This article was originally published on December 31, 2012, at the now-defunct website The Nerd Machine. Minor alterations were made.
Greetings, programs! Developed to bridge the events from the 1982 film Tron and its 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy, Tron: Uprising is one of the few animated treasures that exists on television today. Averaging a score of 8 out of 10 on IMDb and 4.5 out of 5 stars on iTunes, Tron: Uprising definitely has some qualities that make it an outstanding series, even though Disney XD makes it nearly impossible to watch with its shifting schedule.
Nevertheless, fans of the show continue to watch and support it, and it is with great hope the following list of characteristics will convince you to tune in and become another fan of the Grid.
“Never judge a book by its cover” can easily be applied to a variety of other subjects, and animation style is definitely included. Uprising is an intriguing blend of 2D and CG animation with an intricate style that adds to the uniqueness of the Tron world.
Almost alien-like, the angular and lanky design of the characters is probably one of my favorite things about the series. Each character has a distinct oddity to them that makes them all the more captivating. The same can also be said for the technology and landscape of the Grid, where, for example, an island’s unstable code can lead to disintegration and still be visually stunning (see Episode 4: “Isolated”).
Lastly, despite living in a computerized and mechanized world, there is still life through the use of vivid and explosive colors (see Episode 14: “Tagged”). If nothing else, the animation and the attention to detail alone are enough to pull you in.
While Tron: Legacy focused on the story of Kevin Flynn’s son, Uprising follows the story of a young program from the Grid, who becomes the leader of a revolution that will influence series events. Fans of literature will recognize certain aspects of the protagonist’s story as steps from the hero’s journey or the monomyth.
The main character, Beck, is called to an adventure, where he will receive aid from a respected character in the franchise. Trials and tribulations follow, but the most exciting part of the story is not knowing where the protagonist and his friends will land by the time Tron: Legacy picks up. It is a giant piece of the puzzle that is missing and makes the story more thrilling and suspenseful in the process.
The diversity of the characters in terms of racial/ethnic/gender representation and personality is another refreshing aspect of the series. One of the main complaints about animated shows from a variety of networks is the lack of racial/ethnic representation.
Although Uprising does not offer an overwhelming amount of diversity, there are a handful of significant characters that fall into that category. The same can also be said for the representation of women. Lastly, the range of personalities and backgrounds add another layer to the story. From the troubled and competent female antagonist to the grandfather-like garage owner with his own history, Uprising has a story and character for everyone.
One of the most memorable things about Tron: Legacy was its score composed by electronic music duo Daft Punk. The soundtrack is so electrifying and eclectic I still use “Derezzed” as my alarm tone in the mornings (while my call ringtone is the “Imperial March” from Star Wars —my phone is all kinds of nerdy).
Although the duo are not directly involved with Uprising, Joseph Trapanese — the man who arranged and orchestrated the Legacy score — composed the soundtrack to the series and incorporated the musical styles of Daft Punk. The music also draws inspiration from Wendy Carlos, who composed the original soundtrack for the 1982 film.
Set to be released on January 8, 2013, the 16-track score is not completely devoid of its own taste since it does a wonderful job of capturing the new themes developed for the series.
The voice cast, simply put, is amazing. The lead roles are pushed forward by Elijah Wood and Tron himself, Bruce Boxleitner. There are also some fan favorites from other films and television series, including Paul Reubens (most notably recognized for his role as Pee-Wee Herman), Tricia Helfer (the lovely Six from Battlestar Galactica), Reginald VelJohnson (beloved TV dad from Family Matters), the talented Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage), singer and actress Mandy Moore, and versatile character actor Lance Henriksen. There are also some exciting moments when guests like Olivia Wilde return to the Grid, bringing the events of Legacy and Uprising closer together.
All in all, Tron: Uprising exceeds expectations, and the series is well executed when it comes to writing and character development. The only problem it has is not having enough viewers. Thus, if you are interested in discovering something new and astonishing, transport yourself over to the Grid, participate during the time of a growing revolution, and spread the word: Tron lives.
End of line.
Featured Image: Walt Disney Pictures