Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review: Teen Titans Go! "Driver's Ed"

Now that I think about it, this episode features the first instance of this version of the Teen Titans actually fighting crime. (Unless you count the offscreen defeat of Mother Mae-Eye from last epsiode.) And they solve it by letting a demon drag the criminal in question to Hell.

For one glorious moment, this show was frickin’ hardcore.

The thing about these weird early episodes of Teen Titans Go! is that they’re significantly more grounded than later episodes, and no episode exemplifies that more than this one. Of course, by “grounded” I mean “less bizarrely random.” If this episode had been made during the third season, the DMV would probably come to life and need to be defeated with the power of traffic cones.

Robin trying to get back his driver’s license while unknowingly acting as a getaway driver is a plot that could work on pretty much any Cartoon Network show. The Amazing World of Gumball, Regular Show, Uncle Grandpa, you name it; if there’s a character old enough to have a license, then you could easily do this plot. Heck, for Gumball and Uncle Grandpa, you could keep the majority of the episode’s over-the-top gags, like landing on a rainbow, or driving into a store.

Yeah, this looks like something Uncle Grandpa could do with his mouth.
It really is simply a slice-of-life story with the trappings of Teen Titans Go! Robin wants his license back, with humorous complications and the obligatory subplot.


Cyborg’s memory loss subplot is kind of barebones. Cyborg forgets who Starfire is, asks who she is a few times, and suddenly gets his memory back at the very end.

Beast Boy is oddly chill with Cyborg's sudden hostility. Must be some good drugs.
I can’t help but wonder if someone pitched the subplot as its own episode, before realizing that they didn’t have enough material for a full episode on that premise. So they folded the idea into an episode that was running short.Or maybe it was just a random gag that they reigned in before it went too over-the-top. Which is a habit they didn’t keep up in later episodes.

Robin’s inflated ego begins to pump itself up in this episode, where he calls himself a...

...repeatedly despite all evidence to the contrary. Actually, I take that back. He seems to be a pretty good driver every time we see him onscreen, so I can’t help but wonder what he was doing to crash the Batmobile. Still, the ego’s there. And it seems as though the Titans think less of him now than they did in the first episode, which will be an ongoing slide into loathing territory soon enough.

Ed (Jeff Bennett)
Poor Ed. Sure, the guy was a serial bank robber, but Hell is a pretty severe punishment. Probably the most severe. However, this episode was produced before the last episode, “Pie Bros.” In that episode, Ed is seen as Beast Boy’s defendant that he accidentally convicts beyond a shadow of a doubt. Which would have been a nice little bit of continuity between episodes.

Hey, at least it's better than Hell, right?
But the effect is kind of lost with the episode shuffle, meaning that it looks like Ed escaped from prison, started robbing banks, and was sent to Hell for it.

One of the compliments I can give to there early episodes is that the animators are more willing to take risks and go off-model.

"I'm drawn more dynamically than usual! No time to explain!"
And Robin’s final drive is, at the very least, creative, and lends itself to visually interesting depictions. And the background details continue to prove amusing, like Superman advertising for “Justice Java” and fan-favorite Teen Titans villain Mumbo mentioned on a marquee, apparently doing stage magic again.

Final Thoughts
In the end, this might actually be the most forgettable episode of Teen Titans Go! It’s not bad, but there’s really nothing about it that makes it as memorable as, say, “Pie Bros.”

Next time, though, the writers tackle their first episode featuring Trigon, one of the most fearsome and darkest recurring antagonists of the original Teen Titans. Let's see how long it takes Teen Titans Go! to irrevocably anger fans of Raven. See you then!

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