Last Night’s Shows Today: Thundercats

Sweet merry Christmas, the premiere of the new Thundercats cartoon on Cartoon Network was amazing. I’ve been pretty jazzed about the series for a while, hoping that it would be good, but also knowing one of the dudes who put a lot of blood sweat and tears into it. He said it would be good. It was better than that. Better than I could have imagined, really.

Last weekend, Cartoon Network was trying to get people into the Thundercats spirit by playing various episodes from the original series. I caught the second episode, which is really the second half of an hour-long movie and while I enjoyed myself, I had a lot of questions. Some would be answered in later episodes and some in the half I missed, I’m sure, but from a storytelling perspective, there’s a lot of burden placed on the audience to just accept what’s happening. Why are the mutants chasing the ‘Cats? Why does Lion-O grow inside the stasis chamber while Kit and Kat don’t? Why does Mumm-Ra care about the ‘Cats? Why doesn’t Mumm run around like a badass all the time instead of an old man? (I know there’s an answer for that last one, but just can’t remember it from childhood).

My wife had seen the old episodes and seemed as excited as I was to watch the premiere last night at 8:00PM (what a great lady!). So, last night, we sat down to watch and I was absolutely blown away. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this version does for Thundercats what Batman Begins/Dark Knight did for Batman, it took the essentials and made everything make sense while also adding in plenty of action to make things fun. Sure, there’s some changes in the status quo, but I really don’t care because this is a new version and I want to see what they’ve got up their sleeves. Somehow Lion-O and Tigra are brothers and the ‘Cats are not traveling to another planet, but staying on Thundera where a war is breaking out. The planet is filled with different animal species’ at war, with the cats on top, which explains why Slythe and the lizards hate them (not just blindly or because they’re goofy henchman).

As far as I can remember from the original series (which I haven’t really watched since grade school when the series made a triumphant return to CN right after I got home from school), the new version also digs in a lot deeper into the Thunderan mentality. The cats are on the top of the food chain, but are not really evolving or learning. They have weapons, but are scared of technology, they have warrior clerics, but seemingly closed minds to everything else. Also, they’re racist, at least against the lizards. Essentially there’s a lot going on here instead of just pitting the good guys against the bad guys every week. I don’t think it’s too much for kids to enjoy, though I haven’t talked to any yet about the show. It seems like the kind of thing that would have appealed to me, but also that my dad would have liked.

To say I can’t wait to see where the series goes is a huge understatement. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a new televisions show–of any kind–after the first episode in…years? Maybe since Prison Break? I was pretty blown away by that series and drawn right in. Same here. There’s so much mythology to explore and action to be had and mysteries to solve that I am completely in. The ‘Cats have been put on their back legs and now have to fight for their survival, it’s the perfect set up for a series. I’m also looking forward to seeing what they do with the elements set out in the original series. We already saw a Ro-Bear Berbil arm in one scene and blind latter-day Thundercat addition Lynx-O in another. What about Hachiman, Turmagar or The Snowman of Hook Mountain? I’ve been shown what this team can do and now I want more, more, more!

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