The New ThunderCats Is Off to Roaring Start

By Tim Surette

Aug 02, 2011

I think we can all agree that reboots of '80s cartoons—the kind we old people used to watch after school while eating Zooroni (true story)—scare the bejeezus out of us. Why mess with the classics? Some things just shouldn't be remade.

But Cartoon Network has ignored my mental letters of protest and gone ahead with its planned relaunch of ThunderCats. The series debuted on Friday, and it totally sucked. Wait, that's not right. Sorry—force of habit. Actually I just finished watching it, and it's... pawsome.

The new producers of the series have taken some big liberties with the new version, most notably going with a full-on reboot and completely remaking the origin story rather than picking up where the original left off. Combined with the sharp new animation and character tweaks, the new story works well for old folks like me as well as for kids who didn't pop out of the womb during Reaganomics.

But the most impressive part of the new version is how grown up it is, while still appealing to kids. The new series plays out more like an actual serialized television series or an epic movie rather than something meant to babysit your kids while you "work" (or whatever it was Mom actually did). There is some seriously dark stuff in here—like, Bambi-type of dark stuff. But the series also throws in some laughs, and humor and drama are both used well, extending the depth of these anthropomorphic cats. Overall, a very impressive start for something I thought would smell like a week-old litter box.

Twelve years of college and a steady diet of canned, various-shaped pastas consumed during my formative years didn't exactly do wonders for my memory, but there are some pretty sizable changes that even I recognize. They are (with grades and some spoilers from the first two-part premiere!):

Lion-O's start:
In the premiere of the new series, Lion-O didn't start out as a buff, handsome ass-kicking man-lion like he did in the original (he was a kitten in a cat's body, though, as he aged on the trip away from the already exploded home planet of Thundera). Which means that he's now a wishy-washy prince and heir to the title of Lord of the ThunderCats. This probably means we'll see him come into his own as a leader while he's still a young cat, as he learns from mistakes and early successes. Grade: B. Something about young Lion-O young works well here.

Cheetara's rockin' new bod:
In the old cartoon, Cheetara was hot in a Daryl Hanna kind of way. In the new one, she's hot in a Kate Upton way. Grade: A+. Like duh, obviously.

Tygra is Lion-O's adopted brother:
In the old cartoon, Tygra was just another member of the gang, and a bit shy. The new Tygra is a borderline a**hole, cocky, arrogant, and Lion-O's adopted brother. He's also the favored son of Lion-O's dad Claudus, creating a bitter rivalry between the two bros. Grade: B-plus. While it's sad to see one of the originals get such a big makeover, it's better for the story.

Panthro is DEAD?:
In the original, Panthro was like the Michael Clarke Duncan of the ThunderCats' world. In the new one, he's dead. Grade: F. Wait, no, A. OMG Panthro is DEAD?! F! Of course he's not actually dead, right? So we're giving the move an A for fake-killing him and actually keeping him out of the premiere.

Snarf isn't begging to be murdered:
The old Snarf was at the top of my list of "things to kill" when I was a kid, just ahead of whoever invented vegetables. "Snarf snarf snarf," the jerk would always say, making my ears bleed with murderous rage. He also looked like the town drunk or a child-molester version of whatever species he was. The new Snarf is much cuter and quieter, albeit in a Pokemon sort of way. Grade: A-plus. It was a good decision to keep Snarf, and it was an even better decision to shut his ass up.

What did you think of the new ThunderCats? What other changes did you notice, and how would you grade them? When you were little, did you mistakenly call Lion-O "Lionel" like I did? And when is someone going to reboot Zooroni?

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • KharyBallard Oct 26, 2011

    I love thundercats and i was so happen when they bought the show back out. They Should finish off from the last show but they didn't im not mad shit aleast i could watch a new show. So Everybody crying shut the hell up. Because I bet yall $ 500 the ones talking shit is the ones watched the new series lol

  • NeilRooyen Aug 27, 2011

    Hmmm!!! I haven't seen it yet, so please bare with me here....

    The Thundercats are back!? Awesome, I have been praying for this day ever since it stopped airing...

    I seriously hope it's worth the wait... I am a huge 80's cartoon Fan....

    But just looking at the pics, I have my doubts about it... The New Thundercats look more like cardboard cutouts. There doesn't seem to be much visual depth in the drawings. They look very flat... The 80's series looks more "3D" (as in a more rounded, you can look around them kinda way). not flat edged. It kinda reminds me of DBZ (DragonBall Z) - The worst anime I have ever seen...EVER!!!! I would rather watch Captain Planet (as 24. Ben mentioned above)... No Seriously!!! I Would... Ok now my Brain hurts, as well as my mental vision - Thx Ben. ;-)

    They don't look like Warriors at all. They look more like drowned rats.

    Why change the story and the characters backgrounds and history? This has to be 1 of my biggest peeves!!!! Just like TMNT - In the Cartoons Leonardo is the Leader of the Turtles... In the Live action Movies, Raphael is the Leader!!! What Gives? I'm all for Modernizing the Old, but not for complete re-writes.

    But as usual they take something really Awesome and make it Uber-cr@p.

    Well this is my opinion till I actually see it. ;-P

    I hope I'm wrong about it and it blows me away.

    Oh! and what's with Cheetara's huge (@)(@)? is this some new Adult Manga? WTF?

    ...and we wonder why kids are doing things they shouldn't be doing at a much younger age than they used too!

  • carlthejedi Aug 19, 2011

    Reboot? They talk of having technology and that they came from another planet in the past and that when they came to the planet the thundercats brought peace? Could it be a sequel rather than reboot?

  • Thundercat-HO Aug 05, 2011

    So far so good - I liked that there was a cameo (hopefully more later) of Lynx-o (blind thundercat who was in the tower prior to the attack. I hope that Bengali and Pumyra also re-surface.

    The only bothersome piece is the 'no-tech' civilization - i hope that they quickly add tech into the mix.

  • JoseRivera2 Aug 05, 2011

    I'm not a fan of reboots but this one looks good so far.

  • dp516 Aug 05, 2011

    I saw the original on occasions but didn't know the whole story, this new version is awesome so far.

  • sara1015 Aug 05, 2011

    Never watched (well, watched as a child, didn't retain) the original Thunder Cats. So, coming from a completely new slate, it was well worth the channel pause.

  • MosheKass Aug 04, 2011

    Come on! No one has said it yet....

    The new show is:


  • slapshot6610 Aug 04, 2011

    i think this show is pretty kick ass! one of my DVR regulars =D

  • snake63 Aug 04, 2011

    I love how they brought DCAU voice actors Will Friedle (Batman Beyond) and Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor). Clancy is perfect as the villain.

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