Monday, April 16, 2012

TV Review: The Legend of Korra Pilot Episode

Hey everyone, welcome to a TV show review courtesy of Old School Lane. As you know, about a month ago,  The Legend of Korra, the followup to Nickelodeon's popular animated show, Avatar: The Last Airbender released its one hour pilot episode early thanks to the thousands of fans who "Liked" it on Facebook and "Shared" it on Twitter. They were able to view it at  before the actual television premiere. Many people saw it, including myself, but I chose not to review it because I didn't want to spoil it for anyone who had not had the chance to see it.

Well, the premiere of The Legend of Korra was last Saturday, April 14th, so now I can give you my two cents about it. Will this follow up be as good as the original or has it become too unfamiliar from the original show that captivated our imagination? Let's find out. Here's my review on the pilot episode of The Legend of Korra. Warning: major spoilers ahead for those who haven't seen it yet.

The show starts off with the introduction of the elements and the plot, similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Instead of Katara being the narrator, it's Tenzin, the youngest son of Aang and Katara. He tells the story about his father and Fire Lord Zuko worked together to reunite the divided nations of Earth, Water, and Fire to make them live in a world of peace. They had succeeded and the Fire Nation colonies became known as the United Republic of Nations, a place where benders and non-benders can live peacefully. The capital of the nations was called Republic City. Now, Aang had passed away and a new Avatar is born. Since Aang was an Airbender, the next Avatar would be a waterbender.  So now, our story begins.

Members of the White Lotus had been traveling many miles around the Northern and Southern Water tribes looking for the next Avatar, but with no success. When they reach a small, quaint house from the Southern Water tribe, a couple assures them that they are in the right place and that their daughter, Korra, was the Avatar. Skeptical at first, they see 5-year-old Korra being brash and proud claiming that she was the Avatar  as she bended water, earth, and fire in front of them.

This moment shocked the hell out of me. First of all, as you Avatar fans know, a person doesn't know that they are the Avatar until their 16th birthday. For a 5-year-old to know that already is just astonishing for me. Second, most Avatars learn their primary element first and then take years of discipline and practice to master them. For Korra to bending not only water easily, but earth and fire as well, means that she is a child prodigy. Sorry about that, just wanted to point that out. Back to the story.

Years later, Korra, now a 17-year-old teenager, is mastering her firebending skills in front of the members of the White Lotus and Korra's waterbending trainer Katara, now an old woman. Claiming that she has now mastered three of the four elements, she claims that she is ready to be trained by Tenzin, an airbending master and, as previously mentioned, Aang and Katara's youngest son. However, the White Lotus feels that while she has mastered the physical aspects of being an Avatar, she has yet to master the spiritual aspects. Korra and Katara convince the White Lotus members that Tenzin would be the perfect person to help her with that. They agree.

The next day, Tenzin, his non-bending wife Pema, and their three airbending children Jenora, Ikki, and Meelo arrive at the Southern Water Tribe. Jenora is the calm, smart, bookworm. Ikki is the hyperactive, crazy talking girl. Meelo is the youngest of the group and clings to his father's head constantly. It's interesting to note that they wear the same style of clothing that Aang wore in the first two seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender. 

Unfortunately, Tenzin is unable to train Korra due to a troubling state occuring at Republic City and that he has to stay there to take care of it. Disappointed, Korra had decided to run away from the Southern Water Tribe. Katara catches Korra packing her stuff and understands what she has to do. Korra wishes Katara and her parents goodbye as she and her polar bear dog companion Naga ride over to Republic City.

When she finally arrives at Republic City, Korra is shocked with the size of it. There are tall buildings everywhere, blimps hovering in the air, and cars driving along the streets. It's amazing to see Republic City! It shows how much time had changed from the original show. It's so much bigger than Ba Sing Se ever was!

Along the way, Korra defends a shop owner from three money collectors and shows off her bending skills. The people look at her with shock and awe. However, the metal bending police officers of Republic City chase after Korra and eventually captured her. She was interrogated by the chief officer, Lin Bei Fong, the daughter of Toph Bei Fong from the original show. It's kinda of a shock that the daughter of the coolest character from Avatar: The Last Airbender is not willing to help the Avatar.

Chief Bei Fong sees her as nothing but trouble and warns her to stay away from Republic City. Tenzin discovers that Korra made it in Republic City and convinces Chief Bei Fong to let her go in exchange of being responsible for her. She agrees, but warns Korra that she'll keep an eye on her. I can't help but laugh as this! Ha ha!

Meanwhile, an anti-bender organization called The Equalists hear about the Avatar arriving in Republic City. Their leader, Amon, takes note on this information and lets his members know to accelerate their plans to rid of all the benders of the world. That concludes the first half of the pilot episode.

Let's cover the second half, shall we?

The second half starts off with Korra being trained by Tenzin at his home on Air Temple Island alongside Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo. She doesn't seem to pick it up right away and struggles with airbending. Tenzin tells her to continue trying, but Korra gets frustrated and walks out.

