Sunday, December 25, 2016

Recap: Teen Titans Go! "40% 40% 20%"

It's Christmas Day at the NewtCave.

And my attempt to deck the halls seems to have gone awry....
This year, I started my look at Teen Titans Go!, which has as of yet been... well, disappointing.

The first few episodes of Teen Titans Go! are visibly struggling to find the show's tone, style, and boundaries. As such, numerous episodes aren't bad enough to be "bad", but not good enough to be "good."

To use a Christmas metaphor, the first few episodes can't really be put on either the nice or naughty list.

Since ripping Teen Titans Go! a new one can be practically a sport in some corners of the internet, I've decided to give the show a Christmas present in the form of a favorable review.

But I don't hand out favorable reviews like candy. Rest assured, Teen Titans Go! earned this from me with, quite simply, the best episode of Teen Titans Go! as of this date.

This is the one that quite a few TTG fans say is their favorite, and many of the show's detractors agree that this episode is exempt from the "Teen Titans Go! is crap" rule.

So Merry Christmas, Teen Titans Go!

But, uh... just so we're clear, show? This doesn't undo the existence of "Hot Garbage," "The Return of Slade," or "Parasite."
The episode begins with Cyborg beginning his day by waking up, counting to three, and playing... well, with no exaggeration, the greatest song in the whole of Teen Titans Go!, a little number called The Night Begins to Shine; A song so 80s-tastic that he dances backwards out of his room and immediately starts lip-syncing it to the other Titans.

Song: "I saw you dance. From the corner. I caught your name. In a conversation."

Yeah, this is sort of a limitation of my chosen medium. Song lyrics just look like weird poetry without the actual music for me to show you. But if you're interested in this song I'm going to gush over, go ahead and look up some clips on YouTube. Some of them are even legal, having been posted by Cartoon Network's official channel. You can even buy it on iTunes. Really.

Song: "Playing hard to get. I can't understand. When I look at you. I see the story in your eyes! When we're dancing...."
Robin: "Cyborg!"

Shut up, Robin! I'm listening to that.

Song: "The night begins to shine!"
Raven: "Cyborg!"


Song: "The night begins to shine!"
Beast Boy: "Yo!"


Song: "The night begins to shine! The night begins to shine! When we're dancing... the night..."
Robin: "Cyborg!"
Song: "...begins to..."
Cyborg: "Yeeeesssss?"

Man, I was listening to that, Cyborg...

Although I do suppose you guys are reading this Recap for me to actually talk about this episode, rather than just the song, huh?

Fine. I'll promise that I'll stop talking about the song.

Starfire: "Cyborg, we must speak about the topic of 'the song.'"

Then I promise that there won't be anymore contextless gushing over the song.

Cyborg: "It's pretty great, right?"

From me. Contextless gushing over the song from me. No more.

It seems as though the Titans are a bit sick of Cyborg's constant playing of The Night Begins to Shine, despite the fact that we've only heard a single snippet of it before in the episode "Slumber Party."

But you know what? At least the song did have an early appearance in a Cyborg-centric episode. So it doesn't come entirely out of left field. Now that's how you use continuity in a cartoon.

Cyborg: "Yeah I do! It gets me pumped up! Uunnnnnh!"
Beast Boy: "Bro, what's so special about that song?"
Cyborg: "On the magnetic strip in this cassette tape lives the greatest song ever written!"

Really? But I thought Tenacious D couldn't remember it after playing the first thing that came to their heads to defeat a demon.

Cyborg: "'The Night Begins to Shine'!"

Oh, right. Probably a very close second.

For once, Cyborg's enthusiasm is very much warranted.
Cyborg: "Influenced by the sounds of the 80s, it was 40% written by Carl Burnett, 40% by Franklin Enea, and a sweet sweet 20% by William J. Regan!"

So... yes. That is absolutely true.

Well, I don't know the exact percentages, but those are real people, and they were assembled by the Teen Titans Go! staff to create the 80s-mazing song "The Night Begins to Shine." Which is probably why it sounds so much like... well, a real song. It basically is one.

No cassette tapes exist yet, though.
Cyborg: "When I hear this song, anything is possible!"

Starfire is in awe of the power held by musical arrangements, which Cyborg elaborates upon by telling her that "Music can transform you."

