Saturday, 10 May 2014
Ben 10, Season 1 (2005)
If we include the various sequel series (Alien Force, Ultimate Alien and the current Omniverse) then Ben 10 hit 200 episodes on 19th April 2014, roughly nine years after it first aired. Not a bad effort at all.
Watching the first series, there are several obvious reasons why the show launched a successful franchise. Some of these have little to do with the show itself, but with the marketing opportunities. While the show doesn't exist solely to sell merchandise - unlike say the old Masters of the Universe cartoon - I suspect that the show's strong built in 'toy factor' plays some role in its ongoing success.
Thankfully, however, the show has plenty to recommend it purely on its own merits, without considering the money-making machine that is your local toy department. The voice cast is excellent, for one thing. Tara Strong (best known these days for playing Twilight Sparkle) handles the lead role with aplomb, and is given able support from all of the main cast.
The scripts are also solid. There's nothing especially ground-breaking in the show - at least in this season; I haven't watched the others yet - but many of the major superhero tropes are employed effectively across the 13 episodes. And make no mistake: despite the aliens and SF trappings, this is a superhero show at heart. Which is not surprising when you consider that the creators all have a background in the comic book business.
We have the Origin Story, so vital to every costumed hero. We have the Lesson In What It Means To Be A Hero (a couple of times, actually). We have the Conquering Your Fears episode too, and so on.
But then, breaking new ground isn't really what Ben 10 is about. Telling fun, action-packed adventure tales with a side of exuberant humour is what it's here to do, and it does that admirably. If you were a fan of shows like Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and don't mind watching something that's targeted a few years younger, you could do a lot worse than to hunt down season 1 of Ben 10.