Ratings and market share for the NFL are enormous in the United States. Nothing else even comes close. How do you keep your behemoth of a brand growing when you already dominate the marketplace? The same way Disney, McDonald’s, cigarettes and alcohol did; you recruit kids with cartoons.
(Just kidding, I don’t think football is as bad for children as Disney, McDonalds, smoking and boozing are for them. But you get my point.)
In its second season, NFL Rush Zone is one of the most batsh*t insane cartoons around today. Half-serious, half-camp, take everything you know about the Force, Jor-El, Spiderman, robots, the INDIAN JONES AND KINGDOM THE CRYSTAL SKULL, Simpson/Bruckheimer guitar solos, wormholes, NFL stats then mix them in a blender with a generous heaping of teamwork and you’ve get this season’s incarnation of NFL Rush Zone: Season of the Guardians on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons.
Animated Michael Irvin and Rich Eisen banter? Yes, it’s got that too. Bad guys named Sudden Death and Wild Card? Absolutely. A robot called Drop Kick who may not always approve of his boss Wild Card’s plans? Of course. A species of alien humanoids who brought football to this planet that look like a breeding experiment between NFL mascots and Oompa-Loompas? Those are the Rusherz, the ones who brought the gift of football to Earth.
Told you it was insane, and we haven’t even gotten to the magic footballs called Megacores from which each NFL team pulls its energy from on game days, or the shields which provide our heroes Ish and Ash with the “strength of Calvin Johnson and the rest of the Detroit Lions” to transfer into Guardians.
Does it even need a plot with all of this crazy? Not really, but here’s the rundown.
Season of the Guardians picks up where the first season left off, but don’t worry if you missed the previous 22 episodes, it’s easy to pick up. Ish, a young quarterback and Chargers fan who held off the evil Sudden Death last year as the first and only Guardian, has moved to Cleveland as his parents have taken jobs working at the Football Hall of Fame. He’s already made a few other football loving friends, Tua, Marty and Troy when his old friend Ashley (Ash for short) comes to visit him in Cleveland for Thanksgiving. Apparently last season, she fell under the evil spell of Sudden Death and she feels bad that she almost betrayed him and football, but all is forgiven, especially now that she’s developed a great arm in addition to her kicking skills as she readies herself for the punt, pass and kick competition.
Just as Ish and Ash wrap up their game of football, Wild Card shows up to challenge Ish who has not yet completely developed his powers. Ish needs to consult with his mentor OT (the Jor-El of the story) in the secret Guardian lair underneith the HOF on who this Wild Card is and how they can stop them, but not before attempting to give Ash the slip as this is dangerous work. Of course, Ash succeeds in following him. OT explains that Wild Card is after the teams Megacores, special footballs that contain all the history, characteristics and strength of each NFL franchise. They are normally locked up, but they need to come out on game days so the players can draw on the Megacore strength. Wild Card wants all 32 Megacores for himself so he can destroy them and remove football from the planet.
During the early Texans-Lions game, Wild Card sends a Blitzbot to steal the Lions’ Megacore, but is foiled when Guardian Ish, Calvin Johnson and Ash manage to break apart the bot. Ash proves her strength and is allowed to become a Guardian in training and the Lions are saved, but the whole ordeal was just a ruse to distract from the real action, Drop Kick stealing the Houston Texans’ Megacore, making not only the team sick, but all of the Houston Texans fans too.
Ash with her new shield and Ish are sent through the bases wormhole to Dallas, where one of Wild Card’s Blitzbots is already causing havoc as it attempts to steal the Cowboys’ Megacore.
Traveling through the wormhole, Ish and Ash are given a history of the Cowboys and their strengths as a sort of a briefing on how they can channel their NFL Guardian powers and football skills into saving DeMarcus Ware and the rest of the team.
Ish and Ash triumph, but before the episode ends Wild Card confronts the new Guardian Ash before deciding to battle her on another day when he has more strength. (And in a slightly disturbing moment, Wild Card hits on Ash with a well-delivered line of, “Fiesty. I like that.”)
Season of the Guardians is setting up the rest of the gang to also enter Guardian training to battle the ever stronger Wild Card and his army of Blitzbots and protect football and all of mankind, two things so powerfully linked together that only a small select band of football savvy kids can save them.
The show is weird and funny in that ludicrous nonsensical way that only children’s cartoons can get away with. I found myself bouncing up and down with laughter during every scene shared by Wild Card and Drop Kick, because the idea of stealing magical footballs to destroy football is just silly and because I cannot wait to see why it is Wild Card wants to remove the scourge of the NFL from Earth. Was he cut from the Seattle Seahawks? Did he poop his pants at the combine? Is he trying to save the human race from concussions? Was he sent by the Premier League, or worse, Major League Baseball?
If you want to catch up on this season’s first two episodes, they’re available on Nicktoons. Theme song and video available on NFLRushZone.com. NFL Rush Zone: Season of the Guardians airs Fridays at 9 PM Eastern and Pacific on Nicktoons.