When the original Teen Titans series dropped in 2003, I was 14. Its "Americanime" approach to things was appreciated, since I'd long since expanded my animated repertoire to include shows from Japan, China, the UK and so on. Mixing in the writing of, say, a BTAS with a wide variety of anime-esque facial expressions and "in-jokes" made the series memorable.
For me, the show also brought me back into the DC Universe (well, Teen Titans and finally reading the Kingdom Come series). And like many, I saw its demise in 2006 as the end of an era. Sure, we had series like Young Justice, but the end of Titans coincided, in some ways, with the continued death knells of the broadcast TV Saturday morning cartoon block.
While Titans, itself wasn't exactly regulated to Saturday morning spots on Kids WB, the series appeared within these blocks enough to be considered such. 2006's merger of WB and UPN (to create the CW) brought about less original programming on Saturdays and more syndicated shows. Ultimately, in October of 2016, the last remaining broadcast Saturday morning cartoon block, NBC Kids, will fade into history. But, we're not really here to wax and wail on about Saturday morning cartoon blocks. So, let's get back on track.
During Cartoon Network's attempt to revitalize the Saturday morning block, DC Nation, we got Young Justice and other attempts to revitalize the comic hero cartoon genre. Some of the series developed cult followings a la the original Titans series. Others were quietly burned off on the Toonami block because fans and network executives alike sometimes didn't know what to make of them (lookin' at you, Beware The Batman). Others were dead before launch (hi, most of the DC Nation shorts). But, through some of those shorts, specifically a series of chibi-Titans shorts, we also got Teen Titans Go!.
The series, which premiered in April 2013, has been met with some pretty polarizing reviews. Some call it dumb, others call it genius and necessary in this Adventure Time world we live in (snarky characters that lampoon pop culture while still solving problems and developing their persons throughout). But, it appears that there've been, at least if you look on YouTube, IMDB, and other fan havens, more nays than yays. But...is Teen Titans Go! really that bad?
I feel many fans came into the series expecting, even if it was goofy as balls, a true continuation or reboot of the original Titans series. If a viewer goes in saying "ok, this is going to be more of a satire-with-SBTB-like-teeneybopper-drama moments than a serious superhero show," they'll probably come away with some funny moments. If you're going in expecting seriousness and "real superheroes," you're obviously going to be disappointed.
Is it BTAS? Hell, no. What is? But, it's by no means the "worst fucking thing ever," as I've seen it called. It serves a purpose. In my opinion, that purpose is to give people more Titans on their TV. This is while still appealing to the changing demographics that make up Cartoon Network viewers. In 2016, things are different than they were in the '90s or even the 2000s. Cartoons reflect this, as they're goofier (even more story-based series such as Steven Universe and Gravity Falls) and lampoon a lot of the overly-emo stuff we grew up with as kid. Seriously, guys. I'm all for "dark and gritty" as the next person, if it adds something to the show. It's why we remember BTAS, but tend to forget the Mighty Ducks cartoon aside from it being an obvious cash-in on the failing Mighty Ducks movie series, the popularity of the Ducks hockey team, the legendary Darkwing Duck series, and the need for sexualized human-ducks in kid's cartoons.
|I also saw one of Mallary in a fishnet bikini, hence the official artwork.|
The series reminds me, in some ways, of Pokemon X/Y. It's a tried-and-true formula that, at times, lacks some of the heart of the original series; that's expected. You can't recreate classics and expect them to be all-the-time true to said classics. You can/should only expect them to be good and intriguing. If you don't down-to-the-teeth compare it to the original(s) and accept that it's more something new with familiar characters/concepts, you'll probably get a couple decent moments out of it.
If you want more of the original Titans series' vibes (aside from just the same voice actors), check out the movies DC has been putting out. Just...ignore Steve Blum as Lex Luthor, please (more on that in an upcoming PA). But, if you want something light that still manages to stand out with the Clarence marathons Cartoon Network shows more and more of these days, you could do a lot worse. And I mean a lot worse. I still don't really get Clarence and its appeal. Sorry.
Plus, I'm biased as hell. Through the ramping up of, for instance, Robin's love for Starfire (and his pseudo-ineptitude as a leader), the series helped me introduce my oldest son to BTAS, Batman Beyond, the OG Teen Titans, '90s X-Men, and more of the "classics." So, off the strength of that alone? I'm a fan. Anything that allows me to shoehorn in some of the great stuff I grew up with, I'll support. It's why I've stopped bitching about how weird it is to see Garfield CGI cartooned because that heap of weird helped me showcase Garfield and Friends. It, like Teen Titans Go!, is not perfect, but you can tell they're at least trying to make something that appeals to fans of the original and a new generation.