I sincerely hope you have taken the time to check out the Cartoon Network's
re-imagining of the classic cartoon Thundercats. The original series was, in
retrospect, a shallow, lame half-hour toy commercial; the newest itineration is
an action packed, emotionally powerful 22 minutes of must-watch television. The
series is especially surprising as most animated revivals of classic shows turn
out to be abominations (the new Ninja Turtles? Transformers: Beast Wars?). But
the Thundercats don't have a live-action feature already released with another
just around the corner. Guess what does? G.I. Joe. Starting late last year, the
new G.I. Joe cartoon, G.I. Joe Renegades, has followed in the Thundercats path
by giving viewers a more mature and endlessly engaging new path for the
characters, good and bad. Though the show takes some substantial liberties with
the original storyline, G.I. Joe Renegades is definitely worth checking out,
especially if you are as pumped for the new film as my wife and I are.
The setup for the Joe/Cobra conflict is handled much better in Renegades than
it ever was in the original. The 80's version, based upon a framework of
unexplainable war and two sides that seemingly couldn't hit the broad side of a
barn with their lasers. Seriously, head over to YouTube and watch the show's
opening credits. See? A million, billion lasers and not one soldier is ever hit.
Anyway, Renegades introduces Cobra as, get this, a pharmaceutical company. Yeah,
apparently Cobra and Pfizer have a lot in common. Who knew? After the Joes
attempt to destroy Cobra's operation, they are disbanded and treated as
fugitives; a plot that is suspiciously similar to that of the upcoming summer
blockbuster G.I. Joe Retaliation. But Cobra isn't the only enemy the Joes have;
a group known as the Falcons are enlisted to help bring down the renegade
soldiers (wonder where that "renegade" title came from). Like I said, there are
some liberties taken, but the story easily eclipses that of the 80's series.
As DVD sets go, Season 1, Volume 1 contains the first 13 episodes of the
series. Anyone who has read one of my DVD reviews knows I loathe the practice of
splitting up entire seasons in different volumes, and it's no less annoying here.
Sure, the wait for the DVD would be longer as the show plays out on television,
but, in my eyes, it would be completely worth it. Aside from that obnoxious
decision, the DVD is priced right and contains over five hours of Joe/Cobra
action. The show is also available for streaming on NetFlix, but any true Joe
fan is going to want this (imperfect) set on their shelf.
If I was reading this review, there would be one question on my mind: How
does Cobra Commander sound? Fans know Chris Latta, who voiced Cobra Commander
and Starscream from Transformers in the 80's, was absolutely PERFECT as the
villain. His screechy, screamy delivery is more memorable than anything else
from the original cartoon. Charlie Adler's portrayal of the iconic villain isn't
bad per se, just slightly different. The hints of Latta's performance pop up
here and there, but it feels about as wrong as having someone beside Peter
Cullen do Optimus Prime's voice. Adler does manage to eclipse Joseph Gordan-Levitt's
Cobra Commander from the live action films, but no one, NO ONE, will ever be
Though the series is being hacked to bits for volumes of seasons as DVD
releases, Renegades is a thrilling new take on the classic conflict. All your
favorite heroes and villains pop up, the story is much deeper and entertaining
to the core and even though Cobra Commander doesn't sound quite right, this is a
series all Joe fans should check out, be it on television, NetFlix or DVD.