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‘Mission Critical’ is a critical failure

“Do you think God stays in heaven because, he too, lives in fear of what he’s created.” Dr. Romero, Spy Kids 2: Isle of Lost Dreams

The Spy Kids movies were weird; they were part deconstruction of spy movies, part kid’s entertainment, part 3-D visual effects and and part…drug trip, I think. They were fun. Especially as a kid. I always liked them.

If you haven’t seen them they’re kind of hard to describe. Originally, the franchise consisted of three movies following Carmen and Juni Cortez, who after discovering their parents used to be spies for the OSS, becomes spies themselves. They go on missions to save the world, learning about the importance of family and love as they do. A fourth movie released not too long ago, featured a new set of characters with cameos from the original Spy Kids films.

It flopped.

However, I’m not here to talk about these movies. I’m here to talk about the travesty and complete and utter waste of potential that is Spy Kids: Mission Critical. There is not a single redeeming quality about this show. It’s not exactly bad, but it can barely count as adequate entertainment.

The character designs are terrible and unoriginal; they don’t move fluidly, and are expressionless. The characters don’t change clothing even while sleeping. The backgrounds are flat and boring. It’s one or two steps above Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius which isn’t something I should be seeing in 2018. Even the villain reminds of the aliens from the show’s movie.

The show separates the children from the parents; the parents are forced into deep cover while the kids attend a spy academy after one of Gregorio’s old experiments,Golden Brain, returns with plans to take over the world. 

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The Spy Kids, old and new

They team up with other Spy Kids, the unbearably peppy Criminal Minds Penelope Garcia/NCIS Abby Sciuto expo Glitch, James Bond wannabe Sir Awesome who always has a cup of tea in his hand, the Australian weapons expert Ace, and the oddest member Scorpion, a Black Widow May Sue character who is a supermodel Spy Kid superspy who also happens to be the daughter of Fegan Floop, one of the antagonists of the first film.

Her character makes no sense. I know Floop wasn’t a true villain, but the relationship makes no sense, and is severely underutilized in the show. Besides, what ever happened to the Giggles siblings? Couldn’t have one of them been introduced instead? They played a pretty major role in the movies.

Also the daughter of well-known celebrity who also happens to be a model is literally the worst person in the world to be a spy. It’s no wonder why the OSS is getting overtaken by  brain in a tacky gold suit.

The plots are terribly cliche: they have to pass a test or risk getting expelled from the academy, a D.J. uses music to brainwash kids into committing crimes, they must learn to get along with each other, they have to compete in a field day type event against “evil” counterparts and are accused of cheating…It goes on. And I have a lot of criticisms regarding the last plot, but they’re not worth discussing. They are the most generic kid-cartoon crap ever developed.

 There’s nothing to make it stand out from other cartoons. It’s boring and that makes me mad. And frustrated.

Especially when there’s actual source material that they could based the show off. There was a series of novels that followed the Cortez family on different missions: to the Mall of the Universe, defeating a villain who was turning people into animals, going to a camp for Spy Kids…I don’t think the books were very popular, but there was still enough plot to inspire a show.

The pacing is terrible; plot points get mentioned and then dropped for three episodes before getting picked up again. The short season, only ten episodes, leaves little room for any kind for character growth and development; the little that does happen seems to be forgotten by the next episode.

There is not one single original lesson taught, no unique plots, no parodies of spy media…It’s all very generic. If the show wasn’t attached to an existing franchise there would be no reason for it to exist.

The show doesn’t even give us the courtesy of having an uncomfortably attractive and charismatic villain. There’s no finesse or sex appeal. He’s just there. I’m not even entirely sure what his motives are or how he’s a threat.

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He falls into all the traps that all children’s shows villains do: his lackeys are idiots and soft-hearted and he relies on other less powerful villains to do the work for him, including a DJ whom I’m pretty sure is voiced by the same guy who voiced the douchey German baby in the Boss Baby series.

It’s so unbelievably painful to watch.

And the worst part is that it eliminates some of the most interesting aspects of the characters from the movies. For example, the movies were heavily focused on Juni’s character growth. While he remained the annoying little brother in some ways, we were shown his sensitive side: he danced ballet, cared deeply for his friends and even quit the OSS at one point, only to come back to rescue his sister.

In the show? He’s annoying, loves video games and science,  is messy, and doesn’t have a lot of compassion for anyone. He also severely distrusts Ace, for whatever reason. He’s just the stereotypical little brother. Carmen somehow gets even less characterization. She has a crush on Ace, fights with Scorpion and squabbles with her brother about who should lead the team, constantly. She’s boring.

Don’t waste your time on this dreck. It has absolutely no redeeming qualities. At least Boss Baby: Back in Business is self aware, and has some genuinely funny moments that makes it enjoyable to hate-watch. This show doesn’t even have that going for it.

And that’s the scoop

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Score: 2/10

Rating: PG

Available Netflix

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