At first I was a bit skeptical about the new ThunderCats series.  As the first episode began it was quickly established that there are some differences between the new and the old.  All the characters are represented and the basic story points are present, but they are slightly different.  A little over half way through the first episode, I was no longer a skeptic.  This new ThunderCats rocks!

Thundera is a city on the planet of Third Earth inhabited by a race of cat-like people and ruled by the royal ThunderCats.  The cats are at the top of the society hierarchy on Third Earth and other animals are looked down upon and enslaved by the cats.  Technology is only a myth on Third Earth, sought by black market dealers as ancient artifacts.

We are introduced to Lion-O (Will Friedle), prince of Thundera.  He and his older brother Tygra (Matthew Mercer) are only sons of the king,  Claudus, voiced by Larry Kenney who provided the voice of Lion-O in the original 80s series.  Lion-O is in line to inherit the crown from his father, but is reckless and irresponsible in Claudus’ eyes.  Lion-O is a dreamer and a thinker and believes that his worthiness to be king shouldn’t be based on his ability to wield a sword.

The ThunderCats are betrayed by one of their greatest generals, Grune (Clancy Brown) who leads an army of lizards to attack Thundera.  The lizards led by General Slythe (Dee Bradley Baker) have embraced technology and quickly overwhelm the ThunderCat army.  It is then when their greatest nightmare soon becomes a reality.  Mumm-Ra (Robin Atkin Downes), the embodiment of evil has returned but not even Jaga (Corey Burton) and his clerics, The Protectors of the Crown are able to stop him.  Lion-O and Tygra escape with the help of Cheetara (Emmanuelle Chriqui), one of Jaga’s clerics.

The first episode just flew by even though it was a hour long.  Although the storyline was changed from the original, I really liked it.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea of Lion-O and Tygra being brothers, but somehow it works.  There is a lot of sibling rivalry between the two which should make for some interesting conflict as the series progresses.  Wiley Cat and Wiley Kit are seen briefly in the first episode, but they are orphans living on their own on the streets of Thundera.  I’m sure that the will team up with the other cats soon enough.

Much to my dismay, Snarf also made it into this retelling.  He provides the typical comic relief in the series, but for now fortunately he doesn’t talk.  He sounds more like a Pikachu, making cat-like noises and getting in the way of things.  The one disappointment is that we didn’t get to see much of Panthro but it is explained why he is mostly absent from the first episode.

For kids just now being introduced to ThunderCats, this is a great introduction.  The cheesiness of the original has been replaced with a lot of action and characters you can actually care about.  It’s a fresh revamp of the original that so far has surpassed my expectations.  Plus it was great to hear the voice of the original Lion-O give us the old “ThunderCats Ho” one more time.

4 out of 5

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