Sorry, No New Tangled Episodes This Month

This year, we've been gifted with not one, but two new animated princess series. There's Mysticons, which began this week, and Tangled: The Series, which started in March, based off Disney's 2010 movie of the same name. This is far from the first time Disney has made an animated series from one of their movies. In 1992, they made a fantastic Little Mermaid series and followed it up with an Aladdin series, a Hercules series, a Tarzan series, and more. With most of these averaging at around two seasons each, there's no way of knowing if Tangled will outlast its predecessors at this point. As Disney Channel is prone to do, the series is currently on an unannounced hiatus that will last at least a month, making this a good time to look back at what's happened in it so far.

The Tangled series takes place after the events of the movie Tangled, but before the "Tangled Ever After" short, which showed us Eugene and Rapunzel's wedding. This timeline confused a lot of people because as we all know, Rapunzel's famous golden locks were chopped off at the end of the film, giving her a brunette bob, an aesthetic she kept for her wedding. The series premiere movie, entitled Tangled: Before Ever After, explained this discrepancy. In it, Rapunzel snuck off with her favorite lady-in-waiting, Cassandra, to go on an adventure away from the palace. They discovered a bunch of mysterious pointy rocks that brought back all seventy feet of her blonde hair, but with new properties. Instead of glowing and healing things when Rapunzel sang the "flower" song, her hair was now indestructible, making it impossible to get her brown wedding bob back any time soon. Theoretically, she will find a way to get rid of it at the end of the series, whenever that may be. The rocks remain a mystery, which they might be holding off on as an excuse to give the show more seasons. I'm sure there are many fan theories on where they came from and what they represent, but ultimately, Disney will get the final say.

The most obvious change from the movie is the artwork. Gone is the fancy CGI inspired by Glen Keane's drawings, and it is replaced with stylized 2-D images without outlines that are filled in with textures and patterns instead of solid colors. The style is reminiscent of the concept art that Glen's daughter, Claire Keane, worked on for the movie. I personally love the artwork in this series because it's simple and clean, yet bright and interesting at the same time, which is perfect for an animated TV show. The "no outline" look worked very well on Samurai Jack, and the patterns in lieu of colors remind me of a stylized anime series I saw many years ago. It's clear the show has a smaller budget than the feature film, but it's still a lot of fun to watch.

As for the characters, the voices are the same, but their personalities have been exaggerated to extremes, making it feel more like a Saturday morning cartoon. This removes any opportunity for growth and puts an automatic "reset" button at the end of each episode, allowing it to be watched in any order. Though it lightens the tone of the show, it also makes it difficult to take anyone in it too seriously. Rapunzel is charmingly naive, Eugene is the king of sarcasm, and Cassandra is the voice of reason. Lady Cassandra was a new character to the series, added to balance out Rapunzel's morals and Eugene's street smarts. She serves this purpose quite well, as well as tipping the scales of the male-to-female character ratio in the show.

The series also develops Rapunzel's newly found relationship with her parents, King Frederic and Queen Arianna, but with mixed results. Frederic comes off as a clone of King Triton from The Little Mermaid, wanting to keep Rapunzel locked up for her own protection, even though she spent her entire life locked in a tower and is free for the first time. Besides that, his only purpose seems to be to intimidate Eugene with idle threats of disapproval. Arianna shares many of Rapunzel's qualities, implying Rapunzel takes after her mom, but she does not have enough individual traits to be recognizable as a stand-alone character. It is possible that Disney wanted to make her a generic loving mother because most of the Disney Princesses didn't have mothers, so this is their first opportunity to show us what it would be like if they did.

The show also develops Rapunzel and Eugene's relationship as a couple in a way that the Aladdin series mostly held back on. We see that they sleep in separate rooms in the castle and talk to each other often, but Eugene is affected by Rapunzel's trust issues as a result of being raised in a tower by an impostor. Despite her strong moral compass, Rapunzel still keeps secrets from Eugene, including the reason she turned down his proposal at the beginning of the premiere movie. Eugene's criminal background as Flynn Rider never seems to be an issue, though it does allow us to meet colorful characters from his past every now and again. Apparently, the laws in Corona are very forgiving to anyone who returns the lost princess. Though their relationship is not perfect, Rapunzel and Flynn are a very cute TV couple, and it is clear that they care about each other a lot. I believe this series also marks the first time a Disney Princess has referred to her love interest as a "boyfriend," since all of Rapunzel's predecessors got engaged immediately. The term was rather jarring at first because it sounded too modern for Corona's heavily medieval setting, but I suppose there's nothing else she could call him after turning down his marriage proposal.

So far, the Tangled series has been very fun and entertaining without ever taking itself too seriously. I love the stylized animation, and it's great getting to know more about the characters' backstories. If I were to change anything the show when it comes back next month, it would probably be to add some serious episodes and growth in Rapunzel and Eugene's personalities. Now that she's been let out of her tower, she can't stay naive forever, and the former Flynn Rider needs to figure out who he is now that he isn't a thief anymore because sarcasm is only one trait that does not make up a whole person.


Unknown said…
watch32 - I have to be honest. I'm a huge Disney fan, so when i first came across the idea for Disney to make a Rapunzel story, I was curious as to how they'd do it. I was incredibly impressed and am now in love with this film. It's quirky enough for children to enjoy, but at the same time there's enough action and dialogue to allow older crowds to enjoy it as well. I loved it. The color and texture of colors were fantastic. I mean, I could honestly sit here and spoil the film for everyone, but I won't. It's definitely worth the watch, so if you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. Even for a Friday night film. Something that I really enjoyed with this film is that, while the story is usually told from the female perspective, the inclusion of a lead male, was impeccable. Rapunzel was evenly matched! Go see it!
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