I have to confess, when Tangled: The Series was first announced, I wasn’t too thrilled about it. After all, the movie had wrapped things up so neatly, and Disney Television Animation’s track record in spin-off programming hasn’t always been so great. Yet, to my utter surprise, this one turned out to be much better than I anticipated.
In fact, I think it really marks a huge step forward in how such series are crafted. So now that Rapunzel and Co.’s adventures have officially come to a close, , let’s dive into this Tangled: The Series review and look at what makes stand above its forebears.
Tangled: The Series Review
Further fleshing out the core characters from the original film
We Tangled fans can all agree that, in the original film, the characters were absolutely delightful. But, let me state for the record, the additional development that we see in the TV series makes them all the more compelling. Rapunzel, for example, is frequently thrown into unfamiliar situations that challenge her unfailingly glass-half-full outlook, and she must learn to adjust to being part of Corona’s royal family again (including shouldering all the responsibilities that go with it), to say nothing of her continued recovery from the trauma inflicted on her by Mother Gothel.
Likewise, Eugene must come to terms with the ramifications of his criminal past, and has taken it upon himself to provide Rapunzel with the emotional support that she needs when things get dire. Furthermore, we get to see more of the personalities of Rapunzel’s parents this time around: King Frederic is shown to be (understandably) overprotective of his daughter, but clearly loves her dearly, and gradually learns to allow Rapunzel to make her own decisions; Queen Arianna, meanwhile, is presented as a more supportive parent, encouraging the princess to forge a distinct identity for herself, and counterpointing the king’s paranoia. (Mind you, part of me wishes that she could have been fleshed out a little further still, but as is, she’s a good character.)
Engaging and complex new characters
The level of care taken in developing likable and compelling characters extends to those introduced in the show, as well. As far as I can see, not a single personality seems wasted here; series regulars like the acid-tongued and tough-as-nails Cassandra (my personal favorite new face), the enthusiastic (yet slightly accident-prone) and highly intelligent Varian, and the uproariously goofy Lance Strongbow leave a strong impression on you the first time you see them, and progressively grow and take on more depth as the series goes on. Even the various one-offs who pop up from time to time are, for the most part, just as fascinating as the ones we love from the movie (Arianna’s highly extroverted sister, Willow, springs to mind). Crucially, each and every one of them helps to serve the plot, in some way or another.
Attention to continuity
For me, the most important way to judge whether a spin-off or sequel is any good is its narrative relationship to the film that inspired it. In the past, TV series based off of Disney’s animated classics tended to deviate from — and, in some cases, blatantly contradict — the events of the films that inspired them (with The Lion Guard being the absolute worst offender). Thankfully, that’s not the case with Tangled; the writers have managed to successfully expand on the world of the movie while remaining faithful to the events depicted therein.
Not to mention, the level of detail taken in crafting the world outside Corona shows a lot of dedicated effort and originality on the creative team’s part; it leaves you wanting to learn more at every step of the way. (Tangentially, the writers manage to keep the audience on their toes with each and every episode, never giving away too much.)
Previous series that followed the musical format of their parent films have been known to produce at least one song that matches those in the first film (e.g., “In Harmony,” from The Little Mermaid). But generally, because they were written by people not associated with the first film, the quality of songwriting has had a tendency to zigzag.
That said, the decision to bring back Alan Menken and Glenn Slater to write for Tangled: The Series was a wise move. With a couple of exceptions (“Buddy” and “Listen Up”), the new songs they came up with are just as good as, if not better than, those from the movie, with a few of my personal favorites including “Wind in My Hair,” “Waiting in the Wings,” “Let Me Make You Proud,” “Set Yourself Free,” and “Ready as I’ll Ever Be.” (Props as well to Tangeld: Ever After veteran Kevin Kliesch, who manages to craft a score that closely follows the general style of Menken’s original work.)
One final note: Bonus points to the art department (headed by the inimitable Claire Keane) for taking inspiration from the wall paintings and murals seen in the original movie, in designing both the characters and the backgrounds. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, and as a proponent of traditional animation, it gladdens my heart to no end to see the series executed in this style.
Tangled: The Series is, plain and simply, a Disney Canon TV spin-off done right. I cannot sing its praises highly enough, and hope that any future series of its ilk will follow its lead (though it looks like Big Hero 6: The Series already has). So, if you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly recommend you do — even better, watch it as part of a Tangled marathon, starting with the original movie and ending with the short film, Tangled Ever After.
Rotoscopers is an animation news, reviews, and interviews site for animation addicts young and old. In addition to articles, the site has a podcast called the Animation Addicts Podcast and YouTube channel.