Keeping up with Transformers Earthspark can be tough. It can be found on Paramount Plus, the streaming service and Nickelodeon (USA) but when not everyone subscribes to either, tuning in from another country requires patience. I’ve lost track of when YTV would finally offer the remaining episodes; this station didn’t immediately offer them and recently, this network started cycling the first half all over again rather than offer new episodes (to which not even Nick has aired).
What I’ve learned after acquiring the home video release is that it is great at connecting to the G1 series. Those classic moments were reproduced in cel animation, and that’s enough for me to say I love the presentation! Also, this new series evolves the premise that’s defined this franchise for a long time. There are certain episodes which had me wanting to pause and rewind to search for Easter eggs, and the mid-season finale “Age of Evolution” sets up a world where newly formed allegiances are challenged.
The Croods: Family Tree is a surprisingly short animated series which is now available across specific cartoon networks and streaming services. YTV in Canada is stretching the six episodes out, and hopefully, more episodes will be released sooner than later. Waiting this series out for new tales in 2022 is a long way away.
This series is decent enough for fans to enjoy. It retains much of the humour from the sequel, and it seems a lot of the Croods family dynamic has reset. Grug is even more overprotective of Eep, and instead of her and Guy leaving the compound they are in, they are all staying safe within. Plus, they have another clan to annoy, whom they met in Croods: New Age. If this series is supposed to take place within the time frame of this sequel as a whole, it’s not been said at all.
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 bySpencer 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 Brendartakes 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 thisshow lots. They tickle my funny bone!
The early books were distinctive by being a product of its time, and for this new series–a modern setting takes fans out of the zone.
By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
On YTV (Canada) and Hulu (USA) Please check local listings for accurate showtimes
The television show, Hardy Boys, is finally broadcasting in Canada! Since making its debut in the States, I think interest has been minimal. Nancy Drew is better because it has a paranormal edge. Sadly, this series is being handled by another studio, so no crossover is expected. Had it, I would’ve been more invested in the ongoing narrative concerning a mysterious Tall Man and digging into the D. B. Cooper trope.
This version sees the duo differing in age by a wide margin. Anyone familiar with the books knows they are a year apart. In the live action, the five-year difference is also in their attitudes towards one another. The eldest is a teen. This detail makes for a different dynamic in their relationship. It’s reflected in how they feel when their mother dies under mysterious circumstances. She was killed while writing about something.
Surprisingly, the second half (season) of Reboot: The Guardian Code (RtGC) is a vast improvement over its weak start. The narrative takes an air of an espionage thriller and a binge watch of all twenty episodes show a grand design which I am enjoying. Canadian broadcaster YTV aired all the episodes and is still airing them, while on Netflix, two seasons exist. Shades of Disney’s TRON colour the digital landscape, and that’s only because this film introduced me to the idea of becoming part of the digital universe is possible; the spirit of the user remains in every bit of code they create. Those pulses of energy within the machine is life too.
Throughout other shows, these ghosts in the machine are real. In cyberpunk literature, this idea is nothing new. When considering RtGC has three agencies interested in acquiring this technology–the Sourcerer, Megabyte and the Department of Internet Security–their interests are not for the greater good. They are not out to mend or defend.