With the new Adventures of Tintin film being released soon in the States, Shout! Factory has released a new collection of the classic Tintin cartoon serial. The first season is out now.
Tintin is a young reporter living in Belgium. He frequently gets into dangerous situations with his friends, such as becoming mixed up in the activities of international criminal organizations.
Other than deductive intellect and uncanny luck, Tintin has no special skills, yet manages to solve crimes, and catch criminals on a regular basis.
The first episode doesn’t do a particularly good job setting up the character, made famous by the pre-WWII comics created by Belgian artist Hergé.
The audience doesn’t even discover that Tintin is a reporter until an off-hand comment in the second episode, and he is never seen writing or submitting stories, but one supposes that the creators assumed that their 1990’s audience already knew the character of Tintin well, and needed little introduction to him.
The show wastes no time in getting Tintin all of his friends. Thompson and Thomson are there right from the beginning (with no explanation as to the origin of their relationship with Tintin), but Captain Haddock and Prof. Calculus enter the scene within the first few episodes, and soon the three of them are living together, as in the comics, but with little real explanation. Of course, the show has less room for exposition than the books, so some compression must be tolerated.
The upcoming film is based on two of the books: The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure - which also happen to make up the third through fifth episodes of the series, so it would serve as a good preview of what the film will be about, if you’re looking for that. More importantly, perhaps, it means that the film is primed for sequels.
These two stories together introduce both of Tintin’s new roommates, as well as some seemingly innocuous characters, who become very important in later stories, which is perfect for the first film in a trilogy, and satisfies the current hunger for origin stories in Hollywood.
It could also give one the idea of the Tintin humor, which varies from the dry, Mr. Magoo-esque senility jokes of Prof. Calculus to the over-goofy slapstick of the inept Detectives Thompson and Thomson. The humor of each episode changes flavor more dramatically than one would think based on which friends are in that story. Tintin, of course, is the straight-man throughout.
It’s surprisingly serial for a 90’s adventure cartoon. There are lots of plot lines and characters which run through the whole season, and most are pretty dynamic for cartoon characters.
Overall, the First season of The Adventures of Tintin is a good introduction to the Tintin world, but would also be fun to watch without the context of the upcoming film to make it relevant. Unfortunately, the DVD set does not include any extras. I was really hoping for some documentaries or featurettes, or maybe even just a collection of production stills, but the discs contain only the episodes.
The Adventures of Tintin: Season One is available now from Shout! Factory.