May 27, 2012

Cinema Won Crossover: "Men in Black: The Series" Review

    Hello Undefined Gamer readers! It's Alex from Cinema Won. And I'm here to crossover once again to talk to you about something very special. Did you know that there was an animated TV series based off of the Men In Black movies? Well, neither did I, but Target remembered and in honor of Men in Black 3, they released the entire first season of the show on DVD. And I watched it. So, this is Men in Black: The Series!

    To keep things nice and simple, seeing as how reviewing 13 episodes of an entire TV show is more difficult than reviewing just a movie, I'll break up this review into several parts, starting with:

The Concept:
    For the most part, the core concept of the show is the same as the movies. The Men in Black cut all ties from their former life and police all of the extraterrestrial life on Earth while keeping it a secret from us normal humans. Where the show does change it up is in the idea that the show universe, not the movies' universe, is the "real" universe. In this "real" universe, it's implied that the animated Jay and Kay are the real agents of Men in Black, and that Will Smith and Tommy Lee-Jones and the three movies are all fictionalized accounts of Men in Black cases. Not confusing at all, right?
    In fact, that where the show has most of its fun. Unlike other shows based on movies (Here's looking at you Back to the Future), this one actually tries (And, for the most part, succeeds) to expand on the film's story and present more of a mythos to follow. Villains exclusive to the show battle the MiB. Continuity is actually used well. There are even some good running jokes. Overall, not bad for a kids show.

The Quality:
    It's good. First off, the animation is actually pretty nice. Now, granted, I have heard that the animation quality drops off after this first season, but for here at least, it nice enough. Some of the character's look a little weird, mostly in the odd faces they make sometimes. Sometimes the quality can also change from episode to episode. The 8th episode, "The Symbiote Syndrome" (All episodes are called "The blank Syndrome"), has the weakest animation in the bunch and actually looks kinda cruddy.
    And, as far as the voice actors go, it's not so bad either. Keith Diamond play Jay and is pretty good at sounding like Will Smith. Ed O'Ross play Kay in this first season (He's replaced by famed voice actor Gregg Berger in the following seasons). He's doesn't exactly do a Tommy Lee-Jones impression, but does do a nice job. The only actor to reprise his role was Tony Shalhoub as Jeebs, at least for a few episodes. Again, it overall not bad quality. The one place it does completely suck is in the theme song. It's a weird instrumental thing and is more intolerable than memorable.

Because you could totally stand on that.
The Episodes:
    The first season is made up of 13 half-hour episodes. The series is kicked off with "The Long Goodbye Syndrome", which involves Jay being marked for death by an alien, and the surprisingly lack of care by his fellow agents. As an introduction to the series, it's alright. It's funny enough to be watchable. The best part is a hilarious bit and the very beginning involving a cat stuck in a tree. Frank the Dog gets his big day in the spotlight in the episode "The Irritable Bow-Wow Syndrome". In it, he swallows a black-hole creating device and has to get it removed before it sucks him up. OF the 13 episodes, this one is easily the weakest, with very little funny parts or even that good of a story. It's pretty lame.
    The series really starts to pick up with "The Alpha Syndrome", in which the series main villain and Kay's former mentor, is introduced. Alpha is actually pretty cool and menacing and the story is very entertaining. It was the moment for me at least where I realized I was gonna like the show more than I thought I would. For best episode though, "The Neuralyzer Syndrome" takes the cake. Jay accidentally nueralyzes Kay back to his teenage state. The episode is not only very funny, it also reveals a lot about Kay characters and is actually surprisingly deep. Unfortunately, due to an unfortunate scene in which Jay almost crashes an alien ship in the World Trade Center (This was made in the late 90s after all), this episode is one that is actually no longer aired on TV in the US anymore, so the DVD is really the only way to see the great episode.
Yes. This is real.

    Overall, Men in Black: The Series actually works. Thanks to a surprising amount of continuity and world-building, the show goes above and beyond just a normal cartoon show. While sure, the animation quality isn't great, the show manages to match the movies humor, stories and the relationship between Jay and Kay. If you live near a Target store, pick up this first season on DVD. It's cheap and well worth the price. Men in Black: The Series gets 5 stars out of 6.

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