December 05, 2020

BEN 10 (2005)

 

BEN 10 (2005)
(Cartoon Network, December 27, 2005-April 15, 2008)

 

Cartoon Network Studios

 

MAIN CAST:

Richard McGonagle – Four Arms, Exo-Skull, various

 

 

            Ben 10 (retroactively known as Ben 10 Classic following the debut of the series reboot in 2016) was the first entry in what would become an ongoing media franchise. Created by Man of Action—a collective of comic book writers Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly and Steven T. Seagle—the premise of the series took inspiration from DC ComicsDial H for Hero.  10-year-old Ben Tennyson (Tara Strong) embarked on a cross-country road trip with his cousin Gwen (Meagan Smith) and Grandpa Max (Paul Eiding) in his old RV affectionally dubbed the “Rust Bucket”. He stumbled across an alien device known as the Omnitrix, which bonded to Ben and gave him the ability to call up several different alien forms, each with their own unique abilities. As a result, Ben got to play superhero in a new world of aliens, magicians, mutants and the supernatural.

Ben and Gwen.

            Ben was a typical 10-year-old boy: headstrong, immature and cocky, however with a good heart and capable of being resourceful, intelligent and shrewd when needed. His brash behavior often put him at odds with Gwen, who was very intelligent and tech-savvy and tried to be the level-headed one of the pair. As the series progressed, she became more than Ben’s support when she was given one of the mystical Charms of Bezel by Ben, granting her supernaturally good luck and allowing her to become the costumed heroine Lucky Girl. She also had an aptitude for magic and would slowly grow into using it regularly. Before Gwen was made Ben’s cousin, she was originally intended to be a classmate and close friend who didn’t join him on the road trip.

Grandpa Max: along for the ride.

            As for Grandpa Max, the weirdness that came to follow him and his family was actually not so unusual for him. It would come to be revealed that he was once a Plumber. No, not the kind that worked with pipes—they were members of a secret law-enforcement agency created by the American Founding Fathers to “plug the leaks” caused by the presence of aliens, monsters and the supernatural and keep the general populace protected and unaware of such things. His experiences and contacts became a great help to Ben on various missions, and the Rust Bucket was outfitted with a variety of secret Plumber equipment.

Ben with (from left top) Ghostfreak, Heatblast, Ripjaw, Wildmutt, Diamondhead, Grey Matter, Four Arms, Upgrade, XLR8 and Stinkfly.


The Omnitrix allowed Ben to transform into 10 different aliens at a time, changing his physical form and abilities in the process while keeping his mind intact (for the most part). Originally, the concept would have been closer to that of Dial H with Ben transforming into various human-looking super heroic characters until they were changed to be aliens. Among the initial alien selections was Four Arms (the first alien to be animation-tested, voiced by Richard McGonagle), a humanoid Tetramand from the planet Khoros with four arms (as the name implies) and super strength; Grey Matter (Richard Steven Horvitz), a bipedal frog-like Galvan from Galvan Prime that gave super intellect as well as agility, flexibility, wall-climbing and underwater breathing; Diamondhead (Jim Ward), a crystalline humanoid Petrosapien from Petropia that could generate and utilize various crystal structures; Heatblast (Steve Blum), a magma-like humanoid Pyronite from Pyros capable of generating fire and flight; Wildmutt (Dee Bradley Baker), a dog-like Vulpimancer from Vulpin capable of tracking through enhanced senses and possessing sharp claws; XLR8 (Ward), a Velociraptor-like Kineceleran from Kinet capable of super speed; Stinkfly (Baker), an insect-like Lepidopterran from Lepidopterra who could fly, throw slime and generate a noxious gas; Ripjaws (Fred Tatasciore), a Piscciss Volann from Piscciss that possessed the combined abilities and traits similar to that of an alligator, eel, anglerfish and shark; Upgrade (Strong), a Galvanic Mechamorph from Galvan B made up of nanites that allowed for a malleable body as well as technological possession, enhancement and repair; and Ghostfreak (Blum), a ghost-like Ectonurite from Anur Phaetos who could phase though solid objects, go invisible, disrupt electricity, consume life forces and souls, or possess bodies. Utilizing Ghostfreak always made Ben uneasy, and rightfully so as Ghostfreak would become an entity unto himself and escape from the Omnitrix; returning to battle ben. This fulfilled the producers’ desire to have a villain in the Omnitrix.


