By and large Disney has a pretty fair track record for animated series. Original content like Gargoyles and Kim Possible are sterling examples of high quality animated TV. Feature films like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Tarzan all had worthy follow-ups. Some, such as Hercules arguably improved upon their source material. That said, there is always a dark side. Belle’s Magical World and Atlantis II: Milo’s Return are the remains of what were supposed to be TV show followups to feature films that died before coming to air, instead being stitched together and released straight to video like some Frankenstein monster. Now Disney has released the trailer for a new animated series. This one follows up on the 2009 hit Tangled, and based on what I have seen in the teaser trailer it will either be a smash hit or a devastating failure.
So here is the aforementioned trailer. My primary complaint is the retroactive character development that Rapunzel is getting. Tangled is one of my favorite Disney movies. I might even go so far as to say it was my first fandom if you count it as part of the “Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons” craze that I fell into in late 2012. Part of what gave the end of Tangled so much punch was the fact that Rapunzel lost her magical healing hair. Her sole companion up until the film was Mother Gothel, who only valued Rapunzel for her hair. When Eugene/Flynn cuts it he shows that he loves Rapunzel more than life itself (literally) and if his death means her freedom then so be it. Without that heavy golden hair, which often gets caught on things to show how trapped she was by her old life, Rapunzel is free to find a new life that is entirely of her own choosing.
To give Rapunzel back her hair is to completely backtrack on that. Rapunzel is a wonderful character and she is more than her hair. Its sudden reappearance is a demonstration by the creators that they only value her for that hair, and what kind of message is that to send to young people? People will only like you if you look pretty or can help them in some way? Sorry, Disney, but unless you directly address this issue within the show I am going to be as salty as the Dead Sea, and just as dead inside.
That said, it does not look all bad. For one, Eugene is now called Eugene, not Flynn Rider. They seem to at least be taking his identity seriously if nothing else. It will be fun to watch his character, especially since he had renounced his life of crime in Tangled, but I am sure that his old Flynn persona will rise up and he will try to be dashing and mischievous for the sake of his image.
The art style does not look to bad either. The original movie itself was made as a way to test if the expressive fluidity of 2D could be transferred over to 3D, so I think the art of the series keeps the tone of the movies very well. Flash animation is often plagued with a very synthetic look, with flat matte colors, thick lines, and minimal shading. Here it seems that the animation has taken on a very story-book like character, with loose painterly edges in addition to the expressive fluidity that I mentioned before.
So while there are some potential stumbling blocks, I am optimistic for the new series. If the writers address the consequences of having the hair back and continue to develop the characters in a reasonable way there is a very good chance that Tangled: The Series will turn into a substantial payday for Disney. Of course if it fails we know what I turn into when scorned by Disney.