Oh, cool, it's the ThunderCats (2nd reboot)! Check 'em out!
February 15, 2020 1:29 PM   Subscribe

In 1985, ThunderCats debuted (YouTube, trailer + intro, 3 minutes), and ran for 130 episodes over 4 seasons (Thundercats.org, episode guide), promoted as "another children's animated fantasy [... with] lessons about respect, friendship, truth, honesty and justice" (Rankin Bass, PRpage). They also sold a lot of toys (Thundercats.org). The show was rebooted in 2011 (YT, 2 minute trailer; previously) by Studio 4°C (previously) for Cartoon Network. Now CN's rebooting the series again (Bleeding Cool), but now it's silly and crazy and outlandish, with cool action elements (Entertainment Weekly interview). Enough talking, on with the cartoons! YT playlist of official promo clips, and CN has the first two episodes online now.
posted by filthy light thief (39 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
ThunderCats is so 80s; the 21st C belongs to the Lumbercats!
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:33 PM on February 15 [7 favorites]

Bonus links:
- Original ThunderCats map, by show developer Leonard Starr (Mltshp)
- 11 audio outtakes from the voice actors of the original ThunderCats, hosted by Thundercats.org, where it is noted that these outtakes have been confirmed as real by ThunderCats voice actor Larry Kenney (the voice of Lion-O, amongst other characters). [Yes, these are the obscene audio clips floating around the 'net in the early 2000s.]

Previous Thundercattiness:
- Thunder, thunder, thundercats LOL! (MADtv animated short)
- Mais let's see what those T-Minous is up to (clips of the original series redubbed in Cajun English)
- No Wilykit or Snarf??? (Thundercats: The (live action) Movie trailer; info) -- not to be confused with this live-action fan-made trailer
posted by filthy light thief at 1:42 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]

And I'll note that people are hating this reboot. ThunderCats Roar review: The WORST, most GARBAGE cartoon of 2020 arrives! has some more background on the roll-out of announcements for this show, and the fan rage from both fans of the 35 year old original and the 2011 reboot.

Thundercats Roar is worse than we thought and we didn't have high hopes to begin with. :( is more of a current take from what I'm guessing are younger folk, who focus on the fact that these joyous goofball cartoon characters don't look like actual cats. Have you seen the original series? Or the reboot?

Anyway, I really enjoyed these episodes (they're around 12 minutes each), and as someone who can sing along to the original themesong, I am happy to see the show lampooning the original cartoon. It ... wasn't great.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:47 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]

I think this is my favorite take on the outrage over the new series. That mjtanner review ... not great. The reviewers decide what a reboot is "supposed to be" and then fault this new series for not meeting their definition.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:57 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]

Came here to see if someone had posted the outtakes and of course lol.

"You ... You've got to snap out of it Lion-o, call the Thundercats before..."
"Shutup you f***!"
posted by memebake at 2:22 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]

Clicks CN network link
Sees art style
Closes tab

It reminds of what is my least favorite reboot to date.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:32 PM on February 15 [8 favorites]

posted by darkstar at 2:41 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]

[... with] lessons about respect, friendship, truth, honesty and justice

So the bumpf tells us it must be American. I guess that also explains why there were no lessons about litter trays.
posted by biffa at 2:48 PM on February 15

It was, like most 80s cartoons, a cheaply made half hour toy ad. Ren And Stimpy couldn't arrive quickly enough.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:57 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]

Yes! Please! Take that stupid fucking show and have fun with it!
posted by phooky at 3:09 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]

Speaking of "cheaply made half hour toy ads" it seems there's also a Masters of the Universe reboot on its way. I can't say I watched the original (or will watch the new one) but the voice casting is all-star. It looks like Kevin Smith took every lead actor hired by Andrea Romano for the Timm and Dini Batman and Justice League series and added in a whole bunch of sci-fi TV and movie stars and a few others who have been doing voice-work in recent years.
posted by sardonyx at 3:11 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]

Thundercats was probably the first cartoon that I loved as a kid and revisited, only to be stunned at how *bad* it was. The animation was utterly terrible, with the “single part of the frame being animated as a repeating background slides by underneath” style that I later realized was pretty much par for the course in most of the cartoons I loved as a kid.

