I recently finished watching the (currently) 21 episodes of Tangled the Series, having started watching it when it first aired in March of last year. Overall, while I can’t say all the episodes were brilliant, I enjoyed the majority of them, especially the latter part.
The series premiered with the short television film, Tangled Ever After, which I thought was very good and definitely got me hyped for the episodes to come. Like Tangled itself, Ever After had a good balance of humor and drama, touching moments between Rapunzel and Eugene, catchy new songs by Alan Menken, and revealed the interesting new plot of the mystical black rocks and their connection to Rapunzel’s hair growing long again. It also introduced a new main character alongside Eugene and Rapunzel, Cassandra, who turns out to be a fun and cool character who complements the two of them well.
The first 10 episodes of the series itself were alright and kept my interest enough to keep watching, but they didn’t have that thematic feeling of being a part of something larger and impacting the way Tangled Ever After did – besides the first episode, the mystical rocks and Rapunzel’s hair were hardly brought up again, which puzzled me a bit and made me think the series was just gonna turn into a typical kids show with episodic stories with fairly cliche plots that teach typical lessons. That’s not to say they were bad – I did enjoy most of them (my favorite of the first batch of episodes was definitely “Rapunzel’s Enemy” – unexpected chain of events leading to a great message at the end!) but they won’t win anyone over who doesn’t already like Tangled and its world/characters.
However, episode 11, “Pascal’s Story,” was when the series just started getting better and better. That was such a sweet, heartwarming episode that had the kind of character development and twinge of drama I was hoping to see more of. The next few episodes that followed were good as well, but episode 16, “Queen for a Day,” which was another mini-movie length episode like Ever After was (44 minutes long instead of 22) was when the series hit a higher level of quality that really impressed me. We finally returned to the overarching plot of the mystical rocks, along with more excellent songs, and a wealth of character development for Rapunzel as she struggles with making a very realistic moral decision that I didn’t see coming. Even minor characters like the king and queen had some good scenes, and what the writers did with Varian’s character was fantastic – instead of keeping him as a forgettable side character, they turned him into a real antagonist – a character we disagree with yet we sympathize with and understand his motives, which is again something I didn’t expect.
And from there until the final (for now) episode, “Secret of the Sun Drop” (another 44 minute one) the series really shines! From brilliant song numbers like “Set Yourself Free” and “Ready as I’ll Ever Be,” to heart-wrenching moments like Rapunzel watching in tears as her childhood home crumbles to the ground, to Varian’s sheer desperation as he tries to get the sun drop flower to free his father, to the final intense showdown of Rapunzel’s hair vs Varian’s robot – I was on the edge of my seat from pretty much episode 16 to 21. The only issue I had with these latter episodes was that I couldn’t understand why, after the events of “Queen for a Day,” Rapunzel didn’t go check on Varian after everything with the blizzard was over. She kept saying how bad she felt about turning him away yet it’s never explained why she couldn’t help him afterwards. There were a couple minor hints, like Nigel saying he’s now considered “dangerous,” indicating that maybe she’s wasn’t allowed to go to Old Corona to see him, and Rapunzel mentioned that she had “tried to find him” even though we never see when she did that. So yeah, not a strong enough plot hole to ruin the otherwise great writing of these latter episodes, but still something that should have been addressed.
There will be more episodes in the future as “Secret of the Sun Drop” ended with the definite cliffhanger of Rapunzel going on a journey to follow the mystical rocks, as well as the mysterious new character we catch a glimpse of in the end. I also really like the fact that it ended with Rapunzel NOT mending her relationship with Varian and instead we last see him getting locked up and seething with more anger and vengeance than before – it’s good that whatever impressionable children watching the show learn to understand that things don’t always end with forgiveness and happiness for all. As I said, what the writer’s chose to do with Varian was something I didn’t expect and really enhanced the show’s substance – again, a character like him is a great way to show children that someone can be pushed to do bad things but not because they’re inherently bad.
All in all, I think you have to have really liked Tangled to enjoy the series, and for some it still may not be worth it to get through the okay-but-not-as-good early episodes. But for someone like me who likes Tangled very much, but not enough to consider it one of my favorite movies or anything, I found the series worthwhile and think the brilliance of the latter episodes was worth watching through the first half.