Teen Titans visit a rock and roll hellscape in The Night Begins to Shine Part 1

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TEEN TITANS GO gets a bad wrap from a lot of people.  Some people want it to be a lot more like the TEEN TITANS series that aired from 2003-2007.  But despite having the same voice cast, the shows are nothing alike. This is something TEEN TITANS GO is very happy to mock, which makes people further hate the show.  Instead of focusing on their time as superheroes, TEEN TITANS GO focuses on ridiculous ideas like Pig Latin being the heart of a massive conspiracy or tea being a Briish ploy to bring us back under their control.  I personally love that TEEN TITANS GO is full of pop-culture references.  You can tell the show was made by people who grew up exactly when I did.  What other cartoon would have entire episodes devoted to THE GOONIES and OREGON TRAIL?

Last summer, Cartoon Network decided to try doing a special “five-day event” for TEEN TITANS GO called ISLAND ADVENTURE, with the Titans being marooned on an island.  This was an homage to the “special” cartoon events that were so popular in the 80’s.  And clearly this event was a real success, as they decided to do it again this summer with the four-day “NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE.”  Technically it is called “THE DAY THE NIGHT STOPPED BEGINNING TO SHINE AND BECAME DARK EVEN THOUGH IT WAS THE DAY” but that’s a hell of a mouthful, so I am sticking with the shortened version for the rest of this review.

Some background on this.  In the third season episode “40%, 40%, 20%,” we are told that the secret of Cyborg’s powers is a 80’s pop song called “THE NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE.”  The song seems to have magical powers which transport the Titans to a crazy landscape based on 80’s album covers.  The other Titans are convinced this is a crutch and try to get Cyborg to give up the song. In the end, they realize that music is magic, and Cyborg is better off embracing this power.  The song and the band that perform it (B.E.R.) are completely made up, but you can still purchase the song from Amazon or Itunes.  It's ridiculously catchy.

When THE NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE” starts, the Teen Titans are suffering from a severe case of The Blahs.  Cyborg suggests a dance party, and the team wants to return to the dimension of Night Begins to Shine.  Upon arrival, they discover an evil dragon who wants to take the song’s magic for his own.  The dragon forces the other Titans back to Earth and pursues Cyborg and his faithful wolf across the landscape.  The Titans are desperate to try to get back to save Cyborg, even trying  (and failing) to enlist CeeLo Brown and Fallout Boy to recreate the magic needed to get the song to work.  The episode ends with the dragon catching and eating Cyborg.

One thing I love about TEEN TITANS GO is how the episodes build on each other.  If you watch one episode of the series, you may enjoy it, but not get what the big deal is. But as you watch more episodes, you see little things that carry over from episode to episode which create a really clever tapestry.  Kind of funny that a show where episodes routinely end with characters dead or turning evil has such strong continuity.  THE NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE is a great example of this.  We get a lot of callbacks to the “40% 40% 20%” episode, and the dragon looks like it could have come from RIDING THE DRAGON, an homage to RPG’s that is one of my favorite episodes.

I also loved the aesthetic of The Night Begins to Shine world.  That might be my all time favorite Raven costume from any media.  I was also reminded of Brütal Legend. I did get sick of that game when it turned into an unexpected Real Time Strategy game, but the world is so engaging, just like it was here.  And seeing Cyborg turn into Optimus Prime was just awesome.

The awkwardness of the Teen Titans trying to interact with CeeLo Brown and Fallout Boy was pretty funny.  We get Raven trying to make a “Crazy” reference, and Robin’s sale pitch to Fall Out Boy mentioning that “maybe” Batman might be along for the adventure. These moments fit in so well in the absurdity that is TEEN TITANS GO!

Honestly, I am not sure how they can possibly extend this out to 4 episodes without getting tiresome, but I really enjoyed this episode, and I’m real curious how this story will play out.  

New episodes of TEEN TITANS GO will air August 2, 3, and 4 at 6 PM, and they will be showing the full special several times over the weekend.

4.5 / 5.0