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“Twelve Forever,” needs to mature a little more (Part 1)

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I liked the original Twelve Forever pilot; didn’t love it but I thought it had an interesting premised, and I loved the antagonist, The Butt Witch. (Who didn’t?) But after watching a good chunk of the first season (15 episodes of 25) I’m a little more tepid on the subject.

Part of it, is the episodic-ness of the episodes. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s taking an awfully long time to get to the point of the series. The descriptions for the remainder of the series seem that they’ll be diving into origins of Endless.

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The inhabitants of Endless

Yeah, while the pilot calls it ‘Party Island,’ the series proper calls it ‘Endless,’ which definitely is more ominous and more interesting.

And Shane from the pilot isn’t in either; instead Reggie, or Twelve as she likes to be called hangs out with Todd, who is pretty close to Shane and the nerdy, awkward but sweet Esther. Think Connie from Steven Universe, minus the overprotective parents, and you’re pretty close.

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Esther, Reggie and Todd

So far, the plot has basically revolved around Reggie and her friends solving some kind of problem in their lives by going to Endless and having adventures; in one episode, she and her friends decide to start a school on the island, believing they can do better than their teachers. Only, they find out, that they were the ones in the wrong; the episode, for me, is especially sweet, because it ends with the guidance counselor (I think) giving Reggie a little white board for her locker, so she can doodle, without committing vandalism.

But a lot of the show, is focused on Reggie and her growing-Peter Pan complex. She’s a “young 12” as her mother describes her, who still likes dolls, bright colors, and is uninterested in the typical “feminine” activities as most girls her age.

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Who gives their kid a bra for their birthday?

In many ways, I can relate. I was a lot like that when I was 12, as I may have mentioned; I wasn’t interested in the same stuff as my peers; they saw my love in stuff like Avatar: The Last Airbender as immature and my best friend at the time, and I spent a lot of time still playing ‘pretend.’ It was mostly awkward play-acting of fanfic, but still.

But Reggie is also extremely selfish and self-conscious: Endless Island is the only place where she feels like she can be herself and in that she feels it belongs to her. And wow, did that bring up some uncomfortable feelings from my middle schooldays. 

I really enjoy the series’ frank, but still age-appropriate take on the subject matter, but the episodes are really awkwardly pace, with the bulk of action seemingly being confined to a few minutes somewhere towards the middle or end of an episode.

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And, this may just be a pet peeve of mind, but the show is stated to take place in the early 2000s. But some of the stereotypes they use and phrases, are more from this era rather than 2000s. I guess it’s probably a way to make the show more relatable to kids of today, but at that point why not just set the show in this time and still give it a 2000s aesthetics?

I’m sure Julia Vickerman has her reasons, and maybe once I’m deeper into the series, I’ll have a better understanding. The animation is interesting to look at, and certainly suits the style of the show. Endless is never boring; each episode it seems like there are more and more locations.

And there’s certainly more to it, and there’s not the same implication that Reggie created it like in the original short. And most of the inhabitants that we come to know and love, like Mac and Beefhouse, the two muscular men who are as much of a couple as a Netflix show can make them, are actually from Reggie’s imagination or her old toys.

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Twelve Forever, new animated series for Netflix from creator Julie Vickerman, the Cartel and Puny Entertainment

There’s even Guy Pleasant who Todd makes, but also somehow ends up becoming the perfect example of 12-year-old girl’s crush. (In that case, I understand Esther.) But most of them are kind of annoying and creepy, but then again, it’s a 12-year-old’s dream world. Maybe I shouldn’t be so critical.

While the plots and myths leave a lot to be desire, and there’s not always a lot of resolution and there’s no nearly enough butt Witch in the episodes for my taste, I really do like the set of main characters, and I’m gonna keep watching.

I wanna know where they end up. And I can’t wait for this coming week: we’re finally getting Infinity Train.

And that’s the scoop.

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Score: 6/10

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Year of release: 2019

Length: 25 episodes (12-23 minutes)

Directors: Annisa Adjani, Nick Sumida, John Mathot, Julia Vickerman and Kenneth Wong

Creator: Julia Vickerman

Voice actors: Kelsy Abbott, Antony Del Rio, Jaylen Barron, Matt Berry, Steve Agee

 

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