Tron: Uprising was an animated series which attempted to bridge the gap between the films Tron and Tron: Legacy. Premiering in 2012 on Disney XD, the series ran for 18 episodes (and a prequel web series, which you can watch on Youtube) before it was canceled. As you know from my review of Stargate Universe, I’m usually not a fan of canceled series, but like Stargate SG-1, this series re-shaped my appreciation of the Tron films.
The series stars Elijah Wood (yes, Frodo Baggins) as Beck, a mechanic being trained by the original Tron (voiced by original actor Bruce Boxleitner) as his replacement. They face off against the occupying forces, lead by Lance Henriksen (yes, that guy from everything) as General Tesler and Paul Reubens (yes, Pee-wee Herman) as Pavel. There’s also a tenuous love interest between Beck and Emmanuelle Chriqui as Paige, one of Tesler’s occupation commanders, who doesn’t know that Beck is the new Tron. Other familiar voices show up throughout too, including Reginald VelJohnson (yes, Carl Winslow), Tricia Helfer (yes, Number Six), Aaron Paul (yes, Jesse Pinkman), Lance Reddick (yes, Phillip Broyles), and Olivia Wilde reprises her role as Quorra from Tron: Legacy.
Besides the impressive visuals that you get with any entry in the Tron franchise, the overall story is very well thought-out with only one cliché episode (protagonist amnesia, my least favorite cliché), but that episode gives the original Tron a chance to shine, so I didn’t complain (much). The series also has some impressive animation, particularly the fight choreography. And, the music is outstanding, composed by Tron: Legacy soundtrack composer Joseph Trapanese (available on Apple Music and Spotify).
It’s hard to pick a stand-out star here, everyone in both the main and recurring casts is brilliant. Disney did a great job here. With that said, this is the first time I’ve heard Paul Reubens as anything other than Pee-wee Herman, as a villain nonetheless, and I was constantly impressed. He has some serious range as Pavel, and it’s practically a case study in why you should avoid typecasting.
I’m conflicted on the ending. It’s not a gentle cliffhanger, like Stargate Universe, it’s quite harsh. Furthermore, despite being developed to bridge the gap between Tron and Tron: Legacy, the ending left me bewildered as to how that could even happen. How does Tron become evil before Tron: Legacy? Where’s Beck and his resistance movement in Tron: Legacy? These seem like important questions that this series is responsible for answering. There’s a pivotal moment in the final episode, events could only go one of two ways. If they went one way, it would have more than answered those questions and the series would have flowed effortlessly into the film, but they didn’t, which is very confusing. Maybe it’s just better to think of that moment as one which spawned an alternate universe. Despite the cliffhanger ending though, the series is well worth watching.