Netflix UK TV review: The Adventures of Puss in Boots (First Look)
James R | On 16, Jan 2015
The Adventures of Puss in Boots pounces on to Netflix UK today. We present a first-look review at the opening three episodes.
DreamWorks Animation and Netflix’s partnership continues with the arrival of their latest franchise-based TV series. Hot on the heels of Madagascar spin-off All Hail King Julien comes The Adventures of Puss in Boots, which aims to turn the character voiced by Antonio Banderas in Shrek into a household name.
Like DreamWorks’ other animated show, the small screen outing lacks the high-profile casting of its feature-length counterpart. While King Julien came up slightly short, though, Eric Bauza is on fine form, stepping into Antonio’s shoes with enthusiastic pizazz. He’s suave, sensuously deep-voiced and good at playing stupid.
The sad news is that’s all he’s really required to do. Declaring himself the guardian of the mythical land of San Lorenzo, he promptly sets about taking care of thieves trying to steal gold – or, worse, local residents – with little between the ears other than his fetching hat.
The world itself is impressively rendered, from the fuzzy puss himself to the Western-like backdrop. The action, too, is well directed, as the cat’s agile moves leave him leaping over and around his enemies. It may not be Zorro, but it’s fun to watch.
It’s the stories, rather, that let this down, giving the characters little to do that really engages. Joshua Rush gives good naive squeak as sidekick pig Toby – “He’s my best friend,” he cries, only for Puss to shout back immediately: “I”M NOT YOUR BEST FRIEND!” – but one plot involving Toby’s older brother only emphasises how little we care about him. Other moments, such as when Puss makes Turrón (Spanish nougat) for the city’s kids, simply seem bizarre, a nice nod to our hero’s heritage that is neither funny nor interesting.
Emotional engagement or decent plots may not be a necessity for a kids’ TV series to be enjoyable, but if neither are present, laughs certainly should be. At the centre of it all, Puss emerges as ultimately a one-joke character, taking off his hat to do his wide-eyed sad face at least once per episode. The result is a show that will work better with younger viewers (the fast-paced visuals are certainly colourful) or die-hard fans of the franchise – whom, of course, Netflix will be hoping to win over (via their parents). Put it next to the streaming service’s other cartoon offerings, such as Dexter’s Laboratory, Rugrats, Adventure Time and The Powerpuff Girls, though, and the gap in quality niggles like a hairball in the throat.
There are flashes of some promise, though. The music is lovely, while a sequence involving a sarcastic Phoenix and her rhyming riddles is entertaining, proving that the writers can find the funny bone inside our feline. With only five episodes released today on Netflix UK – and more on the way later this year – there is still time for this series to find (and land on) its feet. And if Puss in Boots can do anything, it should be that.