat general. But do not worry. After thee episodes of pointless carnage lit by a 40 watt bulb, the general (and his tired plot) did get comeuppance. Well, that’s one.

(BTW, he doesn’t look evil, does he?)

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (and a slaver).”

Otherwise its a whole season of traitors, slavers, criminals, and sith. The Star Wars universe is either uglier than we ever thought, or we just see the seedy underside each and every episode.

Obi-Wan finally gets a part… But he spends three episodes looking like this!?

A certain amount of action could be counted upon, often good and exciting. It was cool to see the bounty hunter Cad Bain in action again. He is a fun returning villain. His multi-episode arc was one of the better. The effects and music were quality too. However the overall feel of the season was not one that we looked forward to. We just started caring less.

The title was turned red for the supposedly super special return of the Sith…

The restoration of Darth Maul was a big deal (he was sliced in half at the end of Phantom Menace, after all). Perhaps they were getting desperate for ratings. The arc was strange, contrived, and a little unresolved. But it was interesting and the saber battles decent. Obi Wan (our favorite character in the series) and Ventress, opposites for sure, made an unusual but entirely fun team to wrap the season.

Huh? Wait a minute… Star Trek and Star Wars? When universes collide!

“Just because we teamed up, doesn’t mean we are going steady or anything.”

Check out related takes:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2008] Season 1

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2009] Season 2

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4