My childhood was full of cartoons from all walks of life. There are classics such as the Jetsons and Daffy Duck (notice I did not say Bugs Bunny) and then more recent products of my time period like Transformers and X-Men. But I always had an eye out for those cartoons that were anything but conventional. I recently got the chance to review Thundercats and I hoped that my childhood memories would hold up. Thundercats, HOOOO!
We are aboard a spaceship flying away from a planet. Jaga, an elder tells a younger Thundercat, Lion-O to watch as their home planet, Thundera explodes and is no more. The spaceship represents the last of the creatures as they try to find a planet that is like theirs in air quality. Jaga also introduces the young cat to the Sword of Omens which contains the legendary Eye of Thundera.
However, there is little time to admire the Sword of Omens because the Mutants from Plundarr are attacking the fleeing ship. Led by Slithe, these nasty creatures find their way on to the ship which starts a fight with the Thundercats. Ultimately, the Thundercats are able to succeed, largely due to the Sword of Omens which just happened to be held by Lion-O. The mutants leave, but there is a bigger problem now ahead of the Thundercats.
The ship is badly damaged from the attack. It appears that their only chance at survival is a planet that is third one from a nearby sun or better known as Third Earth. However, in order to get there they have to place themselves in suspension capsules and place the ship on auto-pilot. Except, auto-pilot is much too dangerous and Jaga being the eldest decides to pilot the ship while the rest of the Thundercats place themselves in their capsules.
Time passes and eventually Jaga perishes. Before he goes, he puts it on auto-pilot and the planet makes Third-Earth. It however does crash and the suspension capsules lay all over the planet’s floor. Lion-O is the first to awake but the capsule aged Lion-O quite a bit and he is now full grown. He has even grown out his clothes as he struggles to remember what happened and how he got here. Snarf, companion to Lion-O wakes up too. But there is little time to worry as it appears the mutants have followed the ship to Third Earth.
Before we break to comments, we probably should introduce the rest of the Thundercats clan. Tygra is second in charge to Lion-O and focuses on integrity as well as his bolas. Panthro is a martial arts expert and great with machines. Cheetara runs tremendously fast and is the only full grown female on the cast. Wiley Kit and Wiley Kat are a brother and sister combination that have incredible wits and use their smarts rather than brawn.
However, there is an evil force even more powerful than the mutants who followed the Thundercats. Somewhere in the depths of third earth lives the everliving Mumm-ra. Powered by the ancient spirits, he knows of the power of the Eye of Thundera and will do anything to get the legendary weapon. So, how exactly does a clan of Thundercats defeat an evil that can not be killed? Well, one will have to watch to find out.
In some ways, it was good to come home to the Thundercats. There are plenty of strong characters and I had not watched some of the early episodes so it was interesting to see them come together. The stories are also broad and bring much to the table in terms of development. We see these Thundercats become a family and in such are able to thwart evil no matter how much peril they are placed in. The theme song is pretty darn catchy too.
But what annoys me most about Thundercats is one character. That one character is so annoying, so detrimental to the rest of the team that you wonder why he was sometimes created in the first place. I am of course talking about Snarf, companion and protector of Lion-O. He acts borderline retarded and every other second is “Snarfing this”, or “Snarf that”, you wonder if he picked up his way of speaking by watching Smurfs during a bad thunderstorm.
It really brings down the show which is hard for me to stomach. I guess as a kid you just ignore things like this and try to enjoy the show. Because I really don’t remember him being this annoying. It does not help that the show’s worst episode is contained on the first disc, the Berbils. Imagine a robotic teddy bear that speaks like a demented Teddy Ruxpin. Now imagine fifty of them. Yeah, this show has simply not held up at all.
The video is presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen presentation. The episodes are very rough. Again, I swear I watched some of the episodes on Cartoon Network recently and do not remember them being this bad. Video is muddy and color is not what one would hope for. It is watchable after you get used to it for a while, but it almost feels like one is settling when I would think this could be cleaned up some.
The audio is presented in 2.0 English Mono (Portuguese audio option also included). Audio is hardly any better. The volume is very low here and requires about a 50% increase in your regular volume. Once that is up, dialog is okay but it is hardly robust enough to keep the viewer interested. Thankfully, the music is still very good but sadly it is not enough to save the viewer from investing in a hearing aid. English and Portuguese subtitles are included.
- Automatic Trailers: Scooby Doo: Legend of the Phantosaur and Thundercats(New Series which looks terrible. They have mechs for pete’s sake.)
- Feel the Magic, Hear the Roar: Thundercat Fans Speak Out 7:05 : This is one of the most bizarre and terrible featurettes I have ever seen. No behind the scenes, no commentaries, not even an art gallery. We get superfans talking about the show. For all of seven minutes which equals out to a small lovefest at best. It is awesome to be considered a superfan here but goodness gracious give these guys some commentaries where they can actually speak their mind. Here in short form, it is completely useless.
- Previews: Young Justice and Scooby Doo!: Mystery Incorporated
It is rare that I am disappointed by a cartoon. Especially one that I grew up with such fond memories of. But time has given the Thundercats a worse fate than Mumm-Ra the ever living. It does not help when it plays host to possibly the most annoying character that has ever appeared on a cartoon. Well, Pikachu is still in the running for that title. But if you can get through Snarf, then you will probably be entertained with the strong stories and broad character development.
However, the discs for Thundercats Season One, Part One are also disappointing. The video and audio seem very dated and not at all polished. The lack of extras for such a cult favorite are also inexcusable. I hate to say it but this looks like a cash grab. A smaller set is made in order to promote the new series which does not look that good. If you like the Thundercats, settle for the larger sets but stay away from these minis. You have been warned.
The Unholy Alliance
The Slaves of Castle Plun-Darr
Terror of Hammerhand
Trouble with Time
The Tower of Traps
The Garden of Delights
Mandora the Evil Chaser
The Ghost Warrior