Part 1 (of 3)
In the world of Arts and Entertainment, the “Best of the Best” is often hard to miss. After all, with countless “Top 10” lists published in magazines, newspapers, and blogs, we rarely need to go out of our way to look for the best novels, films, TV series, and so on. More often than not, the work has been done for us.
More often than not, but not always.
Indeed, for one reason or another, some of the best Arts and Entertainment has been and continues to be overlooked.
And that, my friends, is a shame.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a three-part series called “People Worth Fighting,” which took certain pop culture personalities to task for muddying the face of the arts community. This time, however, I’m taking a more positive spin by shining the spotlight on those deserving our praise instead of our punches.
Each week for the next three weeks I will showcase one often-overlooked novel, film, TV show, or other piece of artwork.
And so we begin:
THE OVERLOOKED: Avatar: The Last Airbender
An American animated television series that ran on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008, Avatar: The Last Airbender successfully blended Asian and American styles of animation to create a show that was much loved by its fans. In Avatar, the world is divided into four nations: the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. Select members of each nation, called benders, can manipulate the element of their heritage. The Avatar, however, whose job it is to maintain peace throughout the world, has the ability to bend all four elements. There’s more of course, but this fan made clip does a better job of fleshing out the particulars:
WHY YOU MISSED IT
For many of us, new children’s television shows rarely register on our personal radars. We’re older now, and prefer to watch adult-themed TV because that’s what older folk do. And the whole Anime thing often seems strange and uncomfortably surreal (not to mention all we’ve heard about the erotic-themed Anime). To top it all off, M. Night Shyamalan’s film adaptation of the series’ first season was deplorable—absolute dreck. No wonder you’ve ignored the show for so long.
My wife introduced me to the show, and I can’t thank her enough. Honestly, I can say without hesitation that Avatar: The Last Airbender is the best animated television show I’ve seen in years. The characters are rich and dynamic, the plot progressions thoughtful and inventive, and the animation colourful and creative. There’s the kind of childlike humour you’d expect to see from a show on Nickelodeon, but there are also moments of surprising tenderness and vulnerability. To say that this show took me by surprise would be an understatement. Really, I can’t recommend it enough.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT
As far as I’m concerned, the best place to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender is on Netflix. If you don’t already have Netflix, consider getting it—it’s well worth the $8.00 a month (and the first month is free). Failing that, the series is also available on DVD, at the iTunes Store, at the Zune Marketplace, at the Xbox Live Marketplace, at the PlayStation Store, and on the Nicktoons Network.
In part 2 of Overlooked, I recommend a film that debuted at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival and stirred up a fair bit of controversy. HINT: the film stars a number of young people.
Rowing For Pleasure is a weekly opinions column written by Z S Roe. Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. If you like what you read here, please subscribe.