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Byline: David Kronke Television Critic

'TEEN TITANS'' might more accurately be titled `` 'Tween Titans,'' since that's obviously the demographic Cartoon Network is seeking with this latest series from DC Comics after enjoying terrific success with ``Justice League.'' (Megaconglomerate AOL Time Warner owns both Cartoon Network and DC.) But just as the ``Teen Titans'' can't quite match their adult colleagues in terms of strength, smarts or savvy, neither can this show match ``Justice League's'' more assured polish.

Meet the Titans: Beast Boy (voiced by Greg Cipes) is perpetually wired, a sure candidate for Ritalin and can transform himself into animals; not sure how that helps fight crime, but there you go. Cyborg (Khary Payton) is part man, part robot - and all cliche. StarFire (Hynden Walch) comes from another planet and can fly and shoot out vague, green blasts of energy (which comes in handy when battling the bad girl with the vague, pink blasts of energy). Raven (Tara Strong) resembles the title character of ``Daria'' as a superhero - wry and disaffected - and she, too, seems to have a power that concerns blasts of energy. Robin (Scott Menville) doesn't have energy blasts; he doesn't have much except his celebrated Bat-legacy.

Our heroes live in a skyscraper shaped like a T and spend their days playing video games, going to raves and squabbling over who lost the TV remote. What they don't do is clean up after themselves - in fact, in tonight's episode, when some villains commandeer the T to serve as their own lair, the worst thing they do is tidy up.

Characters and sound design are clearly inspired by Japanese anime (even the dialogue occasionally sounds like a bad translation from the Japanese: ``No more chasing now, please!''). In two episodes available for review, the Titans actually don't fight any crime - they just battle entities that have popped 'round to battle them (interrupting, naturally, their video games and dance-fever fun). These are typically plotted scenarios where the Titans are first vanquished, then victorious.

And they learn valuable 'tween lessons such as the importance of perseverance and how silly sibling rivalry is. You half expect to hear the line, ``Aw, StarFire, we like you for just your being you.''

It doesn't help that one of the ostensible bad guys, Gizmo (who improvises weapons from an endlessly resourceful tool kit as he goes along), is more interesting than the heroes. Dialogue is occasionally witty, but the Teen Titans largely seem too bratty to have any interest in saving the world or even in cleaning it up a little.

TEEN TITANS - Two and one half stars

What: Youthful superheroes hang out, bicker and battle evildoers.

Where: Cartoon Network.

When: 9 tonight.

In a nutshell: 'Tween heroes are more bratty than bold.
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Title Annotation:Review; U
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 19, 2003

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