“Sad whistle. Sad, sad whistle.”

The Scorpion Sting is the next release of seven episodes from children’s show Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, which premiered in 2011 and is based on the theatrical release Kung Fu Panda.

The TV show is a collection of stories about Po (Mick Wingert), the Panda who became the fabled Dragon Warrior, and his companions the Furious Five, the world’s foremost kung fu warriors. Tigress (Kari Wahlgren) is the leader and the most reserved of the group. Mantis (Max Koch) is the snark of the gang. Viper (Lucy Liu) is demure and almost motherly with the group, especially Po. Crane can be too serious at times while Monkey is too playful sometimes. And Shifu (Fred Tatasciore) trains everyone, serving as their mentor.

This collection actually made me laugh out loud. The episodes are definitely written with life lessons in mind, and while at times the messages seem to be heavier than you’d expect, it’s not something the target audience is going to complain about. What they will respond to are the well-choreographed fight scenes and the humor, both of which take center stage. The episodes are:

“Scorpion Sting”
When Tigress falls ill with a childhood disease, which is deadly if contracted as an adult, Monkey and Po travel to Scorpion’s lair (Lynn Milgrim) in hopes of retrieving the only known remedy.

“Love Stings”
Po wants to find his dad a girlfriend to help ease the sting of loneliness. The only problem is his dad already has a secret girlfriend and it’s not someone Po likes or trusts.

“Owl Be Back”
When Po learns of a curse that befalls the mightiest of the Furious Five (they turn evil), he leaves the village to protect everyone. But when he finds Fenghuang (Wendie Malick), the owl who befell the curse herself, he inadvertently puts everyone in danger.

“Monkey in the Middle”
When a series of burglaries strikes the village, everyone is shocked when Monkey (James Sie) confesses to being the culprit. But Po suspects something else is going on.

“Crane on a Wire”
At the local auction for the new children’s hospital, no one bids on Crane (Amir Talai), leading him to lose his confidence. Can the Furious Five (er, four?) defeat the recently returned Fenghuang without him?

“Kung Shoes”
Sick of training all the time, Po goes to a black magic market where he purchases shoes that increase his kung fu prowess a thousand fold. But he doesn’t heed the warning attached to wearing them.

“Qilin Time”
Po’s father (James Hong) has been stretching the truth quite a bit with Po lately. So to say Po is doubtful of his father’s claims of having encountered a mystical beast, the Qilin, is an understatement.

The 1.78:1 video track has a nice palette but the backgrounds can come across as flatter than you want to see. The characters are richly drawn and detailed for the most part but the animation is never stronger than during the background flashback/exposition sequences when it switches to a much more graphically intense animation style. The audio track is Dolby 5.1 but there are also two Dolby 2.0 tracks as well in English and French if you prefer. The Dolby 5.1 is my preferred track as it really showcases the Foley and music cues, which are the backbone of the audio storytelling.

The special feature is a code users can input into a free app in order to gain downloads and more from the game. It’s a smart marketing move to help transition viewers to the Dragon Warrior in another media.

It seems as though this trend of releasing a few episodes here and there is here to stay, so if you or your kids are a fan of the show, you may want to plunk down the money. The inclusion of a code to redeem within the free app means there’s more entertainment being offered than just the episodes presented, and this time around the humor really struck a chord with me.

THE VERDICT

Not guilty.

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