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Ben 10

Entry updated 1 January 2024. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2005-2008; vt Classic Ben 10). Cartoon Network Studios. Created by Man of Action. Directed by Sebastian Montes, Alex Soto and Scooter Tidwell. Writers include Marty Isenberg, Greg Klein and Tom Pugsley. Voice cast includes Steve Blum, Paul Eiding, Dave Fennoy, Robert David Hall, Meagan Smith and Tara Strong. 49 22-minute episodes, nine shorts and a 71-minute television film.

Ten-year-old Ben Tennyson (Strong) is delighted at the prospect of joining grandpa Max (Eiding) on a two month summer vacation in his camper van, until he learns his cousin Gwen (Smith) is accompanying them: she is equally unhappy and there is much bickering. Meanwhile the Alien Vilgax (Blum) is seeking the Omnitrix and attacks the Spaceship carrying it – but it is ejected and flies to Earth, landing in the woods where Ben is sulking after a spat with Gwen. The Omnitrix, which resembles a bulky watch, leaps onto Ben's wrist as he reaches to pick it up. As he fiddles with it, attempting removal, he turns into a creature of flames. Ben finds he can turn into ten different Superpowered alien species using the device (see Shapeshifters); though usually sounding like an adult when transformed, he retains the immaturity of a 10 year old. Max and Gwen, after the initial surprise, accept the situation; with their assistance Ben fights crime (see Superheroes); he is initially hindered by the transformations only being short-term, but this is eventually resolved.

Ben meets Tetrax (Fennoy) – who once worked for Vilgax, but now opposes him; he explains that the device "utilizes alien DNA, which binds to the host's own genetic structure" (see Genetic Engineering), then goes on to criticize Ben's use of it: no strategy, relying on brute strength – "Do you pause to consider your actions at all?" – dismissively adding, "You are an impulsive annoyance." But when Ben shows the ability to learn, he allows him to keep the Omnitrix. Ben fights foes from Earth and space, the latter sometimes sent by Vilgax, who wants to create an army of Omnitrix-wearing soldiers to conquer the universe (see Imperialism). The DNA of one of Ben's alien forms, Ghostfreak, was taken from the evil Zs'skayr (Blum): some of their consciousness survived, causing Ben problems whilst in that form, and Zs'skayr eventually manages to free himself, becoming one of the series' main Villains.

Adventures include a Mad Scientist who mutates animals into Monsters; Identity Exchange; entering a Videogame; being trapped in a dream world (a kind of Dream Hacking); aliens impersonating the people they have eaten; evil Robots; and finding the Fountain of Youth (see Rejuvenation). A couple of episodes are set in the future but are non-canon. When Ben is kidnapped by Vilgax it is revealed that Max has fought him before, as part of a team which dealt with unusual threats to Earth – and later we learn the Omnitrix was intended for him: the sender comments, "You didn't believe that I would purposely send the most powerful device in the universe to a child, did you?" Gwen also begins to show an affinity for Magic, whilst Ben discovers there are further alien forms he can change into. At the end of season 4 the vacation ends: Ben goes back to school and finds Gwen has been transferred there too.

The Television film The Secret of the Omnitrix (2007) is a Space Opera. The Omnitrix's self-destruct system is initiated, which could destroy the universe. Tetrax takes Ben across space to find the only person who can fix it: its creator, the Scientist Azmuth (Hall). Gwen stows away on Tetrax's spaceship to accompany them. Azmuth is eventually located, but turns out to be old and cranky: he built the Omnitrix to create greater understanding between species and is upset by its use as a Weapon. However, Vilgax has been pursuing Ben and now attacks, which persuades Azmuth to repair it.

Villains are often prone to unsolicited statements of their intentions and motives; whilst Ben – and sometimes Gwen – can be irritating, but this is used to allow a little character development. Ben 10 was a good series with action, Humour and nice animation – particularly in The Secret of the Omnitrix (2007). Subsequently, there were four more tv series – Ben 10: Alien Force (2008-2009, 46 episodes), which is set five years later; Ben 10: Ultimate Alien (2010-2011, 52 episodes); Ben 10: Omniverse (2012-2014, 80 episodes); and Ben 10 (2016-2021, 166 episodes plus 3 specials). There have been four more films: two live action – Ben 10: Race Against Time (2007, vt Ben 10: The Movie) and Ben 10: Alien Swarm (2009) – and two animated: Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens (2012) and Ben 10 Versus the Universe: The Movie (2020), the former being CGI. Ben 10 is one of the higher-grossing media franchises, with an estimated revenue of $7.85 billion as of 2016. [SP]


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