There’s just too much like a good TV for critics to write about any show that doesn’t arouse passion, be it positive or fierce. This means that if the critic comes back to write about the next seasons of the show, no matter what their verdict may be for that season, take this as a sign that they – I – are actually interested in this show or know that you is a concern.
With me? Great. Now let’s talk about the completion of Cobra Kai.
That sent a few of you straight to the comments section to vent your anger, didn’t it? But why so seriously? This discussion is theoretical at best. “Cobra Kai” is currently one of the most popular Netflix titles. Taken for a fourth season before the third premiere on January 1
Because when a show like this slides from great to good on “Where’s this going?”, It’s time to sit down and pull out a road map before the car turns into a ditch. And Cobra Kai was really exciting and thought-provoking in its first season for the same reasons that entangle it right now.
The first season begins where “The Karate Kid” stops, taking us into the life of the bad boy in high school Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and the likeable outsider Daniel LaRousseau (Ralph Macio, blessed with an ageless face) decades after the All-Karate Tournament in the valley where Daniel defeated Johnny. . . it constantly turns out.
The resumption of history in 2018 reversed the dynamics of his head as he drew on components that made The Karate Kid a classic: Johnny left and took his own weak outsider Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) under his direction, resurrecting his old dojo process.
Now Daniel is a wealthy and famous car dealer in the valley, and through a few plot twists he eventually accepts Johnny Robbie’s astonished son (Tanner Buchanan) and passes on his teachings to the late Mr. Miyagi. This setting favors Zabka more than Macchio, as it gives us a window to its flexibility. Makio has appeared on many TV shows over the years, but Zabka flew under the radar. This series allows his comedian to play, while showing that he also carries grief well.
The plot of “Cobra Kai” follows many similarities to the original journey of Daniel and Johnny from 1984, to the equalization of Miguel and Robbie against each other over the same cute girl. . . who turns out to be the daughter of Daniel Sam (Mary Musser).
The first season ends with a tournament – similar to the first film – the result of which helps Johnny and Daniel grow as fathers and mentors and creates season 2.
Enter John Criss. Johnny’s malicious sensei, played by Martin Cove. Kreese’s resurrection is a welcome surprise. . . to the point. Directing his entry into history is a plot that telegraphs every twist, in part because the season takes away many of his lines from “The Karate Kid III” (with the exception of the unauthorized “Fight in the Halls,” which tears up the local high school).
But wait – in case you’re worried that series creators John Hurwitz, Josh Hild and Hayden Schlossberg have decided to skip the trip to “Japanese Karate II” in Japan, no! They kept it for this current season, while including the remnants of threequel. Basically, every episode of “Cobra Kai” is a remix of the original movies in some way, and that doesn’t make it favorable. (Although Tamlin Tomita did a delightful repression of Kumiko, her “II” character, despite the magical minority’s mission that brings her back.)
And his over-reliance on past fame, which diminishes with each new outing, is personified by Kreese. Kov does a great job playing it; the problem is that there isn’t much in the character, as I stated in my original review. Instead of reconsidering this point, let’s discuss why Kreese is a clear symptom of the greater suffering that belittles this series.
In short, he is a film villain who has fallen into an episodic story. And when the villain is the main focus of a story, we better know why he is so dedicated to his path.
The film audience gives writers a pass to draw their antagonists at the boss level with the broadest strokes, because we know they only have a few hours to tell a story. The best films give their opponents a depth and purpose that we can understand, but “The Karate Kid” and “The Karate Kid III” do not qualify as cinematic epics.
Such low expectations mean we don’t have to be interested in the cause of Kreese on the first click – the classic foot-cleaning line is simple, sociopathic prose that almost lets us know what it’s all about. Ten episodes of television and about five hours of work require a little more explanation. Movies never say why Kreese is so prone to petty revenge and small bets; The threat on the rock at the end of this season is that he challenges Johnny and Daniel to a duel of, what else, a tournament.
And this is the clearest example of a bigger problem with Cobra Kai. What began as a tribute to an adored film franchise, resold to explore broader discussions of fatherhood, toxic masculinity, partisanship, and the dangers of past life, has become a looping machine.
Daniel and Johnny spend three seasons in a clash before teaming up to avoid a common enemy. Kreese spends two seasons inciting his children to commit crimes and never explains his motivation or final game – and those gratuitous, shrinking flashbacks to Vietnam do very little to plug in that void.
The kids are fine while they’re not. Eventually, several of them became full-fledged psychologists, including the former geek Hawk (Jacob Bertrand), while suddenly, with very little notice, he turned his face.
This happens when writers marry on average. When you realize that Hurwitz and Schlossberg are behind the films “Harold and Kumar”, a trilogy that went from exclusive to me to “I want my money back” in three films, it adds to the understanding of why an intervention can be useful at this time. .
This franchise, like this one, is blessed with memorable characters played by likeable actors, which initially presents itself as a weed farce, but spills over into commentary on the other and the first-generation immigrant experience in America. This is “Harold and Kumar going to the White Castle,” which I describe. After that, the screenwriters failed to mature and put together a plot anchored by a strange but wonderful couple. Now we are happy with the memory of the first film, unlike the reality of the next two.
“Cobra Kai” can be great again if the authors abandon the old scripts and pave a path that is not paved with outdated (if they are good) memories. This works for many serial adaptations of films whose creators take advantage of the expansiveness of television to create a completely different and deeper experience.
“Fargo” is both a tribute to Coen Bros. ‘original creation and very original vision. There is one. “Westworld” is pretty great. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” threw the script of the film out the window and started clean. (It helps that the creator of “Buffy” realized his story, as he intended to tell it through the TV series). “M * A * S * H” sits on the throne in TV Valhalla. “Hannibal” is stunning, as are “Friday Night Lights,” “The Strange Couple” – all successful adaptations with moves that are worth exploring.
Critics are the hardest on the shows we (loved) to love, and here it is. Irritability and lack of humor, as the current season is compared to the previous one, there is enough to make it worth escaping from laziness, beyond any complexist desires. Johnny Lawrence, Daniel LaRusso and all their students can be great again, but only if their creators take advantage of the advice given to Johnny by an old friend.
“Sometimes it’s good to visit the past to find out where you are now,” she says. “But you can’t live in the past.”
“No. We have to live for today,” Johnny agrees.
“And the future,” she concludes, “whatever that brings.”
Yes, that’s right. And hopefully it doesn’t look like something we’ve already seen.
Otherwise, someone has to sweep their feet.
All seasons of “Cobra Kai” are broadcast on Netflix.