Let me preface this by being completely honest with you: Teen Titans Go! is my least favorite show that I have ever seen. I don't "hate" many things, at least in media. But Teen Titans Go! is a cartoon that I can honestly say without a doubt that I "hate". I find it immature, unfunny, and downright juvenile in its attempts at morals, if it is indeed making an attempt at them in the first place. And I'm reviewing every episode.
Needless to say, if you like the show Teen Titans Go! or don't like reading excessively negative reviews, this is not the place for you. I'm going to be extremely negative in these reviews because I feel I cannot properly express my distaste for this show without doing so. Will I say nothing positive? Of course not. Positives are just as important as negatives in any review, to outright ignore the positive aspects of something would be silly and unhelpful. Granted, the times where I can speak at length about a good aspect of the show will be rare; there is not an episode of this show where I don't greatly dislike SOME aspect of it. But we'll get there when we get there.
So. Why am I reviewing Teen Titans Go!? It's clear I don't recommend it to anyone. Reviewing every episode probably sounds superfluous as is. People who speak to me often know I hate the show and I've said why dozens of times. And besides, it's a stupid kid's show, what's the point of tearing it apart? Cheap laughs? Here's the thing. I don't just look at this show, go "ew", and then ignore it. There's something about this show I PASSIONATELY DESPISE. I feel offended by it almost. But I think it serves as a good "warning" for writers. The mistakes this show makes are mistakes that people can learn from. I want people to not write stuff like this and make something like it. Plus, I want to make clear that this is a show I would NOT show my children. I think that its themes and morals are terrible for kids. I don't believe that kids mimic everything on TV, but if you show them characters they start to enjoy that act like the cast of TTG, they might be influenced by that behavior, and I don't want any child to act like the characters on this show.
So background. Teen Titans Go! is a Cartoon Network comedy cartoon that aired on April 23, 2013 and is still running with new episodes each Thursday to this day. It is a spin off of the popular 2003 action cartoon Teen Titans, which starred a team of young superheroes from the DC universe: Robin, Starfire, Beastboy, Raven, and Cyborg. Teen Titans Go! uses the same cast of characters and voice actors and many of the same ideas as the action cartoon it's a spin-off of, but instead of hand-drawn animation and a focus on drama and plot, it's made largely in Flash with a heavy focus on comedy and the Titans' daily lives. The spinoff itself began as a series of shorts under the name "New Teen Titans" that aired in Cartoon Network's "DC Nation" block, which featured shows and shorts based on DC Comics franchises. New Teen Titans was conceptually the same as TTG, comedy shorts in chibi style revolving around the Teen Titans, but they resembled the original show much more and had the same general tone and style, but in short comedy bits (I actually quite like these shorts, for the record). These shorts were picked up for a full show, but the style was completely retooled and the writing completely changed, resulting in the show known as Teen Titans Go!.
Now, I like Teen Titans. I LOVE Teen Titans. Until the arrival of Gravity Falls and Steven Universe, Teen Titans was my favorite western cartoon of all time. It was action-packed, dramatic, well-animated, mature, and even hilarious. I'm not going into this without some level of bias, I admit. I'm going in as a fan of the original. And yes, I plan to look at this show from both the standpoints of "I think this is a bad reboot to the Teen Titans franchise" and "I think this is a bad stand-alone show". Because I think both are equally worth looking at. This is a show based on a massively popular cartoon that came before it, I can't just IGNORE the connections completely, especially since TTG relies heavily on references to TT despite (supposedly?) not taking place in the same canon. So if there's something that only fans of the original would like or hate, I'll call it out.
Now these reviews are going to be very loose in structure. I'll introduce an episode, explain the plot, talk about what I liked and (mostly) what I disliked in it, and I'll talk about what this episode can teach us as a whole. I'll be doing this in chronological order of release, from episode 1 to whatever episode is the most recently released. I will likely be posting these reviews in chunks, as at the time of my writing the show is nearing its 80th episode, meaning I have a lot of ground to cover. I have a few episodes I still need to see but for the most part I've seen the majority of the show as this post. I won't update regularly, just whenever I have something to post, but I'll try to catch up to the releases of the new episodes as soon as I can so I can review the episodes as they actually release.
