ANIMATION REVIEW: Teen Titans: The Complete First Season (2003) Warner Archive Blu-Ray

(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the blu-ray I reviewed in this article. The opinions I share are my own) 

I didn’t watch this toon when it first came out. I took in an episode, or two, but it looked too geared towards younger kids, which in one respect it is, the comedy, when it strikes, falls into that “super deformed anime look” that’s a major turn off for me. It wasn’t until ten years ago, maybe, a little longer, when I suddenly found myself curious about this long cancelled DC hero toon. I hit up Wikipedia and learned some things about it that made the series more attractive and interesting now. I also never realized Bruce Timm was a producer, and his track record with DC toons is mighty impressive. I put some of the season set DVDs on my Amazon wishlist, but since they weren’t a “priority title” they sat there unbought. It wasn’t until last summer when I came across the show on Cartoon Network On Demand that I finally saw it. Out of the blue the network uploaded the entire first season, so I decided to spend a few days seeing if it was any good. As I’ve mentioned countless times in my animation reviews the action animation on any super-hero toon must deliver otherwise it’s unwatchable for me. I was pleasantly surprised to see the action animation was up to my standards, and despite the rather annoying visual super deformed comedy, the show has its dramatic moments. I had a feeling Warner was getting ready to blue it because all those episodes were widescreen! If you have the old season sets, they’re full frame.

For those not in the Teen Titans know, this toon is based on the DC comic characters. The team consists of shape-shifting Beast Boy; alien refugee Starfire; a cyborg named, Cyborg; “sorceress” Raven, and the leader of the group, Batman’s sidekick, Robin. According to Wikipedia the big story arc for each season focused on one of the characters, season one was Robin’s, and his major nemesis was none other than Deathstroke. He’s not referred to as Deathstroke, but by his real name Slade throughout the arc, and voiced by high profile actor, Ron Perlman even!

This story arc begins in episode #1, “Final Exam,” and continues in episode #4 “Forces Of Nature,” #9 “Masks” and comes to an end in the two-parter, “The Apprentice,” which tips you off to why Slade is targeting the Titans. Not the Titans per say, but Robin, he wants an apprentice and he gets that, for a little while anyway. But he has to blackmail Robin by threatening to torture and/or kill his fellow Titans. Earlier in Part 1 Slade managed unbeknownst to them to inject them with these “nanobots,” and at the flick of a switch he can induce pain, or if he wanted end their lives. So, Robin does his bidding and stealing is what Slade wants him to do. He’s even forced to fight his team. This two-parter is surprisingly serious in tone, which I liked.

There were three other episodes that stood out for me, the first two are right next to one another, “The Sum Of His Parts,” and “Nevermore.” Cyborg is the focus of the former; his power cells are running low, something that happens every couple of years and when he heads back to Titan Tower to get a new one  villain Mumbo attacks. Mumbo is basically an evil magician who gets his powers from his wand. Break it and he reverts back to the powerless human he always was. While their fighting him in the junkyard, Cyborg, who made a makeshift battery and strapped it to his back, is ultimately bested when the backpack is dislodged during the confrontation. His power cells bottom out inside a dump truck and he’s dumped into a dumpster with no bottom. There’s this creepy robotic creature named, Fixit, living under the junkyard who “fixes” anything that falls into his realm. He has lots of minions (robots he’s fixed), and he believes Cyborg is “broke.” He is, and Fixit gives him new power cells, but he believes his human side is why he’s really broke and intends to replace them and make Cyborg a full-on robot. There’s a happy ending here when Fixit releases how much he’s missed being human and lets Cyborg go. I found this episode memorable thanks to the creepiness of Fixit, his underground lair, and his desire to “fix” Cyborg. Raven takes center stage in the latter episode as we finally learn a little bit about her past thanks to her losing her shit during a moment when the team took on villain Dr. Light. And when I say lose her shit I mean she suddenly turned red-eyed demonic and tried to take Light into her cloak. He’s rescued but severely traumatized by the darkness that momentarily engulfed him. Raven is moody for days after, like angry moody, and snapping at the others. In an effort to try and help Cyborg and Beast Boy enter her room, a place Raven allows no one to see. A hand mirror sucks the both of them into another dimension, a trippy one, the kind Marvel’s Dr. Strange would be at home in. Something’s gotten loose, according to Raven, who splits her personality into separate versions of herself in this realm. We also learn her father is demon Trigon! Apparently her anger has taken the shape of him, and she bests it by fusing with her other personalities. Raven meditates a lot to keep her emotions in check. She has to otherwise her powers get out of control. This ordeal also brought her, Cyborg and Beast Boy closer together as friends. I liked the ethereal nature of this episode period. “Car Trouble” is the third one. I got a kick out of this episode, because it was a simple, enjoyable premise of Cyborg getting the new high tech car he just built stolen, at first by a couple of punks, then by two, high profile villains, Gizmo and Overload, but not at the same time. The animation was very good.

All five seasons of Teen Titans have been previously reached DVD, but they’re just now beginning to hit blu-ray! Right now only first season has been blued, and you can buy Teen Titans: The Complete First Season here on Amazon or on WBShop.com.


Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio—No subs

Extras included . . .

  • Finding Their Voices: The Secret Information Behind the Making of Teen Titans (7:52)
  • Toon Topia Bonus Cartoons: The Hiros Episodes 1 & 2 (8:35)
  • Comic Creations: From Comic Book to Cartoon (21:55)
  • Puffy Ami Yumi Featurette (13:15)
  • Puffy Ami Yumi Music Video (3:31)
  • Sneak Peek at Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi TV Show (:38)

 

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About Shawn Francis

Movie collector and horror writer.
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