I’m erring on the side of a higher rating for Tron: Uprising based upon style and likability, more so than, necessarily, the quality of the series narrative. I don’t know that I would consider Tron: Uprising a great television series, but it is consistently entertaining, and I found myself more or less marathoning through the season whenever I could find a block of time to watch the episodes.
To be certain, I’m not specifically using the word “entertaining” in the way that, say, a bunch of stuff blowing up in a summer blockbuster is entertaining. Though Tron: Uprising is, to be sure, never short on kung fu, chases, and stuff blowing up, I think there is real substance to this series based upon character, themes, and lore. It does have trouble, however, rising above its episodic constraints.
If I had any issue with Tron: Uprising, it is that–especially in the first half of the season–the writers didn’t script in enough forward momentum for the overarching plotline. Even if an episode was interesting on its own, it almost felt as though a mandate existed that the reset button needed hitting by the end. In a way, it’s strangely reminiscent of The Prisoner, in the sense that the main character is on a kind of a treadmill.
But that’s problematic for the series, because Tron: Uprising actually works best when it alters the status quo or otherwise surprises you by taking a dramatic turn one wouldn’t necessarily expect in a show marketed to kids. But for this first season, it felt as though the creative team weren’t willing to push those boundaries too hard.
Fair enough. But I have higher expectations for Season Two. Or at least, I would have, had the show been renewed. The information about this series that exists online is a bit confusing and conflicting, though I think it’s relatively safe to say that the show has been cancelled, though it may in fact be “unofficial”. Who knows, though? Maybe it will gain a second lease on life through Netflix.
In any event, it really is a shame, I think, that we’re not likely to get more of this series, because faults notwithstanding, Tron: Uprising just doesn’t look like anything else on television. The art style is intentionally cribbed from Æon Flux (which is, for me, a good thing, though I understand why others would have a problem with that), but it also does something very interesting, borrowing from the original Tron film, in that the base palette is actually black and white, with colors (largely black and red) seemingly painted in. It’s a neat effect, pulled off well, and whatever you may think of the highly stylized character design, it’s difficult to argue that Tron: Uprising isn’t gorgeous.
And hell–it’s the world of Tron in a TV series. Though the series doesn’t delve extensively into what that entails, it’s still just plain cool.
Check it out on Netflix. You’ve got nothing to lose. And if you don’t have Netflix, you can watch the first episode, “Beck’s Beginning” on YouTube.