Raven: "So... I can be Optimus Prime?"
Cyborg: "No! I wanna be Optimus Prime. But you can be Bumblebee."

Dude, not even Bumblebee wants to be Bumblebee. I'm a Wreck-Gar guy myself.

Cyborg dances away as we cut to a later point in time. The other Titans are in the kitchen, sighing away, as Cyborg enthuses in to the sweet tones of "The Night Begins to Shine." He wonders what's with the long faces, and Starfire explains that it's a case of "the blah." For which Cyborg recommends 20 CCs of "The Night Begins to Shine."

And despite the Titans' protests, it seems to work. As Cyborg tells them to listen with their hearts, not their ears, Raven's body starts moving to the beat, and Beast Boy lip synchs without knowing the words.

Cyborg: "The words know you! They always have!"

And Cyborg's earlier comment is proven right when the music transforms them into distilled 1980s.

I don't know why and I don't care.
Cyborg: "Music is its own reality!"

Or at the very least, its own Kingdom Hearts world.
Robin: "This is freaking me out! What do we do?"
Cyborg: "We ride."

It is at this point that the episode becomes a thoroughly 80s music video for "The Night Begins to Shine."

Now, the 80s weren't always the best when it came to music videos; see Journey's "Separate Ways" for an example of artsiness going too far. Dream sequences, terrible editing...

And Journey pretending to play invisible instruments. What is this I don't even.
As with the song itself, no words I can type can do this sequence justice. The combination of the song mixed with the shockingly creative and vibrant visuals is, quite simply, sublime.

Oh my.
Yes please.
But alas, it comes to an end when Robin presses pause on Cyborg's chestplate. No matter how transformative the song might be, they still need to talk about it.

Cyborg playing it all. The. Time. Heck, he even tries to start it up several times as Robin tells him to shut it down for good.

Robin: "No more! The night is done shining, Cyborg!"

And what's more, the Titans are worried about his ability to function without the constant shining of the night. When pressed, Cyborg can't even open a jar of pickles without playing the song, turning into a blubbering wreck.

Suddenly, Robin gets a crime alert from the toaster...

Wait, what?
...saying that the Brain is attacking Jump City.

So he finally snapped.
The Titans all mobilize, but Robin orders Cyborg to stay behind until he can open that jar. Without the song.

Not a good start.
Two days of struggling ensue, whereupon Cyborg read the lid and discovers, to add insult to injury, that the jar has an easy-open lid.

A baby could probably do it.
Another day goes by before Cyborg gets a notification that the Brain has the Titans kidnapped.

"You'd think I'd have wondered where they were before now."
But Cyborg has lost all self-confidence. Without the song, he's nothing. But speaking of the song, a loud bird right outside the window builds its nest while crowing on off-key version of "The Night Begins to Shine."

And everything makes sense.

Cyborg: "Birds sing all the time, and they're always getting work done! I understand now. Music is supposed to be a crutch. And right now, i need me some crutches!"

The song begins.

The lid pops off.

Cyborg chows down on a pickle.

And the second music video sequence begins.

Oh, yes.
My word.
That's the stuff.
God, yes.

So after Cyborg infiltrates the Brain's lair in a super-awesome 80s sequence, the Brain's lackey, a gorilla named "Monsieur Mallah," manages to sucker punch Cyborg, knocking his cassette tape into the Brain's waiting claw. The Brain crushes the tape, destroying the only thing keeping Cyborg going.

Dropping him like the Tin Man after a light drizzle.
And the Titans know what they must do. They start humming an a cappella version of "The Night Begins to Shine" (with Starfire's vocals sounding oddly like the vocal break in Blondie's "Call Me"), giving Cyborg the strength to get up, beat down Mallah, and return the world to being an 80s music video.

Cyborg: "Music will transform you."

And he proves this by turning into a semi tractor-trailer.

Cyborg: "One shall stand. One shall fall."

And Brain is the one doing the falling as Cyborg runs him down and shoots lasers out his exhaust pipes to save his friends from their cages.

...What more could I add to this picture?
Cyborg: "Call me... Cyborgimus Prime. Titans! Roll out!"

And with a final 80s image to leave on, the episode ends.

Can I get a gif?
Oh, yeah.
So... yeah. We might as well review, even though you can probably guess how I feel about this one.

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