Then again, someone on twitter recently pointed out that at the heart of the show is a cat that has a giant laser pointer, and when he needs help, he flashes it around and other cats come running. So there’s that.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:33 PM on February 15 [22 favorites]

Yes! Please! Take that stupid fucking show and have fun with it!

Behold: Thundercats Live Spectacular (via Superpunch)
posted by katra at 3:37 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]

My black cat and orange cat are nicknamed Panthro and Lion-O.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:49 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]

> Masters of the Universe reboot on its way.
That is a good line up, let's hope Kevin Smith goes the extra mile and hires someone other than Kevin Smith to write it.
posted by lkc at 4:17 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]

I was 16 when it aired originally. I'd seen the intro while babysitting, and at school, we did love screaming, "Thunder, Thunder, Thundercats! HOOO!" during track practice for some reason.

That one and Jem; those shows may have been shitty, but at least they had good intro themes. Couldn't tell you about the shows, but I liked those themes.

And I'm now reminded of this.
posted by droplet at 4:36 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]

Ah, more Steven Universe-style animation.

Already, I despise it.

PS: I’m sure some of you are rabid fans of Steven Universe. As good as it may have been, the animation style rendered it unwatchable for me. Sorry.
posted by drivingmenuts at 5:55 PM on February 15 [8 favorites]

There's a lot here I don't get, and it's rather like lifting up a stone and seeing bizarre creatures scuttle away:
  • I don't really get the hate for the style, it appears to be designed for big, readable expressions that are cheap to animate. (reads the Polygon article) oh okay too many people took the sex predator with a blog seriously
  • I don't get why you'd reboot Thundercats twice within years of each other. What does rebooting Thundercats even get you, unless you've got toys to sell? It's kind of restrictive as a property, and it doesn't have the potential of something like She-Ra to take advantage of what the original left on the table (cool fights with swordswomen) and things that have been invented since that fit well (sword lesbians). And who looked at the reboot and said 'this didn't work, but you know what would work? This as a goofy comedy'. Wouldn't the more obvious response be 'this doesn't work, let's leave it in the past?' The main character's name is a lion named Lion-O. I mean, clearly no-one cared.
  • I don't get why you'd reboot a cartoon at all unless you had toys to sell. Kids age out of properties every five years or so, that's why they keep refreshing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Scooby Doo (although they've kept the same goddamn Scooby Gang designs even though they're 50 years out of fashion at this point) but for something like Thundercats, there is no brand loyalty or recognition there. You're not leaning on decades of refinement like Ninja Turtles has. Why not just make a new thing instead of being beholden to the creative choices of the toy-commercial era?
  • I don't get why adults care about kids cartoons. Like, if they're well made and work for a family audience, that's great, good stories are good stories and I hope to share The Last Airbender with my kids someday. But unless you're a parent, cartoons you don't like are safely ignorable. I don't have to dedicate any energy to PJ Masks whatsoever, safe in the knowledge that it'll disappear in a few years.
posted by Merus at 6:50 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]

Very recent versions of Scooby Doo have updated the wardrobe of the Scooby Gang to be more contemporary. Merus Commenting regrets the error.
posted by Merus at 7:03 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]

My favorite bit from the Polygon article is someone rendering Homer Simpson in the (not-really) "CalArts style", as if the last thing you'd want to do is to shake up a cartoon that, by a lot of fans' reckoning (probably a lot of the same people who are making all the noise about the Thundercats now) hasn't been funny or relevant since before the Clinton Administration.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:15 PM on February 15

I was surprised at how viscerally I disliked the art style. It's as if the designers are saying "You. You're too stupid to get our story without ridiculous over-expression of our characters."
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 8:58 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]

Listen, I'll be over here appreciating the delicately rendered shading of my anatomically correct lawn and I don't want to see any of you kids getting on it.
posted by wordless reply at 9:30 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]

I definitely have Opinions about animation and loved the original as a kid but this is super cute! The writers are clearly having fun and that's maybe better than trying a Dark n Gritty approach to a concept of Space Kitties Fight Space Gremlins and Also A Mummy Guy For Some Reason.

