In this episode, we continue our Teen Titans retrospective and look at episodes “Transformation,” “Titan Rising,” and “Winner Take All” from Season 2. We talk about Starfire’s race and their bad sex education, how fun it would be to play volleyball with the Titans, and Speedy’s important role in comic book history. Andy also goes off on a tangent talking about one of his favorite cartoon shows, Jackie Chan Adventures.
Happy Year of the Dog! We’re back once again to talk another talisman and this time it’s the Dog. The Dog Talisman has a special place in Jackie Chan Adventures as it introduced two prominent, reoccurring supporting characters. One was Scruffy, the noble dog that inherited the talisman’s power, and the other is the amazing Hak Fu! That’s right! Hak Fu’s was first introduced in the Dog Talisman episode in season 1, pretty interesting, huh?
But I’m getting ahead of myself, what does the Dog Talisman do? The Dog Talisman’s power is immortality. Whoever holds the talisman will not die and will survive events that would otherwise maim or kill them. We see Scruffy surviving a blast of dark magic from Daolon Wong, Uncle withstanding a brutal, wall-breaking punch from Hak Fu, and Jackie escaping unburnt from Shendu’s fire blast. This is a defensively strong talisman! However, beyond this the power becomes a bit inconsistent. Sometimes, the user does not flinch from attacks (like Scruffy for instance) while other times they seem to feel the pain but exhibit no outstanding injuries (like Finn’s collisional injury or when Shendu was electrocuted). This inconsistency seem to derive more from story convenience and less on the user or the situation. The show implies the talisman brings youth to the aged like it did for Uncle in season 1. Although he did not physically de-age, he fought like he was in his prime (it also cured him of his lactose-intolerance).
Some people scratch their heads though as the Dog Talisman sounds suspiciously like the Horse Talisman and its power of healing. I would also question why the two talismans even exist separately. Remember, the talismans originated from Shendu. An ancient warrior casted a spell on the dragon and extracted his powers in the form of the talismans. Wouldn’t the healing and immortality be the same talisman? Also, I have to wonder why Shendu would even need the Horse Talisman if he’s immortal all the time (even Finn questioned why he would need to carry both at the same time)! But I’m nitpicking here.
If Jackie Chan Adventures had less respect for its characters or storyline we might have seen the Dog Talisman used more commonly as a solution to tricky problems. Luckily, thanks to Jackie’s reluctance on talisman use, this was not the case. When we do see the Dog Talisman, it’s usually in the vein of a talisman episode or a season climax. On that note, characters label the Dog Talisman as one of the “cool” talismans making it one of the first talismans characters try to snatch in the heat of the battle. Whoever carries it means their foe has to think cleverly to win the battle which is always an exciting moment.
Regardless, we have an unusual situation in that we have a “cool” talisman that rarely makes appearances! So there’s not much to talk about the Dog Talisman besides one noteworthy moment in Jackie Chan Adventures. As mentioned before, in season 2, “Enter the Demon World, Part 2” Jackie survives a fiery blast from Shendu thanks to the Dog Talisman. When they escape, Jackie relies on the Dog Talisman for survival and when he loses it, he doubts his own strengths. Jade rallies Jackie though and explains how Jackie by himself is still a great hero. This lifts Jackie’s spirits and helps the J-Team defeat the demons. It’s a touching moment in the series in that we rarely see Jade give an effective pep talk to Jackie.
That’s it for now, hope you all have a great Year of the Dog!
Happy Year of the Rooster! To celebrate the occasion, let’s once again check out the Rooster Talisman in the Kids WB cartoon series, Jackie Chan Adventures. The Rooster Talisman (which bestows Levitation powers to the user) is special as it was the first Talisman seen and premiered in the first episode of the series! Looking back at this episode, I can’t help but be amused how different the show was compared to later seasons such as the rougher character designs and an overall awkward pace. You can tell the creators were trying to figure out what kind of show Jackie Chan Adventures was going to be.
