207 views 0 comments

"The Secret Saturdays": An Uncertain Finding

by on October 2, 2008

The Secret Saturdays, Cartoon Network’s newest action series, is about the adventures of the Saturdays —yes, the show is named after its protagonists—who are a family of cryptozoologists: the people who study legendary animals called cryptids. Like Indiana Jones, the family are also adventurers who often find themselves in sticky situations. When V. V. Argost (Corey Burton), evil mastermind, begins collecting the three pieces of the Kur Stone, it is up to our heroes Zak (Sam Lerner), Doc (Phil Morris), and Drew Saturday (Nicole Sullivan) to stop the fiend.

In premise and plot, The Secret Saturdays is simple enough: Stop the evil whack-job from taking over the world with a stone that can control the Pokémon cryptids. Normally, one could overlook something so clichéd if the execution were strong and original. But the first two episodes suggest that our villain—who at least has the odd day job of hosting a paranormal-style Ripley’s Believe it or Not rip-off—brings nothing to the table but Corey Burton doing a shaky David Warner impersonation as he reads off all-too-familiar lines.

As for the Saturdays themselves: Zak, the main protagonist, comes off as a hybrid of a younger Ben Tennyson and a Captain Planet-type tree hugger; although, honestly, this is pretty much what one would expect in an eleven-year-old boy in this kind of family. His schtick is that he has cryptid-manipulating powers. It is implied that Zak derives this talent from an explosion his parents were caught in before he was born, which is fortunate, because otherwise they would appear to be borne only of the writers’ need to make up for his lack of intelligence and abilities in the martial arts and weaponry-creating departments. Lerner occasionally manages to sell his performance, but he often comes off as a little plain.

Doc Saturday, Zak’s heroic and old-timey father, is played as a warm and involved father who can be both his son’s friend and a responsible parent. In this, Doc is a welcome throwback to a time when the man of the household was an assertive leader, and, in the Saturday’s line of business, it is a useful characteristic to have. Phil Morris stands out—if with the occasional stumble through weaker scenes—as the best talent on the show.

Nicole Sullivan, though, has the thankless task of playing Mrs. Drew Saturday, who has to take the role of bad cop in the family. She often and vocally worries about her eager-to-join-the-family-business son’s safety, which makes her annoying and a hindrance to the plot. Sullivan is perhaps a little too on-the-button with this character: after the third “But Zak it’s too dangerous” speech, I began to wonder whether it was Sullivan’s performance, the direction, or her character’s actions that left me so irritated.

As for the crpytids: Dear Cartoon Network, I liked Fiskerton better when he was called Chewbacca. Sincerely, Jacob T. Paschal.

The first two episodes The Secret Saturdays left me leery of throwing my hat into the viewership pool. There is a great deal of potential for exploring a world filled with such potentially powerful monsters, but if the lack of imagination presented here is any indication, a funk needs to be broken out of and a truly creative groove found.

Related Content from ZergNet:

Be the first to comment!
Leave a reply »


You must log in to post a comment