Ben joined by new alien forms (from bottom left) Upchuck, Ditto, Cannonbolt and Wildvine.

As the series progressed, Ben gained access to new alien forms; typically, as a situation called for their unique abilities. The first was Cannonbolt (Tatasciore), who was intended to be among the original 10 until he was replaced with Ghostfreak. Cannonbolt was a hulking Arburian Pelarota from Arburia that could curl up into a ball like an armadillo, using his armored plating offensively by rolling at great speeds. Other new forms included Wildvine (Ward), a humanoid-plant Florauna from Flors Verdance that could grow, extend vine-like tentacles, change colors for camouflage and merge with plant life, as well as grow fruit-like pods containing a variety of substances; Benwolf (Strong), a werewolf-like Loboan from Luna Lobo that not only possessed the attributes of a humanoid wolf, but could emit a powerful ultrasonic howl; Benmummy (Richard Green), an Egyptian mummy-like Thep Khufan from Anur Khufos that could reshape his bandage-like body at will and generate more bandages for various uses, as well as regenerate any damage; Benvicktor (Michael Dorn), a Frankenstein’s monster-like Transylian from Anur Transyl that could generate and manipulate lightning and electromagnetism from the conductor coils on his back; Upchuck (Dave Wittenberg), a Gourmand from Peptos XI that had three strong adhesive tongues and could eat virtually any form of matter that could be converted into explosive balls of liquid, as well as use his breath to fly; Ditto (Rob Paulsen), a child-sized Splixson from Hathor who could split into an unlimited amount of duplicates that acted independently of each other; Eye Guy (Baker), a humanoid Opticoid from Sightra whose body was covered in eyes that could fire energy beams whose intensity could be enhanced by the various eyes merging together on his body; and Way Big (Tatasciore), a giant To’kustar from Cosmic Storms with combat skills and the ability to shoot cosmic rays. Two running gags featured Ben either selecting the wrong alien for a task because he considered his choice cooler, or the Omnitrix changing Ben into the alien he didn’t want at a particular time.

Vilgax.

            There were several recurring villains in the series. The primary one was Vilgax (Blum), a Chimera Sui Generis warlord who had dealings with Max during his Plumber days. Vilgax wanted to acquire the Omnitrix to make his own transforming super army. After being seriously injured, Vilgax was placed in a regeneration chamber that made him cybernetically enhanced and more than a match for Ben’s initial aliens.

Kevin's mutated form.

            Next was Kevin Levin (Michael Reisz & Charlie Schlatter). He was an 11-year-old mutant with the ability to absorb energy. Doing so from the Omnitrix also gave him the ability to assume duplicates of Ben’s alien forms. His rivalry with Ben began when Ben refused to join him as a partner in a life of crime. Eventually, Kevin’s powers made his DNA unstable and he mutated into an amalgamation of all the alien forms, making him hate Ben even more.

The Forever Knights.

            The Forever Knights were a British paramilitary organization that began in the Middle Ages. Their original intent, as prescribed by their founder, Sir George (Peter Renaday), was to protect the Earth from Dagon (John DiMaggio): an extra-dimensional demonic entity, by any means necessary. The Knights had split into different factions over the centuries, with one having expanded Sir George’s mission to include all unnatural beings not originally from the planet. Another faction was led by Driscoll (Richard Doyle), a former Plumber who stole alien technology for his own benefit, and sought to rule the world.

Dr. Animo and one of his mutated projects.

            Dr. Aloysius James Animo (Dwight Schultz) was a rising veterinary scientist who was discovered performing twisted genetic experiments on animals. Driven insane by being shunned by his colleagues, he went underground to perfect his methods. He was able to control animals, revive deceased ones, or create all-new twisted mutations.

