July 21, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Avatar: The Last Airbender “Legends”

Season One Finale

Well, I finished season one.  Since I am concurrently rewatching the original animated series with Jimmy, I can’t help but do a number of comparisons, and it leads me to, well, here.

Here is a strange place to be.   I noted in the first episode write-up that the only person I know who liked this live action version better than the animated one watched the live action version first.  I know I prefer the animated version.  At the same time, I find this live action version isn’t all that bad.  It’s, well, fine.  I know what I would watch if given the choice, but if Netflix was bound and determined to do a live action remake of a modern animated classic TV series, then they could have done a lot worse.

Mental note:  check out the live action One Piece one of these days.

So, what can I say about this finale, season one, and the series as a whole?  I think the thing here is that the change in form by necessity changes the story to be told.  The more comedic cartoon exaggerations have to go because flesh-and-blood human beings don’t work according to cartoon physics.  There’s a change in tone to match an older (say Young Adult as opposed to child) audience, and I can get behind that.  Like the Ninja Turtles or the Power Rangers or whatnot, each generation may get their own version of Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko.  That change in tone and style then necessitates a change in how characters behave, like a much less comedic Iroh or the minor character of Hanh going from Yue’s jerk fiancé to Yue’s rather friendly ex-fiancé.

It means the story still more or less goes in the same direction, but it gets there in a slightly modified version.  I suspect Lt. Jee  isn’t going anywhere, and the change in how Zhao’s dies means he won’t reappear in a live action Legends of Korra that I doubt Netflix was going to make anyway given, well, Korra is not as beloved as Aang.  And as with, say, Game of Thrones, knowing which characters will be more important down the road means they can be introduced earlier and given more to do than they were in the original story, so making Azula the mastermind behind Zhao, that clicks.

And I really like the idea that Ozai is just as bad a parent to his daughter as he is to his son.

Plus, this show does really well with the bending and the general look.  I’m sure that there are ways to cut corners here and there (look at the reduced role of Appa and Momo in this version for starters), but this show does look expensive.

The thing is, this is still a story where a child of maybe 13 has to save the world.  There’s only so much maturity you can inject into something like that without making it something else entirely.  On one level, I understand why Netflix opted to make this show, and kudos to the streamer for green lighting the next two seasons to finish off the story.  But like when Disney does it, I also wonder why.  Granted, Nickelodeon/Paramount owns the rights to the animated series, and it won’t be on Netflix forever.  But why try to recreate something that worked so well the first time?

To be clear, I actually like this version.  I just like the original much better.  I think the producers for this Last Airbender did what they could to produce something that actually isn’t at all bad.  I just think asking it to be better than it is may be asking a little too much.

OK, so, now what?  Well, for me, I figure I need something that is long-running, like I usually do with Wednesdays, but at the same time, flexible enough that I can put it aside when this show or Netflix’s Wednesday come back.  So, something that works on an individual episode basis, something I am pretty sure I will like, and something that has a lot of episodes to play with.

Oh, I know.

I’ve seen maybe one episode in its entirety, but I have always liked what I have seen from this show that makes the cast of Seinfeld look like saints.