Star vs. The Forces of Evil First Impressions
Star vs. the Forces of Evil doesn’t officially begin airing until March 30th, but Disney has been kind enough to offer up the first episode as a preview 2 1/2 months in advance. Honestly, it may take that long just to organize my thoughts on it, but I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first, what exactly is Star vs. the Forces of Evil?
Star Butterfly is, as she puts it, “a magical princess from another dimension.” On her fourteenth birthday, as per the traditions of the kingdom of Mewni, her parents bestow upon her a magical wand containing immense power. There is only one problem; Star Butterfly is hyperactive and possibly psychotic. This has actually become a recurring Disney character type in recent years with characters like Mabel from Gravity Falls and Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic bearing more than a passing resemblance to Star. I don’t intend this as a criticism so much as I do an observation, since Star is a distinctive character in her own right and I consider all of the characters that I mentioned to be strongly written. Regardless, Star’s parents decide to send her to a dimension with less magic so that she can learn some responsibility and restraint. As a result, Star ends up enrolled at a high school on Earth where our other main character, Marco Diaz, serves as her guide/housemate/straight-man. If Star is the spiritual sister to Mabel and Pinkie, then Marco would probably be best described as the spiritual sibling of Dipper Pines and Twilight Sparkle. Described by the entirety of his school as “the safe-kid,” Marco is what we would get if Ross from Friends had a cartoon about his life as a teenager (right down to his apparent interest in karate). Again, this really isn’t a criticism since, like Star, Marco feels like he is more than simply a stereotype and he gets plenty of opportunities to establish himself as a fun and interesting character.
The pilot is structured in a manner that is reminiscent of Adventure Time, with the episode being split down the center into two stories that are each roughly ten minutes long. The first half serves to introduce our two protagonists, while the second half introduces Star’s best friend, Pony Head… She’s a magical floating unicorn head. Kinda what it says on the label, I guess. This structure helps the show maintain its rather kinetic energy, but I feel that a slower pacing may have benefited the viewer by allowing them to digest what they were seeing and become comfortable with these characters. Of course, that may just be personal preference since I felt much the same way about season 1 of Adventure Time. In terms of both narrative and comedy, the writing itself is certainly not bad, but I wouldn’t go so far to call it exceptional either. Both, the story of Star and Marco meeting as well as the story of Pony Head learning to accept Marco’s presence play out in rather predictable ways. Furthermore, there are a number of jokes that feel a bit telegraphed, but, impressively, very few of those jokes actually fail due to the shows rather impressive skills when it comes to timing and execution. Plus, while the narrative is nothing to write home about on its own, it is complemented by the show’s quirky atmosphere and manic energy and as a result it’s easy to forgive the show for its familiar plot beats.
I really like this first episode of Star vs. The Forces of Evil, but I do worry that its hyperactive approach may grate on me once it starts airing regularly. Still, it’s fun to see Disney try new things, and I don’t know of anything else quite like this show that is airing at the moment. Personally, I’d like to see it calm down a little and focus a bit more on plotting, but, even with that personal preference towards narrative over comedy, I have to admit that this one looks promising.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- I’ll be honest, I’ve had that theme intermittently bouncing around in my head throughout the past week.
- Alan Tudyk voices what appears to be the main villain of the series, Ludo. Alan Tudyk previously in just about everything ever, including Firefly as the pilot Wash, Dodgeball as Steve the Pirate, A Knight’s Tale, Patch Adams, Death At A Funeral, Big Hero 6, 3:10 to Yuma, seriously he’s in everything. And the world is better for it.
- Maurice LaMarche (Brain from Pinky and the Brain) makes a brief cameo as King Pony Head, and gets to have one of my favorite lines of the episode. “Children. You have them and then you… wish they weren’t around.”
- Eden Sher, who voices Star, is probably most recognizable from the show The Middle though recognizable might not be the right word. I did a double take when I saw her image on IMDb, and it wasn’t until I stopped to analyze the shape of her face that I was able to properly recognize her.
- No one in the pilot, aside from Marco, seems all that surprised or shocked by Star’s magic. This kinda bugs me a bit, possibly since I just got caught up on the other Jesus-Christ-this-is-Disney? show Gravity Falls, which treats magic as something a bit more mysterious and remarkable.
What can I really say? Star vs. The Forces of Evil is an all around fun show, and I highly recommend that viewers check it out. I’m not sure that I would say that the show has successfully refined its style quite yet, but it’s only the pilot. Besides, no matter how many nitpicks I throw at it, I can’t deny that I absolutely enjoyed it. What other show can you think of that has a litter of puppies that shoot lasers from their eyes? Seriously. Check this one out.
Based on the first episode, it looks like Star vs. The Forces of Evil looks like it's going to be an absolute blast, though its hyperactive energy may be trying for some viewers.