Charmcaster and Hex.

            Finally, there was Hex (Khary Payton); a self-proclaimed master magician that wanted to use his powers to take over the world. His powers were once enhanced by the Charms of Bezel. He was often accompanied and assisted by his niece, Charmcaster (Kari Wahlgren), who developed a rivalry with Gwen due to their shared magical aptitude. Charmcaster only worked with her uncle so that she could steal any power he acquired for herself.

The Omnitrix fuses to Ben's arm.

            Ben 10 debuted on Cartoon Network on December 27, 2005 during their Sneak Peek Week before formally beginning on January 14th. The series was written by Man of Action with Thomas Pugsley, Greg Klein, Marsha Griffin, Adam Beechen, Kevin Hopps, Sean Jara, Marty Isenberg, Jeff Hare, Greg Weisman, James Phillips, Michael Jelenic, Eugene Son and Amy Wolfram, with Puglsey and Klein serving as story editors. The series’ theme was written by Andy Sturmer, who composed the rest of the series’ score, and performed by Mz. Moxy over a title sequence animated by Renegade Animation. That sequence would be updated to replace Ghostfreak with Cannonbolt once his betrayal occurred. It was also designed to let the audience know that the show was going to be fun as well as full of action. Animation for the show proper was handled by Sunmin Image Pictures, Dong Woo Animation and Lotto Animation, Inc. The original characters were designed by Dave “Cornelius” Johnson with additional designs by Thomas Perkins, Phil Bourassa, Dave Williams and Virginia Hawes. Steven E. Gordon worked on initial concepts for the show, which featured Ben with red hair instead of brown along with the superhero transformations.

Eye Guy about to deliver an eyeful.

            Ben 10 ran for four seasons, being nominated for a Gold Reel Award and two Daytime Emmys, winning one. While the series was still popular and doing well in the ratings, Cartoon Network wanted to shake things up a bit and revamp the show. The network tapped Glen Murakami and Dwayne McDuffie to develop the sequel series, Ben 10: Alien Force, set five years after the original. It would be the first of several sequel spin-offs to come.


During production of the final season, the franchise’s first movie spin-off was produced: Secret of the Omnitrix. The film introduced the creator of the Omnitrix, Azmuth (Robert David Hall), a Galvan like Grey Matter. The Tennysons had to journey to find Azmuth to stop the Omnitrix from self-destructing. The film was meant to serve as the official final episode of the series, despite airing before the final six episodes of the series did. This was revealed during the special “Ben 10 Week” that aired in April of 2008. The show’s actual final episode, “Goodbye and Good Riddance”, was declared a non-canonical what if story by pop-up trivia featured in one version of Secret. That version was also one of four, as three others were made depicting a different alien used at the beginning of the film: red has Heatblast (and is the original), blue has XLR8 and gold has Eye Guy. Secrets was later broken up into three episodes for future re-airings. A trailer for Secret was aired alongside another Cartoon Network film, Billy & Mandy: Wrath of the Spider Queen.


            A second film, Race Against Time, was set after the events of the series and was done in live-action. Written by Mitch Watson from a story by Pugsley and Klein and directed by Alex Winter of Bill & Ted fame, Ben (Graham Phillips), Gwen (Haley Ramm) and Max (Lee Majors) were adjusting to normal life back in Bellwood when a rapidly aging alien foe, Eon (Christien Anholt), escaped from Plumber captivity and threatened to destroy the town. Heatblast (David Franklin), Diamondhead (Daran Norris), Grey Matter (Carlos Alazraqui) and Wildmutt (Baker) were the only transformations featured. Debuting on Cartoon Network on November 21, 2007, the film was largely negatively received as it compared poorly to the show on which it was based. Initially, Race was canon to the series proper but was relegated to an alternate timeline once Alien Force revisited the future first seen in Ben 10, where an older and more experienced Ben (Tatasciore) was a revered hero with access to over 10,000 alien forms.


