Tonight at 9:30pm Eastern/Pacific, Disney’s Tron Uprising airs its pilot on Disney Channel (it’s also available online). I personally think this series is a breakthrough for a US-generated animated action series; a game changer.

For decades the standard look for adventure cartoons was the model started by Doug Wildey on Hanna Barbera’s Jonny Quest (1964). Later, Bruce Timm and the team at Warner Animation advanced the field with Batman: the Animated Series (1992), and there’s no denying Anime certainly brought a new feel to the genre.

Tron Uprising certainly borrows from those traditions and ups it a notch – a BIG notch. To be fair, the pilot airing tonight only shows off half the picture – the beautiful visuals designed by Art Director Alberto Mielgo and Lead Character Designer Robert Valley. The pilot Beck’s Beginning is a bit of a paste-up – as its constructed from the elements of the previously announced mini-sodes which were originally planned to preview the show (Disney execs decided to edit them into one 31 minute episode instead of presenting them as serialized bite-sized pieces, as first intended). Producer/director Charlie Bean (The Ren & Stimpy Show, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, The Amazing World of Gumball) has the perfect sensibility for this show – and from what I understand the storyline for the actual series is far more complex than the set-up presented tonight.

But so far, I love what I see. How about you? What’s your take? You have no excuse not to give it a try. Take a look at some of this gorgeous production material below. Top row: two of Mielgo’s magnificent production paintings, and a third by Joon Ahn; second row: a model sheet for some of the lead characters; third row: a few of Valley’s storyboards and (at my request) a Beck model sheet (click thumbnails to enlarge). Click all images for larger, fuller views.

Jerry Beck

More in Talkback: