Teen Titans Go!: Appetite for Disruption

| April 7, 2015

As a fan of the 2003-2006 Cartoon Network Teen Titans series, I approached Teen Titans Go! with enormous skepticism rather than excitement. After all, I saw Batman go from the seminal Batman: The Animated Series to the in many ways equally significant Batman Beyond, only to then get the occasionally chuckle-worthy, yet largely unimpressive Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Now, I know that series has many fans of its own, but I for one find it intolerable unless joined by my three-year-old son in the viewing of it. With the experience of my Brave and the Bold malaise fresh in my memory, I didn’t want to see the same thing happen to Teen Titans, finding myself stuck with an unfunny, lackluster response to one of my favorite animated series of the last 15 years.Titans2

But boy were my fears ever unfounded! In turning Teen Titans into a straightforward comedy series, Teen Titans Go! just gets everything right. While I’ve not been watching the series as it airs, I have been keeping up with it on DVD and simply find it every bit as binge-worthy as the original Teen Titans. In fact, I got an advanced look at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s 2-DVD release of Teen Titans Go!: Appetite for Destruction (available April 14, 2015), which collects the first half of the series’ second season, and that lasted me all of maybe three days. Twenty-six episodes at eleven minutes each (which is over four hours, by the way) just flies by when you’re watching Go!, I tell you.

So how does Go! manage to so perfectly spin off of the original series? In short, it does its own thing without being too different from that which we already recognize and have come to love. Remove the major world threats and the serious dramatic turns of the original Teen Titans series while keeping only that series’ comedic sensibilities and you have Go! For the most part, these are stories of the Titans on days when they’re not necessarily fighting crime, but instead planning trips to the beach, going out on dates, or binge-eating until their stomachs become sentient beings. You know, the usual!

If you’ve avoided it, perhaps because you see the more childish animation style as a sign to stay away from it for example, think of it not as a lame version of Teen Titans but instead as a fusion of Teen Titans and Regular Show. Literally anything can happen in Go!, including a battle between Robin and George Washington for leadership of the Teen Titans or a game of “Truth or Dare” with a demon. As with Regular Show’s Mordecai and Rigby, there’s indeed no task so simple that the Titans can’t find a way to blow it massively out of proportion. Even defeating returning villain Mad Mod, who they’ve seriously thrashed a number of times, gets wildly out of hand when Raven’s love of old people finds the other Titans prematurely aged and dying. Sad? Sure. That is, until we’re treated to rad musical number sung by Death himself!

And that’s just one of the many amazing bits of humourous minutiae jammed into Go! You’ll find hundreds of little references and homages the writers and animators packed into the episodes on Appetite for Disruption, like a DC-themed game of “I Spy.” Sometimes they’re just goofy little nods to other DC characters, as when Beast Boy opens to the cupboards to reveal a box of Bane Bites cereal next to some Bat-Os, but other times they’re full-blown parodies, as when Raven breaks into a song about knowledge presented Schoolhouse Rock-style. Among my personal favorite references in these episodes though are the Titans dressing up as the ThunderCats and Mumm-Ra for Halloween in “Halloween”; the appearances of 60’s Robin, Girl Robin and Dark Robin in “The Best Robin”; and the Thomas and Martha Wayne, Jason Todd and Boston Brand tombstones that appear in the aforementioned Death musical number. My #1 moment in all these episodes though—the one that filled me with the greatest fanboy feels of all—is in the episode “Baby Hands.” During a flashback to the Titans’ first mandatory meeting, Robin, Raven, Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire appear with the costumes and hairdos they had originally donned in the Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans comic books of the 80’s [as pictured above]. It’s that kind of joking reverence for every aspect of the source material that makes Teen Titans Go! so special and endlessly watchable to me.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
Filed in: TV on DVD
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