            In 2012, four years after the series had ended, Cartoon Network commissioned a third movie based on Ben 10. Destroy All Aliens was written by Isenberg and directed by Victor Cook, and was the first collaboration between Cartoon Network Asia and Cartoon Network Studios, as well as being the first CG movie for the network and the franchise. Set a year after Secret, the film saw Ben being pursued by alien bounty hunters at a time when his Omnitrix was malfunctioning and simply cycled through his alien forms when it timed out rather than returning him to normal. The original voice cast reprised all of their roles. Destroy debuted on March 11 in Asia and March 23 in the United States to a positive audience reception. It went on to win an Asian Television Award and a ProMax Award.


            
Bandai was the official toy partner of the series, producing a line of action figures and playsets as well as roleplay toys such as an Omnitrix and transforming alien arm. Semi-Logic Entertainment produced the first Ben 10 video game in 2006 for the short-lived HyperScan console by Mattel; the second ever game for the system. The game made use of the HyperScan’s card-read feature to transform Ben into his original alien forms or get help from Gwen and Max. The second and final game, Protector of Earth, was published in 2007 by D3 Publisher and produced by High Voltage Software for home consoles and 1st Playable Productions for the Nintendo DS. The console version was a 3-D action platformer that featured a co-op mode (with both players playing as Ben) and five aliens: Heatblast, Four Arms, XLR8, Cannonbolt and Wildvine. The DS version was a 2.5D side-scrolling beat ‘em up that utilized the touch screen to activate the Omnitrix and select an alien form. The DS also allowed the player to play as Gwen or use Upchuck via cheat codes. Egmont Books, Ltd. published four story books adapting two episodes each, while DC Comics published new adventures in various issues of Cartoon Network Action Pack!; an anthology series that rotated between the network’s various programs each issue. IDW Publishing would later reprint some of those stories in the first two volumes of Ben 10 Classics in 2013 and 2014. FusionFall: Worlds Collide, a manga prequel to the MMORPG Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall which united a selection of past and present network stars, utilized the characters as seen in Ben 10 rather than the sequel depictions used in the actual game.

The season 2 DVD.

            Warner Bros. Home Video released the complete series to DVD in four volume sets between 2007 and 2008. Two compilation DVDs were also released: The Hero Collection: Four Arms in 2012, featuring four Four Arms-centric episodes, and Ben 10 and Friends was released in 2014 containing the first six and 11th episodes of the third season. Secret of the Omnitrix was released exclusively to Walmart stores in 2008; however only the season 4 DVD contains the alternate versions of the film. Race Against Time was also out in 2008, but with a much wider release. Destroy All Aliens would be released in Region 4 first in 2012 by Madman Entertainment, with a Region 2 release from Warners a few months later and a Region 1 release finally coming in 2013. The films, as well as the second live-action film Alien Swarm, was collected in the set 4 Kid Favorites: Ben 10 Movies in 2014.

                  


EPISODE GUIDE:

Season 1:

“And Then There Were 10” (12/27/05) – On his summer road trip, Ben discovers a device that allows him to transform into 10 aliens and decides to become a superhero.

 

“Washington B.C.” (1/14/06) – Ben faces off against Dr. Animo, who can mutate living animals or resurrect dead ones.

 

“The Krakken” (1/21/06) – A fishing trip turns into a hunt for a mysterious lake monster.

 

“Permanent Retirement” (1/28/06) – Ben and Max go to visit their Aunt Vera at a retirement home only to learn shapeshifting aliens are kidnapping the residents for food.

 

“Hunted” (2/4/06) – Vilgax hires three bounty hunters to get the Omnitrix from Ben just as the Rust Bucket breaks down outside of a ghost town.

 

“Tourist Trap” (2/11/06) – A practical joke causes Ben to accidentally release small electrical creatures that could multiply and destroy the town.

 

“Kevin 11” (2/18/06) – Energy-absorber Kevin Levin uses his friendship with Ben in order to absorb the Omnitrix’s energy for his revenge against those who wronged him.

 

“The Alliance” (2/25/06) – When a thief hurts Max, Ben realizes the Omnitrix will continually put him and Gwen in danger.

