TRON: Uprising (2012 TV series) review…

TRON: Uprising (2012 TV series) review after the break…

TRON: Uprising (2012 TV series) review…

There is a reason why grown adults do not watch television programs like “Sesame Street” or “Phineas & Ferb.” Quite simply, there are some programs specifically designed for demographics that do not include grown adults. “TRON: Uprising” is one such television program not designed for those intellectually over the age of 25 (I was originally going to write “…over the age of 18” until I realized how rapidly the age of 18 as a turning point for maturity has depreciated over the years).

We live in a world filled only with “What Is” and not “What If.” Conversely, our world is filled with “What If” when compared to an alternate universe that has always made the other choice in history. For instance, we live in the world where Steve Jobs dies of pancreatic cancer instead of successfully treating it. We live in a world where “The Curse” was broken by the Boston Red Sox in 2004, not 1986 (the previous time they could have but did not win a World Series). We live in a world where Russian forces successfully repelled Nazi forces during World War II instead of being overrun by them.

We, therefore, live in a world where the TRON franchise has been starved into an anorexic creative coma, perpetually malnourished by a corporate culture mindset dominated by a “what-have-you-done-for-me-this-hour” mentality and punctuated by a “but-this-is-what-the-focus-group-liked-the-most” bottom line. Despite a modestly successful first movie, the TRON franchise was discarded mainly for having the horrendous bad timing of being compared to the mega-blockbuster of “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” to which few films financially fare favorably. It would be decades before the Walt Disney company agreed to a pseudo-sequel in the form of a computer game called “TRON 2.0” which, like the film, was modestly successful but nowhere near the top-selling computer games of that time. After a brief stint as a blink-and-you’d-miss-it comic book series, Walt Disney tried again with the film “TRON: Legacy” in 2010 after a “demo reel” of a lightcycle duel amazed science-fiction enthusiasts at a convention. Despite a gargantuan marketing blitz and some last minute re-working by the Pixar studio, “TRON: Legacy” performed softly compared to it’s budget and to other Disney productions of similar budget range. A companion video game, “TRON: Evolution,” was both critically dismissed and sold poorly, the game developer responsible for the game closing shortly thereafter. A film sequel to “TRON: Legacy” has yet to be approved.

TRON enthusiasts, therefore, have been forced to huddle around what may be the TRON franchise’s final gasp – TRON: Uprising.

“TRON: Uprising” is a weekly 30-minute animated series set to premiere on the channel “Disney XD,” a Disney channel especially formulated for young boys (can you guess what the “X” in “XD” stands for? I bet you can). In terms of the TRON timeline, the series supposedly takes place after the video game “TRON: Evolution” but before “TRON: Legacy.” In the series, an ailing TRON (voiced by original actor Bruce Boxleitner) mentors your typical angry, youthful, energetic protege, “Beck” to fight the well-intentioned but now very much evil “CLU” and his army of red-circuit wearing bad guys. I am only reviewing the prologue episode as that has been the only episode available for review so far.

To be perfectly honest and blunt, I am not certain who would want to watch this series willingly besides young male teenagers (and “tweens” as they like to be called) and truly die-hard TRON enthusiasts. All others, literally, need not apply. Even for those two demographics who might find the series of some interest, my question to them would be – Why torture yourself?

In the prologue episode, there was so much teenage red meat junk food tossed onto the screen that I could practically feel the acne growing on my face and the braces reattaching themselves to my teeth as I watched. Turning this episode into a drinking game by downing a shot for every time you spotted a cliche would be an invitation to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning.

I’m just not sure where to begin – There are so many cliches that it is an embarrassment of riches or, more precisely, of cliches. Yes, I knew what I was getting into but if this is how teenagers and young male children like to entertain themselves, the jokes made at their expense concerning their education, intellect and personal choices are well deserved.

