"This holiday season, DreamWorks Animation presents the first-ever Netflix original series…for kids!" booms the first trailer for the streaming service's upcoming Turbo FAST. And how is Netflix commemorating this grand occasion? With a farting snail.
There's nothing wrong with a little toilet humor, but let's hope that opening salvo doesn't set the overall tone for Turbo FAST, which is based on this summer's computer-animated Turbo — a film that earned a relatively modest reception both critically and commercially. This small-screen version trades the computer effects of the movie for a 2D animated style, and replaces Turbo's A-list voice cast — which included Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, and Samuel L. Jackson — with actors like Reid Scott and Jeff Bennett (though Ken Jeong will reprise his role from the film).
Turbo FAST may sound like a redundant title, but there's a reason for it: FAST stands for "Fast Action Stunt Team," a group of snails led by Turbo himself. The series will follow the team immediately after the events of Turbo as they go around the world, competing in races and squaring off against supervillains.
For those who aren't necessarily interested in the exploits of Turbo and his crew, Turbo FAST offers an intriguing shake-up in Netflix's usual distribution style. Though the company became famous for dropping entire seasons of shows like House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black at once, Turbo FAST is employing a different model: Five episodes will debut on Christmas Eve, with additional episodes scheduled to premiere throughout 2014. “With new episodes on their way in the coming months, kids will have something to look forward to all year,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos in a statement.
But that's not much of an explanation. Is Netflix reconsidering the way it distributes original content? Is there something about the way kids consume streaming content that differs from adults? Or is Turbo FAST just not ready to debut a whole season yet? Whatever the explanation, it's an intriguing break from Netflix's status quo — and we'll find out in the months ahead whether or not it signals a new strategy for the streaming video giant.