Season 3 of Avatar: The Last Airbender kicked off last Friday night, and the fan boards are buzzing. It was a long summer to wait for new episodes, after all… even if Aang hadn’t woken up with a headful of hair.
(Sorry. I’m still having trouble getting over that. Just look at him! It’s freaky!)
Anyway, if you managed to mis it, you can watch The Awakening in its entirety online over at TurboNick. (This is the part where we all give a cheer for Nickelodeon for putting the episode online, because that was a very cool thing to do.) And you will want to watch the episode before reading any of the online buzz about it, because I’ve been unable to find any discussion that doesn’t contain a whole lot of spoilers.
Over at ToonZone, reviewer Ed Liu says the season is off to a rough start:
At best, a new viewer attempting to enter the Avatar world with this episode will be slightly lost. Even the fans who have been rabidly anticipating the new season since the surprising events that ended the last one will feel a mixture of excitement and disappointment with the premiere. The excitement comes from the prospect of seeing the story to its end and the tantalizing hints at what might be coming next, but the disappointment will be because this episode feels like an extended setup for the rest of the season. It’s a half-hour that goes by all too quickly and with too little movement to be truly satisfying on its own merits.
(C’mon, Ed, tell us what you really think.)
This assessment feels like a bit of a letdown if you read last week’s USA Today article about how Avatar is Nickelodeon’s next big thing:
“This is a franchise on the rise,” says Scott Klein, senior global brand manager. “We’d love to be putting out games all the way through the feature film release.”
Now, the network is developing branded rides at Paramount and Universal theme parks and a roller coaster ride at Minneapolis’ Mall of America, which will have the first Nickelodeon theme park next year.
“The movies will kick the business into high gear,” Zarghami says. “That will send people back to the network for more in the animated series. The movies will be released on home video and go into another movie. And hopefully, when I’m replaced 10 years from now, somebody will be making Avatar 10.”
I believe that, too. Even if only because my son’s only reaction to last week’s premiere episode was a satisfied sigh and “When’s the next one on?”