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The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here and our review of the film here.

I have to admit that I was never a big fan of The Secret of the Unicorn. I know it’s strange, given how much praise and respect the film gets in various critical circles, and near universally high esteem that fans of the series seem hold for the adventure. I don’t hate it, and I don’t dislike it. I am just not especially fond of it, especially compared to some of the adventures around it. While the animated adaptation does make the case for The Secret of the Unicornas a solid Tintin adventure, I do have to be a bit disappointed with the transfer quality on the blu ray disc.

If it ain't broke...

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The Adventures of Tintin: The Crab With The Golden Claws (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

Though the blu ray box set of the animated series includes the episodes in the order of the stories Hergé published, the studio actually produced the adventures in a different order, spread across three seasons. In fact, the first episode we reviewed, Tintin in America, was the last produced. So The Crab With the Golden Claws was actually the first animated adaptation in this particular series. And it makes sense to use this adventure as a good place to start any adaptation of Tintin – indeed, it appears Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson would agree, as this is the first of three stories adapted in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. It has everything you need from a Tintin adventure – a mystery, an exotic locale, international criminals.

Oh, and it also introduces Captain Haddock.

Haddock can't hold his liquor...

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The Adventures of Tintin: King Ottokar’s Sceptre (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

In a way, King Ottokar’s Sceptre feels like the end of an era. King Ottokar’s Sceptre is the last adventure in the series that Tintin would spend alone (save for the company of the loyal companion, Snowy). Although Hergé began work on The Land of Black Gold next, the next completed story (The Crab With the Golden Claws) would introduce Captain Haddock, who would follow Tintin for the rest of the series.  It was also the last story that Hergé completed before the outbreak of the Second World War, and the sense of paranoia is palpable. After this story, Hergé would remove a lot of the more overt political commentary from the series, preferring to offer more subtle and biting commentary. I’m delighted to say that the animated adaptation retain pretty much all of the spirit of Heré’s original story, which I was a little worried about given how deeply rooted the story is in the European politics of the thirties.

Keys to the kingdom...

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The Adventures of Tintin: The Black Island (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for The Black Island. There are probably multiple reasons for this. Snowy is my favourite member of the Tintin ensemble, and The Black Island is as close as possible to a Snowy-centric adventure. I also tend to enjoy the pulpier stories in Hergé’s series, the ones that have aged so well that they perfectly evoke the serialised fiction of the era without feeling trapped in it – stories like The Cigars of the Pharaoh, which is in series competition to be my favourite Tintin adventure. The Black Island is undoubtedly a product of the thirties, with the German counterfeiting ring in England and the homage to King Kong, but it never feels that old. In a way, the bright colours and wonderful depiction of rural England (and other stereotypical elements like the police constables) always made me think of the British pop culture of the sixties. I think that’s the appeal of the adventure to me, in a nutshell.

And most of it made it to this animated adaptation.

Something to think about...

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The Adventures of Tintin: The Broken Ear (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

I have to admit, I was curious about how the animated series would handle some of the more political material Hergé inserted into his work. I admired the way that Cigars of the Pharaoh handled international drug smuggling, but I suspected that broad political satire set in a banana republic might catch some viewers completely off guard. And, to be honest, there’s a lot of other stuff in Hergé’s The Broken Ear that makes it one of the tougher stories to adapt as a cartoon adventure. It’s very close to farce, and while the cartoon acknowledges that this business is a little sillier than usual, it never feels like the episode fully embraces the story it’s trying to tell, instead settling for a fairly generic run-around featuring characters and locales from the origin story.

Spotlight on the fetish...

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Non-Review Review: The Adventures of Tintin – The Secret of the Unicorn

It’s Indiana Jones, but for kids! It’s fascinating that the collaboration of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson should produce something that feels much more like the earlier Indiana Jones films than Spielberg’s most recent collaboration with George Lucas. Adapting Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin was always going to be a challenging proposition, and it’s to the credit of everybody involved that it turned out so well. While it’s not quite perfect, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is undoubtedly Spielberg’s most entertaining family film since Jurassic Park.

Franchise launcher?

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Tintin: Tintin and the Picaros (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

So, here we are. Hergé’s last completed Tintin story. The month flew by reading and (in most cases) re-reading the stories that I grew up with. It’s interesting to return to the stories you read as a child, discovering new depth and complexity in what had previously been entertaining little diversions. Since The Red Sea Sharks, Hergé seems to have been toying with the popular franchise he has created, playing with and subverting a formula established over twenty-odd adventures. The Castafiore Emerald reads almost like a deconstruction of a typical Tintin adventure, with the a variety of threads that refuse to add up to a mystery. Flight 714 was almost a parody, relying on contrivance to the point of ridiculousness. And so, with his last complete story, Tintin and the Picaros reads as a criticism of the hero himself, poor and innocent Tintin, who proves to be quite an impotent little character.

Fly-on-the-wall look at San Theodoros?

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