 

“Last Laugh” (3/4/06) – Ben fights his fear of clowns to stop Zombozo from draining people’s souls through laughter.

 

“Lucky Girl” (3/11/06) – While dealing with sorcerer Hex, Ben gives Gwen one of the charms he dropped which allows her to become the luck-bending hero Lucky Girl.

 

“A Small Problem” (3/18/06) – Ben is captured by an alien enthusiast while stuck as Grey Matter and both end up having to work together to escape from the Forever Knights.

 

“Side Effects” (3/25/06) – While a councilwoman is targeted by a man who can control insects, Ben’s cold plays havoc with his alien forms.

 

“Secrets” (4/1/06) – Vilgax decides to go after Ben himself and captures him on his spaceship.

 

Season 2:

“Truth” (4/29/06) – Max reveals he used to be an alien-hunting federal agent and discovers his old partner has been freeing aliens they’ve captured as part of a scam to make money.

 

“The Big Tick” (5/6/06) – Ben gains a new alien form in time to deal with an alien that’s impervious to all his original ones.

 

“Framed” (5/13/06) – Ben discovers Kevin has gained the ability to change himself into Ben’s alien forms and has used them to frame Ben in San Francisco.

 

“Gwen 10” (5/20/06) – Ben wakes up in a world where Gwen is the one who found the Omnitrix.

 

“Grudge Match” (5/27/06) – Ben and Kevin are abducted by an alien and forced to compete together in a gladiator match.

 

“The Galactic Enforcers” (6/3/06) – Ben teams up with alien superheroes to stop a bomb threat, but the heroes find themselves at odds more than being cooperative.

 

“Camp Fear” (6/17/06) – The Tennysons return a camper to his camp only to find it under siege by fungal mutants.

 

“Ultimate Weapon” (6/24/06) – The Tennysons race to claim a found mask that would lead to a powerful weapon, but the Forever Knights want it as well.

 

“Tough Luck” (7/1/06) – Gwen finds the Keystone of Bezel which enhances all of her natural abilities while Hex is freed from prison by his niece, Charmcaster.

 

“They Lurk Below” (7/8/06) – The Tennysons visit an underwater resort run by an old friend of Max’s where Ben, Gwen and his grandson discover an alien plot that could destroy the place.

 

“Ghostfreaked Out” (7/15/06) – Ben’s nightmares about Ghostfreak come true when Ghostfreak asserts himself out of the Omnitrix and plots to possesses ben in order to control it.

 

“Dr. Animo and the Mutant Ray” (8/26/06) – Ben breaks the Omnitrix causing him to become merged versions of the aliens and giving Dr. Animo the parts he needs to complete his Transmodulator.

 

“Back with a Vengeance” (10/28/06) – Ben accidentally unlocks the ability to change into any alien he wants while Kevin teams up with Vilgax.

 

Season 3:

“Ben 10,000” (11/25/06) – Gwen is kidnapped by her future self and Ben follows them into the future, where he meets himself as a world-renowned hero with access to 10,000 alien forms.

 

“Midnight Madness” (12/2/06) – Gwen volunteers Ben to be hypnotized by Sublimino, not knowing he uses his victims to commit crimes for him.

 

“A Change of Face” (12/9/06) – Charmcaster attempts to switch bodies with Ben to control the Omnitrix but ends up switching with Gwen instead.

 

“Merry Christmas” (12/23/06) – The Tennysons visit a cursed Christmas village where the person in charge kidnaps Max, believing he’s Santa.

 

“Benwolf” (1/20/07) – While visiting a Navajo village, Ben is attacked by a werewolf whose scratch seems to be changing him into a wolf himself.

 

“Game Over” (1/27/07) – Ben and Gwen get themselves zapped into a video game and must collect the exit token before the game’s villain does.

 

“Super Alien Hero Buddy Adventures” (2/24/07) – Ben is angry when a show ripping off his forms replaces his favorite one, whose star seems to always be around strange happenings at the studio.

 

“Under Wraps” (3/10/07) – Max takes Ben and Gwen to a farm to teach them the value of hard work, which is where they encounter a strange alien mummy.

