The first though that comes to mind is a single word; finally. I have been waiting to actually do a first impressions, if you will, of Disney’s newest princess. The Sofia the First spin-off is now in sight.
It has been quite a while since word of Elena of Avalor first came to light, January of last year if you can believe that. Like with other series since then there has been quite a bit of a following for the series. Lots of anticipation and speculation followed.
Fast-forward to a few months back at Toy Fair. There we got to see a lot of the Elena of Avalor Toys– as well as an idea of what we can expect character wise. Since then we have seen a lot more information come to light and even teasers. And like all good teasers they left us wanting more.
Good thing now the wait is no longer an issue.
At the start of the month users of the Disney Channel app where able to access the first episode of the series. Now, about a week and a half after the former, iTunes users where able to download the pre-aired episode for free.
Needless to say I could not click download fast enough. Because this is a first impressions write-up I will now leave my warning for spoilers below.
In our series’ opener, titled ‘First Day to Rule’, sets the stage for events to follow.
After being trapped inside the Amulet of Avalor for over forty years. Elena is not only excited to be free- but also to take her place as the queen of her country. Despite her confidence in her ability to be a great ruler, she is still in fact technically sixteen. And according to the laws she cannot rule- at least not without the aid of a Grand Council.
Displeased at the news, Elena sets out to prove that she is in fact ready to take charge. To prove her point to her grandfather, Elena remains determined. She heads into the town to speak with the city leaders and learn what they need.
All seems to be going well. That is until it is brought to Elena’s attention that several of the ships have gone missing. As bad as that situation is, it heightens. As Isabelle (Elena’s sister) and Gabe find themselves tied up on a stolen vessel.
After losing her sister once before, Elena refuses to allow a repeat of days prolonged. Without hesitation she rushes to the rescue. With the aid of the three Jaquins, Mateo and Naomi the group sets out to save Isabelle and Gabe.
Turns out that freeing the two was the easy part. As they find themselves attacked by the thief. Noblins, magical beings, that are responsible for the missing ships. Both sides fight for the ship, a battle that seems losing for Elena and her allies. That is until Elena receives some much needed advice from Zuzo. With his words in mind, Elena is able to speak with the Noblins and learn the true reason for their actions. During the time Avalor was in peril they had been kidnapped. Locked up and forced to use their ability that allows them to turn anything to gold by Shuriki.
A realization that hits Elena hard. With her own memories in mind Elena understands. It is also then that Elena realizes they she still does have a lot to learn. Doing what’s right, Elena allows them to barrow the ships to return to their home.
It’s all’s well that ends well.
That is until everyone is reminded of the royal ball.
During the festivities Elena admits that she does in fact still have a lot to learn. And with that appoints her four members of the Grand Council. Prospectively her grandmother Luisa, Chancellor Esteban, Naomi, and her grandfather Francisco.
For an opener it was a strong one. Despite the fact that the establishment of Elena’s title. And formation of the Grand Council are likely going to be the only critical aspects. But they are critical plot points that I am glad where addressed right off the bat.
One of the things that stood out in my mind was just how good the character dynamics where. Specifically with Elena’s family. There is a clear and close bond between them that shinned. The musical number between Elena and Francisco was a highlight in my book. I loved how the back and forth response to the other where. It had a lot of great chemistry. It was extremely natural. Normally something like this you would not see until a few episodes in.
Going into the first episode, I had almost expected something low key in terms to plot. Something light to start off. So I was pleasantly surprised that we got something with as much action as we did.
One of my fears with any given spin-off is that they are going to be relying heavily on their processor. Elena did not, from the start it is made clear that this is a series completely in their own right. Moreover, the series is able to stand on its own. That is good writing.
The only issue, if you would even call it that, was the references to days prolonged. Yes, the episode opened with a recap of what had lead Elena to where she is. Something that was fantastic, I just wish we could have seen that before hand. It would have driven home aspects like Elena time trapped and Avalor’s current state.
But I do understand why they are waiting until the fall to air that.
Is Elena of Avalor worth checking out? Yes. Elena may different greatly with tone and themes to Sofia the First, but it does not disappoint.
Be sure to tune into Disney Channel for the one-hour premier on July 22nd.
Join the conversation: If you have also seen the first episode of Elena of Avalor share your thoughts. What do you expect of the new series?