All right. I will say right here, right now: I am a total "Lion King" maniac. Ever since I saw the original 1994 Disney animated movie, it has been a part of my life. With an all-star voice cast, terrific visual depth, a killer soundtrack, African savanna backdrop, uplifting messages, humor with lasting value and a powerful script, "The Lion King" has been one of my absolute favorite movies. It got me wanting to hear more music from Elton John, and I receive vibes from 'Lion King' as I hear his music. My roommates and I really liked Disney's 'Lion King 1 1/2' movie from 2004, and I even enjoyed the 1998 sequel, 'The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride'. 'The Lion King' is my personal pick for 'Best 1990s Disney animated movie'.
When I first heard about how they were giving Timon and Pumbaa a Saturday morning cartoon on CBS, I was ecstatic. I thought Timon and Pumbaa were a terrific comedy duo and immediately embraced the idea of them having a spin-off series.
While I watched it faithfully as a teen, I look at it now and I just can't shake the idea that something wasn't right. I understand that making a regular series with all the power and majesty of Disney's 'Lion King' movie would be one impossibly tall order to fill, but at times, this show feels like a Lion King-themed version of the Games animated 'Ren and Stimpy' episodes.
Yes, Timon and Pumbaa are still together, having wacky adventures all around the world. Here, however, they do 'human' things, like wear clothes, eat in restaurants, talk with people, do jobs for money...you know, stuff animals wouldn't typically do in the wild. From time to time, they would run into a guy named 'Quint', whose moniker changes by his profession, acting like he is the 'George Liqour' of their show. In the movie, there were no human characters around. Suddenly, they can walk into a major metropolitian city and do what people do. It was a little weird.
Another factor of the show I don't like is the extremely uneven quality of the episodes. When the episodes are good, they can be very enjoyable, namely the episodes that try to instill a social message or try to show an intellectual side. Other episodes, however, just stink (and when it does, watch out!). In some eps, they would either do a flat-out rewrite of an old Looney Tunes cartoon (one I remember best was 'Scent of the South', which was like a big remake of the 1959 Pepe Le Pew cartoon, 'Really Scent') or start somewhere and lead to something completely different than what they started with (like when it starts with Timon and Pumbaa playing golf, and it ends up with them throwing the Earth out of its orbit). Other episodes are total no-brainers, acting like an enormous marathon of 'watch us drop everything but the kitchen sink on Timon's head!'.
Then there is the 'sideshow' character episodes. The secondary character episodes I liked best was 'The Laughing Hyenas', which featured Shenzi, Banzai and Ed as they searched for food (I think I even liked this better than the main attraction). The others, such as the 'Rafiki Fables', which usually tried instill a moral, like 'Be yourself' and 'Be Nice to your Friends', were very blah. And the other sideshow episode, 'Zazu the Hornbill'...well, Zazu was only a minor character in the movie, and his episodes weren't terribly interesting.
So, I'm kinda torn between giving a 'yes' or 'no' reccommendation. Disney's made better series, but you can do worse. It seems to stand as a 'middle of the pack' Disney movie-based cartoon. Nothing can destroy my love for the immortal 'Lion King' movie, but 'The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa' stands as the least involving of Disney's Lion King products.
I stand by my claim that Timon and Pumbaa are a great comic team. But as a series, it just needs fine-tuning.