This review originally appeared on the now-defunct site FamilyWonder.com, which showcased children's entertainment for parents and caregivers.
Best For Ages: 6-8, 9-12
Buzz Lightyear plus fellow space rangers Princess Mira, Booster, and XR learn to work together as they foil Evil Emperor Zurg's nefarious schemes to rule the universe. Less sophisticated than TOY STORY, BUZZ LIGHTYEAR OF STAR COMMAND still offers plenty of laughs and team spirit.
Educational Value: Though they're quick to fire lasers, Star Command cadets demonstrate teamwork and discipline, plus enthusiasm for science.
Entertainment Value: The quick pace and bombastic music keep the action exciting. The predictability of some sci-fi themes adds to the humor, as kids can predict what the bad guys will do.
Frightening situations: Buzz flies into black holes, is menaced by evil robots, races past nasty hornet drones, and the like.
Profanity: Nothing stronger than "Drat."
Questionable Behavior: Buzz, Princess Mira, and custodian Booster doesn't always follow Star Command rules.
Violence: Many space battles with dramatic explosions, though nobody dies and only repairable robots are injured.
Though it lacks the cutting edge animation and postmodern humor of the TOY STORY films, the spinoff BUZZ LIGHTYEAR OF STAR COMMAND: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES still entertains kids who like space adventure. It features many superficial similarities to the STAR WARS films -- a princess who fights as a space ranger, a robot who can interface with the Galactic Alliance computer, Hornet fighters who look like battle droids, an evil emperor seeking galactic conquest. But the penchant for parody of itself and other films makes BUZZ LIGHTYEAR quite witty, even for adults.
In each episode, Zurg poses a threat to the Alliance, but most of the real problems come from within -- rangers seeking personal glory don't work together, overly helpful robots try to control Star Command, that sort of crisis. "Evil never wins," as Buzz tells Zurg in nearly every episode, but selfishness and arrogance among the rangers cause almost as much trouble. The rangers learn to cooperate and cover for each other on their way to infinity and beyond.
Some of the jokes are meant for adults, like the energy vampire named "NOS-4-A2," and the "target tick" that works like a computer bug in the Star Command systems. When XR downloades the entire database of the Alliance, he announces gleefully that he'll never have to ask for directions again. Six-year-olds who grew up watching movies laugh aloud when Zurg asks why his henchmen can't set up "one of those chain reactions" often used in STAR WARS so little ships can blow up enormous space stations. "I was ready to kiss our refuse hatch goodbye!" admits Commander Nebula.
Parents may be uncomfortable at how quickly the supposedly peaceful rangers pull out their weapons, but they fight for underdogs and nobody ever really gets hurt. Plucky Mira and awkward Booster make excellent role models for girls interested in science and children who have physical limitations yet dream of overcoming them.
Children's Television Reviews