Appreciating the production values and so-stupid-it-might-be-brilliant comedy in Avatar: The Last Airbender

The daughter is showing my wife and me “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” It’s not easy to find a time when we can all sit down together, but we’re managing to watch one a week. (Today we watched two. Not exactly binge-watching, I know.)

I’m not particularly a fan of the weird blend of American comics and Japanimation, but I do like the charming hand-drawn feel. I find myself getting a bit bored with the action sequences. They’re well done and all, but I don’t really care for superhero movies either, so this is a me thing. What really is working for me is the world-building, the character development, and the voice acting.

The title character seems to be the spunky child sidekick in his own series, and doesn’t seem to be very interested in his own mission, so he hasn’t really impressed me that much. I’ll hope that’s by design, since there are many episodes to come, and lots of time for character arcs.

I immediately knew the plot twist in S1 E5 “The King of Omashu,” so I was a little impatient for the story to move along. I was getting a bit tired of the king’s antics and the goofy music, but each time he pauses so that his “guests” can react to another cringeworthy dad joke, I was stunned by the brilliant, subtle addition of the sound of an unseen courtier filling the silence by coughing awkwardly. I know the primary audience is children who don’t already know all the tropes, so I can appreciate that this series is presenting the tropes so well.

After the payoff for a layered gag in S1 E6, “Imprisoned,” I laughed for about a solid minute. When the warden is monologuing and the one flunky speaks up and says the exact nitpicky thing I was thinking, what happens to the flunky is predictable, but so well done that I laughed heartily; but I was totally surprised by what the *other* flunky says next. (I asked Carolyn to stop the video so I could recover.)

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