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Live-action Avatar Season 1, and no, we’re not talking about the movie, the Netflix adaptation of the highly acclaimed and beloved animated series, Avatar the Last Airbender has arrived. And ah, it’s not quite there yet. Not enough episodes, and maybe the creative liberties for different approaches for telling its story might have kind of doomed it like Cowboy Bebop, but I would say otherwise.

What I believe we’ve seen here in Avatar Season 1 is doable, a rough starting line that might transcend the show into a much-elevated state in the second season. I say this in the wake of our very own hyped-up news article on Avatar the Last Airbender live-action. But for now, we got to talk about the issues, and why it’s important that the showrunners and people working in Netflix must get working on them.

It’s going to be a lot, I mean after the blunders in Avatar Season 1, but seeing how close they’ve gotten, not abandoning the world-building for needless character drama or over-sensational set pieces created from a green screen. Netflix might have gotten a big head after the success of One Piece live-action and neglected the needed attention. The actors need to step up, there should have been more episodes, also who thought ruining King Bumi was a good idea?

Avatar: The Last Airbender | Official Trailer | Netflix

Avatar Season 1 Showed Promise At First

Circa 2018, Netflix has been sort of killing it with their original TV shows and has been pushing to branch out their category to expand their library. By that time, they made an announcement that they were working with the original showrunners, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko to execute produce and show-run the live-action version of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Production would start in 2019 for Avatar Season 1, but around the next year, they just went up and left. Citing major creative differences and a non-cooperative environment. Basically, Netflix speaks for “we like doing things our way”. A blog post was released on their website, explaining a lot of it.

A new showrunner was picked. Albert Kim who was previously the showrunner for Sleepy Hollow, and had writing credits for Pantheon, and CW’s Nikita. So yes, he was a good choice when you look at his portfolio. Unfortunately, none of it says that he would make the show any better than they would’ve. And that decision came back to bite Avatar Season 1.

Netflix Avatar Season 1 - Poster - Deshi Geek
Netflix Avatar Season 1 – Poster – Deshi Geek

The Day Avatar Season 1 Arrived

On February 22nd, just 2 weeks ago from now, Avatar Season 1 finally aired with mixed receptions. My reaction to it, was ah, well, not good. I wasn’t entirely disappointed, but expectations had to be high since this is the acclaimed animated series we’re talking about. The main source of the live-action series.

What we got in Avatar Season 1 were 8 episodes, 1 and 6 had writing credits for the original showrunners. Remember this one, as I’ll get back to it later. With a total runtime of 430 minutes (about 7 hours). The opening was intense, many story beats of the original were captured, but something was a little amiss. I can’t help but feel like the expression, a few small subtexts, and maybe more levity are missing!

Yeah, that and more. The actors of Avatar Season 1 did an okay job, but they come off a little stiff sometimes. Katara doesn’t exactly react well to Sokka’s banter which doesn’t truly reflect the original hilarious prank star, she just delivers lines and suddenly we’re supposed to believe she’s her. Outside her, I think the rest of the cast did well. And then there’s Iroh. Hoo boy!

Avatar: The Last Airbender | Final Trailer | Netflix

No, It Doesn’t Get Better

Episodes 1 and 2 of Avatar Season 1 carried the absolute highs that we know of the show. Aang processing the death of his air tribe, and the fact that everything has changed in the 100 years since. The bond that forms between the three, the gritty aspect of the war, I mean people die gruesomely and it’s transparent of it, and the new characters introduced elevate the show in its own way.

Yes, there are changes made in Avatar Season 1 and we see them from episode 3, remember when I mentioned the writing credits? Yeah, the differences start to show a lot since. Episodes 3 and 4 take place not in Ba Sing Se, but in Omashu. I don’t know whose idea it was, but they also ruined King Bumi too.

How do you take a city and a character based around it, and sort of ruined both? Omashu feels small in scale, obviously, it has a rich backstory added, and nice side plots. But when the big guy himself comes off as a pansy, aggrieved king who takes it hard on Aang without instilling the least great lessons it feels most weird and out of place.

That’s when you know you did bad. And episode 5 didn’t help much either, sure, there’s a sexy bounty hunter, the spirit world was interesting to see, and George Takei scared the daylights out of me, and Azula. No, I might be asking for trouble just even talking about her. But I’ll put it the best way possible, the rest of the episodes in between were sort of middling. There are also pacing issues making it jarring to watch.

Netflix Avatar Season 1 - Visual - Deshi Geek
Netflix Avatar Season 1 – Visual – Deshi Geek

But There’s Hope

And then in the last 2 episodes of Avatar Season 1, we finally have the gang heading to the Northern Water Kingdom. Suffice it to say, the show comes back to the quality I missed. Iroh shows more gumption this time, and I can’t blame the actor for not doing him so well earlier. I do believe he will grow into him later.

Season 2, which might be Book 2, might improve some of the errors made here. I’ll be honest, maybe it was the original showrunner’s idea to ruin Bumi, but no way would they have done him this bad. And, what a crescendo of a season finale, if they keep this up and Netflix willing, put in more budget and episodes to help open its world more, as well as the spirit realm, this show might be saved.

Also, this needn’t be said, but the CGI of Avatar Season 1 was horrible sometimes. That one’s easier to fix than the other stuff you’ll work on. Good luck Netflix and Kim, you’ll need it. I think it did slightly more than check on some boxes.

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Video games aficionado, movie geek, and a bit of fictional reading at times keeps me quite distracted, not even if the end of the world is near will I stop.

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