The Wizeguy: Robot-ed

For many, ‘Voltron’ is a fond memory from their childhood. Many could also say that the show that existed was a simple adventure show with the simple goals of keeping kids interested between commercials and selling toys made primarily in bright, primary colors. Now, the original Voltron did have a huge impact on other media and pop culture in general. Gestalt combinations of robots were integrated into the Transformers series, and there’s no doubt where the concept of Power Rangers came from. And to this day, the phrase “And I’ll form the head!” can still invoke laughter from those in the know. The team that brought us Legend of Korra took the parts of Voltron that really mattered and used those core elements to make something that will please fans of the original, pull in a few that might’ve heard it referenced in popular culture, and even let parents share it with their kids. The Voltron we have now is an origin story about five people making a team where there wasn’t one, learning to trust each other and work together. We’re no longer asked to just accept that these characters know each other and are instantly ready to take on King Zarkon’s Galra army the second they step into these lion bots.

You have binged Seasons one and two of ‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’ on Netflix, right? If not…PLEASE go and watch it (it’s DOPE.)

First, a brief recap:

After the season one cliffhanger where the team was thrown across the universe in a wormhole, season two begins with them having to reunite. It’s a straightforward continuation that picks up exactly where the first left off. That’s a relief, given that we left our intrepid heroes after their first encounter with Emperor Zarkon and space witch Haggar saw them soundly defeated and lucky to escape alive, only to be scattered due to a wormhole gone haywire. With the team battered and separated, it’s up to their wits and their trust in each other to see them back together again. When season two closes, Zarkon has been defeated and the Paladins are going to be struggling with the loss of their leader.  Pidge has a lead on her brother Matt – knowing he is alive and with some anti-Zarkon rebels.  Keith will have to make a choice in looking for more answers about his family, or taking the lead of Voltron.  Allura will need to give herself a new purpose now that they believe Zarkon is gone.  Beyond the fallout from Shiro’s disappearance, there is one thing we already know is coming next season: Summon Prince Lotor. Season three will bring us the Legendary Defenders interpretation of Prince Lotor, and yes, I am stupidly excited for this!  I want to see how Lotor is going to run the Galra Empire now that Zarkon is in the ‘coma.’  Adding Allura’s hatred of all most things Galra – will the writers bring in the DOTU plot point of Lotor’s obsession with claiming Allura as his own? Or will we get a reimagined Lotor whose storyline will keep us guessing just like Keith’s does?

Blazing sword, how did they pull all of this off? Seriously?!? It is SO good. In fact, the only gripe I keep coming across on the web is how Voltron doesn’t show up a lot to vanquish the baddies.

It isn’t up to Voltron to beat the RoBeasts. Voltron is only as strong as the Paladin’s connection to it, and as a result Voltron gets stronger as the Paladins get more character growth. That was most of the point of this last season. This actually made Voltron very special. It made it clear that Voltron has a mind of its own and is insanely powerful; but needs help to properly use that power. Voltron needs to draw on the will and life force of its Paladins. That is what the whole Quintessence bit at the end was about. I really liked that Voltron did not show up so much. It allowed the season to focus more on the characters and the universe. What is Voltron there to save? It was a break from the usual formula for this kind of show which really stood out to me and I appreciated it. As awesome and fun a show as that kind of “threat and then giant robot saves the day” formula is; it reduces a lot of depth such a show can have.

I am still surprised that a Voltron reboot carried such a saga feel. Writing was next door but rich and every character felt like a wild card, spontaneous. That attention to both macro- and micro- detail is evident from the first frame of ‘Voltron: Legendary Defender.’ This time around, character personalities are larger, more distinct, and — interestingly — tied directly to the action: the robot-shaped spaceships, we are informed, serve as reflections of their pilots. As small tweak, perhaps, but one that opens up all sorts of possibilities. Also, a Voltron appearance doesn’t suggest automatic win, that the team has to fight for every inch creatively, at all times. For a ‘cartoon’, it sure makes writing space odyssey look easy.

This show is a perfect example of how you make a show that appeals to all ages. Great action and drama. None of the episodes felt like filler and they all built upon each other towards the big battle at the end. I binged watched seasons one and two … and not once did I feel bored. Man, if Netflix gets ahold of ‘Thundercats’, ‘M.A.S.K’. Or ‘Masters Of The Universe’ …it’s going to be glorious day indeed.


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