Disney XD, Saturdays 9/8c
Synopsis: The Bobby Wasabi Martial Arts Academy in San Jose, CA is considered to be a joke and Sensei Rudy and his students need something or someone to show the rest of the nationwide dojo chain that they aren’t they under-performers they seem to be. Jack, the new kid at Seaford High School, seems to know a lot about karate, so the underdog crew recruits him to join the dojo. The kids get into all kinds of adventures involving school, friends, martial arts, life, and growing up.
This show is entertaining and engaging, but suffers from a lot of overacting. Jason Earles seems to have borrowed a little bit from his Jackson persona from Hannah Montana, and his role as the sensei (teacher) seems a little bit unbelievable. What saves the show from falling short is the authenticity of the martial arts. Leo Howard (Leo Little’s Big Show) is a black belt in karate and I remember watching a featurette in which the cast said they looked to him when it comes to having the right moves on camera. The cast’s talent for taking on martial arts is admirable, and the effort definitely shows – the scenes involving karate seem genuine as is the cast’s passion for getting the moves right. What I don’t like about the show (aside from the overacting) is that any adults that appear seem to be more clueless and gullible than usual, which likely allows the kids to get away with some of the stunts they pull. My issue with this is that we are presenting these actors in these roles as role models for our children, and quite frankly, don’t see the point in portraying adults as mindless when tweens and teens can form opinions of the adults in their lives for themselves. Another thing to touch on is the bullying aspect that seems to be present in the show: the students at the Bobby Wasabi Martial Arts Academy are clearly underdogs and showing that they get picked on for various reasons seems to have a place in the show, but this element also suffers from being overdone. I am all for David beating Goliath and overcoming challenges in the face of adversity, but there is a point at which this is tiring to the audience and we’d much rather see something fresh over the predictable.