 

“The Unnaturals” (3/17/07) – A little league game goes wrong when the opposing team turns out to be robots with

 

“The Return” (3/31/07) – A monstrous scientist and alien werewolf and mummy attract the attention of the Tennysons, only to discover the trio is working for Ghostfreak.

 

“Be Afraid of the Dark” (4/7/07) – Ben battles Ghostfreak to prevent his plan of bringing eternal darkness to the world, which would allow him to conquer it.

 

“The Visitor” (4/14/07) – Max’s old alien lover returns to reclaim the Omnitrix, but when Max ends up kidnapped by a Vilgax drone she unlocks a new form for Ben so they can rescue him.

 

Season 4:

“Perfect Day” (7/7/07) – The Forever Knights trap Ben in a dream world while they attempt to remove the Omnitrix.

 

“Divided We Stand” (7/14/07) – Ben discovers his new Ditto form while battling Dr. Animo’s mutant seagull, and one of his copies ends up captured by Animo.

 

“Big Fat Alien Wedding” (/7/28/07) – The Tennysons attend a wedding designed to bring a truce between the Plumbers and Sludgepuppies aliens, but the bride’s ex threatens to ruin it.

 

“Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix” (8/4/07) – Ben, Gwen and Tetrax must track down the Omnitrix’s creator in order to stop its self-destruct sequence.

 

“Ben 4 Good Buddy” (9/22/07) – Rescuing a fancy RV from road pirates causes Ben and Gwen to complain about the Rust Bucket—which the same pirates manage to steal to use in their plans.

 

“Ready to Rumble” (9/29/07) – Ben enters a wrestling competition as Four Arms to win money to replace Gwen’s laptop and ends up having to help mutant brothers save their mother.

 

“Ken 10” (10/6/07) – In the future, Ben’s son is tricked into releasing Kevin from his confinement, allowing him to become Kevin 11,0000.

 

“Ben 10 vs. the Negative 10: Part 1” (3/9/08) – Some of Ben’s past foes led by the Forever King team-up to raid various Plumber bases looking for a potent alien power source.

 

“Ben 10 vs. the Negative 10: Part 2” (3/9/08) – The Forever King is revealed to be a former Plumber and uses the power source to increase his armored suit and take on Ben.

 

“Goodbye and Good Riddance” (4/15/08) – The summer vacation is over, but life doesn’t return to normal for the Tennysons as Vilgax and Dr. Animo renew their attacks against them.

 

Shorts:

“Hijacked” (7/14/07) – Max doesn’t believe Ben’s account of protecting the Rust Bucket from hijackers as Four Arms.

 

“Snack Break” (2/18/08) – Ben goes into a vending machine as Grey Matter to rescue his snack only to end up changing back and stuck.

 

“Survival Skills” (3/10/08) – Ben cheats as Heatblast to reignite the fire he accidentally put out, but it comes at a cost.

 

“Radio Dazed” (3/24/08) – Tired of Max’s music, Gwen convinces Ben to Upgrade the Rust Bucket’s radio.

 

“Sleepaway Camper” (4/7/08) – Ben uses the Omnitrix to get away from Max’s snoring.

 

“Dogged Pursuit” (4/21/08) – No good deed goes unpunished as Ben retrieves an elderly woman’s stolen purse.

 

“Let the Games Begin” (7/1/08) – Ben attempts to use XLR8 to cheat at Roadkill bingo so he’ll get to sit in the front seat.

 

“Handle with Care” (7/8/08) – Ben as Diamondhead attempts to stop thieves while protecting the crystal eggs they’re after.

 

“Road Trip Rumble” (3/12/12) – Ben and Gwen’s bickering leads to a battle of the powers.

 

Films:

“Race Against Time” (11/21/07) – Ben returns to school, but his adventures don’t end as aliens plan a massive invasion.

 

“Destroy All Aliens” (3/23/12) – Ben, Gwen and Tetrax are pursued by an Upgrade warrior who apparently killed Azmuth just as a spell causes the Omnitrix to act up.

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