But enough about the show, let’s talk about the Rooster Talisman! Unlike our previous two talismans, the Rooster was prominently used throughout the show, even in episodes where it was not the focal point (a big example being Jade’s battle with the Sky Demon). It’s now hard to understand why either. The Rooster Talisman is simply useful. The power to levitate yourself (and other objects) would’ve solved a world of problems for our heroes had it not been for Jackie’s reluctance to use the Talismans.
The Rooster Talisman has been a constant presence in the series for reasons you may actually not realize. Okay, so in season 3 when Jackie blew up the Talismans, the Rooster Talisman possessed its noble animal, Eggbert, a rooster that lived in Malaysia and later moved to Kansas. Eggbert was subsequently paired up with the Pig Talisman’s noble animal, Mordecai. These two were the best as Eggbert just flew Mordecai around while he caused havoc with his laser eyes. Now, this episode was one of the few times Jackie Chan an co. lost to Daolon Wong as he absorbed both powers with his freaky mouth hands. In subsequent episodes, up to the climax of season 3, Daolon Wong frequently used his newfound levitation and heat beam eye powers to his advantage. I like this a lot actually as Daolon Wong becomes a bigger threat unlike season 1 where the Dark Hand barely used their talismans. That wasn’t the last of Eggbert though as he and Moredecai were infrequent guests to the show in later episodes such as “The Amazing T-Troop” and “The Powers That Be.”
Luckily, when push comes to shove the Talismans will be used as a last resort. These instances don’t happen too often though and that’s what makes those episodes great. Some of the special ones include the awesome Talisman battle in Season 2’s “The J-Team,” the Talisman vs Demon battle in Season 2’s “The Demon World,” and the battle against the Oni Generals in Season 4’s “Ninja Twilight.” The Rooster Talisman’s insane usefulness combined with the show underplaying them means that every time we see someone use it, we’re in for a good time.
Happy Year of the Rooster!
The Monkey Talisman, in Jackie Chan Adventures, is similar to last year’s Ram Talisman as it had a rather unique super power and did not get used often during the show’s run. However, unlike last year’s Ram Talisman, the Monkey Talisman was significantly more useful and it generated some genuinely funny or comedic moments.
First off, for those who forget, the Monkey Talisman has the power of Shapeshifting, or more correctly, to change the holder or target into whatever animal they think of. Many animals were used during the show’s run such a rabbit, walrus, elephant, giraffe, hippo, and even a chinchilla. The Monkey Talisman can also change the person back to their original form.
Unlike the Rabbit, Ox, Dragon, or Pig Talisman, the Monkey Talisman did not see much use during the show’s run and it’s a real shame too! One of the few times when the Monkey Talisman was not used during a Talisman episode was when the J Team busted in to the Hollowlands Penitentiary in Season 2. Jade turned Jackie into a chinchilla and carried him to another part of the prison.
As such, we don’t know the full extent of the Monkey Talisman’s power compared to the other Talismans. Rooster can make you, or something you’re looking at, fly, Pig can give you heat beam eyes, and Horse can heal you. But what about the Monkey Talisman? What are the true limits to its power?
The show keeps referring to the Monkey Talisman as “shapeshifting” but no one has used it to transform into an inanimate object. Even Haiku, the Noble monkey that was worthy of this power, only used it to transform into other animals. As such, we can assume that you can only transform into an animal with this power.
As for what kind of animal, that is entirely hard to say. In the first couple of seasons, the Monkey Talisman’s victims and users transformed only into vertebrates. But we later find out in Season 3 that invertebrates, such as Haiku’s cricket form, are also on the table. Given the huge phylogenetic diversity, it would not be unreasonable to assume that you can also transform into a starfish, a squid, or even a flat worm.
But what about jellyfish or sponges? Yes! I think you would be able to transform into these as well. I honestly think that the Monkey Talisman can transform anyone or anything into what we regard as animals. As such, the Porifera and Cnidarians could be included although I would certainly feel sorry for the poor bastard that got turned into a sponge. If the Horse Talisman can fix a sinking cruise ship and the Rat Talisman can bring an ancient Aztec deity to life, what’s stopping the Monkey Talisman from doing this as well?
