In which we meet the Thundercats, and don’t like any of them.
I am sure that many people have been waiting with bated breath for a website set up with the express purpose of reviewing every episode of Thundercats. I am equally sure that I’m not exactly the best person to take on that task, given I have little to no knowledge of the subject, beyond some vague and half-remembered images from about 30 years ago. I can name the hero and the baddy, and of course I know about “Thundercats Ho”, but otherwise, I draw a blank.
So we’ll start the task with the opening credits of the first episode, Exodus. If they had any decency, the creators of Thundercats would have followed the example set by He-Man and explained the entire premise at the start of each episode. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any such decency, and the credits consist simply of a montage of demented mayhem while someone shouts “Thunder thunder Thundercats!” in the background.
It’s not enormously informative, so we’ll have to look to the episode itself to give us some answers. We open on a spaceship, escaping the destruction of the planet Thundera. The crew of the spaceship are the sole remaining survivors of Thundera, and for whatever reason they call themselves Thundercats. Presumably because they’re all vaguely felinic and they come from Thundera. This is vaguely logical and I suspect it’s the best explanation we’ll get.
The Lord of the Thundercats, Liono, is at present just a young boy, and the elder Jagar makes him promise to rule by the Code of Thundera – with justice, truth, honour, and loyalty. Once Liono has pledged to do this, Jagar shows him the most important part of his heritage: the Mystic Sword of Omens. Implanted in the hilt of the Sword is the Eye of Thundera, which grants the user the ability to see far away. I have no doubt the Sword has many other special powers that we’ll come across over the course of the series, but for now let’s just say that it’s a very nice sword.
Jagar then introduces us to our other lead characters: Cheetara, Panthro, Tigra, and two smaller individuals called Wilycat and Wilykit. Disconcertingly, they all appear to be naked, a point that Jagar acknowledges by giving them all some clothes and telling them to get dressed. Jagar then hands out some weapons to each of them. We are also introduced at this stage to a beastly little creature called Snarf, who I suspect is going to fill the role of Most Hated Character On The Series.
Before we can get too exposition heavy, the Thundercats’ spaceship is attacked by some Mutants from the planet Plun-Darr. The Thundercats put up a pitiful defence and as a result their ship is boarded by the Mutants, trying to steal the Sword of Omens. This at least gives the Thundercats an opportunity to show off their powers: Cheetara can run really fast, Tigra can turn himself invisible, and Panthro is really strong, while Wilycat and Wilykit come equipped with smoke bombs.
The Mutants make it as far as the Sword’s chamber, but once there they are repelled by Liono wielding the Sword, and they hurtle back to their ship in inexplicable terror. The Thundercats assess the damage to their ship, and realise that they must set course for the nearest liveable planet. Even so, this is a journey that will take many years, so they all pop into some suspended animation pods – all except Jagar, who remains to pilot the ship.
The journey is so long that Jagar dies en route, though he is considerate enough to make his body dissolve into nothingness, rather than leaving his friends to clear up his corpse when they emerge. Finally, the Thundercats’ ship crash lands on their new planet, and Liono emerges from his suspended animation pod to discover that he’s grown up into an adult. He seems to think that being an adult gives him licence to be a complete dick to Snarf, and I must applaud Snarf for not giving in to what must have been the serious temptation to savage Liono.
The Mutants are not far behind, and they start searching the wreckage of the Thundercats’ ship for the Sword of Omens. They are interrupted by Liono, who takes the time to have a psychic vision of Jagar before using the Sword to achieve “sight beyond sight”. He then bellows, “Thunder, thunder, Thundercats, ho!” which as catchphrases go, is pretty meaningless. Nonetheless, it does the trick, and all the Thundercats join Liono to repel the Mutants back to their ship again, after which our heroes voice the intention to build a new Thundercats Empire, which sounds nice and nineteenth-century.
This section will list all the characters that appear in the episode, so that the more obsessed among you can see at a glance whether your favourite character is featured. This opening instalment treats us to Liono, Jagar, Panthro, Tigra, Cheetara, Snarf, Wilycat, Wilykit, and the three Mutants, one of whom is called Slythe, but the others don’t get a name.
80s cartoons were usually notable for imaginative insults, so this section will keep a track of these so you can use them on your friends. That being said, this episode doesn’t give us anything particularly exciting, limiting itself to Jagar calling the Mutants “blasted”, and Panthro refers to them as “ugly”. Slythe also describes Snarf as “laughable”, which is the sort of comment that I’d advise the creators not to draw attention to.
This section is here to keep track of idiotic behaviour from Liono, which judging by his antics this week is going to be fairly frequent. Putting aside his utterly unnecessary unpleasantness to Snarf when they first land on their new planet, he also can’t seem to make up his mind whether he’s got memory loss or not. He instantly recognises Snarf and the vision of Jagar, and knows that he’s now an adult so presumably remembers being a child, but he can’t remember the other Thundercats, the Mutants or the Sword of Omens. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this. I don’t want to prejudge, but I don’t think I’m going to like Liono.
Thundercats Ho or Thundercats No?
I’m going to try to use this reviewing exercise to produce a definitive list of Thundercats episodes, for that rare demographic of people who really want to watch Thundercats but don’t feel they’ve got enough time to watch all 115 episodes. It would be a trifle perverse, I think, if I were not to recommend watching this one, which does a good job in setting up the series premise and introducing us to all the heroes.
Liono and Snarf get the best introduction and I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on their characters already: basically, Liono’s a bit of a cock, and Snarf is a snivelling sarcastic whingebag. Both of them are therefore a bit like me, really. Jagar also gets a decent introduction; I’m assuming his ghost is going to continue to appear throughout the series to offer Liono advice, otherwise he’s a bit of a waste of time. Cheetara, Panthro and Tigra aren’t particularly well-rounded, but there’s time for that. I’m going to try to entirely ignore the existence of Wilycat and Wilykit, because they’re really annoying.
So now we have our heroes, marooned on their new planet. Maybe next week we’ll meet the lead villains…