Sunday, August 14, 2011

Television Series Review: ‘Thundercats’ Season 1 Episode Four – “Song of the Petalars”

Slithe and his lizard army doggedly pursue the Thundercats to the ends of Third Earth.  Having grown weary of the chase, Lion-O and his team take refuge in a thorn-bush forest.  As they make their way through the terrain, they come in contact with the Petalars, a plant like species that has been trapped in the forest for generations.  A young Petalar by the name of Emerick takes a liking to Lion-O and begins modedling himself after the young warrior.  Flattered, Lion-O promises to deliver the Petalars from the captivity of their thorn bush prison.  

“Song of the Petalars” takes more than a few pages from James Cameron’s all time box office hit Avatar.  At this point, it has become obvious that the Thundercats will come in contact with at least one new species per episode, and in doing so will learn a valuable life lesson.  It’s both an obvious and overt, but at least it’s not as laughable as the “life lessons” presented after each episode of the old G.I. Joe and He-Man cartoons.

In this episode, Lion-O’s fighting spirit begins to flag as he contemplates the futility of the Thundercats plight.  His friendship with Emerick challenges his new found pessimism.  As it turns out, the Petalars have a life-span of exactly one day.  In the course of 24 hours, Emerick grows to see Lion-O as a lifelong companion.  Likewise, Lion-O also comes to treasure the precious little time he shares with the Petalars. 

As stated before, “Song of the Petalars” is strikingly similar to Avatar.  Both juxtapose environmentally conscious messages with simple storytelling and large scale action.  Both are also fairly heavy handed in their presentation.  “Song of the Petalars” only has a couple of action set pieces, none of which match the scope of anything in James Cameron’s three hour long sci-fi epic.  

In yet another contrast to its predecessor, this version of Thundercats actually acknowledges that violent confrontations can result in actual death.  There’s nothing in the way of graphic violence or blood, just the swipe of the sword followed by the enemy’s body falling to the ground.  The battle that concludes this episode contains a nice little surprise, as a certain fan favorite makes his much anticipated first appearance in the series.  

Silly though it may be, I enjoyed “Song of the Petalars.”  Its quaint little message touched my heart.  As far as cutesy creatures go, tiny plant people are preferable to fishmen any day of the week.  The Milieu of a forest is also preferable to that of the Sea of Sand.  At the very least, there’s poignancy to the plight of the Petalars.  Though I’m not crazy about the formula that the show has developed, it’s used rather effectively here.            

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