Tooncrap #40 - Teen Titans GO!: Let's Get Serious

Cartoon Network: 2013

Written by: Raymond Gallant

It happened again.

You may have noticed a bit of a trend here on Tooncrap over the years that when a cartoon I'm really excited for comes to television, it turns out to be one of the worst experiences of my tv viewing life. It happened with Sonic Underground. It happened with Donkey Kong Country. It happened with the Ren and Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon. And while not as devastating as the other three, it sure the heck happened with Teen Titans Go!

To answer why exactly would require going way back to the glory days of 2004. For a good few years I was getting out of watching cartoons. Or to be more precise the ones targeted more towards children. I was watching more adult cartoons and shows and trying to move forward from the kinds of shows I watched as a kid. Then I watched an episode of Teen Titans. Then another. Then another. And wouldn't you know it? It led me back into enjoying cartoons often targeted for a younger audience.

The reason being how the cartoon was structured overall. A superhero cartoon show that could be serious, dark, and action packed in one episode, then suddenly wacky and off the wall in another. Mix it with a great pseudo anime style, great characters, and great storytelling, and you have yourself a spicy meatball of an awesome cartoon. Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy, and Starfire became beloved characters of mine, and I knew I was going to love this cartoon and it's guaranteed long run.

And of course it gets cancelled after five brief seasons. Because I can't have nice things.

Lo, like all DC superhero cartoons that start to gain an audience, Cartoon Network would can the series. But you could never silence the fans of the series, who clamored, petitioned, and like fans usually do, bitched and moaned to get their show back. And after about seven years of begging, they would get their wish sorta... kinda... not exactly.
Teen Titans was brought back as a series of shorts for the DC Nation block. A block of superhero cartoons that, to no surprise, was poorly promoted, and dumped at a horrible time slot. The cartoons were only a couple minutes long, and focused more on comedic bits. They were for the most part pretty entertaining. But it wasn't enough to appease the hungry Titans fans as they wanted their show back. Cartoon Network finally obliged, and announced a new Teen Titans Cartoon series for 2013 complete with the original voice cast. To say people were excited was an understatement. Hell, I was once again sucked into the void of overblowing my expectations.

Too bad none of use realized that this would be a comedy series. A comedy series done by people who admittedly never watched the original Teen Titans cartoon. A comedy series done by really bad writers who usually pull annoying plots out of their ass and who admittedly never watched the original Teen Titans cartoon. To say the fans were not happy with seeing the new portrayal of the characters was an understatement. And to say the writers of the show have this annoying habit of openly mocking the angry old school fans is an even bigger understatement.

So let's look at one known episode to judge the easily projected contempt these guys have for the fans of the old series. Let's review the episode "Let's Get Serious".

We open the episode at a secret military base, as the villains from H.I.V.E are committing some acts of theft. However, the Teen Titans are here to stop them. Robin gives off a dramatic monologue, only for Beast Boy to let out a constant barrage of fart noises, ruining the moment, and for some ruining their childhoods.

Robin is understandably upset at the lack of caring the other Titans have over, you know, stopping crime, as they ask why Robin is taking things so seriously, and not having fun. You know, DURING A CRIME! While Robin posits on who else can stop evil...

When all of a sudden the cast of Young Justice arrive to quickly bring H.I.V.E to justice

Robin tries to prove to Aqualad that he and his team can be serious (while Cyborg and Beast Boy sing like the pair of brainless dolts that they've become). Aqualad lays the harsh truth to Robin that the titans don't take things seriously, don't teach life lessons, and are, for the most part, complete and utter clownshoes. Essentially, Aqualad is speaking for the fans of the original series who bemoan the comedy of Teen Titans Go.

And this also feels like a shot at Young Justice being cancelled, blaming its more serious take as a factor, and in turn taking a shot at that show's fans too. Wowsers.

Robin broods over the shots by Aqualad, bringing up his dead parents and tragic past. Even though the original Teen Titans never made that an issue. He gets mad at the rest of the group becoming jokesters, especially Raven. Which takes us to a cutaway gag of Raven telling stand up for way too long.

Hey, I remember another cartoon that used to be really good, but when it came back after cancellation it became poor, and used bad meta humor and unfunny overly long cutaway gags. I wonder what that cartoon was call-


Robin tries his best to bring to light the foolishness of his team, but being as they have the combined mental capacity of a dust mite's rectum, they of course brush it off. Robin tells the Titans that their character traits should be taken more seriously, like Cyborg being half man and machine. They eventually get that they should be more serious.

And then this stuff of pure nightmare happens. They literally become more serious by having more realistic features and being brooding and angsty. See, because they're serious now. Because, you know, that's how Teen Titans always was right? And this is the problem with this episode, and why I feel it comes off more insulting and intentionally trying to create an issue with fans of the old series.

Yes, Teen Titans had serious moments and episodes. But what also made the show work was the fact that it could balance serious and dark stories with off the wall comedy, and zany, anime inspired adventures. It was a show that balanced a myriad of ideas and genres instead of just being one kind of superhero cartoon. And even its serious episodes still knew how to be lighthearted, or smartly written. It wasn't just about brooding, or angst. It was about the importance of the characters and their growth throughout the series.

And what do the great writers of this cartoon do? Not get the point, and instead just poop out something that feels like a middle finger to the fans of old, because maybe, just maybe, some people look at this show, and see that it's kind of an insult to one of the most beloved cartoons of its time. I don't condone attacking writers and creators for bad content, but when the people behind this do so with the intent to piss people off, I have no sympathy whatsoever.

After about a minute or so of rubbing in about how super serious they've become (Seriously for a cartoon that lasts eleven minutes, it may be the one with the most filler and lack of anything of substance happening that I've ever seen), They go to deal with H.I.V.E now that they're super duper serious. They beat the crap out of them, and the missile they launch with the use of "serious" firepower.

Even Aqualad and the rest of Young Justice are impressed by the newly serious Titans. But now they might be too serious. Well duhh. And of course, now Robin broods over Aqualad calling him too serious because, reasons. Turns out he was right, as the now super serious Titans fight with one another and go their separate ways.

Until next week when they're just idiotic assholes again.

And that's "Let's Get Serious". This one was just a pain to sit through. It missed the point of what made Teen Titans work, or any cartoon that takes a serious focus to be entertaining. If anything it made the people behind the show come off as far more petty for how they handled the rather harsh criticism from former fans. It never gets funny, is loaded with just disturbing imagery with how defined the characters look, and goes out of its way to kick not one, but two fanbases while they're down. It's crap. Serious crap.