My love for TV shows with reused action sequences

I say this absolutely sincerely and without irony: I love TV shows that reuse action sequences.

I imagine that a lot of people, if they heard that a show reuses footage, could easily jump to some conclusion that it is lazy or being cheap or that the show won't be good. However, I feel there are many benefits to doing it.

Thunderbirds Are Go, Voltron: Legendary Defender and Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir are three animated shows that I have very much enjoyed watching in the past few months. All three shows are popular, all three shows are critically acclaimed and all three of them use repeated action sequences: the Thunderbirds when launching, Voltron when assembling and Ladybug and Cat Noir transforming or using their powers – even villain Hawk Moth gets in on the repetitive fun. So clearly the occasional repetition in these shows isn't hindering their appeal.

These repeated sequences help to give each these shows a reliable, winning formula. It provides them a basic structure to follow, gives viewers a little bit of something to expect and presents viewers with something to look forward to seeing each episode – we want to see the Thunderbirds take off, we want to see Voltron assemble (the Power Rangers' Megazord too) or the superheroes suit up. We'll bop our head or hum along to the catchy piece of music that accompanies the sequence. Additionally, if a show follows a pattern, when there is a shake-up to the formula, when that sequence you've grown accustomed to is suddenly different one episode, it makes it extra special.

There are pros on a technical level as well. These repeated sequences can be shortened or altered to help improve an episode's pacing. Sometimes you'll see the full transformation sequence and sometimes you'll only see part of it. They can help stretch an episode that is otherwise slightly short on material. If the goal of a normal show is to come up with a 20 minute story, you may now only need 19 minutes of story. From a creative standpoint, it means that the money and time saved having to fill certain gaps can now be used to focus on making the rest of the episode even more awesome.

Not all reused footage is great. Clips shows are rarely standout episodes in a series. One of my personal favourite cartoons, the brilliant Spider-Man: The Animated Series used a lot of clips over and over, so far as having one character go to press a button and it being painfully obvious that the finger then seen pushing the button belongs to another character, from a few episodes back. Even in another one of my favourite shows, The Simpsons , the episode "Lisa's Pony" features a scene where Lisa calls Homer at work to say she loves him, where the footage is clearly from the episode, "Bart's Dog Gets an F" as Lisa very visibly has mumps and Homer is wearing "Assassins" sneakers.

Not every show that reuses old footage gets it right. But when a formula is created and sequences are made to enhance it, then you can actually end up with something really special and enjoyable. I say this absolutely sincerely and without irony: I love TV shows that reuse action sequences.

Posted on February 21, 2017 and filed under Cartoons, Voice Acting.