tek's rating: ½

The Intruder, on Cartoon Network
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Caution: spoilers!

This was the first of several "Total Immersion Events" (T.I.E.s) to air on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block, which is hosted by a CGI robot named TOM (voiced by Sonny Strait), the captain of a CGI spaceship called the Absolution. Normally, TOM just does basic interstitial hosting stuff, but this microseries put him in his own story. It consists of eight episodes (about 2 to 4 minutes each), the main six of which aired in a single week, from September 18 to 22, 2000 (there were two episodes on Friday). After that, there was a sweepstakes the audience could take part in (but I'm pretty sure I didn't). Later, there were two additional episodes in the microseries, on November 6 and 24. There was also an online game viewers could play that related to the series, but again, I didn't do that.

At the start of the series, TOM is having a conversation with the ship's artificial intelligence, SARA (Sally Timms). (It should be noted that this is the first time SARA existed as an actual character in the Toonami block. Previously, she was never heard to say more than "Hello" to TOM, at the start of each day's Toonami intro.) SARA suddenly interrupts the conversation to alert TOM to an intruder on the Absolution. So he goes to check it out. He finally finds the blob-like entity at the end of episode 4... and after discovering his laser blaster has no effect on it, it eats him.

In episode 5, SARA downloads TOM's memories into an upgraded robot body. (From now on, TOM will be voiced by Steve Blum. By the time I made my page for Toonami in 2014, I didn't even recall TOM ever having been voiced by anyone else; though at that time, I read about the voice change, which surprised me. Rewatching this microseries to write a review in 2019, it was interesting to hear his original voice for the first time in nearly two decades. I still didn't remember it, but when his voice changed in this episode, I barely noticed the difference. I have to assume I noticed it when I originally watched "The Intruder" in 2000, but looking back, it's kind of shocking to me to realize I didn't even know who Steve Blum [aka David Lucas] was, yet. It would be another whole year before I became a fan of his when Cowboy Bebop started airing on Adult Swim... and when I heard him in many other voice roles in all the years since then. But I digress.) At the end of the episode, TOM plants explosives to blow the starboard engine off the Absolution, thus leaving the intruder stranded (if not destroyed). Episode 6 is a short episode that's just about calling a space station a few light years away to say they'd be needing a new engine. It's then that they learn their current model is no longer being made, so they'll actually need two new engines. (Viewers would get to choose between a few different engine models.)

The partially crippled Absolution reaches the space station about a month later (hence the gap between episodes 6 and 7). It then takes about three weeks for the engine refit to be completed (hence the gap between episodes 7 and 8). And finally, the ship takes off. The end?

No. Because there would be a sequel in 2015 (the fifth TIE) and another in 2016 (the sixth TIE). However, I didn't see either of those, because I lost access to Cartoon Network in 2011. I could watch them online now, but I worry they might contain spoilers of some sort, for... any other developments I might have missed since Toonami's relaunch as part of Adult Swim in 2012 (after having ended its original run in 2008). But maybe someday I'll watch them....

micro-series index

Total Immersion Events
The Intruder * Lockdown * Trapped in Hyperspace * IGPX * The Intruder II * The Intruder III * Countdown * The Forge

Note: since I lost access to Cartoon Network in 2011, I haven't seen any of the TIEs that aired after Toonami's return in 2012.