When it comes to programming on Cartoon Network, I’m always divided. I love the Adult Swim lineup, but as the title indicates – it’s hardly for the kids. On the daytime front, they’ve got some big hits that we just can’t get into – popular titles like ADVENTURE TIME and REGULAR SHOW (I just can’t see the appeal) – along with stuff like THE ANNOYING ORANGE, which lives up to it’s name and makes me wonder “Who greenlit this?” Then, there’s quality like Dreamworks’ HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, STAR WARS: CLONE WARS, and DC Nation’s TEEN TITANS GO. Now comes GROJBAND, a new, music-centric series that premieres today at 5pm/4c. We had the opportunity for a sneak-preview screening of the first couple episodes here at Rock Father HQ last week, and with the premiere finally here, it’s time to share some thoughts and let you know just which side of the coin it lands on.
Corey Riffin starts a garage band with his three best friends and quickly realizes that their band sucks – like a lot. It’s not their music or ever-changing image that’s the problem. It’s Corey’s lack of lyrics. He just can’t think of anything cool to write about, UNTIL…Corey finds his sister Trina’s diary that’s full of “teen angst and junk”, decides to use her entries as lyrics, and whaddya know?… it totally sounds like pure AWESOMENESS! Now all Core and his GROJBAND needs to do is make sure his sister’s life stays on an emotional roller coaster, she writes about it, and BINGO – another sweet HIT for another crazy gig!
Taking a quick spin through “Cloudy With a Chance of Malt Balls” and “Dance of the Dead” (the episodes are short, 11-minute blasts), the 36-year-old me says “this has cult hit written all over it” – and still does. There’s the created-by-adults-but-written-for-kids-but-with-nods-to-the-past vibe that I dig, which means some references to things I hold dear. If seeing Corey raise his mighty guitar high above his head and pointed toward the heavens while shouting “By the power of ROCK!” as it’s struck by lightning doesn’t immediately make you think of HE-MAN and THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE… well, you probably didn’t grow up in the 1980s. And then, there’s a whole “Zombie” episode… yes, Zombies – something I have some experience with – and having grown up with a serious affection for the works of George A. Romero, certainly appreciate. While my first exposure to the walking dead came courtesy of Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, I do believe my oldest daughter just got her first dose via GROJBAND. It’s fun.
This is where the parent in me steps in and looks at the big picture. GROJBAND is a fast-paced show that’s best-suited for slightly older kids (older than mine, anyway) and should score some major love among adults. It might be a bit obscure, but the animation style feels a little like that of the GORILLAZ, with a story-telling style that hits me in a MISSION HILL sorta space. I don’t see any real educational value here, and as the band is out to “steal” lyrics from someone else’s diary, I’m hoping that we see it addressed somewhere that stealing is not cool. That said, for the younger crowd (I’m talking under-five) you should probably “limit this” (as my wife says), although my almost-four-year-old was pretty excited during the opening credits when she exclaimed “There’s a little girl playing guitar and the people are doing double-metal!” To Addie, “metal” is “throwing up the horns” like this \m/ \m/. Actually, I’ll just let her show you…
Bottom Line: GROJBAND is a lot of fun for older kids and grownups, but something best experienced in moderation for younger audiences.
But, what do I know? I’m just a guy that’s talking to you through your computer.
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