Saturday, July 9, 2016

Review: Teen Titans Go! "Double Trouble"

You know, I would die a happy man if I never saw a face as creepy as the one Beast Boy made in this episode.

Yeesh. Yes, that one.
I mean, how could that possibly get any creepier?

That was not a question I wanted answered.
Cloning stories are old hat in fiction. But that doesn’t mean they automatically suck. Plots are like magic tricks. It doesn’t matter how old the basic trick is. You just need to add your own personal flair that keeps it from becoming stale.

A magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat? Yawn.

A magician pulling a rabbit out of an audience member's hat? Now you’re getting somewhere.

A magician pulling a rabbit out of an audience member’s shoe? Now you’re blazing a new trail with the old material.

So just because Teen Titans Go! is whipping out the standard clone storyline, that doesn’t mean that it’s automatically bad. The fact that they fail to do anything interesting with it is what makes it bad.

Let’s break down the plot.

Cyborg makes a clone.
This is basically required in order to have a cloning plot.

The clone takes over his life.
There’s potential in the idea, but it only comes into play long enough to get a Beast boy clone made.

A Beast Boy clone is made.
This resets the Cyborg/Beast boy relationship to the status quo, albeit with another Cyborg/Beast Boy relationship walking around

Cyborg and Beast Boy discover their worst characteristics in their clones.
Again, there’s potential here, but it mostly serves to set up the next plot point.

The Titans want to send out the clones, but the clones outnumber the Titans.
Another standard twist that you could even trace back to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia. Nothing new here.

The Titans are kicked out as Cyborg and Beast Boy realize that they’re really clones, too.
This plot point is handled well, as it gives the team a focal point for the rest of the episode in their quest for the real Cyborg and Beast Boy.

They find the originals.
And as a “joke,” they’re morbidly obese and making gross noises.

It's funny because they're fat? And smelly?
Not only that, but they whip out a Planet Hulk-style deus ex machina to resolve the episode while the final two clones remaining decides to be hobos for no other reason than to wrap up their story.

Ostensibly, the first clones’ change of heart and hobo redemption is supposed to parody such quick and tidy resolutions (compounded by the fact that the originals aren’t back to normal like everything else), but it’s such a subtle parody that it just comes across as bad writing. And for all I know, there was no attempt at parody and it is just bad writing.

There are no themes to speak of, since the episode switches from standard clone plot point to standard clone plot point without developing any themes. So instead, I’ll give my two cents on how this episode could be improved.

First, make it longer. Now there's a rare criticism of TTG.

But yeah. Make it longer and replace the ending deus ex machina with a battle to retake Titans Tower. And after a potentially cool battle against whatever creative ways the clones choose to fight (Cyborg-planes dropping Beast Boy elephants en masse, to name one idea), the Titans get the idea that if they wait long enough, the clones will succumb to the same tendencies that made the original ones obese. And when all the clones are fat, the Titans rush in and retake the tower, launching the clones into space.

And for a final twist, the Titans would launch the still-morbidly-obese original Cyborg and Beast boy into space as well, since they were the ones who stated this mess. And with an ending where the fat clones were running away from an alien T-Rex, the episode would end.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it would tie together a few threads.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

In the end, nothing is learned, and their weight problem is left unresolved to mess with the audience’s expectations.

But I have to wonder. Were the Cyborg and Beast boy from previous episodes the originals? Or the clones? It’d be interesting if this was actually the first technical appearance of Cyborg and Beast Boy.

On a behind-the-scenes note, Khary Payton apparently ad-libbed Cyborg's "I'm a Genius" song and dance, so point to him for that.

Again, the visuals have more energy and creativity, with more off model moments for the sake of keeping the show visually interesting.

Beast boy even makes some faces that aren't creepy.
But can I just point out what a missed opportunity it was by not including “flawed clones” that looked like the versions from the original Teen Titans cartoon? Then again, the creators won’t discover their favorite pastime of blatantly trolling the audience for a few episodes.

Final Thoughts
This is yet another early episode that never quite gels because the intent of the series is clashing with what the writers would obviously rather be doing instead. Trolling the audience and absurd humor.

Next time, a bit of that absurd humor comes out to play as Robin asks Starfire out. See you then!

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