tek's rating: ½

Jackie Chan Adventures, on The WB
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This Saturday morning cartoon is so cool! And really really funny. Jackie is an archaeologist who keeps getting mixed up with magic and demons and all kinds of stuff. He tries not to. He just wants to do his research, but adventure always finds him. His niece, Jade, is always looking for adventure and always glad when it shows up. She's staying with Jackie and Uncle in San Francisco, where her parents sent her (from Hong Kong) to learn some discipline. (Shuh, as if!) Jade is just totally the coolest kid. Mischievous little scamp and trouble-maker with a bold, adventurous, defiant spirit. We love Jade! Anyway... who else is in the show? Uncle, who runs an antique shop and knows all about magic and demons and stuff. In every season there is a major story arc, but there are also plenty of episodes unrelated to the major arc.

In the first season, the major arc is about a criminal group called the Dark Hand, which is led by a man named Valmont, who was pretty cool. He had an enforcer named Tohru, who looked like he could be a sumo wrestler, though there is an episode later where it turns out he's actually too small for that, as hard as it is to believe. Valmont's other enforcers were the bumbling (but funny) Ratso, Finn, and Chow. The Dark Hand were working for a demon named Shendu, who was at the time a statue. He'd been beaten by sorcerers long ago, and his 12 talismans (based on the animals of the Chinese Zodiac), which gave him various powers, had been scattered around the world. He promised Valmont a great treasure if he retrieved the talismans and freed him. Also working for Shendu were the Shadowkhan, sort of mystical ninjas who always appear out of nowhere.

There's also a secret government group called Section 13, good guys who try to stop the Dark Hand, but most of them don't believe in magic. Just crime. The head of Section 13 is Captain Black, an old friend of Jackie's. He didn't believe in magic for most of the first season either. Eventually he learned better, but he doesn't want to talk about it, because if he does his superiors in the government will think he's nuts. Anyway, Jackie and Jade and Uncle all helped fight the Dark Hand.

In the second season, Tohru became Uncle's apprentice after leaving the Dark Hand. At one point, Jade gathered together a couple of other characters from season 1 episodes, a Mexican wrestler named El Toro Fuerte, and a former jewel thief called Viper, and along with them, Jade, Jackie, Uncle, and Tohru formed "the J Team." Oh yeah, and there was also a kid named Paco, who was a fan of El Toro. He and Jade argued alot, but he could be helpful at times, I guess. Anyway, the team would be assembled every now and then throughout the rest of the series. Meanwhile, Valmont hired a new heavy-hitter, Hak Fu (who had been in an episode in season one), to replace him. The major story arc, however, involved Shendu's siblings escaping from the spirit dimension or whatever, and Jackie and friends trying to send them back.

In the third season, the major villain was Daolon Wong, a dark chi wizard, who we first saw in the 2nd season. He had 3 dark chi warriors, sort of demony guys. In the third season they were replaced when Ratso, Finn, and Chow were turned into dark chi warriors (but with their old personalities, which makes them more fun than Daolon's former minions). The talismans were destroyed, but their powers went out into real live animals representative of those on the talismans. So now Jackie and company had to look for animals while Daolon Wong was also looking for them. Eventually the Dark Hand enforcers were returned to normal.

In the fourth season, Ratso, Finn, and Chow worked for a giant floating head named Tarakudo, who was supposed to be a Japanese oni, and who happened to be the king of the Shadowkhan. The new race between the good guys and the bad guys was for 9 ancient, magical oni masks, each of which gave the wearer the power to command a different tribe of Shadowkhan.

In one episode in season 4, a totally kick-ass secret agent adult version of Jade showed up from the future, chasing Drago, the son of Shendu. He ended up imprisoned by Section 13, but he broke out in season 5 and became the major villain. He turned the Dark Hand enforcers into demons, and they went around trying to collect demon chi from ancient items that had been used long ago to imprison Shendu. Uh, I think Ratso, Finn, and Chow were turned human again though, and Drago replaced them with some other guys. I don't really remember that well because... the season seemed to air more sporadically than previous seasons. In fact I don't even remember seeing the end of the season... which was, alas, the final season of the series. Um, hope I'm not forgetting to say anything....

Edit: I see now that the internet lists five seasons of the show, and I cannot comprehend how it is even possible I would have been unaware of an entire season at the time it aired. So I'm not sure if I didn't see it, or maybe I did see it but thought it was part of season 4, or what. In any event, I wouldn't mind rewatching the entire series someday, and finding out just how much I may have missed.

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