Okay, I recently finished reading TDC, and started reading TDB. I didn't left any review on the story because I didn't want to turn that beautiful 1600 into an ugly 1601. Besides, this review is going to be extremely long (well, it's a long story after all). Let's start.
So, what could I say about this story? it managed to win my love despite the fact that I never, ever watched TDI (it never aired on Spain, but I'm trying to find subtitled episodes). Yes, I know it's weird. But hey Kobold, you can see this as an accomplishment. Since I never watched TDI, I was a bit lost at first, since I didn't knew any of the characters, or the setting or anything (thanks god for the TDI wiki, I got all the information I needed from there).
I heard many people saying how Ezekiel (and other characters) were Mary Sues, how TKN was playing favorites, and many other unfriendly criticism. I didn't let this to alter my opinion of the story while I was reading it, but I did bear it in my mind. And yes, despite Ezekiel left in bad terms with almost everyone in the first season, he managed to redeem himself, befriend a lot of people and get a girlfriend (Heather, no less!). Now, despite this looks like TKN playing favorites and making things easier for his pet character, let's take a closer look, shall we?
Let's start with friends. Tyler is the first person Ezekiel befriends. But it's not that Tyler walks up to Ezekiel and says "hey yo, let's be best buddies!". When Ezekiel refused to compete in the talent show, Courtney trahsed him, and in the process, also trahsed Tyler, so it was obvious for Zeke and Tyler to join against the common enemy. That set the base for the future frienship between the two, and TKN only had to work from there. He also befriends Bridgette and Izzy, and their relationship takes a huge chunk of the story, but hey, these two girls are very friendly towards everybody to begin with.
Now let's go to the romance. How Ezekiel managed to charm Heather, the TDI's favorite frost queen? Well, first of all, neither of them were interested in each other, but after people began to tease Heather about her liking Ezekiel, it became more and more evident that she liked him, but she refused to admit those feelings. Now, her bonding sometimes comes from very contrieved coincidences (like how they fell through a hole during the scavenger hunt), but it never felt forced. Maybe Heather developed feelings for him because he treated her like a human being, and was willing to do nice things for her.
The other two main characters, Bridgette and Izzy, are also wonderfully developed, even if some of them didn't had the chance due to being eliminated early:
Like TKN said, Izzy was there mostly to provide humor, by either making awesome and near impossible stunts, sharing inverosimile stories, acting wild and crazy and well, being Izzy. Still, there are some rare moments in which Izzy is either sad or thoughtful, adding some depth to her character. Aside from Ezekiel and Owen, Izzy also befriends Katie.
Despite her huge part, Bridgette is closer to being a supporter character rather than main, since her character revolved most of the time around Ezekiel. She's mostly a provider of advice and support, but she also get her own development, like trying to cope with Geoff's early elimination, her feud with Eva or facing her phobia.
Even if Ezekiel, Bridgette and Izzy are the main characters, the other characters get their own share of development too:
Courtney was revenge driven, and wanted to pay Harold back for rigging the votes that got her eliminated the first season. By doing so, she formed an alliance with Heather and Duncan. Her quest for revenge gets the best of her, becoming more and more emotionally unstable as time goes by, reaching its peak when she almost kills him by poisoning food with something Harold is deadly allergic too, and finally exploded when Katie was eliminated instead of Harold. All the hate and anger that she's been bottling up made her realize of what she did become, not even being able to look at herself in the mirror. Her reconciliation with Harold was one of the most beautiful moments of the whole story, and a good end if it wasn't for the fact that the show was still far from end. Her elimination came in the right moment, when she couldn't add anything more to the story.
Tyler also has its own story. When he comes to the isle, he's depressed around something, not caring one inch about the contest. He finally got better when his girlfriend Lindsay convinced to him share with her what was troubling him, and then she delivered a beautiful speech that snapped the jock out of his depression. Another great highlight, also showing that Lindsay, despite not being too bright isn't just a pretty face with a big bust.
Eva, one of the most underused and neglected characterd from the TD canon is brought here to her fullest potential. Being angry at everyone for voting her off so early on TDI, Eva slowly learns that she can't constantly intimidate and threaten her teammates on a daily basis, and thus, she tries to her best not only while competing, but also in her relationship with the rest of the contestants. When she was eliminated, she only blamed herself for not being good enough, and had a very dignified goodbye.
The two BFFFL, Katie and Sadie, two of the most hated TDI characters, had a decent role in this story. Well, Katie more than Sadie due to the latter's early elimination. Katie formed a frienship with Izzy and started a relationship with Noah, both of which expand her character from being just a cute sqealing girl.
Even if Justin wasn't too developed due to the fact that he only started speaking after he got eliminated, he also expressed that he'll like people to like him for his personality, aside for his body.
Now, there are some characters I wasn't too happy with:
First is Cody. I like him, but all what he did was to be in the middle of love triangles. In the first half of TDC, he tries to get over his feelings for Gwen, while in the second he pinnes for Beth's love against Justin. I'd wish that TKN would spend less time with love triangles and more time developing his frienships.
Also, I think that Gwen's character was really wasted. She made it to the top seven, yet all she did was to be Trent's girlfriend (at least, until he was voted off), and being angry at Courtney and Heather. I got the impression that she was there but didn't do anything meaningful besides having some frienship moments with Bridgette. I wish she was voted off instead of Lindsay. At least Lindsay is funny.
Despite having enough time to develop before being voted off, DJ was probably the least used character. But hey, when having such a large cast, somebody is going to be left in the shadows. Besides, he wasn't involved in any of the conflicts of the story, so guess that this was inevitable.
Also, the challenges were great, funny and enjoyable, mostly due to the great variety of them. The fact that every challenge had new teams was a really clever idea, since it forced the campers to change their group dymanics all the time, thus making the challenges more...challenging. The confessionals provided a great dose of laughs.
All in all, the story was great, with excellent storytelling, an almost flawless development for many characters, nice and funny challenges, and a satisfying conclusion. Oh, and Chris getting hurt a lot.
Now, what I expect(or better said, want) to see in Total Drama Battlegrounds:
- The characters who were voted off early in Comeback, such as Lindsay, Sadie, Geoff, Trent, Leshawna and others lasting more this time, and thus having more time to develop.
- Heather and Courtney. They also need to last much longer. They turned a new leaf, and their search for redemption is something that TKN HAS to developt to it's fullest. They could form new frienships, with the new contestants, maybe? Or they could become the key in fighting the new villains (since now it's imposible for any of the 22 veterans to be villains anymore)
- On the other hand, characters who lasted the most being voted off early, or at least when it's obvious that they can't add anything to story anymore(namely Cody and Gwen), so they can make room to other characters in need of development.
- Romance! Heathekiel just started, and it screams to be developed, which it will be good for both halves of the couple, especially Heather. Also, I'd like to see some Tyler/Lindsay and Geoff/Bridgette that isn't making out all the time.
- Bigger, funnier and better challenges!
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this drag. If you're interested, I'll post a review of Battlegrounds once I'm done with it.