You could probably make some kind of an argument about the sensibility of having vehicles that just transform into other, different vehicles, but I'm not going to make that argument because that'd be silly. Even I think the toys were kind of cool.
Instead, I'm going to argue from the perspective of an adult who didn't grow up with this cartoon as a child and therefore can see it for what it is, without rose-tinted glasses. No, it's not going to be complaining about being a weekly 30 minute toy commercial; on that regard, I can be incredibly forgiving. In fact, I tend to be quite forgiving towards most cartoons of the period. Out of all the ones that I have watched as an adult, regardless of whether I actually saw them as a child myself, there really only have been a select few that I can without a doubt say that I did not enjoy.
MASK is unfortunately one of them. The biggest issue with the series is not immediately obvious; if you were to watch maybe two or three random episodes then yes, it might be perfectly watchable. But having watched every single episode has made it painfully clear to me that this cartoon is without a doubt the most repetitive friggin' thing I have ever seen. Out of the 65 episodes of the first season, there are less than five that don't follow the exact same formula; VENOM is somewhere around the world on some kind of a treasure hunt, Matt Trakker just happens to be there at the same time (I think only in one episode they actually bother establishing why), he summons the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, they fight, good guys win, the end. And in the middle of it all, Scott and T-Bob get in trouble and make some puns.
You could argue that a lot of 80's cartoons are repetitive, but none of them have been quite as shamelessly plot-recycling as MASK. There is absolutely no backstory episode, no character-building, nothing. It's just the same exact story, repeated ad nauseum, just with a different location every time. And the lack of backstory is the worst part; if you know anything about these characters at all, I guarantee you that information did NOT come from the cartoon series. Even the whole aspect of VENOM being mercenaries barely, if ever, comes up. Hell, several times it seems the writers even forgot T-Bob's supposed to be a robot; in one episode he almost drowns (he doesn't breathe!) and in an end-of-episode PSA about not putting plastic bags on your head, HE is the one doing it (HE DOESN'T BREATHE!)
The worst part is that with the second season's racing-themed overhaul, you'd think the series would get some fresh ideas, but the treasure hunts don't even stop there - instead it just happens to be somewhere down the race track! The only thing that really struck out with the second season was that VENOM now got to do PSAs as well, which was absolutely hilarious because in the episodes they are constantly insulting each other and bickering, and suddenly they're demonstrating uncharacteristic concern for each others' wellbeing.
As I wrote this review, I found myself knocking more and more stars off my already low rating, but I don't think I can in good conscience take it all the way down to one; if there is one thing going on for this show that's actually good, it's the animation quality being pretty consistent. Unlike many other cartoons of the era which were animated by a large variety of animation studios, leading to significant differences in animation quality and even character models across episodes, MASK was produced by DiC who appears to have used only one so there isn't any of the usual off-model shenanigans you might find in something like Transformers.
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