Before 1994 our only real animated Spider-Man fix was the 1981 series “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.” Intent on rethinking the Spider-Man mold for the nineties, FOX forked over a ton of money to New World Corporation (and then Saban) to create Spider-Man: The Animated Series. With a completely different animation style, and small uses of computer animation, “Spider-Man: The Animated Series” premiered in 1994 with the episode “Night of the Lizard” and managed to take off as a ratings boom for FOX in the wake of similar successes like “X-Men” and “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”
Jordan Peele’s ambitious reboot of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” has managed to become one of the most polarizing series of the year, but it’s definitely inspired people to talk and that’s a good thing. Peele is not settling on merely a tribute, but has managed to retrofit a lot of classic episodes to modern sensibilities. While some episodes were clunkers, most episodes this season have been fantastic. With the season finale airing now on CBS All Access, I thought I’d list the five best episodes of the first season.
Full Disclosure: Although Mill Creek Entertainment sent us a copy of “The Jackie Chan Adventures,” the opinions expressed are 100% honest and our own.
Jackie Chan seemed almost fit for his own kids show. While the international action movie star was in fact known for a slew of iconic movies that continue to win the hearts of movie buffs to this day, Jackie Chan’s methods of self defense always made him look like a walking, talking cartoon character—but, you know–deadly. To tap his ever-rising popularity, the WB network eventually gave him his own animated series for kids. Unlike other action stars, it seemed like a natural fit that wouldn’t alienate any of the fan base including the action aficionados. Basing a show on a hero that avoided getting hit as well as avoiding actually hitting his enemies was a breath of fresh air, and it seemed like Saturday morning kismet.
Its season three for one of the most bizarre but very entertaining crime thrillers TNT has ever brought to the small screen. After season two falling in with the Russian mafia, and surviving a deadly marriage, the season closed with an assassination attempt on Desna’s life. Virginia sadly suffered the bullet meant for her sister in law. “Claws” returns taking off immediately from the last scene from season two and it takes off like a rocket. It’s the same lunacy as always for “Claws” with bizarre fantasy sequences, some genuinely darkly funny comedy, and a brand new pair of villains that might just be the undoing of Desna and her crew if she isn’t careful.
After FOX Studios revived comic book property the X-Men and paved the comic book movie as bonafide moneymaker, the canvas of pop culture was carved from the gateway “Blade” forged. After the 2000 cinematic adaptation “X-Men” and its sequel “X2,” both films and the franchised built shocking influence, not just on other genre properties, but comics in general. With X-Men once again being celebrated, the iconic series and comic book team was primed for an animated reboot, after the end of “X-Men: The Animated Series.” Marvel and Film Roman approached the series from a different angle by establishing a new continuity of the “merry mutants” in contemporary times. They changed the focus of the series, as well as the ages of the entire group to appeal to a wider young audience.
And it worked.
“Previously on, X-Men…” was one of the trademark openings kids in the nineties heard every Saturday morning while watching the FOX Kids line up. It was during this time, in the midst of the networks third year (which also included “Batman: The Animated Series”), that FOX and Saban Entertainment teamed up to take on on yet another very popular and ambitious comic book property: Marvel Comics’ “X-Men.” The series came to be widely known by FOX and hardcore fans as “X-Men: The Animated Series.”
“Pryde of the X-Men” (also known as “X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men”) is an animated pilot I mostly remember thanks to its VHS release in 1989 that my brother and I must have borrowed from my cousin a thousand times over. Despite its obscurity, however, this relic of the early Marvel Entertainment days is one of the many abandoned projects from Marvel that’d inadvertently become a classic. Before 1992’s “X-Men: The Animated Series,” there was 1989’s “X-Men,” a series that begun development after constant guest spots from the team during “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.” Watching it years later, it’s surprising just how much of the early episodes of the 1992 series were based on the “Pryde of the X-Men” pilot.
Nostalgia entertainment is about as popular as ever and modern streaming services and networks are banking on the fascinating topics that can be mined from the mementos of pop culture. One of the most entertaining documentary series to be brought to the popular Netflix service has been by Brian Volk-Weiss’s “The Toys That Made Us.” While most studios would cut corners by merely making a series that relies on “Remember this?” and “Remember when…?” what “The Toys That Made Us” instead does is examine the importance and relevance of iconic toy lines from the eighties and nineties.