A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this cartoon glamorizes auto racing and puts a heavy emphasis on winning. Characters take plenty of risky maneuvers on the track and play quite a few dirty tricks on each other, some of which seem very dangerous. But although there are many serious car accidents, there are few injuries -- the show seems to exist in a world where drivers are always able to walk away from a wreck. Speed has a difficult back story, which adds to his character's mystique, but the show offers few insights into why a parent would abandon his son at an orphanage.
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What's the story?
As the new kid at the Racing Academy, Speed (voiced by Kurt Csolak) wants to prove himself the only way he knows how -- on the track. But he's got a rough road ahead of him. As an orphan, Speed arrives at the prestigious school with almost nothing to his name, not even a car, and quickly manages to run afoul of top student X (Robbie Sublett), son of the legendary Speed Racer. But Speed's own amazing skills behind the wheel prove that he has driving in his blood -- and, in fact, he soon discovers that he's Speed Racer's long-lost other son.
Is it any good?
SPEED RACER: THE NEXT GENERATION picks up the racing legend years after the original 1960s anime series, following young Speed's efforts to hone his skills and become a top driver, just like Dad. Only two things stand in his way: a shadowy billionaire who seems determined to wreck Speed's career before it really revs up, and X, who's less than thrilled to have a rival. Fortunately, Speed also finds a few allies, including whiz-kid mechanic Conor (Carter Jackson), strategist Lucy (Sahra Mellesse), and Headmaster Spritle (Peter Fernandez, who voiced Speed Racer in the original show), who, as Speed Racer's brother, is uncle to both Speed and X.
The original Speed Racer series, with its entertaining characters and one of television's most amazing vehicles, the Mach 5, has a justifiably cherished place in cartoon history. But this new entry in the franchise does little to advance the cause. The characters are thinly developed, the animation is clunky, and even the race sequences seem generic and lethargic. It just never seems to get up to full speed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about winning and losing. Many characters seem willing to cheat in order to win, and the losers often complain loudly. Does anyone demonstrate good sportsmanship? Is cheating ever OK? Would you ever cheat to win an athletic event? How about on a test? Families can also talk about Speed and X's relationship. How would you feel if you suddenly discovered you had a sibling you never knew about? Would you welcome him or her into your family or feel resentful?
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