By Ed Sum
TEEN TITANS GO! marks the return to TV of a team of young superheroes from the early 2000’s series of a similar name. Based on characters from DC Comics, this incarnation feels more a version of Big Brother with only the Sugar Plum Fairy watching over them. Raven (voiced by Tara Strong), Robin (Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) are roommates in Titans Tower. Even superheroes have their down time, and that’s when these cameras are rolling, observing their interactions during the mundane events of everyday life because nothing can turn a normal afternoon into chaos faster than five teens with superpowers and an affinity for hijinks.
The big question some people watching Teen Titans Go! are most likely to ask, “Why was this cartoon made?” To give an answer really requires delving into the mind of just what the heck was executive producer Sam Register thinking of. To endure watching a single episode requires an injection of morphine or some chemical to induce an acid trip. When considering he’s the creator of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi and executive producer of Powerpuff Girls, he must think that particular brand of lowbrow humour has a mass market appeal. While that will not sell to comic book geeks, younger minds are apparently eating this series up.
After six episodes, trying to figure out if there is any artistic merit to this series is like pulling hair. Maybe if the brain’s reasoning center is turned off, this series can be enjoyed. Much of the humour is juvenile and most of the storytelling is unsophisticated. Instead of seeing the Titans go about saving the world, they are just living the life as kids on the go. Most of the episodes are slices of their life than anything adventure oriented.
The original Teen Titans was fun. It had a blend of silliness and comic book action in it. Raven was more goth in the original than this kiddified version. But just how many children will understand who they are? There is no easy primer to explain Robin’s roots in the Batman universe, Cyborg is more like Justice League material and Beast Boy is a figure few fans can appreciate. He’s far more interesting as an adult hero than juvenile delinquent.
Interestingly, the comic book to which this series is loosely based on fares better. The stories are better constructed and the character designs are not as numbing. As for why this series was picked up for a second season, the numbers talk. Apparently, this series is popular for young children. Instead of violence, this product injects silly humour into the mix. This series is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. This acetone drink needs lots of sweetener if it can be enjoyed at all. This cartoon is pretty much a sugar rush.