Thursday, September 13, 2007

Call Me, Beep Me

I just finished watching the finale to the fourth season of the Disney Channels Kim Possible. If you haven't heard of this amazing cartoon, then you really have missed out on the show that has set the standard for all childrens action entertainment. Like Gargoyles, another Disney property, Kim illustrates how a cartoon aimed at a younger audience can build an astounding, passionate and vocal fanbase among older viewers.

For the uninitiated, Kim Possible is a 30 minute cartoon series following the adventures of high school cheerleader and part-time world saver Kimberly Ann Possible, known to friends as Kim, or KP. Tagging alone by her side is best friend Ron Stoppable, and his naked mole rat, Rufus. Ron is well meaning, lovable and clumsy, and bears a huge crush on KP, though never really does anything about it, instead, helping her ask the guy of her dreams to the ball, or comforting her when things go bad. Ron also has a habit of losing his pants at every available moment, much to his annoyance.

The colourful cast of villains are the true strength of the show. While most cartoon series can manage to have a strong, well written main character or two, Kim Possible manages to also have incredibly well written villains as well. It's almost impossible to not love Dr. Drakken and his far more capable female sidekick, Shego, Senior Senior Sr. and his son Señor Senior Jr., or the nefarious fashion orientated evil doers, the Fashionistas, among others. While the writing and character developments go a long way to making these fun villains, the voice actors can claim a lot of the credit themselves. Dr. Drakken is voiced with obvious relish and joy by John DiMaggio, Futuramas Bender, while Señor Senior Sr. is voiced by Ricardo Montalbán, Star Treks (arguably) most loved villain, KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

One of the greatest aspects of the series, and also that which sets it apart from almost 100% of every other animated series I can name is the character development throughout the four seasons. Over the first three seasons, Kim and Ron attend Middleton High, with the final episode of season three not only mentioning that they are moving into their final year in high school, but also dramatically altering their relationship. At the time, the third season finale was to also be the series finale, the TV movie So The Drama. The new relationship would not be an issue, as there would be no more episodes to deal with it. But when season four was green-lit, the creators promised no backing out, and better yet, no soap-opera drama. This has the previously unheard of, entirely unique result of the two main characters in a childrens cartoon series by the Disney Channel remaining together throughout the new season, and not only that, they have locked-lips on-screen more than once! Mature writing and an insistence on the part of the creators to not "write-down" to children meant that this was pulled off with grace, and proved once again that a childrens show does not have to ignore certain real-world issues to succeed. Kim and Ron are high school seniors, and their actions within the newest season are realistic and believable.

By the close of season four, Kim and Ron are still the happy couple. They continued to have crazy adventures, while exploring the new territories of their relationship. Not once throughout the 22 episode run was their relationship ignored in favour of plot, nor did they break-up in favour of drama. While the relationship did allow for some new areas of comedy, Kim and Ron stayed not only as a couple, but also as best friends through to the end. And while Kim and Ron are now old hat at the dating thing, the final two-parter ended with love blossoming rather unexpectedly for two of the other characters.

It will be interesting to see if KP ever gets a fifth season. Kim and Ron are on their way to college, allowing for new friends, new situations, and new settings. The creators were smart enough to wrap everything up for the end of the season, while allowing room for more TV movies, or even, so many fans now hope, another season. And as unlikely as a fifth season might sound, it is clear that the Disney Channel love Kim as much as the fans do. In order to celebrate the last episodes, they ran a megamarathon of every episode and TV movie ever made, over three days at 18 hours a day, culminating with the first airing of the series finale, Graduation.

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