April 06, 2011
Several months ago, we brought you news of plans for "The LeBrons," an animated web series that takes the four LeBron personalities from the old Nike ad campaign and puts them in a cartoon world for children. Now, the series has premiered, with the first episode available for your viewing pleasure above.
The plot is fairly basic: Kid LeBron and his friend have been terrorized by a neighborhood dog. In order to stop the dog from being a big fat meanie, Business LeBron goes down to the pet store (which looks like an animal prison, incidentally) and picks out a lion. The lion scares the mean dog, but also probably goes too far by reenacting the torture scene from "Reservoir Dogs." Then Wise LeBron gets everyone to agree that the lion should probably not kill the dog, and everything is fine. Oh, also, Athlete LeBron spends the entire time playing basketball since he is so committed to his craft.
It is by no means a perfect episode. The moral is muddled: James' intro suggests that it's supposed to be about how two wrongs don't make a right, but it's really about how it's OK to scare a bully as long as you don't hire someone to murder him. Additionally, the world of this cartoon is kinda odd -- it seems fairly normal as long as you accept that one man can be split into four autonomous personalities, but animals can talk. What are the rules here, exactly?
Nevertheless, I think there is some potential here. If you realize that few cartoons for children are high art, then there's a lot to like: It's well-animated, it moves quickly, and the voice performances are generally solid. In television, a pilot episode is supposed to show potential and room for improvement -- rarely does a show arrive fully formed. As long as the writers can figure out how to define the rules of this fictional world and clarify their morals a little, "The LeBrons" should be a perfectly fine project for one of the league's most divisive players.
And even if you're not a fan, you have to admit it's much better than "The Decision."