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Teen Titans Review

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by Casimir Harlow Apr 1, 2006 at 12:00 AM

    In general, most animated TV shows have to be tailored towards younger audiences. Of course there are exceptions, with series like Beavis & Butthead and Aeon Flux coming across as distinctly more adult in nature. Classic superhero tales have been a staple diet for children over the decades since they came into existence, with characters like Superman and Batman seeing themselves reincarnated in many different forms over the years. One of the more recent Batman cartoons - Batman: The Animated Series - arguably rivalled the live action alternatives in terms of adherence to the original characters and comic storylines and is probably one of the best superhero animations brought to the small screen. After a couple of seasons, Batman's regular sidekick, Robin, was brought in and, soon after the end of The Animated Series, the Robin character found a new life for himself in the superhero group known as the Teen Titans.

    This first season introduces us to the team, but does not spend any length of time explaining who everybody is and how they came together. Robin speaks for himself, ostensibly the leader of the group and fairly nifty at martial arts, whether or not they involve his bo-stick. Then there's Cyborg - he's the big, glowing half-robot who generally likes to hit things really hard, Raven - a mystical sorceress, Starfire - a powerful female alien who fires bolts of energy and finally Beast Boy (who looks like he came straight out of a Gorillaz music video), who has the ability to change into various different creatures. Each has there own different personality, with obin always straining to be the responsible leader, Cyborg generally adopting a hit-first, think-later attitude, Starfire being quite positive but also quite 'Spock' in her alien demeanour, Raven a very aloof goth with an extremely black wit and Beast Boy mucking around no end.

    They often spend more time fooling around in their extremely messy 'secret' hideout (a giant T-shaped building in the middle of the city) and arguing over who should do the washing-up than actually fighting bad guys. Even when they do find trouble, they tend to get their asses kicked first, learn from their mistakes and then come back more determined to win. The show is full of action but also packed with silly, comical moments where even the animation changes (into this distinctly Japanese-flavoured cartoon style) to suit the content and, though these may be quite fun, they take away a great deal of the potential drama and long-term interest that you might otherwise find in the show. Over the course of the season we get plenty of fun exploits, mostly with them battling enemies sent by the uber-villain Slade (voiced by the only famous vocal contributor, Hellboy's Ron Perlman), who appears to have a serious beef with the Titans. We get to learn about each individual Titans, with some episodes focussed more on one character than another, but no major character developments really take place this early on.

    As you can probably tell just from the title, Teen Titans is generally marketed towards a fairly young audience. Whilst other superheroes tend to appeal to older fans as well as young kids, the Titans are a new breed of heroes who seem to have been created specifically to appeal to kids. This is obviously great news for children across the globe but slightly disappointing for more mature audiences who were hoping for a new source of Batman-related crime-fighting after both Batman: The Animated Series and its inferior successor Batman Beyond were brought to a close. It does not help that one of the key characters is Robin, who I personally despised whenever he was paired up with Batman, whether on the page, the small screen or the big screen. One of the most irritating characters ever brought into such a potentially dark legacy, his only real use - in my opinion - was in death, whereby he would give Batman an extra excuse for a good old vendetta.

    The concepts of the episodes are also clearly tailored towards kids as well - with the aforementioned petty household disputes and the like rife amidst the crime-fighting team. Colourful and colourfully naïve, each and every one of the team has their powers and their faults, their strengths and their inadequacies, but none of them will particularly appeal to older audiences. So, all in all, Teen Titans is a fast-moving, fun and action-packed new animated TV show which is likely to keep children entertained for quite some time (and keen to see their further adventures in the later seasons). The flipside of the coin is that, unfortunately, adult superhero fans (is that an oxymoron?) are unlikely to find it quite as interesting. Batman: The Animated Series it is not.

    Episode List:
    1. Divide and Conquer
    2. Sisters
    3. Final Exam
    4. Forces of Nature
    5. The Sum of His Parts
    6. Nevermore
    7. Switched
    8. Deep Six
    9. Masks
    10. Mad Mod
    11. Apprentice (1)
    12. Apprentice (2)
    13. Car Trouble