Sci Fi TV Genre Gems: Forgotten magic and hidden treasures from the worlds of sci fi and fantasy television.
What Is It? This show (also known as Men in Black: The Series) follows the further adventures of Agents J, K and L along with the other members of the Men in Black organization as they hunt aliens that are loose on the planet and who may pose a threat to the world of humans.
Aired: 1997 – 2001, The WB, 4 Seasons Totaling 53 Episodes
Developed By: Duane Capizzi, Jeff Kline, Richard Raynis
Staring: Ed O’Ross, Gregg Berger, Keith Diamond, Jennifer Lien, Vincent D’Onofrio
Why It Stands Out: Though this one aired among other kid’s programming, it delivered a fun, snarky, and witty show very much in the spirit of the movies that had clever stories that appeal to both kids and adults.
Is It Must-Watch Sci Fi? No, but it delivers a great sci fi animated series that’s plenty of fun and fans of the movies will definitely enjoy it.
The Skinny: This series picks up pretty much right where the first movie left off, though it ignores the fact that Agent K retired at the end of that film. It delivers monster-of-the-week episodes that are very much in the spirit of the movies and it also delves into the backstory of the Men in Black as well as some of the agents like K. The animation is also first rate and the stories are regularly quite good with plenty of clever asides thrown in to the dialogue. For those who enjoyed The Real Ghostbusters animated series from the 80’s, Men in Black does an equally good job of respecting the films while also expanding on the universe. And it managed to avoid that later change of direction imposed on The Real Ghostbusters when the cutesy Slimer character became the main focus. The worms and Frank the pug were featured regularly in MiB, but they never overtook the series from the primary agents.
The main characters do look somewhat different than they did in the films, but that was because the series did not have the rights to portray the original actors. And Agent L went through somewhat of a personality change for the series, but Agents J and K are pretty much spot on with how they were portrayed in the films. (Note: I’ve not read the comics that this franchise was originally based on, so I don’t know how close it is to that source material.) This one also has a great opening theme song that you will find quickly gets stuck in your head (watch it above). The show may not count as one the all-time great sci fi TV series, but it’s up there on the list of animated sci fi shows. If you like the movies and are jonesing for more adventures from the Men in Black, this one is definitely worth checking out. And if you just like clever animated sci fi shows, you should also give this one a look, whether you have seen the films or not (you don’t need to have seen those to pick up pretty quickly on what’s going on).
Cancelled Too Soon? No. This one had a run of four seasons totaling 53 episodes which is pretty good for a Saturday morning cartoon. It did not quite make it to the 65 episode mark that makes an animated series more attractive to the syndication market, but it still delivered a decent number of episodes.
Should It Be Rebooted? Sure. This is the type of series that has an open-ended format and lends itself to reboots / revivals. There’s a new movie on the way, so they could bring back the animated series as a companion to that. Whether they just continue where the original series left off or adjust to the new timeline of the upcoming film, it could turn into another fun sci fi cartoon.
Interesting Facts: Vincent D’Onofrio played Edgar the Bug in the first Men in Black film and he voiced all the bug characters on the animated series. Tony Shalhoub, who played Jeebs in the movies, also voiced the character in some of the episodes.
Where Can You Watch It? The first season of this series is available on DVD, but the other three have yet to be released. Season 2 is available for free on Sony’s Crackle streaming service, though not the other seasons. You don’t necessarily have to have seen the first season to pick up on where the second year starts.