It’s a shame, like I said before, that we didn’t get much of the Monkey Talisman in Jackie Chan Adventures. I’m sure that if Jackie let Jade have access to the talismans, she would have a lot of fun with the Monkey Talisman. And God, this show loved its puns so you can bet that Jade would say things like “being a fly on the wall” or “elephant never forgets” before transforming into that animal. You could even throw in ancient animals like dinosaurs as well. A visit to the natural history museum could be livened up with some actual dinosaurs roaming the halls. Also, we missed a golden opportunity for El Toro and Viper to transform into their respective animals, that would’ve been great (even better is if they got their counterpart)!
Happy Chinese New Year!
Saturday morning cartoons had been a staple for many people’s childhood. Their prominence from the 60s up until last year is something that many people growing up in America remember. And it’s easy to see why! It’s Saturday morning, you are one of the few people up in your household, there’s no school going on and your favorite cartoons are on. Just sit in front of the boob tube and boom, watch some awesome cartoons.
While doing research for this article (i.e., looking through Wikipedia), I read that Saturday morning cartoons began to decline in the 1990s and 2000s and finally ended in 2014. Could have fooled me! The cartoons I watched in the late 90s and early 2000s were great. True, this wasn’t the era of the late 80s and early 90s where you had classics like He-Man, Tiny Toons, Transformers, and so forth, but we had our fair share of cartoons that we can be proud to say we watched.
And these great Saturday morning cartoons were not limited to just one channel. They were spread out through the local channels and reaching those who did not have cable. Now, cable channels are credited for the disappearance of Saturday morning cartoons but the ironic part is that I never really watched cartoons on either Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. Nickelodeon had cartoons on weekday nights while Cartoon Network went all in on Friday nights. They were relatively tame on Saturday mornings.
As such, I turned to channels that I would otherwise not visit. ABC, The WB, and Fox. These three channels battled to be the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel. They had a unique line up of cartoons that were enjoyable to watch. Whether it be old reruns or new cartoons, they had the ammo to satisfy your cartoony desires.
But who was the best one?? Who was the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel???? Let’s take a look!
Now before I go on, I have to say that I’m only looking at cartoons that I watched during that period. As such, this list is going to be very subjective. You have been warned…
First up, let’s go ABC with their One Saturday Morning Block! Ah yes, this block had the best opening (see below video). That intro just made you get SO PUMPED UP. I’M SUPER EXCITED. I loved the hell out of that song and its animation. One day, I got the bright idea to record the Saturday morning block and save it for a day when my parents wouldn’t intervene. Sure enough, they invited some friends over one night for bridge and that’s when I whipped it out and played it. Anyway, I would crank up the volume and listen to that song again and again and again (which probably irked my parents but whatever). Hell, you still can’t help but jam to the music. Even the snapshot above brings back nostalgia for me with its colorfully bouncy imagery.
So what do we have for our line up? Well, the cartoons that I watched were Pepper Ann, Recess, and Disney’s Doug. Other cartoons on the same channel that I watch if nothing else was on were Teacher’s Pet, Buzz Lightyear, and the Weekenders. Okay, so want to hear something ironic? I believe I read this on the Wikipedia page but many of the cartoons I just listed mainly take place in a school environment. This is funny because the intro song (the one I just talked about) boasted how One Saturday Morning was “five hours of summer” and this is pretty funny considering we’re watching cartoons that take place in school…
Irony beside the point, Pepper Ann, Recess, and Disney’s Doug were considered pretty good in my book. Even though these cartoons took place at school, the characters, humor, and animation made them unique enough that you didn’t really notice it. Plus, they still had fun adventures (especially, ESPECIALLY Recess) even if they were at school. They also kind of took on heavy issues, especially for Disney programs, ever noticed that?? Disney’s Doug had an episode of anorexia once and Pepper Ann had one on training bras. I don’t recall Recess having a heavy episode though it did have those typical children moral tropes that you see. Anyway, if you didn’t notice by now, Recess was my favorite so I’m calling that one as the best cartoon on ABC.
