Ultra Violet & Black Scorpion

3 out of 5

Created by: Dan Hernandez & Benji Samit

covers season 1

Disney knows their business by now. I’m sure parents knew the game years before Marvel came under the banner, but with that acquisition, and the way TV tastes / consumption methods have shifted in the intervening years, the Mouse House has evolved their model with a constantly-added-to roster of live action teen-pitched shows that take the That’s So Raven format and adapt it to the zeitgeist. With Marvel, and parents probably watching some MCU shows with younguns hanging around, the zeitgeist is heroes, and you can lowball the budget and plug in the school and family drama / hijinx template and probably do alright.

And that’s Ultra Violet & Black Scorpion, gaining some unique flavor by swapping US capes and cowls for Mexican luchadores – albeit superpowered ones – but otherwise hitting all the Disney beats: be an individual; play nice; love your parents; celebrate family; absolutely nothing challenging.

But it’s cute. Scarlett Estevez plays Violet, discoverer of an enchanted Luchadore mask that gifts her with superspeed, and brings her under the tutelage of her also mask-gifted Uncle Cruz (J.R. Villarreal), the duo becoming Ultra Violet and Black Scorpion, with the latter constantly having to teach the former about responsibility, while the former teaches the latter about loosening up and enjoying life and etc. Of course, Violet’s secret Luchadore identity – known only to Cruz and best friend Maya (Zelia Ankrum) causes her episodic troubles at home and at school, while the show also makes room for building out slim subplots at each locale. The comic-book stylization of the show is a bit over-the-top at times, and the effectiveness of the effects and choreography comes and goes, but the whole cast is pretty game at chewing the scenery and mugging for the camera, with Villarreal and Violet’s parents (played by Juan Alfonso and Marianna Burelli) quite a lot of fun. Estevez has a good sense of comic timing, but she’s not necessarily as capable of handling the dialogue when it’s of the more pantomimed tone in which the show often sits; when it’s more natural, though, she also adds to the fun.

There will be no surprises for parents, here, and probably not for kids, either. Very occasionally some more interesting elements / smarter dialogue will sneak out – I quite liked the direction they took with Violet’s brother (Brandon Rossel), for example, but otherwise, it’s cut-and-paste Disney, which is neither plus or minus, rather just an acceptable use of TV time if mindless between-Marvel moments are needed.