Before we begin with reviewing the episodes itself, I'd like to make a few general statements about the show's presentation so I don't just repeat myself looking for pros and cons. And believe it or not, there are pros. The show isn't bad visually, for example. The backgrounds in particular are slick and fit really well, and I enjoy finding the easter eggs in them. The color pallet in general is brilliant and everything pops nicely; it almost looks like actual pop art. The voice acting from the original cast is top-notch, too. The show has nice presentation, I'll give it that. That being said. The Flash animation is mediocre and the characters look stiff at times, and some of their expressions are outright annoying to look at. A lot of voice actors are reused, particularly Tara Strong, and you'll hear the main cast as side characters a LOT in this show. It feels like it's made low-budget despite the nice aesthetics. So it's not badly made visual and audio wise but it feels rather cheap.
Alright, this introduction is far too long at this point so I won't extend it any further. Ladies and gentlemen, get your capes ready, because this is...
For now we'll kick things off with the very first episode of the show:
The Legendary Sandwich
The series begins with Raven, the dark-arts master and overall smart and broody character of the series, watching a My Little Pony parody called Pretty Pretty Pegasus. The boys of the Titans (The leader Robin, the shapeshifting Beastboy, and the high-tech Cyborg) loudly and annoyingly interrupt with their animalistic eating habits, so Raven decides to get rid of them by telling them that there's a sandwich hat was made for a king that is said to bring forth immortality and be generally delicious. Robin, not believing in a sandwich better than ones he could make, agrees to search for it, and the team (including the air-headed alien Starfire) split up to search for the ingredients to the sandwich while Raven stays home and watches her show. Cyborg, BB, and Starfire all get injured in their brutal fights with large robotic "sandwich guardians" protecting the ingredients, while Robin impatiently waits for his queue in line in the supermarket. Eventually they gather the ingredients, to Raven's surprise, and build the sandwich...only for Starfire's pet alien-worm Silkie to eat the sandwich, momentarily ascend to godhood, then spit it back up on the floor, with Robin declaring he KNEW no sandwich could be as good as his.
Now believe it or not, the first episode is not terrible. In fact I'd argue it's one of the series' better episodes and is actually somewhat tolerable. Many tropes that put a damper on the series aren't quite here yet and it somewhat resembles the structure of an original TT episode. Granted, the premise of them fighting to make a really good sandwich is incredibly stupid, especially with killer robots from medieval times guarding the sandwich ingredients, but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief slightly for a comedy show. The fights with the guardians aren't bad and some of the dialogue is decently funny. Of all the episodes this feels closest to what the premise could have actually allowed the show to do in the hands of good writers.
However I have one major issue with this episode. Robin. The worst thing this series does is flanderize the negative traits of the original TT cast to the point where they become unlikable and unenjoyable, and Robin, who gets some of the worst flanderization on the series, shows this off with almost every line of dialogue he has. He's just flat-out annoying in this episode. He's constantly bragging over how his sandwich skills are amazing and there's no way some other sandwich can be better than his. He's a show-off to strangers and spends his time waiting goofing off and bragging about himself. He never learns his lesson for being bigoted in the episode and nobody ever disproves him or gives him any kind of moral. From beginning to end of this episode he just acts like an annoying bratty kid. Now let me make this clear: TTG Robin may be my most hated animated character ever. He's a constant pain throughout the series and this episode highlights how painful he can be early on. It's like a bad omen of things to come.
Aside from all that the episode is rather forgettable. It isn't particularly clever with sandwich jokes or anything, there's no real punchline to the ridiculous scenario and they don't take the whole thing seriously or ironically enough to be better than okay. The setup has potential to be really funny but they never really push it outside of Robin being the only one that has to just wait in a normal line to get his ingredient; it could have been anything they were looking for, the setup didn't have any joke it was building up to or anything. It's not terrible but it's very forgettable. It's better written than most TTG episodes for sure, but it doesn't do anything to astound and never really impresses past semi-decent action. It's not an offensive episode but it's not a great episode. It's a very "okay" episode. Odds are you won't cringe much watching it outside of the Robin scenes but you'll forget what happened minutes later.
But don't worry. Legendary Sandwich is a calm before the storm. The worst is yet to come.