‘Teen Titans’ Gets a Makeover

Courtesy of Cartoon Network

Courtesy of Cartoon Network

It was the end of an era for my childhood that January 2006 day when the series finale of the superhero hit “Teen Titans” aired on Cartoon Network. It left me yearning for more.

Unanswered questions and plot holes left room open for the show to make a triumphant return in the near future. Years later, I received word that “Teen Titans” was coming back, and it was one of the happiest moments ever.

Of course, there was a catch. It would be titled “Teen Titans Go!” and take on a more comedic approach as opposed to its darker predecessor. Also, it would be a spin-off, so no continuation.

Even with new writers and a different, chibi (Japanese slang for small and cute) art style, I was pleased to see that the original voice cast would be returning.

“Teen Titans Go!” premiered on April 23, with two million viewers and becoming the number one kids program in the 2-14 demographic.

This time around, there is more focus on the humorous aspects of life for the five teenaged superheroes outside of fighting crime.

Robin takes drivers’ ed and obsesses over his artillery of weapons. Starfire, a naïve yet sweet alien, balances shooting star bolts at enemies with her budding romance with Robin.

In some of the episodes, we witness half-man, half-robot Cyborg eagerly await his birthday, animal shape-shifter Beast Boy plot the perfect prank, and the telekinetic and brooding Raven deal with her demonic father Trigon coming for a visit.

After the first few episodes, the reviews started rushing in. On one hand, people were delighted with the franchise revamp; IGN cited that the new generation of viewers will see “pretty fun results.”

However, die-hard fans of the original are divided — half love the idea that their beloved Titans are back on the air, whereas the other half believe that the childish appearance and antics of the show lack the captivating magic of the original.

While the original “Teen Titans” series was also intended for children, darker themes with the progression of each season allowed for a wider audience. Everyone from the comic book fanatic to the casual “Avengers” fan was able to appreciate the complex, intelligent and heartfelt stories taught.

Some may argue that this magic is missing in the new adaptation. Teens and 20-somethings looking for childhood nostalgia are alarmed to see the abundance of cute graphics and humor present. But personally, I am a fan of both. Sure, I miss the intensity of such plots as Terra’s betrayal and Raven’s curse to end the world, but I am pleased with this new direction.

I came into “Teen Titans Go!” understanding that it would not be the same as the original. It’s a project that targets a different audience — one that is looking for humor as opposed to dark storytelling. With this mindset, audiences can see each episode develop as the jokes become funnier and the characters fit more comfortably into their traits.

While “Teen Titans Go!” is amusing and adorable, perhaps there is still a chance of a sixth season of the original series. Who knows? Maybe if “Teen Titans Go!” does amazingly well, we’ll get the new season of “Teen Titans” that we’ve been wanting for nearly a decade.

While it is definitely different from the show I grew up on years ago, by understanding the intended audience of “Teen Titans Go!” I am able to appreciate the return of my childhood heroes to Cartoon Network.

If its success continues, maybe we’ll be rewarded with a revival of the original “Teen Titans” after all.

Only recommended if you are a fan of the original “Teen Titans” and come into it understanding that it is aimed at a different audience.