Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review: Teen Titans Go! "Laundry Day"

I'll have y'all know that it was very difficult to keep myself from making a "Dick Grayson" joke, what with Robin running around naked throughout this episode.

...Though I guess this technically still counts. Dang it.

To date, this episode remains Michael Jelenic's only solo episode. Later episodes will have him teamed up with Aaron Horvath to create 15-minute tributes to various pieces of 1980s pop culture, among other, more formulaic episodes. But I'll get to those eventually.

The story itself was a little all-over-the-place. Following each Titan’s individual struggle for a bit wasn’t too bad, but the show bopped around from a series of challenges to naked adventures to physical comedy to evil clothing…

Sure, it was all a continuation of the same plot, but it seemed more like a series of events than anything else until the end.

Part of the problem is that this episode felt very disjointed. I can't help but wonder if they employed some radical re-editing...

...since the cut from the kitchen... the kitchen...
...implies that there was a missing scene there. Or at least one that was moved around. Or maybe it was just an oversight.

Either way, I think a consistent through-line of some kind could have immensely helped this episode.

Instead of giving Cyborg a short little gag about being unable to pick a replacement robot body, I think there could have been some comedic potential in seeing his head get into some kind of physical antics that bop him around from room to room while the other Titans struggle with clotheslessness. And at the end, if he ends up in the living room with Beast Boy, then he can end that segment by mentioning how much he needs his clothes back. As it is, each of the clothesless Titans (sans Raven) end their bits by wanting their clothes back, so combining Beast Boy's segment with Cyborg would allow each segment to follow a similar pattern.

Truth be told, I feel as though Cyborg got the short end of the stick. Sure, there is some humor in seeing his little wire body for the first time, but Cyborg choosing from multiple robot bodies including Brainiac's DCAU form and a female body just... well, it’s fine as a small gag, but it feels empty when compared to the other Titans’ segments.

All in all, the events in question seem a bit random, even by this show’s standards, and the abundance of gross-out jokes seems like a crutch to pad out the episode.

Really, the only character worth mentioning is Raven, since she’s the only one apart from Robin who does anything to make plot happen. And Robin… well, he’s just being Robin. Though I do find it odd that he apparently has fans, which would seem to be completely at odds with later episodes. But I guess this is before Robin was supposedly cripplingly unattractive.

I find it interesting that, by and large, Raven is the most unchanged Titan from her original animated incarnation, except perhaps for Starfire.

For now.

While later episodes will have Raven indulge in buffoonery as much as the next Titan (unless that Titan is Beast Boy), these early episodes portray her as a much-needed counterpoint to the others' over-the-top-ness. She's smart, sassy, and manages to pull off a clever scheme that gives Robin his just desserts.
Of course, there is the matter of her OTT attempts to dispose of the laundry, but what’s one comedic montage when compared to the character’s behavior in the rest of the episode?

When people say that Teen Titans Go! looks like a cheaply-made Flash cartoon, this is what they're thinking of.

Through the whole episode, the animation seems a little... off. While the comedic timing works, and there's a manic energy to the characters' movements, the actual animation is fluid in some instances, but stiff in others.

Teen Titans Go! is capable of good animation, even managing to provide great animation at times.
But this episode is full of shortcuts. "Animation" that simply alternates between a few poses rather than moving individual body parts, repeated movements... and yet, at some points, there's too much flourish in the movements, making the characters look off model. And there's a lot of off-model-ness in this episode.

Final Thoughts
More than anything, this episode feels rushed, from the writing to the animation. It's not "bad" so much as "low quality." Don't get me wrong, this episode isn't good, but it's not indicative of the show as a whole. My main beef with this episode is the fact that they released it in such an unpolished state. 

Next time, Beast Boy dies as the show begins to find its voice. Those two things are somewhat unrelated. 

See you then!

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