Friday, April 10, 2015

DVD Review: Teen Titans Go! Appetite for Disruption

Karen: I know what you're thinking, "A DVD review here at BAB?" - but this was a unique opportunity. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment contacted us about reviewing the new release of Teen Titans Go!: Appetite for Disruption Season 2 Part 1  prior to its general release on April 14. We've been big fans of Warner Bros. DC animation, going back to the Superman and Batman animated series, Justice League of course (my all-time favorite animated show), and I've really enjoyed recent efforts like the Green Lantern and Young Justice series, which both ended far too early. There's also been a number of very good animated films they've done over the years based on comics, like Justice League: The New Frontier or Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. But I have to admit, although I had heard of Teen Titans Go, I hadn't watched it. I thought it looked, well, like it was aimed at the squirts, and I gave it a pass. But given a chance to review it, I thought, why not? One, it was fantastic that Warner Bros. had asked us, and two, even if it wasn't my cup of tea, it very well might be something that our readers would enjoy.

Doug: To the best of my knowledge we have reviewed one DVD on the BAB, and as fate would have it, it was from DC Animation. You can check out our thoughts on the animated version of Batman: Year One by clicking here. And to be fair, that review was three years ago, almost to the day! But I'd echo everything you said above about the wonderful history that has gone on thus far from Warner Bros. Each of the long-running series, as well as their newer features have been well done. And as we mentioned a few months ago, it's our intent to lay down our thoughts on not only Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier, but as mentioned just now the feature of the same name as well.

Doug: I'd also not watched Teen Titans Go! until we'd been asked to do this review. I caught a couple of episodes while on the treadmill ahead of the arrival of the DVD, and had a nostalgic feeling about what I was seeing. Around 15 years ago, when our youngest was just hitting school age, he was heavily into Jimmy Neutron, Spongebob Squarepants, and the PowerPuff Girls. He would wile away hours with those shows (now what does that say about our parenting??). When I watched my first episode of Teen Titans Go!, it didn't take me long to make a connection to the PowerPuff Girls. Funny, silly, and with some humor aimed at the kiddies but also at the parents -- Teen Titans Go! is a wonderful extension of those times watching the tube with my then-little guy. 
The team from Teen Titans Go!
Karen:  I'm happy to say that I found the show to be a lot of goofy fun as well. So far I've seen around half the episodes and it's been a blast. It's incredibly silly, yes, but in the best way. Your comment about Powerpuff Girls hits the nail on the head. And the great thing is, it feels completely right -- it's not "DC in name only." The Titans here (Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy -- in other words, most of that 80s group we know so well) are pretty much the characters boiled down to their essence and made comical. But they are in a world that is clearly the DC universe, with references and callbacks to things any comic fan will recognize, like Titans Tower, Dr. Light, Aqualad, Blackfire, and so on. But since the show is aimed at kids, the Titans spend a lot of their time focused on food and hanging out!

Doug: I'm always impressed at the skill artists can apply to breaking down a comic book for television. You're right -- preserve the necessary elements and transform the peripheral stuff into a usable format that fits in with the angle of the show. As you said, the powers-that-be succeeded here.

Karen: One of my favorite episodes so far is "The Best Robin" where the show seems to be poking a little fun at how many sidekicks Batman has run through over the years. The different Robins are all very hyper-competitive, which makes for some great hi-jinks. I also liked "Money Grandma"  and "Mr. Butt" (you have to see it) a lot.

Doug: Well, speaking of "Mr. Butt", I'll confess to snagging that episode right away when Karen and I were discussing how we'd treat this review. I actually took a photo of the back cover of the DVD and sent it to my son, saying this should be right up his alley. Hey, at almost 21-years of age, I'd say he's still firmly in the ages 6-11 demographic targeted by this program! He says he wants to see it, so the DVD is going on loan when I'm finished with it! Anyway, I could only guess what sort of nasty this "Mr. Butt" would be. But lo -- the title character was no super-baddie, but a nickname for... Robin! Long story short, Blackfire shows up and, doing what she does, gets her sister Starfire in trouble. Starfire eventually lands in a space prison where she conditions herself for the ultimate revenge on her sister, who has betrayed her for the last time. Back at Titans Tower, the team tells Blackfire that she wouldn't be so bad if she'd just once try to be a nice sister. Cyborg trains her in the finer points of sisterhood (because Raven's just too weird I suppose), and Blackfire really does seem to have reformed. Well, until she makes a pass at Robin while he's working out -- tells the Boy Wonder that he has a nice butt! Now I have to be honest -- my son would have been laughing to tears had he watched that as he was entering school-age. And it is funny, though I have to admit to raising my own eyebrows just a bit. I mean, c'mon -- how many times have you been around a child who uses the term "butt" and gets reprimanded? Blackfire keeps calling Robin "Mr. Butt" throughout the rest of the short, so much so that Beast Boy even calls him that! It's all great fun, and the resolution of the story is typical cartoon slapstick. It was really a fun episode.
Cyborg and Beast Boy strut in 'Man-Person'
Doug: I next watched "Man Person", where Beast Boy is disfigured after a battle. He's left with a scar on his right eye, and is on the verge of serious depression. The Titans try to cheer him up, but it's Cyborg who relates his own origin story and what it means to be tough. It's the scars, after all, that make him tough. The story goes on with Beast Boy morphing into this over-the-top tough guy who eventually takes his toughness to a whole 'nother level. Again, it's straight up fun, and funny as well. And as we've stated, the script writers manage to work in enough humor to keep the adults in the room interested as well. 

