Cartoon Network: Samurai Jack Season 3
Series creator Genndy Tartakovsky has said, "The third season is always the toughest in television production," but episodes 27 through 39 of Samurai Jack
show no signs of flagging imagination. To the contrary, the Season 3 collection includes some of Jack's best adventures. In the outrageous episode 28, Aku turns teenagers into destructive zombies with rock music. Incongruously clad in hip-hop threads, Jack crashes a rave and defeats the sinister DJ in a wonderfully anachronistic mixture of break-dancing and martial arts kata
. Tartakovsky and his artists won a well-deserved Emmy for the two-part "Birth of Evil," that traces the origins of Aku to a primordial, destructive cloud that Odin, Rama, and Ra destroyed. The same gods forged Jack's enchanted sword from human righteousness. The more dramatic stories are balanced against sillier tales: in episode 27, Jack gets turned into a chicken by an irritable wizard, and in episode 33, he has to deal with giant blue teddy bear-like creature, who has an unexpectedly nasty side.
The extras include storyboard artist/martial artist Brian Andrews explaining how the crew stylized Chinese Whu Shu and Wing Chun techniques for Jack's combat moves, a gallery of preliminary sketches, and a commentary on "Birth of Evil." It all adds up to a winning package. (Unrated, suitable for ages 10 and older: stylized violence, minor gross humor, grotesque imagery) --Charles Solomon