Tiger & Bunny Episodes 3 and 5 – Working From the Wrong Script
It’s been a while since Tiger & Bunny came up for discussion; with the largest season of new shows we’ve had since this blog started, we’ve been sort of busy covering them. I wanted to return to this show, however, before I fell so hopelessly behind that I would never catch up covering it.
Having said that, Tiger & Bunny has lost some of the luster it had for me at the start of the season. Perhaps because I’ve just seen so many other solid shows come out this season, the initial respect I had for the series has diminished. But the other problem is that the episodes after the premiere have failed to embody the same subversiveness.
I’m going to cover episode 4 separately because it at least tries to return to the show’s unique take on superheroes. (How well it succeeds at that, I’ll talk about then.) I’m paring these two episodes together because they lack that flavor—or in fact, anything unique at all.
Instead, the show goes for the low-hanging fruit, the easiest possible: the usual not-so-buddy cop antics of Tiger and Barnaby. Both episodes 3 and 5 have a xeroxed plot: Tiger does something reckless, Barnaby affirms he can no longer work with the man, and Tiger does his best to patch things up.
I haven’t liked this sort of plot from the very beginning of my blogging career; nothing in these two episodes does anything to change my mind. It doesn’t help as Tiger gets increasingly jealous of Barnaby’s popularity and success, thus seeming to negate all the high-minded talk about being a hero for hero’s sake that he offers at the slightest instigation.
And despite Tiger’s increasingly immature antics, he never really seems to get a similar comeuppance to the ones that make Barnaby, if only for a moment, acknowledge Tiger’s worth. As is usual in these sorts of shows, brashness is forgivable while coolness is undervalued, even when the former leads to continual problems.
Even Barnaby’s continual glory hogging and carefully crafted media persona doesn’t seem too bad when Tiger is desperately trying to hawk off his own trading cards. To some extent, Tiger needs to be popular to keep his job, but the whiff of desperation hardly makes me like him more.
All the interesting character development here comes from Barnaby, who slowly comes off as having increasingly Batman-esque motivations for becoming a hero. Born into wealth and with his parents murdered before his eyes, he’s seeking the truth behind the mysterious organization that killed them.
Of course, this also derives from the heart of superhero cliche, but it feels more honest that the continually recycled antics of Tiger trying and failing to make a comeback and—occasionally—even try to make friends with Barnaby. As secretive as Barnaby is, he still seems the more honest one.
Perhaps I would be happier if the show did more exploration of some of the other heroes, or demonstrated an indication that it would break away from the same old grind. These episodes do nothing of the sort, managing to take ideas that seems fresh in the first couple episodes and run them into the ground.
As is evidenced by the fact I’m coming back to the series, I haven’t completely given up hope on the show. Episodes 4 and 6, which I’ll be covering independently in future weeks, do manage to do at least one thing different each time. While nether saves the series, both make it look like it might be savable. We’ll see if that winds up being enough.