It was a Friday night, April 18th, 2008. The mild Bakersfield winter was already over, and the usual California sunsets were already very present. I was at that time when the orange sun was giving way to another warm night when I eagerly awaited something entirely new. Something called Ben 10: Alien Force. In all honesty, I didn’t expect the show to be much. I had seen the original ben 10, and while it was fairly entertaining, it didn’t quite possess all the aspect to make it truly great. Perhaps the show was like its main character himself in that aspect. Ben Tennyson was good, but he was still cocky, annoying, and without the aid of his Omnitrix, almost totally helpless. However, from what I could tell by the TV promos and the sneak peeks for this new show, Ben 10: Alien Force seemed to be representing something amazingly rare for television these days; intelligence. And it was that which made up my mind for me that I should watch this and see if it’s worth my time.
My sister was in her room, my parents were cooking dinner. I had the TV all to myself. At 9 o’clock, when the program was over, I did something I almost never did for a cartoon; I applauded. To a person who thought the mediocre cartoon of the late 2000’s would be all there ever was, Alien Force was breathtaking. It was clean. It had not a single dirty or offensive joke in it. It simply didn’t need that to be entertaining. The plot of the missing Grandpa Max was instantly engaging. I wondered if the crew who worked on it really knew what they had here. Surly, something as purely awesome as what I just beheld was a mistake of some sort. How could something so great possibly be on modern television? Even as a 12 year old, I still knew good TV when I saw it.
From there, I regularly enjoyed the show when I could. Being only 7 months away from a cross-country move, I only got to see the first season. But for all the time I was busy, I still found time to get wrapped up in the plot of the Highbreed invasion. I actually cried a little when it seemed the Grandpa Max blew himself up in the 6th episode “Max Out” to destroy a nest of Xenocytes. I got great enjoyment out of watching episodes “Pier Pressure” and “Paradox” when I came home from the shopping malls one day, and even now I still think of them whenever I enter a mall. Perhaps most fun of all, I, like everybody else at that time, got caught up in the mystery of Alien X. And unlike most people after “X=Ben+2” was over, I wasn’t mad in the least that all the hype was for an alien that couldn’t work. I just smiled, shrugged and said ‘Boy, they fooled us all. What a great time I had’
After that excellent episode, we moved. Naturally, I missed the chance to see the second season, and figure out how the show ended. Over time, I forgot all about it, and Alien Force was almost entirely erased from my mind for two years. Somehow, I remembered again. Since I had matured a bit since 2008, I was afraid that I wouldn’t like it any more. Gingerly, I re-watched the first episode online. I was wrong. It meant even more to me now.
Upon re-watching the whole first season, and finally watching the second season, I realized that the show was almost wasted on a younger audience. Where I had seen no jokes before, my newly expanded vocabulary saw wit and taste unlike anything I had seen in a cartoon. I even stared researching the crew and cast, and found true heroes in great men and women like Dwayne McDuffie, Dee Bradley Baker, Glen Murakami, Charlotte Fullerton, Yuri Lowenthal, Len Uhley, and still more.
The story was simply brilliant. It was enjoyable in just the first season, but as a whole, the show was a masterpiece of writing and animation. It displayed what 99% of TV shows today were missing: story arc. As an added bonus, if you look at episodes like “Paradox” and “Max Out”, you’ll see a show that reads like a comic book. While still being fresh and modern, it gave great reference to the science fiction movies of the early 50’s that I now love so much. It had the feel of something much older. It gave me the same feeling that I got when I watched a really good western, or listened to an old radio drama with my dad. It felt like it belonged in another era; an era where the innocence of youth and the united goodness in America was still strong. I fell in love with the show all over again, and while most people laugh at this, I even took 15 year old Ben as my role model.
Suddenly, I was no longer the fool of a destructive kid my family had always known. Suddenly, I had made a complete change in the direction of my young life. I refer to 2008 as the year I awoke. Nothing could be truer. My eyes were finally open to the world around me. Through Ben 10, my life has been completely changed for the better. I now have something to strive for in the field of voice acting. I have friends that I have met through a mutual love for a show that once was the greatest thing on TV. From a desire to post a picture of a Lego replica of the Omnitrix, I met the love of my life. I owe those who worked on Ben 10 Alien Force more than I could ever repay. It has immensely benefited my life, and I’m sure it will continue to inspire and help me for years to come. And while I’m sure very few of the cast and crew will ever read this, thank you. God bless you all for what you unintentionally did for me.
Colt McCoy is an amateur Lego builder, renaissance man in training, and a young graduate from the School of Hard Knocks.