Doug: As I write this, I just finished "The Best Robin" on your recommendation. Talk about adaptations for this show! Brother Blood wasn't much like the Wolfman/Perez version we knew and hated in the early 1980s! But he works. I liked the episode until the very end, and I won't spoil anything. I tell you, the characterization of the five Titans is consistent throughout the episodes I've seen, and the treatment of each of the three extra Robins is humorous - I especially loved the Dick Sprang-/Batman '66-era Robin. So yes -- it was a fun episode!

Karen: Just wait til you get to 'Road Trip' and see the team take on the Hive! I have to say this was a pleasant surprise. I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the episodes. Warner Bros. has made a fan out of me.

Karen: Here's the info on the DVD: Teen Titans Go!: Appetite for Disruption Season 2 Part 1 will be available on April 14th. It has 4 hours of shows on 2 discs -it's 26 episodes total. It should retail for around $19.97. The show has also been renewed for a third season on Cartoon Network, so if you like what you see here, check it out!


Martinex1 said...

I have seen all of these. I have young boys and as you can imagine they love it. Although I have to admit I enjoy it too. My favorite is "Money Grandma"; just the fact that Beast Boy and Cyborg call George Washington on the $1 bill "money grandma" cracks me up. I think the voice talent on the show is top notch. And frequent cameos by other DC characters are fun.

Great review Doug and Karen. Fun show.

Edo Bosnar said...

"Money grandma" - *snort*.

Most excellent review, Karen and Doug. And how cool that you were actually approached by Warner to do it (hey Warner, I understand "Batman: The Brave & the Bold" has yet to be released in full-season DVDs; so when you do so, I know the absolutely perfect guy to review them for you ... worth a shot ...).

I've never seen these, but they look like fun. And nothing wrong with them being aimed at little kids - heck, I really enjoy watching Spongebob, which often has moments of sheer brilliance.

Garett said...

Fun! From the clips, it looks like a snappy show. When I started drawing as a small kid, I'd draw cartoonish versions of superheroes like this, with big heads and little bodies. It's funny how Raven is drawn so minimally as just a straight cape- often in the comic, Perez would draw her as a silhouette of the cape. I wonder why no Wonder Girl? Good voices for these characters. Funny how Robin is the gung ho leader in the first clip, and the others are lazy. I'd like to see how they depict Brother Blood and Blackfire. I may pick this series up for my nephew, who has a birthday coming up.

Karen said...

"Money Grandma" really is hilarious. I was expecting it to be about one of the Teen Titan's grandmothers, and instead it's George Washington! And Robin is so Type A...but what would you expect from Batman's protege?

Although I haven't finished watching all the episodes (maybe this weekend) I did see the Caped Crusader himself make a cameo -and it was suitably bizarre!

Humanbelly said...

Oh golly-- those clips are so charming and amusing. I may try to track down season 1. . . just to get started with the proper. . . uhm. . . continuity. As someone who's never followed the Titans ever, I'll have the the happy perspective of enjoying entirely on its own cartoon merits, eh?


david_b said...

Ok, I haven't taken time to watch this version yet, I suppose I should try it out. I did enjoy the last animated outing what, 10yrs ago or so..? Loved their retro japanese-styled intro music.

If I do engage on this, it'll probably be more for the cameos than regular watching; and who knows, might be yet ANOTHER show to be hooked on. I really enjoyed the GL animated series for a spell, it had some great characterizations and held your attention well.

I'm among the few who wished that tenative '80s Titans series would have been put into production, judging from what the initial animation would have looked like (more 'classic' Perez, less-anime in style..).

But I do like the raw energy that flows out of these newer takes, just loads of frothy-fun.

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