The Legend of Korra

Certainly, this represents a bit more ambitious storytelling for older kids, and perhaps a few adults with the geek gene.

Voices: Janet Varney, David Faustino, P.J. Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Steve Blum, Lance Henriksen, Mindy Sterling, Daniel Dae Kim, Seychelle Gabriel, Eva Marie Saint.

Nickelodeon’s animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was not only a success for the network, but even gave rise to a live-action M. Night Shyamalan movie that advanced its name recognition, if not the cinematic art form. So a follow-up was inevitable, and the cable network obliges with “The Legend of Korra,” another slick-looking, anime-informed concept, filled with lots of portentous “You have a destiny” gobbledygook, but at least easy on the eyes. Certainly, this represents a bit more ambitious storytelling for older kids, and perhaps a few adults with the geek gene.

If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, it’s hard to know where to begin. Suffice to say the concept possesses a rich mythology, in a fantasy world populated in part by “benders,” who possess the ability to control elements like water, air and fire.

Each generation must have its own world-saving Avatar who can conquer all the elements, and for reasons that have as much to do with marketing as anything else, this time the mantle falls to Korra (voiced by Janet Varney), a 17-year-old girl, who is the reincarnation of the earlier Avatar, 70 years later.

Or something like that. Mostly, the intrigue in the half-hour pilot proves a trifle head-scratching, but there’s a fair amount of action and an impressive look, as Korra moves from her sheltered upbringing to Republic City, where the mixture of grimy and exotic trappings resemble something out of “Star Wars.”

“Korra” has so many moving parts and characters that are the principal villains are barely represented in the premiere, providing a mere hint of what’s to come. Yet creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino (reprising their partnership on the earlier show) have already demonstrated it’s possible to paint on Nickelodeon using a serialized canvas, featuring a world where spectacular creatures and extraordinary powers are the norm.

Oh, and by the way, this whole reincarnate-the-hero every generation idea? What a great way to keep stars from getting out of line. In fact, forget water, fire and air: Mastery over those kinds of unstable elements is a skill even many of Hollywood’s power brokers would no doubt envy.

The Legend of Korra

Nickelodeon, Sat. April 14, 11 a.m.

Production: Produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studios. Executive producers, Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino; co-executive producer, Joaquim Dos Santos; supervising producer, Ki Hyun Ryu; producer, Tim Yoon; directors, Dos Santos, Ryu; writers, DiMartino, Konietzko; storyboard supervisor, Ian B. Graham. 30 MIN.

Cast: Voices: Janet Varney, David Faustino, P.J. Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Steve Blum, Lance Henriksen, Mindy Sterling, Daniel Dae Kim, Seychelle Gabriel, Eva Marie Saint.

More TV

  • U.K. Broadcaster Channel 5 Readies Thomas

    U.K. Broadcaster Channel 5 Readies Thomas Markle Documentary

    ViacomCBS-backed U.K. broadcaster Channel 5 will air a 90-minute documentary on Meghan Markle’s father Thomas Markle. Markle and her husband Prince Harry sparked a global media frenzy earlier this month with their decision not to continue as senior members of the British Royal Family. Buckingham Palace announced that the couple are to lose their royal [...]

  • Tony Hall BBC Director General

    BBC Boss Tony Hall Lands at U.K.'s National Gallery

    BBC director general Tony Hall has been appointed chair of the board of trustees of the National Gallery. The executive, who has served on the Gallery’s board since November, takes over as chair from Sir John Kingman, who has been interim chair since Hannah Rothschild stood down from the role in September. Hall said: “The [...]

  • Fox TV Stations Greenlight 'Central Ave'

    Fox TV Stations Greenlight 'Central Ave' From Will Packer, Debmar-Mercury

    Fox Television Stations has ordered the weekly entertainment news magazine “Central Ave,” which hails from prolific film and TV producer Will Packer and Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury. Debmar-Mercury and Will Packer Media will produce two half-hour shows per week of “Central Ave,” which tackles pop culture and other topics from a “socially conscious and diverse lens,” per [...]

  • Frontrunners Emerge As BBC's Tony Hall

    Frontrunners Emerge as BBC Boss Tony Hall Set to Leave Broadcasting Behind

    As the U.K. industry reacts to news of Tony Hall’s intention to depart the BBC this July, top-level executives including Charlotte Moore and Tim Davie as well as external contenders such as Channel 4’s Alex Mahon are beginning to emerge. Variety understands that Lord Hall, who has headed the BBC for seven years as director [...]

  • Gustavo Mello and Ran Tellem

    Boutique Filmes, The Mediapro Studio Team for ‘To Kill a Queen’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID — Gustavo and Tiago Mello’s São Paulo-based Boutique Filmes, producers of early Netflix Original overseas breakout “3%,” is teaming with high-end drama powerhouse The Mediapro Studio (“The New Pope,” “The Head”) to produce “To Kill a Queen.” International sales rights on the series will be handled by The Mediapro Studio Distribution. From an original [...]

  • Donald Trump Hollywood Racism

    Impeachment Trial Adds to TV's Breaking-News Juggle

    As if TV news needed more headlines… The usual suspects are gearing up to cover the U.S. Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the latest swirl in what seems to be a never-ending news cycle centered on the White House. But the impeachment proceedings, which kick off in earnest Tuesday, take place as many [...]

  • Blood Oath

    MBC Studios to Launch Arabic TV Series 'Blood Oath,' Written by Britain's Tony Jordan

    MBC Studios, the Saudi-owned production unit of top Middle Eastern free-to-air satellite network MBC Group is set to launch “Blood Oath,” an Arabic crime series written by Britain’s Tony Jordan (“EastEnders,” “Life on Mars”). The announcement comes as Dubai-based MBC Studios, set up in 2018 and headed by former president of NBCUniversal International Peter Smith, is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content