It was at a “Mod Moot,” a gathering of forum moderators from NarniaWeb.com, that I first beheld this sight: grown adults, one younger, one older, twitching around in the backyard. One was manipulating water, the other earth, and both claimed they were “bending.” Like in the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, they excitedly endorsed.
Some months later I had made it through all three seasons, knew exactly what they were talking about, and was an established fan also. Reluctantly I suggested my wife also see the first episodes — hey, it was still an animated program — and she also joined the fandom.
Avatar wrapped in 2008 with a spectacular four-part conclusion. But four years and one dismal M. Night Shyamalan-directed film franchise dead-starter later, the series creators returned. Their series could be titled Avatar: The Next Generation, but instead they called it The Legend of Korra, following the adventures of the next “avatar” in an Eastern-flavored fantasy world. Aang, the preteen hero of The Last Airbender had to master all four elements (regular folks can “bend” only one element apiece) to save the world dominated by the Fire Nation; his successor Korra has far more time and more-peaceful lands, but still problems.
Korra’s second “book” or season began last week, and I’m glad to say the series appears to be continuing its success of weaving great people, efficient plotting, and beautiful visuals with in-depth themes of technology vs. spirituality, and family conflicts and forgiveness. Yes, the Avatarverse is definitely Eastern culture- and religion-flavored, with one titular mediation office-by-reincarnation and plenty of spirits, plus a natural-law magic system. Yet the worldview is of good versus evil, growth, and sin, repentance, and forgiveness.
The Legend of Korra airs Fridays at 7 p.m. Eastern (natch) on Nickelodeon. Episodes are also available on Amazon. But even better for folks without cable, Nick makes the most recent five Korra episodes available for free as soon as the following Saturday mornings.
Faith of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
I’m not sure if episodes will be similarly free for the upcoming Whedon Bros.-produced program Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.1 Fortunately, Amazon does list a subscription page. And despite the rather annoying nature of most new TV shows, particularly the ones geared for younger audiences — yes, I know I’m ranting — I’m currently gung-ho about Agents for several good reasons:
- The Whedons. I’m not a raving Joss-is-boss fanboy, but the man and his showbiz family members can write. They understand not only archetypes but human nature. They do well subverting tropes, not just to be cute or ironic, but for deeper stories.
- The program promises to share, overtly yet not dependently, the same universe as the Marvel Avengers films and future tie-ins (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc.).
- Agent Phil Coulson.
- The trailers are fun. They even look surprisingly wholesome. Can kids watch this?
- And you know that if there was any chance of seeing anyone in his but more likely her skivvies on the program even for an instant, they would show it in the trailers.
- Producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen say they have great ideas in store.
- Even grumpy TV critics are voicing their enjoyment of ABC’s soaring franchise pilot.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. launches said pilot tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m. Eastern.
Which television programs do you enjoy and why? Do you lean toward newer or older? Fantasy/sci-fi or other genres? Still loving cable/satellite, and or Amazon/Hulu/Netflix?
- Note to self: add the all-caps-with-periods spelling to Autocorrect. ↩