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The Endless Sea is at the Heart of Ninjago’s Latest…

3 May

FEAF8B65-87BA-4019-8023-1AB5133A9AD0By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

On Teletoon Canada
Sundays 6:30am PST/ 9:30am EST
Spoiler Alert

The search for “The Storm Amulet” is on in Ninjago, Seabound. Everyone knows where it is and whether the heroes will get it or Kalamarr will has an amusing twist! Clutch Powers is back, and whether we should hate him for everything he’s done, this greedy miscreant is just that. He doesn’t have my respect. I like Ronan a lot more than him; he has his own code of honour whereas Powers doesn’t.

This ninth chapter is at a halfway point for the series. It’s merely spacing out the moments where bits of Ninjago History can be inserted. As much as I’d love to see a Mothra type creature appear, it won’t happen. I suspect that’s saved for another season. The return of the jungle tribe from The Island, protecting the gem and transfer of guardianship are just brief moments to show Nya has responsibilities. Whether she’s ready for it won’t be revealed until the season’s end.

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On Ninjago’s Tale of Benthomaar & King Trimaar

25 Apr

FEAF8B65-87BA-4019-8023-1AB5133A9AD0By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

On Teletoon
Sundays 6:30am PST/ 9:30am EST
Spoiler Alert

“The Tale of Benthomaar” is a very tragic story about an aquatic kingdom at the edge of entering a civil war. It’s hard to tell if Merlopia is politically divided because there aren’t enough supporting characters taking sides. Kalmaar’s hatred for the surface world existed even as a child, and all this episode shows is (maybe) a legion of soldiers accepting his edict.

Benthomaar’s innocence is truly that, and he’s neither human nor a squid. He wasn’t a survivor of a nearby sunken ship as he can breathe underwater. As for whether he’ll become Aquaman of this world, more episodes are needed. If he’s to take over, he needs more than Lloyd, Kai, Cole, Jay, Zane and Nya at his side. He’s going to need the various aquatic species to help and he doesn’t know how to speak manatee.
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The Skullduggery Steals the Show in Nickelodeon’s The Barbarian and the Troll

23 Apr

Nickelodeon to Premiere 'The Barbarian and the Troll' on Friday, April 2,  at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT)"By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

On Nickelodeon, YTV and YouTube.
Please check local listings for Friday evening showtimes

Nickelodeon’s The Barbarian and The Troll is a love letter to the antics from the original Muppet Show, and tosses in some of Matt Groening’s style from Futurama for good measure. Technically, he’s been producing Disenchantment, which I simply lost interest on over time. This puppet version has a better appeal since it doesn’t feature as much violence.

Brendar (voiced by Spencer Grammar) is very much like a Leela figure, fiercely independent and sassy, and gets her title not by choice. Her side-kick, Evan (series creator Drew Massey) dislikes trying to extol tolls from the bridge he’s supposed to manage. His singing chops are great (the tunes are catchy) and I’d have to say he is more of a bard than a mad troll. However, the people aren’t exactly praising him for his skill. He’s every much a level one D&D character with a charisma value of about five.

True to the fantasy formula, they form an adventuring party, and Brendar takes the lead. I’d guess she’s at least a level six warrior (with a magical talking axe) on a quest to rescue her brother, Kendar. A demon by the name of Alvin kidnapped him. 

There’s Skelly (Allan Trautman), the general of a skeleton patrol who is causing problems in the world of Gothmoria. Their antics are crazier than those from the movie, Army of Darkness, and I suspect that’s where this puppetry team is drawing their inspiration from. Their moments are laugh-out-loud funny, especially the third episode where Skelly has lost his body, and his minions have to figure out how to put their leader back together again. Humpty Dumpty never had it this bad!

Buried in this same narrative is the wizard Horus Scrums (also Trautman) plans for this world. There’s a simplicity in the narrative that’s enjoyable. It’s not too crazy like Lord of the Rings.

Production-wise, the visuals switches from wide shots of the puppets animated by wire to close-ups where puppeteers are tucked below the camera line. This technique works very well to make the show come alive in the same level as The Dark Crystal.

But the big selling point is with Evan’s musical numbers. Somehow, they turn into full blown orchestrations (which may get addressed a fourth wall breaking moment one day). Ultimately, it’s the nostalgia which makes this program great viewing for older audiences who grew up on Henson’s many puppet products. Kids won’t necessarily understand the humour, but I was cracking up whenever the skeletons are on screen. They are the reason I love this show lots. They tickle my funny bone!

4 Stars out of 5

 

Creation Myths Are Abound in LEGO NInjago! Or is that Shakespeare?

19 Apr

FEAF8B65-87BA-4019-8023-1AB5133A9AD0On Teletoon
Sundays 6:30am PST/ 9:30am EST
Spoiler Alert

In LEGO NInjago, the latest episodes show the team are in rough waters in Seabound. The broadcast of this series has been quick, and hopefully there’ll be no lull while waiting for the next season. To pump out new stories requires drawing from various literary sources and this series is no stranger to adapting Arabian Knights or even Shakespere, to which I believe this latest version is taking inspiration from.

In last weekend’s episodes, “The Wrath of Kalmaar” gets the team blamed for the death of a beloved king as a coup destroys the peace in Merlopia. This aquatic world has lived in relative obscurity and not everyone agrees to King Trimaar’s decision to be a peaceful civilization. As long as the surface and underwater realms are blissfully unaware, the coexistence is only marred by Prince Kalmaar’s general hate for the other. 

This squid-man’s mention of the human realm polluting the oceans is almost missed. I caught the reference and think the writers are missing an opportunity to teach viewers an ecological lesson. This realm may have been a playground for the serpentine before the The First Spinjitzu Master arrived, and comparisons can be made–who has the right to reshape worlds in their own image? “The Tale of Benthomaar” may say more, and I hope one day, a spinoff series can further explore the details.

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Arr! The Masters of Spinjitzu are Seabound Ho!

13 Apr

Ninjago (TV Series 2019– ) - IMDbBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

On Teletoon Canada
Sundays 6:30am PST/ 9:30am EST

Spoiler Alert
Please check local listings for other regions.

Nya’s powers are going haywire in LEGO Ninjago. They’re the Masters of Spinjitzu after all, and this year’s set of episodes dropped this moniker in favour of streamlining the series. This latest chapter, titled Seabound, reimagines the team as proper Avengers level heroes. They’re always going after villains somewhere in this continent. They’ve all upped their game and when considering this chapter takes place after The Island, certain threats are bound to return, namely Wojira!

Sensei Wu reintroduces this creature in “A Big Splash.” This titan is of the serpentine class and they have been regular foes in this series. This newest member ranks right up there with The Great Devourer in terms of power, and I’m sure the list doesn’t end there. Fire Fang and the Anacondrai serpent proved to be tough adversaries for Lloyd and the gang. I would not be surprised if they’ve lived a long life, and helped shape this universe in one way or another. Wojira might even have more relatives. She’s blamed for affecting Nya’s ability to control the water element than the Vengestone–this universe’s version of Kryptonite–Miss Demeanor stole. I think it’s a combination of both. The others have been Ninjas longer and faced more threats which rarely affected their powers whereas Nya is still ‘new.’

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