I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to recommend today. (The weeks feel like they’re coming two-at-a-time of late, and I’m sort-of-tired. So, yeah. I’m a bit behind. At least emotionally, if not actually.)
There is a sense in which “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is for my children in part what “Star Wars” was for my generation: a new and enthralling mythology about a young hero with a mysterious power slowly learning to channel that power to fight against a tyrannical empire.
After Katara and her brother Sokka extract young Aang from his hibernation inside an iceberg, they discover he’s the new Avatar: the only being who possesses the air-bending powers needed to defeat the predatory Fire Nation.
At the risk of over-promising a bit…
…actually, you know what? That’s not a risk. This series is as good as anyone (and everyone) says. And it’s that rarest of beasts: Whole-Family Entertainment.
There are plenty of things the younger children enjoy that the older boys have little-to-no interest in watching — I’m lookin’ at you, “Puffin Rock” — and there are plenty of things we let the older boys watch but keep the youngsters away — Yes, I’m talkin’ about you, Bruce Timm Universe — and there are plenty of things they all watch that I don’t care about at all — COUGH “Sonic Underground” COUGH.
But this? This, everyone will watch. All of us, bottom to top. (Except maybe Phoebe, and she’s gonna love it soon enough.)
It’s a wonderful blend of charming animation, epic world-building (the hybridized animals are my favorite), exotic mythology, a surprising amount of humor, a great score from Jeremy Zuckerman, and plenty of seriousness and heroism. In fact, it’s pretty near unique. (The follow-up series, “The Legend of Korra,” is worth discussing, but it’s nowhere near as evenly superb. And it’s definitely written for an older, less universal audience.)
Added bonus? This series features one of my Top Five TV Moments Of All Time. (No, I won’t tell. That’d be cheating. You need to watch and figure it out for yourself.)