While listening to the radio, she hears of a pro-bending tournament occurring in Republic City. Pro-bending is the most popular sport in Republic City with the goal of a team of three people representing the elements of water, earth, and fire working together knocking down the other team from the rising platform. The winner would move on the next round until the champion team would win a huge amount of money as a prize. Korra is interested in seeing a pro-bending tournament, but Tenzin refuses and says that pro-bending is a waste of time. However, she doesn't listen to Tenzin's advice and she decides to sneak out to see it. She  sees a team of benders called the Fire Ferret team winning a round against another team. Impressed, she approaches one of the members of the team, an light hearted Earthbender named Bolin. When finding out that she's the Avatar, Bolin tries to convince his serious older brother, a Firebender named Mako, to join their team. Mako, hesitant as first since he cares about winning the tournament and prize money, agrees.

 She finds out that Mako and Bolin are orphans living in the attic of the stadium, hoping to win the money for a better life for themselves.With Korra being the newest member of the Fire Ferret team, they worked together fighting the next team. However, Korra keeps losing her battles since she's not used to fighting the same style as the pro-benders. But, thanks to Tenzin's training, she was able to use airbending techniques to defend the other team's attacks and ends up winning the match. Tenzin overhears Korra's name on the radio and makes his way to the tournament. Instead of being disappointed of Korra, he's proud of her for utilizing his techniques to winning the match. He allows her to continue pro-bending with Mako and Bolin to improve on her techniques and thus, that concludes our first pilot episode.

Overall, what are my first impressions on this? It was really, really good! This show combines references and connections from Avatar: The Last Airbender beautifully, while adding in a bunch of new things to want to come back for more. Yes, it's completely different from its predecessor, but it needs to be so that the show doesn't get monotonous. For fans who were kids growing up with the original show are now teenagers who can enjoy watching a grown-up version of the same show. Also, it fills in nicely for newcomers who want to get into the Avatar series. I can't wait to see what else this show offers on the plate. I'm really looking forward to it! The four years waiting for the follow up to one of the best animated shows Nickelodeon ever released was well worth it.

Well, that's it for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane real soon. Take care.


1 comment:

  1. What's funny is that Bryke weren't involved with Korra until much later. Nick before the release of Shyamalan's adaptation decided it would be the perfect opportunity to bring the show back in some way.

    As we know Nick wanted to reject the show because of it having a female lead but they were willing to give it a chance especially after the movie crashed and burned. That is until Mike and Bryan left. The film was such a disaster they wanted to distance themselves away from it as possible. But Nick was still moving forward with or without them while still retaining the female lead.

    Shortly after, they got comic book writer Scott Snyder to sign on to the project as the showrunner. Scott was a blast from start to finish. He was so energetic, clever and passionate about LOK with him being a huge fan of the original series. He wrote the pilot script called ''THE NEW BLOOD'' with the season under the title ''BOOK FOUR: AIR''. It was vastly different from the final product. For starters - it was way more darker than the first episode that Bryke would conceive, it was a good 68 minute length and featured a couple of characters that didn't make it along the way.

    The episode would have dealt with the aftermath of the Avatar's death and how the rest of the world reacts in a very tight montage and while that's going on we met Korra who is a part of the Northern Water Tribe and is a hunter in training. In the script, her hotheaded nature caused several issues for her with Korra being a outsider who's looked down upon. Things end up changing when after her mother slaps her for insulting Aang, she runs away in defiance and stumbles upon dark spirits. She barely manages to escape with her life only to fall into the spirit portal they came out of. Finding herself in the Spirit World, she desperately tries to look for a way out. All the while in the Earth Kingdom - a group of terrorists hunt down a man with the most horrific abilities imaginable named Kane. This would be the origin of the season's core conflict. This storyline seems cut and dry when you say it out loud but a ton of scenes involving them and Kane were some of the best material Scott has written. My personal favorite is a scene where Kane is tearfully forced to reveal his backstory to the leader where when he first uncovered his abilities he accidentally killed his wife and son and disfigured his daughter resulting in him being arrested and later escaping trying to find out where his powers came from.

    Back to Korra's story, she befriends a couple of cute spirit comic reliefs like Momo if he could talk. There she ends up discovering AND on a floating Air temple where through the writings on the wall we learn how the Spirit World came to be and the journey of Team Avatar. Upon entering the Hall of Avatars she comes face to face with the spirits of all the Avatars and through the commotion she touches Aang which causes something within her. Once she catches her breath, she falls into an dark Chamber Of Secrets type are with a light at the end. The light at the end turns out to be none other than Asami Sato in a cement tomb. Korra in shock trips over and comes face to face/ nose to nose with Asami. She screams at the top of her lungs and shakily gets up but the cement on Asami breaks away to show she's alive. She opens her eyes and says to Korra ''You!?!''. Korra flees in confusion as Asami chases after her but Korra slips and Asami ends up catching her with a nice upside down Korra POV.

    The pilot ends with Kane showing the terrorist leader Bruno his powers but the police force shows up and arrests all of them only for Kane to lose control of his powers and cut to black. THE END.

    So yeah that was the script. Believe it or not, Scott's pilot draft was great. It felt like a genuine continuation of Avatar with a darker more grittier style and tone but it still retained a lot of the humor of the previous show.

    Want to know what happened - that's a story for another day.