First, let’s start with the main character, “Beck.” Why “Beck?” Is it a nickname for something longer? Some obscure computer term I’m not aware of? Beck is your typical young, angry, energetic cyber-mechanic (aren’t they all mechanics at that age?) who decides to take on the TRON moniker when his friend gets de-rezzed (or “killed” in TRON lingo) after a brief confrontation with their new red-circuited overlords. Beck’s youthfulness and ignorance of digital mortality allows him to fumble his way through an escape after his first act of large-scale social disobedience – Defacing a statue of CLU before detonating it with explosives. Along the way, we meet Beck’s eventual love/hate relationship in the form of a female enemy who’s name escapes me at the moment. However, she’s a feisty little thing because, obviously, the only physical difference between a healthy young male program and a healthy young female program are breasts and a smaller waist.

Beck eventually gets caught by TRON who is in hiding after getting his bits handed to him during a physical fight with CLU. TRON is in no shape to fight and so takes Beck on as his protege to lead the fight for him. Beck’s first social disobedience under TRON’s guidance are to free some hapless programs from being led to the arena where they will fight until they are de-rezzed. After a brief confrontation with the local evil warlord (voiced by Lance Henricksen and I probably just misspelled his name) who has go-go-gadget energy arms that ends in a series-opening stalemate, the episode mercifully ends.

I must be honest – I’m just at a loss for words when it comes to being polite in this review. What could I write positively about this episode? Well, for one, I liked the design of the “train” and the fact that it flipped right side up and upside down (even though that was more for dramatic effect then for an actual, practical reason, even in the digital world). And that’s it. That’s all I can think of. Oh, and that the episode ended.

This is a series not meant for anyone who has graduated college or has a “real” job or supports a family in the same way that diapers are not meant for people who know how to successfully operate a toilet. It’s just that simple – I’m not sure if the “why” even merits an explanation. Just for laughs, though – If they’re programs, why don’t they just make copies of themselves so that they never die (“de-rez”)? If they’re programs, why do they obey the laws of gravity? Why can’t they walk on walls and ceilings? The train flipping upside down was neat but… Why? What practical “digital world” reason was there? Why name the main character “Beck”? Why should I have sympathy for an angry young male who repeatedly pushed his luck with an armed guard who he knew was capable of dishing out lethal punishment? Why… Why? This whole episode has “Why?” attached to it – Where did “Beck” get the bomb to blow up the statue? Do young, angry adolescent mechanics always have such easy access to explosives in the digital world? Why couldn’t Beck just disguise himself as a guard (We saw Flynn abosrb the redness of a guard in the original TRON) for his escape? Why…? *sigh* Why?

TRON: Uprising is a Frankenstein monster’s array of off-the-shelf parts from other productions but that’s not the horrible part – The horrible part is that it is all so blatantly obvious and calculated as to nullify any amount of emotional attachment one would need to credibly follow the series. A mentor – student relationship can be effective if such a relationship is gradually built upon and not thrust upon the viewer. A male / female adversary love / hate relationship might work if you could relate to either character… Maybe she’s ambitious and just wants to climb up the “corporate ladder” (“cyber ladder?” “computer ladder?”) or her boss is holding her family hostage or… something. Anything. If you’re going to emphasize Beck’s mechanic knowledge, why not use it for his first large assignment under TRON to pay off the plot point? Why kill off the one red guard who might have some sympathy and attempted to grow as a character just to have a cheap lead-in for the main villain of the episode?

Ugh.

There is a reason why grown adults do not watch television programs like “Sesame Street” or “Phineas & Ferb” and there are a MULTITUDE of reasons why someone with even a modicum of self-respect should avoid watching TRON: Uprising.

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2 Responses to “TRON: Uprising (2012 TV series) review…”

  1. Matt S Says:

    Really?

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Matt and thank you for reading my blog.

      If by “Really?” you mean “In retrospect, do you still stand by your review?” Then the answer to that question is “Yes.”

      If you are an enthusiast of the series “TRON: Uprising,” then good for you. I am glad that you enjoy that series. In that case, we probably thoroughly disagree on this topic and will continue to do so.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

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