Sunday, March 4, 2012
WARNING SPOILERS ABOUND
Recently this Disney Wizard got himself a wakeup call. I was a self-proclaimed Greg Weisman fanboy...And I hadn't seen season 2 of W.I.T.C.H.
Yeah...I'm kind of embarrassed here...
I suppose that I could make the excuse that "it's too girly"...But that wouldn't be true, because I DID see season 1 on ABC. I just...Never made the effort to look it up. Eventually, some friends metaphorically smacked me in the head and I got to watching.
Okay, for those of you who don't know W.I.T.C.H. is an italian comic series about five girls Will, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia, and Hay Lin (get it?) who learn that they are the "Guardians of the Veil" between the worlds of Metamoor and Earth. For this purpose, powers over the five elements have been given to them (And eventually more worlds get thrown in) It was created by Elisabetta Gnone, Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa.
Well, Disney, in it's infinite wisdom, decided that it needed an animated series as well. An American one...Okay...
The comics were always owned by Disney, so they could do that. The set the creative team up with the premise. Middle school/High School girls with a bit of magic tied in. Only...Halfway through season 1, they decided to make it an action-adventure series and move it Disney's (now defunct) Jetix block. Despite the premise that it starred 5 female protagonists, and Jetix was aimed at 6-11 year old boys. One might like to think that the Disney Execs were simply being enlightened...But I really doubt it.
But the genre shift, caused problems for the folks in charge of season 1 and they ended getting fired and a whole new team was brought in to replace them. And that new team included Greg Weisman as Head Writer and Story Editor. In other words, he was in charge of Season Two.
And...I never saw it.
So, realizing at once the absolute error of my ways, I set for the watch the entire series season 1 and 2 (there was no season three--Why does Greg Weisman never get a third season?!? WHY?!?)
Season One...I tried to rewatch in one sitting...But it was a chore... An absolute chore. They DRAGGED the over arching plot out over way more episodes than necessary. Elyon's stupidity got bothered the hell out of me (in the comics Phobos's deceptions of Elyon were a lot more elaborate), Phobos and Cedric were annoying villains, and the girls--That's W.I.T.C.H. themselves the lead characters--were SO bland and boring. There most interesting moments where when Cornelia was insisting that they tell Elyon the truth, and Will was against--though Will never could give a reasonable explanation why she was against.
That being said...There IS a highlight of season one that I enjoyed very much.
This is Blunk. And I love him.
A character and species exclusive to the TV show, Blunk is a Passling. A small toad-like goblin adverse to bathing and capable of smelling portals between Meridian (Metamoor in the comics, Meridian was merely the capital city, but Metamoor was never named in the show) and Earth.
Blunk was a smuggler (or "Value Wholesaler" as he puts it) and not really interested in anything but himself. He was created to be a comic relief character. But I call him the hero of season 1. He's literally the only character who changes or develops (okay, MAYBE Elyon does too, but her blindness to what her friends and the rebellion were trying to tell her really irked me. Partially because they dragged it out so long)
Blunk starts out as a smuggler and is tossed into a cell with Caleb--the leader of Meridian's resistance against Prince Phobos, the villain. When Caleb is rescued, Blunk get's dragged along with him and ends up in Heatherfield. (Earth) There, he becomes a reluctant ally to Caleb (helping him track down portals back and forth between Earth and Meridian) and to the girls. Over the course of the 26 episodes, Blunk goes from a reluctant ally, to a more willing ally, to an actual friend--he goes out of his way to get the Heart of Kandrakar back when he's framed for it's theft--to an actual full-on hero when he attacks Cedric in the season finale. (He did this to save Elyon's life) For reference, Blunk is 3 feet tall and has no powers whatsoever.
And Cedric is a giant snake.
And that is why I love Blunk.
And then came season 2.
I have, in the past, gushed a little about my love of Greg Weisman's shows (I've mentioned Gargoyles of course, and The Spectacular Spider-man and Young Justice are on my list of Fav non-Disney shows) And of course my friends kept telling me how good Season 2 of W.I.T.C.H. was compared to season one.
I was a afraid that they had oversold it...
Season 2 was ADDICTIVELY good. How good you ask? Well, the five girls SUDDENLY developed distinctive personalities, and their backstories and family lives became clearer. I went for not caring for them at all--except Irma's occasional snark--To LOVING these girls. Rooting for them in both their personal lives...And their lives as Guardians of Infinity (yeah, they went from the Veil to Infinity and that's just ONE of their major developments)
To me, Will Vandom--their leader--became a breakout character. I fell hard for her.
It's hard to talk about her growth in Season 2 without spoilers...But...She has to deal with A LOT this season, and you can't help but want to hug her.
And I love that cute "blow her bangs out of her face static-hair" thing she does in this season. It's a very nice touch.
And that's not to say the others don't develop either, because they most certainly do. Will was just my favorite.
On that note: U is for Undivided may just be one of the best episodes of anything I've ever seen...SO GOOD. No spoilers on that one. (Keeping to a minimum for S2 anyway, go watch it yourself)
That being said...Season 2 is SO much better if you've taken the time (as I did) to watch season one. It builds on top of what was already established, and makes it better.
And then there's the villains...
AND...If you watch Season 1...She's been there the whole time...Manipulating the girls and the resistance.
And there were two more 'breakout' (bad puns!) villains in season two. Phobos and Cedric.
Yeah...You read that right...
While I got SO sick of Phobos and Cedric in S1...S2 Phobos and Cedric are...Well, I'm going to cop out and say "watch it yourself" and then you go ahead and get back to me. Let me know what YOU think about Phobos and Cedric in S2 compared to what they did in S1.
I think that it's a credit to Greg Weisman (and the talented people he often associates/surrounds himself with) that he can take two villains I hated in season one...and make them...
Into something that I adored in S2. As I say far, FAR too often with Greg's shows "It's a pity there was no season three."