Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith and media: 9/28/20 Then Came You is releasing via Fathom for one night only screenings in select theaters nationwide on September 30th and will be available on-demand and digital on October 2nd. Then Came Kathie Lee Gifford. In her new movie Then Came You, the legendary talk […]
Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith and media:
Continuing my list of the 25 Most Inspiring/Feel-Good TV series in the history of broadcast television…
The rules: Each show chosen has to have aired for free (the way TV should be), feature ongoing characters, have a positive theme and, especially, be liked by me. Entries are presented in alphabetical order.
2. Ben 10 (Cartoon Network/12 seasons: 2005-14)
Wikipedia Premise: The series is about a 10-year-old boy named Ben Tennyson who gets a watch-style alien device called the “Omnitrix”. Attached to his wrist, it allows him to transform into various alien creatures with different abilities, allowing him to fight evil from Earth and space.
Show History: The Ben 10 saga debuted on Cartoon Network on December 27, 2005 and ended on November 14, 2014. It consists of essentially four chapters.
The original Ben 10 ran for four seasons and followed his adventures as 10-year-old traveling the country with his Grandpa Max (a retired agent of the Plumbers, a clandestine group engaged in a secret war against hostile space invaders) and 10-year-old cousin Gwen (why they didn’t just make her his twin sister, I don’t know).
Ben 10: Alien Force ran for three seasons and picked up Ben’s life five years later as a teenager battling the Highbreed, an extraterrestrial civilization bent on eliminating all imperfection from the universe (sounds familiar). This chapter also had his cousin Gwen discovering her own superpowers inherited from alien grandmother Verdona (Grandpa Max’s alien ex) and the two of them forming a friendship with super-powered former juvenile delinquent and foe Kevin E. Levin (aka Kevin 11).
Ben 10: Omniverse, the final chapter in the series, follows Ben and his new alien partner Rook as they and the Plumbers assist a community of peaceful extraterrestrials as they create a secret haven deep below the Earth’s surface.
During its successful run, four movie-length live-action episodes were produced and the series was well-regarded for its quality storytelling.
Positive Theme: Personal Growth. Over its 12-seasons, we watch both Ben and his enemy-turned-friend evolve from being self-centered children to young adults driven by a higher purpose.
Why I like it: First of all, I was fortunate enough to have spent six years working for Cartoon Network Enterprises, novelizing over 100 episodes of Ben 10 and (the also very good) Generator Rex. I would barely aware of either series if not for that very rewarding gig. While I took the job for the money, I was very pleasantly-surprised to find that the shows featured extraordinarily interesting characters and storylines.
I was impressed with its handling of fairly sophisticated subject matter in a way that is appropriate for kids and actually intriguing for adults. I would contend that the sci-fi plots and characters are right up there with Star Trek. It’s also a show that parents can sit down and enjoy with their kids – and maybe even discuss the moral issues the episodes often raise.
Nitpicking: While the concept of Chapter 4 (Omniverse) was actually quite interesting and the addition of the character Rook was good, the quality of the writing fell off during the period and the suddenly edgy animation did not match the tone of the series.
Best Episodes: The Alien Force and Ultimate Alien chapters produced by the extremely talented and insightful comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie represented the show at its creative peak. He and his wife Charlotte Fullerton also separately penned some of the very best episodes during this period. McDuffie tragically died in 2011 following complications from emergency heart surgery. He was not involved in the Omniverse episodes and it showed.