Back in early 2013, Cartoon Network finished the respective runs of Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series without renewing either title and effectively ending the short-lived DC Nation block before it really got rolling. Around this time, I had heard about another series concluding after facing similar scheduling snafus and failing to gather a large enough audience- Disney’s TRON: Uprising. Although I had seen the TRON: Legacy film that spurred Disney into trying to capitalize on the franchise before the purchase of Lucasfilm took all their attention, I had never seen or heard much about the show. The little I did hear about the show was nothing but positive, and when I finally decided to check it out I was completely floored.
A New Frontier
Set in between the original TRON film and the 2010 sequel TRON: Legacy, TRON: Uprising takes place in the digital world of the Grid as Kevin Flynn’s twisted doppelganger CLU sends his forces to occupy the outlying Argon City, home to a program named Beck. Similar to the series Batman Beyond, the story follows Beck falling under the tutelage of the titular hero Tron as they work together to kickstart a revolution against CLU’s forces that, known to everyone who had seen Legacy, will ultimately amount to very little. But despite the foregone conclusion, the joy is in the journey as Beck sides with and against a rich cast of characters brought to life by an all-star cast, all set against the vibrant backdrop of Alberto Mielgo’s art direction.
The untapped mythology of the TRON universe is taken full advantage of in this series as creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz explore a piece of that world through the lens of Beck and his home of Argon City, a city out on the fringe of the Grid and far from the seat of CLU’s power. While the programs aren’t human, the writers succeed greatly at making them feel as such with hopes, dreams, desires and flaws. Even the show’s villains have a surprising amount of depth to them, particularly the conflicted Paige and the deliciously sadistic Pavel (played by the very against type Paul Reubens). Although the show only went the one season, it proved that the world of TRON remains a huge missed opportunity for Disney.
End Of Line, Program
Although I remain a hardcore DC Comics fan and would love to see continuations of Young Justice or Green Lantern, it’s actually TRON: Uprising that in my opinion possessed the most potential in story and characters. It would have been a treat to see where this particular story would have continued, but this show is arguably the best thing to come out of the franchise and I hope that one day Disney is willing to take a risk again, though I’m sure they’re quite comfortable with the boatloads of dosh coming in from Star Wars as their sci-fi flagship.