Tak & the Power of Juju



8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31

This CG-animated series (Nickelodeon's first Nicktoon produced in-house at its Burbank animation studio mecca) is sort of what Disney's "The Jungle Book" might have looked like if similar computerized technology had been available 40 years ago. It's slick, clean and visually flawless, looking truly state-of-the-art in its movement and graphic presentation. But Pixar it is simply not.

It's no secret that what makes the "Toy Story" franchise, "Finding Nemo" and "Ratatouille" and their ilk so brilliant is the writing at least as much as the technical execution, and on that score "Tak & the Power of Juju" is exceedingly ordinary. Then again, what were we to expect from a series spun from a video game, which is what we have here.

The "Tak" game was introduced in 2003 and shipped more than 3 million units worldwide. There have been two sequels as well, and now this show.

The Tak of the series is very much Mowgli-inspired, if slightly older. He's a teen jungle dude (voiced by Hal Sparks) who hangs with his fellow villagers in a place unfortunately called Pupununu. He has a bond with these mystical beings called the Jujus who enable Tak to access amazing magical powers. Among his motley cast are a guy named Lok (voiced by Patrick Warburton).

During the first of two kickoff half-hours (each featuring a pair of unconnected shorts), Tak and a few of his pals brave the wrath of the fearsome and destructive Woodie creatures during their annual jungle rampage in one story. In the second, Tak struggles to make amends after inadvertently getting his friend banished from the tribe. The storytelling is adequate rather than compelling, and the characters often border on annoying. But it's fun to look at, in that video game kinda way.