It makes no sense! It's cute! It's fine!
posted by emjaybee at 9:54 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]

Very recent versions of Scooby Doo have updated the wardrobe of the Scooby Gang to be more contemporary. Merus Commenting regrets the error.

With over 50 years of production (!), across at least a dozen series (Scooby Doo fandom), there's been a decent variation in styles.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:59 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]

I really, really don't get the hate for this art style. I am enough of an Old to be in the right bracket to hate it, and I just... don't. It's fine. I was sceptical about Steven Universe at first, but it quickly grew on me. I can certainly appreciate that the character designs are all visually distinguishable, in stark contrast to some other cartoon styles where every woman is the exact same model with the hair and painted-on costume colour swapped.

If anything, my concern about this show is that it's trying to imitate the trappings of Cool Popular Shows like SU, but without a fraction of the characterisation and depth. But that's my kneejerk reaction based on some initial promotional materials -- it can take a few episodes or a season for a show to grow its beard.

As for why adults care so much about a kids' cartoon... I find that a lot of modern kids' cartoons have content pitched at multiple audiences at the same time. It's tempting to assume that this is a deliberate decision by the creators to make them bearable for parents to watch with their kids, but honestly I think that the creators themselves can't help making something that they and their peers also enjoy. But because these are shows designed for younger viewers, they are often thoughtful and optimistic in ways that adult fiction is not.

I'm not a huge fan of YA books -- by and large I find stories about teenagers and teenage drama tedious, and I don't seek them out. But cartoons are different for some reason. Maybe it's the visual appeal? I don't know. They're definitely hit-and-miss -- I like Steven Universe a lot, and also the new She-Ra series (I liked Noelle Stevenson's work before she was famous!), and I liked Avatar: the Last Airbender. I find The Dragon Prince visually stunning, but the writing is so juvenile that it's been frustrating to watch (but juuuust intriguing enough that I haven't stopped).

Adult interest in kids' cartoons only really becomes a problem when adults get pissy that modern-day reboots aren't exactly like their subjective emotional memory of the originals they remember from when they were kids. That feels a lot like stealing your kid's lego and then complaining that you don't like it. But this is by no means restricted to cartoons -- you only need to look at what's been happening in Star Wars and Star Trek.
posted by confluency at 12:26 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]

Even kids can tell when something is lazy, shoddy, and poorly-made. They have access to Steven Universe, The Legend of Korra, Miraculous Ladybug, Frozen, Clone Wars & Rebels, and about a thousand brilliantly-drawn animes. This crap won't impress anyone over the age of 5.

Kids today love the anime "Demon Slayer." The story is okay, the characters are a bit goofy, but the animation is so ridiculously, astonishingly good that Thundercats Roar looks... very bad in comparison.
posted by Chronorin at 1:27 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]

ThunderCats is so 80s; the 21st C belongs to the Lumbercats!

Correction: Timbercats. Yumyan Hammerpaw would be so ashamed of me. Call me Liar-o.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:35 AM on February 16

I was squarely in the demo when the original came out. Having seen G-Force (née Gatchaman) and Tranzor-Z (née Great Mazinger), Thundercats caught my sister's and my attention, because it managed to merge anime and Western cartoon sensibilities in a pleasing way. Yes, it was still animated with lots of cut corners, but pretty much all cartoons were then because there was no digital technology that could meaningfully speed up production. Still, compared to GI Joe and Transformers and some of the other competitors on the airwaves at the time, '85 Thundercats looked 'detailed' and 'sophisticated' to our eyes.

Then I noticed the Thundercats reboot a few years back. I can't remember how I watched it - probably rented it from our city's last remaining video store. My then-5-year-old and I loved it! I bought the whole series on DVD. The 2011 reboot is an underrated gem in fantasy / sci-fi animation and a nice precursor to shows like Voltron. I know that fan favorite comics scribe J M DeMatteis worked on the '11 Thundercats, and some of the showrunners were also involved in other acclaimed animation, such as Ethan Spaulding (Avatar) and Michael Jelenic (Teen Titans GO!) and Sam Register (Batman: The Brave and the Bold). Actually looking at IMDB, all three executive producers listed were also involved at one point with Scooby Doo, which makes sense as they are both Warner Brothers shows.

