Its 1:43 pm
The cheetah and I were surfing YouTube when we saw the latest “Shazam” trailer,as we discussing it,he commented how we never finished reviewing “Static Shock” and was wondering if I had any plans on doing that.
Its a good question seeing that we have been on a bit of a superhero run lately. Normally I try and keep the readers guessing with what the cheetah and I review but I had to admit,there is rather cool after completing a series,be it movies or TV shows. I decided that Paladin was right and we needed to return to Dakota and see how Static was going to play out.
Using our decoder rings,we reached out to our deep cover agent at Warner Brothers Archive and asked if he could help us and even before we finished our discussion,the UPS truck was there dropping off the third season for us to enjoy.
Season three finds many changes in the series as Virgil Hawkins aka Static faces many new and different challenges. He meets the amazing Anansi while vacationing in Africa,finds out he wasn’t the first electrical superhero when he meets an retired hero named Soul Power and teams not only with Batman once again but also with the Justice League.
But the biggest change,for better or worse,is that Virgil’s best friend Richie Foley is revealed to being a Bang Baby and becomes the high tech superhero “Gear”. Personally,I found this gimmick didn’t work and enjoyed the edgy partnership of Static and the reformed Rubberband Man in season two much better. One,it showed that there could be be more then one African-American superhero on the same show and two,that that a partnership requires teamwork and trust but not always a friendship.
Having Richie become a hero feels forced and politically correct and it just doesn’t really work. Maybe the creative team felt the same way because there a lot of episodes that don’t feature Richie/Gear in them. How Richie becomes Gear is easily the weakest story of the third season and on a show with superior writing,it is the poorest one as well.
Having established Static in the DCAU was a smart play because it also allowed more team up stories as well. In the season opener,”Hard As Nails”,Virgil has to go to Gotham to try and save a friend who is also a Bang Baby. This leads to another encounter with Batman as they face off with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. Batman is allowed to show a real affection for Virgil and even goes as far as trusting him with his secret identity.
Two new things a regular viewer of the show will pick up….the intro music is new as Lil Romeo is featured in rapping the new intro (it works…) and during the opening credits,it used to show Virgil sliding down the staircase only have his dad glare at him,in the third season,it shows his dad smiling at him,a subtle but welcome change.
The episode “Static In Africa” has the Hawkins family traveling to Ghana and seeing where the family came from. It is where we see that superheroes (and villains) are international as the greedy Osebo (Michael Jai White) is planning a terrible crime and Static must team up Anansi the Spider (Carl Lumbly) to stop him. It’s exciting,action packed episode and lets Static branch out from Dakota.
In “Blast From the Past” Virgil meets Morris Grant at a home for seniors and befriends him. Answering a emergency call,Virgil goes upstairs to change to Static when he is surprised by Morris who reveals to Static he knows who he is. It turns out that Morris may have been Dakota’s first superhero back in the 1960s when he was known as Soul Power. Virgil doesn’t really take him seriously but when a threat from Soul Power’s heyday suddenly re-appears,the old generation will have to team with the new to save the day. This episode features excellent voice acting by Brock Peters as Soul Power and Terence “General Zod” Stamp as the evil Dr. Menace.
The best episode in the entire series happens in Season Three in an episode called “Flashback”. In this episode Static and Gear meet a Bang Baby named Timezone who controls the ability to time travel. Virgil asks her to let him go back in time to prevent his mother’s murder (yes,this is a kid’s show). She agrees to send him and mother and son meet. As they talk,Timezone’s powers begin to have problems and Virgil knows he has to return,he begs his mother to stay home and not respond to her radio. But since she is a paramedic and there is a riot,after Virgil leaves,so does his mom,to do her duty and meet her fate.
When I saw this back in 2003,I was blown away by the story and yeah,I cried watching it just as I did when I watched it again. A 15 year old boy whose mom was killed,yeah,you didn’t THAT back when I was a kid growing up. Its a powerful episode and maybe one of the best animated American cartoon episode ever. I know a lot of folks will point out this happens in Japanese anime quite often and yes,it does,but this subject is quite different here. You can mention “The Lion King” but seriously,that doesn’t come close. Phil LaMarr,who voiced Virgil/Static,had his finest hour in “Flashback” and the lovely Alfre Woodward was spot on as Jean Hawkins. Andrea Romano,who was DCAU’s casting director,just had an uncanny knack for finding the right voices for the right roles and there will never be anyone as good as she was in voice casting.
Other featured episodes include Static and Gear teaming with the Justice League,meeting a genetically grown heroine called “SheBang” and Static teaming up with Superman against The Toyman in “Toys In the Hood”. The special feature includes the prequel to “Toys” which was first shown on the Superman animated show.
“Static Shock” is one of my favorite superhero shows,animated or live action. It was both dramatic and still quite playful with wonderful humor. LaMarr never let Virgil/Static become mundane,he never lost the sense of wonder of what had happened to him yet as the same time as he was growing up,he allowed Virgil to express the weight of the growing responsibility as the show went on to its 4th and final season.
This is a show anyone who loves superheros and/or cartoons should have in their collection and thanks to Warner Brothers Archives,they can. All four seasons have now been released and while you can wait for Paladin and I to review the final season,we encourage you to go the website of the Archive and pick it up now.
“Static Shock” third season consists of 12 episodes plus the Superman episode “Obsession”. While this is a cartoon show,I would rate it PG-13 for the “Flashback” episode. The cheetah and I gave this two thumbs/3 paws straight up.
How about you? Ever had a animated show move you to tears? Drop a comment below and share your favorite/most emotional moment.