Next we have Fox which had Fox Kids. Okay, so truth be told, Fox Kids was kind of weak in cartoons early on and didn’t really have anything good until we got to the tail end of the 90s. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the only major thing it had going for a while…
…then came Fall 1999.
With it came two cartoons that I watched which were Monster Rancher but more importantly Digimon. Digimon was what roped me into Fox Kids. I didn’t discover Digimon, and by proxy Fox Kids, until Christmas 1999 when I was waiting for my family to unwrap presents. As I waited patiently in the basement, I turned on the TV and discovered Digimon. The episode that was on was the one where the kids were fighting Andromon. That episode had me hooked and I watched every episode I could find from there on.
Power Rangers: Time Force later joined Fox Kids and it remains one of the few Power Rangers (much less live action) shows I watched. I don’t know why I watched that one but I guess this show evolved from a “I guess I’ll watch it” to a “hey this isn’t too bad.” Monster Rancher was nice but God help me if you ask me what it was about cause I don’t remember a damn thing (something with a boy and a wolf, a stone golem, and Mike from Monsters Inc??). Rusty and Big Guy was also an interesting cartoon if I remember correctly, I should check it out again to see if it still holds up. Beast Wars was also good but, surprisingly, I didn’t watch much of that show. A lot of shows, in general, didn’t last very long, sometimes just a season, if that, mainly because they were just not that good or interesting. Remember Angela Anaconda? That was a weird show…
Fox Kids was pretty nice and you have to love those promo commercials. Those commercials were so cheesily edited that you just have to adore it. You also have to give a nod to those commercial break jokes/facts. One fact started with “what food would never spoil?” after a few commercials the break would end and it answered “sugar never spoils unless you have water on it.” And of course after I heard that I put water in my family’s sugar container to see what would happen…my parents weren’t probably thrilled with that…
Ending this trio channel battle we have The WB via Kids WB. When you think of your typical Saturday morning cartoon lineup, Kids WB probably matches it the best. You have superhero cartoons, Looney Toons-esque cartoons, celebrity cartoons, and anime. These programs were also not subpar and had a nice level of quality to them (well…at least most of them did…).
Okay, so you have Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain going off of the Looney Toons-styled cartoons. You also have the New Adventures of Batman and Superman which was later followed by X-Men: Evolution, Static Shock, Batman Beyond, and the Xeta Project. Of course, you also had Pokemon and Yugioh (which the latter came on as my interest in Saturday morning cartoons began to wane). Perhaps the oddball of the bunch was Jackie Chan Adventures whose basis sounds so…weird…that you would think it was destined to fail but it defied our expectations and was actually good!
The Batman and Superman cartoons were so awesome. I was actually more of a Superman fan when I was a kid so I liked watching his show more than Batman’s. I remember Kids WB had a contest where you had to write in a letter saying which superhero “kicked more booty” and I recalled that my brother and I said Superman while my sister said Batman (fyi, I now think it’s Batman). The string of superhero cartoons that followed were good but I liked the Batman and Superman cartoons better.
Pokemon was a definite show to watch but since Pokemon was shown on morning and afternoon weekdays, the pull for it wasn’t as strong as it could have been. However, they would premiere special episodes (e.g., Indigo League Championship) only on Saturdays and that was a very good reason to watch them. Yugioh’s more mature (I guess that’s the right word for it) anime appealed to my preteen persona so I would stick around to watch that show before I finally stopped watching cartoons.
I already wrote an article on Jackie Chan Adventures but I should at least give it a mention. This show should have, by all rights, failed and I’m glad it didn’t. The premise of the show sounds almost like a direct parody of other celebrity cartoons similar to Mike Tyson Mysteries. But the show was great as it established a mystical world setting, humorous characters, and Jackie Chan-styled fights. After the Batman and Superman show ended, I would go to Kids WB mainly for this show. That’s how appealing it was.