The best Thundercats reboot might just be the Cajun dub - TundaMinous! (On preview, I see that the TundaMinous are the subject of one of the related posts!)
posted by Slothrop at 5:22 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]

The original sucks, even though I watched it and am in its exact demo.

This reboot is much better than the original.
posted by signal at 10:22 AM on February 16

I like the new animation style. The animation of the original Thundercats quite frankly sucked.
posted by schroedinger at 10:43 AM on February 16

The animation style looks fun and goofy, for what is clearly a fun and goofy reboot? As in, it's not meant to be taken seriously?

Like, I don't understand comparing it to something like Kimetsu no Yaiba. I mean, it's gorgeously animated, but also dark, extremely violent, and set in a turbulent period of Japanese history, and Thundercats Roar...isn't? Genres exist for a reason.

Besides, all the cool kids are watching Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! now.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:38 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]

I like the animation style fine, The world is wide and deep enough to support any kind of animation and this is one of them. If you think it's "cheap" or "lazy" you clearly don't understand animation. Look at Clutch Cargo or early Hanna-Barbera if you want to know what actual cheap animation looks like.

That said I watched the first episode and really didn't like the writing. I was hoping for something that lovingly pokes fun at the old show but it feels like the writers were forced to watch a bunch of the old show and now deeply resent it. Snarf, particularly, is wild to me. He was a weird unexamined pet/sidekick in the old show and now he's, what? A robot? That does whatever the plot needs to progress? What even is that? Everything has a veneer of "Can you BELIEVE anyone ever thought that old show was good?" which is just a deeply weird tone to have for a reboot.

In closing, a tweet I made last month:
Broke: Thundercats Roar has ruined Thundercats.
Woke: Thundercats Roar does not affect your enjoyment of old Thundercats
Bespoke: Thundercats has always been bad.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:53 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]

With all due respect, people who complain about the animation style: this show is not for you, you're a grown adult, why do you expect a children's cartoon to cater to your preferences?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:23 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

As a frequent consumer of animation, what I can tell you is that it's not just the art style being grating to the eye. (But, that's not insignificant.) It's that, when you see this in use - particularly from Cartoon Network - you know that it's going to be a bad comedy full of jokes that fall flat. I don't especially care much about the source material. They can treat it how they like. But, I'm not showing up to watch something that looks and sounds like this, and considers quips like referring to a sword as a "magic slicing stick" to be funny.
posted by Citrus at 8:14 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

But when are they going to reboot Thundarr the Barbarian?
posted by thedward at 8:28 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]

With all due respect, people who complain about the animation style: this show is not for you, you're a grown adult, why do you expect a children's cartoon to cater to your preferences?

How many of the people complaining are white men? That may have something to do with the anger over not being catered to.
posted by happyroach at 9:04 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]

I was also in the right demographic for these cartoons when they first came out. I've been enjoying the new She-Ra, and I liked the last Thundercats reboot.

As far as hating the animation style of this thing, and boy howdy I do hate this style... if it had not been a franchise I remembered nostalgically I would have looked at the animation style and the frenetic incoherence and thought "kind of the ad team to clearly label this as not my thing." Instead, I watched as much of the promo material as I could bear and came to more or less the same conclusion. Presumably, it will either be someone's thing, or it'll vanish. It does not seem toxic, so it can just be a thing I don't like and thus don't watch.

I do think I might like to see a well done Jem reboot though. Take it in a cyberpunk direction both with the hologram technology and all the record company evil corporate maneuvering and there could be something fresh in that old franchise...
posted by Karmakaze at 11:01 AM on February 18

I do think I might like to see a well done Jem reboot though.

Yes, please, that would be truly outrageous.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:16 PM on February 18

Try the Sophia Campbell drawn Jem comic, that's great.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:01 AM on February 19

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