Many incarnations of Avatar

Avatar Escape from the Spirit World Game. (You need a login nickname, and also the secret passwords—refer to Avatar Spirit for the list—but it’s worth it, I promise.)

My son even lets me play, occasionally. He’s so good to me.

Next: even better was finding the new Avatar Cartoon Short (use KOH as the password to acces it), “School Time Shipping.” Avatar Spirit told me it’s done in the “chibi animation style,” and because I’m not an animation buff so much as I’m just a sucker for a good story, I had no idea what that meant. It turns out that chibi is that super-cutesy bigheaded thing.

Can you think of anything more incongruous for a series like Avatar? Because I can’t. But you have to watch the short, because it’s as hilarious as it is just plain weird.

Of course, Nicktoons Network is showing Escape from the Spirit World episodes all this week at 6:30 p.m. eastern, and it all culminates in a little Spirit World marathon this Saturday, February 25th, from 4-7. I guess I know what I’ll be doing this Saturday….

Need more things Avatar-related to keep you going this week? (Geez, you’re a little greedy, you know.) Remember when I told you that Avatar will be a live-action movie? I was wandering around the internet wondering if anyone had any additional information on the project, and discovered that when I post about it, nobody says anything… but when they post about it over at TV.com, they end up with 19 pages of comments. I tried to decide if this makes me feel neglected and unloved, but then decided that people who have 19 pages of opinions on a cartoon scare me just a little, so it’s all fine.

Avatar to be live-action movie

with an impressive director at the helm:

M. Night Shyamalan is making a rare foray into family films with a feature based on a popular animated series on the Nickelodeon kids cable channel.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender,” a series influenced by Asian art, mythology and fighting styles, has attracted an audience beyond Nickelodeon’s usual 6-11 demographic.

Shyamalan will write, direct and produce the live-action adaptation for Paramount Pictures’ MTV Films and Nick Movies. They hope it will turn into a three-picture series with Shyamalan’s continuing involvement.

The project marks the first time that Shyamalan, who is known for crafting original screenplays, will direct material he didn’t create. His last children’s film was 1999′s “Stuart Little,” which he co-wrote.

Shyamalan co-wrote Stuart Little? How did I not know that? And here I was thinking he was the perfect choice because he’ll keep it dark and creepy, but apparently he can keep it dark and creepy and silly and kid-friendly, if needed. Bonus!

Is it wrong of me to hope that an Avatar movie brings us some additional Avatar merchandise? My son wants all manner of obscure items he’s seen on the TV show, most of which don’t actually exist as toys. (I don’t dare show him that Lego is now making Avatar sets….)

Sorry, I got off on my own little tangent there. Ahem. Anyway! The course of the true Avatar ne’er did run smooth, it appears:

Because James Cameron also is about to film a new project titled “Avatar,” the films could end up in a showdown over their titles. Cameron’s camp said he began his “Avatar” screenplay 12 years ago. Both camps say they have registered the title with the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

How does something like that get resolved, anyway? Is there some approved method of film association smackdown where the creative teams go head-to-head to determine who gets to own the title? What else could you call this movie, anyway? Aang: The Last Airbender could work, maybe, but rabid fans everywhere would complain, I’m sure. Me, I don’t care what they call it.

I just want to see what sort of effects they’ll use to make a realistic, live-action Appa. (And maybe a small part of me wants to see some bald kid tattooed with a glowing arrow on his head, too. Don’t judge me.)

Be sure to visit the Avatar Store for cool Avatar gear!

Avatar DVDs to include bonus comics

is reporting good, but slightly tension-filled, news for fans of Avatar:

It appears Nickelodeon is giving fans a reason to buy the Avatar volumes being released next year; they’re packaging an exclusive comic in each set. Here’s a quote from a Video Business article about their plans:

Each of the four releases in season two will be packaged with an exclusive collectible comic book, culminating with a boxed set toward the end of the year, similar to what the company did this year with the first season.

So now fans will have to decide whether to buy the volumes and get the comics, or wait and get the season set which could have a bonus disc, but may not include the comics. “Book 2: Earth, Volume 1″ comes out on January 23, 2007.

I suppose the Powers That Be are hoping that folks will buy the volumes as they become available—both to get the comics and to have the show in-hand as soon as possible—and then they’ll whip up some super-fantastic bonus disc that none of us can live without in the hopes that we’ll buy the boxed set, as well.

Well I, for one, am not going to fall for it! I want the comics. I mean, er, my son wants the comics. And how good could that bonus disc really be, anyway? I will simply avert my eyes once it’s available. Ahem.