Alright, so, in the end, which channel can claim to be the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel??? After carefully reviewing the three channels I’m giving it to Kids WB! Unlike FoxKids, which mainly had Digimon, and One Saturday Morning, which had a rather narrow focus of show settings, Kids WB had a diverse selection of shows that appealed to a wide range of audiences. These shows were great and the channel offered a variety of characters, settings, and animation styles that really made it hard to best. And, let’s be honest here, Kids WB arsenal was Batman, Superman, Animaniacs, and Pokémon. That’s entertainment gold.
So, what do you guys think? I know I didn’t hit all of the cartoons for each block but there’s just way too many to list! Which channel did you watch the most of while growing up and what were your favorite Saturday Morning cartoons? I would love to hear your opinions!
Happy Year of the Sheep everyone!
To celebrate this New Year, let’s talk about what some may call the most useless talisman in the great cartoon series, Jackie Chan Adventures.
For those who forget, the Sheep Talisman has the powers of astral projection. Basically, the user’s spirit leaves the host body and is able to fly around unseen and infiltrate people’s dreams. The body is lifeless until the spirit returns to the body.
Now, when you compare this talisman to other, more flamboyant, talismans like Snake, Ox, Dragon, and Rabbit…it looks kind of lame. And truth be told you have the show to thank for that! The show doesn’t use the talisman to its full potential! The only time it is used is either when an episode focuses specifically on it or when all 12 talismans are featured (with one exception which I’ll get to in just a moment).
Even the other, supposedly useless talismans, were embraced more often than the Sheep Talisman. For instance, the Rat Talisman was used to revive the Lo Pei statue, Jackie when he was a puppet, and of course, Mighty Moose many times. The Tiger Talisman was even used several times on Jackie, once by Jade (correctly I might add), and even Captain Black when he was wearing an Oni Mask.
You see, one of the cool things about Jackie Chan Adventures was that it used the talismans even if they weren’t essential to the plot. They were kind of like a last resort or even a solution to a tricky problem the protagonists encountered. All talismans were vital or important in one form or another except for the Sheep Talisman.
But what could have they done with the Sheep Talisman? Well, several things come to mind.
One: Infiltration. You can go through walls, be invisible, fly, and be silent. No one can detect you unless they have some sort of magical or spiritual aid. Jackie and his crew could have used the talisman to learn about a crucial plan from the Dark Hand.
Two: Spiritual Possession. Shendu was able to possess Jade’s body while she was using the Sheep Talisman. This opens up to some interesting plot concepts. Maybe there’s this lifeless object or spirit-less person that Jade or Jackie could take over and control temporary. Maybe you need that person’s fingerprint to access a super secret safe or bank? That would have been awesome.
Three: More Dream Watching. Remember that exception I was talking about earlier? Well, in the season 2 episode “Armor of the Gods,” Jade puts Uncle to sleep using a sleeping potion because he was being cranky. However, later, she needed the anti-demon potion from him to take down the Earth Demon but he was still sleeping hard, what to do? Ah ha! The Sheep Talisman! In the lone episode it was used (to the best of my knowledge), Jade uses the Sheep Talisman to infiltrate Uncle’s dream and learned how to make the potion from him.
Jackie and crew could have used the Sheep Talisman for certain missions involving dreams. Perhaps a Sandman-like villain was stealing people’s energy while they are sleeping. They could use the Sheep Talisman to hop from dream to dream and take down the Sandman villain in the surreal world of dreams. That would have been a funny episode.
It’s a shame that none of those three situations, save for that one episode, came up because that would have taken a talisman that everyone perceived to be useless and made it important. It could have been used as an infiltration tool and that would have made it awesome. Sometimes, you can’t solve your problems by using force; if you want to get ahead in life then you’ll have to be as sneaky as a sheep.
There will still be an article for next Monday but it won’t be the usual length as to accommodate for this special article.
Full thoughts and review of Godzilla (2014) will be posted next week. For now, enjoy this article on Jackie Chan Adventures!
Nostalgia plays a role in our grown up lives but how much of that clouds our passion for our childhood obsessions? This is part of a series where I’ll critically analyze a series from my childhood and see how well it still holds up. Enjoy!
For my free time these past few weeks, I’ve been watching Jackie Chan Adventures on Netflix. I wanted to rewatch some of the good episodes while trying out seasons 4 and 5 as well. How well as this series held up? Pretty good I have to say!
This is probably one of the best shows out there that’s centered on a celebrity. Though the real Jackie Chan doesn’t lend his voice to his character, he’s still involved in the show as seen in his end-of-the-episode “Hey Jackie” shorts along with his brief cameos in the intro. Plus, Jade Chan is voiced by Stacie Chan who is actually Jackie Chan’s real life niece!
One thing you’ll probably not hear many people praise on the show is its animation which is alright but definitely better than some modern cartoons’ flash animation style. However, it’s the story, characters, and voice acting that really pulls the show together. Most of the characters are pretty funny. Jackie, Jade, Uncle, and Tohru lead the way with some of the best comical moments the series has to offer. The running gags can be a little overdone but they usually give them enough spin to keep them fresh. The fights can be frenetic, just like a Jackie Chan movie and that’s fun to watch. The show really gets creative at times, especially with the use of props, scenery and magical devices.
A primary focus on East Asian folklore gives the show a unique flavor that doesn’t feel stereotypic or watered down. Uncle’s chi spells seem genuine, especially with the chi spells’ ingredients such as blowfish or lotus flowers. The standalone episodes also break the East Asian focus by expanding on global folklore such as El Chupacabra and Stonehenge which is definitely needed.
What’s nice about the show is that each season can stand by itself as they have a definite beginning and end with many conflicts in between. Season 1 saw the 12 Talismans, Season 2 had the 8 Demons, Season 3 saw the Talismans in animal form, Season 4 had the Oni Masks, and Season 5 had the Demon Chi. I think the show really took off starting Season 2 as now we have an established universe which is now expanded on and played with.
In fact, Season 4 was probably the JCA’s most creative season. The season broke away from the Chinese focused plotlines and into Japanese folklore via the Oni Demons. Now, Uncle is nearly helpless and Tohru’s importance is expanded on. Also, I loved what they did with the Oni Masks. They took a concept, Oni Masks give the mask wearer the power to summon a unique shadowkahn and the mask can only be removed by a unique spell, and ran with it. They did concepts like a dog wearing a mask, or a mask is split into two, or a mask is revived via the Rat Talisman, the list goes on. I liked it and though it wasn’t as strong as Season 2, it was still enjoyable.
I wish I could say the same thing for Season 5. Oh God, why. I watched a few episodes of Season 5 and I had to turn it off because it was not worth it. The show had definitely run its course with reused plotlines. Also, Drago was just not a good villain, especially when compared to his father, Shendu. And I absolutely can’t stand Ice Man, he’s just sooooo anooooyinnnng. God, shut up. Overall, Season 5 just felt stale and I’m glad they canceled the show after that.
But back to Season 2, I think the main reason why this season worked was because of Shendu and his brothers and sisters. Seeing Shendu in a position where he had to beg, gravel and be frustrated was a delight. The demons were really fun and I especially liked the Moon and Sky Demon. The Demon World episodes were also some of the best in the series as we see our heroes at their lowest but even then they still won the day.
ONE MORE THING, it’s funny to see Shendu transform as the series progressed. We initially see him as a demon who was obsessed in conquering the world to eventually obsessed in killing Jackie Chan. It’s very amusing.
Anyway, Jackie Chan Adventures has held up well. Go see it if you have some free time this summer. I suggest you start with Season 2 and go through to Season 4. But skip Season 5, bleh.
Nostalgia Filter Test Score: A-