By the way, did you know that Avatar storyboard artist Justin Ridge has a blog? (Of course he does, you’re saying. Everyone has a blog.) (Just be careful over there, because not all of his artwork is kid-safe. Don’t go calling the kids over to the computer only to scream and clamp your hands over their eyes.) Somehow I missed it back in November when he gave us a sneak peak of a panel from one of those upcoming bonus comics. It looks great!

You really can find everyone on MySpace

MySpace I feel incredibly old. I feel that my age is just a number… that should be closer to 99 than 30.

See that logo up there? The one that declares MySpace to be “a place for friends” and sounds so lovely? I think that is because “a place for blaring music, seizure-causing backgrounds, and many blinking graphics” was deemed a bit too verbose.

But the kids today, they’re all into MySpace. Or so I hear. (One of them said something about it, while I was hollering for them to get off my lawn.) And people of all ages are using MySpace to stay in touch or reconnect with long-lost pals.

I finally braved MySpace for a while because I discovered that many of the hot licensed characters available at Ty’s Toy Box have their own MySpace pages. Some are created by enthusiastic fans, some are backed by the productions themselves; all of them are another avenue to explore the shows you and your kids love.

Here’s a sampling of the pages I came across:

  • Lazy Town has 801 friends at last check. For some reason I find it hilarious that Mighty Mouse is amongst them.
  • Together Forever is associated with a popular Doodlebops fan site, and boasts 1005 friends. This is one of the more complete pages; there’s tons of information about the Doodlebops, pictures, videos, etc.
  • Avatar, the last Airbender has plenty of Avatar artwork and lists most of the show’s characters amongst its 714 friends. (That’s a rabbit hole of links to fall down, but what a fun way to pass some time.)
  • Strawberry Shortcake‘s page says she’d like to meet: “Any berry happy, berry fun, berry special, berry sweet, berry sporty, berry artistic, berry musical, & just plain berry berry friends.” I am berry, berry scared. (But my daughter loved it.) One of her 465 friends is Rainbow Brite, of course.
  • Backyardigans is a newer page, with only 22 friends so far, but who knows how it will evolve. Or if they’ll decide against the neon hearts background (hope springs eternal).

So, you know, this new-fangled MySpace thing… I guess it’s alright. Even though back in my day we had to just draw pictures of important things on the cave walls.

Avatar and Pokémon: More, more, more!

It’s a little odd for me to be writing about these two shows together, given that I really enjoy Avatar and really… ummmm… don’t enjoy Pokémon. But my son suffers from a slavish devotion to both shows, and it turns out that there happens to be news to share on both of them, today.

Were you feeling Avatar-deprived? Perhaps a tad Pokémon-deficient? Help is on the way, in the form of new episodes for both shows. Newsarama has the whole scoop and I have the highlights.

Are you sick of listening to me talk about the upcoming Avatar movie yet? Yes? Too bad. Newsarama’s Steve Fritz has only made me more anxious to see it:

Well, the next two-chapter installment is subtitled: “The Secret of the Fire Nation.” It will air on Friday, September 15 at 8:00 p.m. with repeats on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 4:00 p.m. I have to admit I was totally blown away. It’s some of the best work DeMartino and Konietzko has done.

But the truly wonderful news is this:

As for the future of the series, inside sources at Nickelodeon assured me that Avatar will start going back to its more regular Friday night, 8:00 p.m. schedule in the very near future. There will be times when the show is pre-empted because of other specials, but it did sound like this once-a-month fix is nearing the end of its reign. About time if you asked me.

Because it seems Nickelodeon is truly pleased with the results it’s getting, not only has the network given the series a greenlight for a third season of an additional 20 episodes, but is also talking to the creators about a fourth and maybe more. According to www.TV.com. if that does happen, the war with the Fire nation will be over and a new arc will begin.

Awesome. Is it wrong for a grown woman to be daydreaming about what the next major conflict would be after the war with the Fire nation is resolved…?

Ahem.

And in begrudging “I wish it weren’t so but I guess it’s an item of note” news, not only is there a new season of Pokémon for Saturday mornings, there’s also a new “limited series” called Mystery Dungeon set to run on Friday night:

As for Mystery Dungeon, this series goes in an entirely new direction. It starts with a young boy being turned into a Pokemon himself. Now a Squirtle, he joins a Chikorita and a Charmander as part of a new rescue team. The big thing is in this series the little critters actually talk to each other, using the English language no less.

It will air this Friday, September 8, at 8:00 p.m.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this—and I’ll probably deny it later—but I actually think Mystery Dungeon sounds palatable, even if only because the Pokémon can converse instead of squeaking their names at each other ad nauseam. I’ll have to check it out and report back.