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Western Animation / Alpha Teens on Machines

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Gear it up!

A.T.O.M. (Alpha Teens on Machines) is a French animated television series produced by SIP Animation based on Hasbro's Action Man toyline, airing on Disney's Jetix action blocks/channels from 2005 to 2007. It chronicles the adventures of five teenagers (the eponymous Alpha Teens), set in the fictional Landmark City. The Alpha Teens test prototype vehicles and weapons for Lee Industries, and use these prototypes to combat criminals, particularly the sadistic Big Bad Alexander Paine.

A second season aired in Europe, but never made it to the US. This season contains an interesting Plot Twist: Mr. Lee, the industrialist who was the team's mentor in the first season, turns out to have been Evil All Along. Even worse, he's created the Mu-Team, a group of mutated Psycho Rangers with super powers, from the heroes' DNA through LEGO Genetics.

Alpha Tropes on Machines:

  • Ace Pilot: Hawk and his Evil Counterpart Bogey.
  • Action Girl: Lioness.
  • All Just a Dream: "Perchance to Dream" has the team sent into nightmares of their deepest fears by Dr. Recomobo for Mr. Lee.
    • Axel experiences a world where the Big Bad won and now rules with an army of his mutants.
    • Hawk is dressed like a clown and being ridiculed by an audience.
    • Shark is a dolphin man flapping about helplessly in a stretch of dried up sea bed.
    • Lioness has become fat and is floating in a pool of pizza sauce on a giant slice being eaten by a giant version of herself.
  • Animesque
  • Bad Boss: Paine fits this to a T. Throughout Season 1, he withholds his minions’ pay for even when his assignments are seemingly carried out without a hitch, insults his loyal employees constantly or subjects them to his pain-touch whenever they say something stupid. Admittedly, Flesh and Spydah are class A examples of stupid minions, so on occasion, it’s justified.
  • Balloon Belly: Shark's stomach inflates before belching after eating King's breakfast. Lioness has gotten fat from being forced to eat pizza in her nightmare.
  • Big Bad: Alexander Payne for the first season and Janus Lee for Season Two. Master Qwan looked to be on his way to becoming the next Big Bad, but the show got canceled.
  • Brains and Brawn: Spydah and Flesh, who respectively act as Paine's tech expert and lead enforcer.
    • Spydah later shares this same role with D-Zel when he teams up with Magness.
  • Break the Haughty: Hawk. Every episode the rest of the cast and the extras are dicks to him, but it's not like he doesn't deserve it, most of the time. Even a little Humiliation Conga at the end of "Blackout," when after another unflattering piece on TV, the others call in their IOU on Hawk having to act as team leader (King describes how his laundry is to be done after dumping it on Hawk, Shark and Axel ask for "a large stack of blueberry (pancakes), extra syrup," and Lioness reminds him, "One week").
  • Catchphrase:
    • Axel: "Gear it up!"
    • King: "Outta my grill!"
    • Lioness: "¡Vamanos!"
    • Shark: "Shake the sand out of your shorts(, dude)."
    • Hawk: "Hawk flies in, he saves the day" and "Oh yeah, who rocks?!"
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Most main characters are prone to this, especially in season 2, humans, regardless of being alpha or trained to near physical perfection, shouldn’t be able to break that many brick walls by throwing, punching or kicking people through them.
  • Christmas Episode: "The Mu-Toys" in season 2. YouTube clip here.
  • City of Adventure: Landmark City, where most of the series takes place.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • Axel: Black
    • King: White
    • Lioness: Green
    • Hawk: Blue
    • Shark: Yellow
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: In season 2, Mr. Lee turns out to have been one of these all along. One episode in season 1 featured a one-time villain of this type named Terrence Yao.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As shown in one of his memories, Axel was this as a child. Lioness has her moments too, every now and then.
  • Denser and Wackier: Zig-zagged with season 2. While there’s more action and the main plots are usually serious, the subplots and the ways the A.T.O.M. team defeat their opponents can be extremely silly. For example, Shark stops an empowered Stingfly by burping a strong wind at him, and Hawk beats Rayza by having an allergic reaction where a suddenly swelling nose knocks the mutant out.
  • Destructive Savior: The team is able to minimize collateral damage around Landmark City whenever they fight Paine and other villains. Their vehicles? Not so much.
    Garrett: Now I know what Mr. Lee went through with you guys. You trash everything.
  • The Dragon:
    • Spydah and Flesh are Co-Dragons to Paine. Spydah later becomes one to Magness in season 2.
    • D-Zel is one to Magness. In season 2, he becomes Co-Dragons with Spydah.
    • Dragon is, fittingly, one to Master Qwan.
  • Dumb Muscle: Flesh and Mass for season 1. Season 2 sports Wrecka as the big idiot.
  • Enemy Mine: Happens a few times:
    • One episode had the Alpha Teens and Paine work together to take on the Serpent's Tail when they come after the latter.
    • In another episode, both Hawk and Wrecka get captured by Magness and end up being forced to work together.
    • Furthermore, the penultimate episode had the Alpha Teens and the Mu-Team work together to take down Lee after the latter turn on him.
    • The episodes that involve Dragon usually have him teaming up with the team (primarily Axel).
  • Environment-Specific Action Figure: The toy line had several of them, including a range called "Night Ops" where the Alpha Teens wore black Palette Swaps of their regular outfits.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: In a reality show contest, no less.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Edge of the Omega Team is one for Axel.
    • Both Bogey and Icarus are this to Hawk.
    • Magness, to a certain extent, is one to Lioness, along with Radman.
    • Gator Girl is one of Shark.
    • Flesh starts off as one to King until his mutation. Buffy also fits this.
  • Evil Minions
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Mr. Lee becomes this in season 2, with his goal of evolving humankind with animal DNA. While he has the makings of a Well Intentioned Extremeist, his methods are far from it.
  • Executive Suite Fight: Once: the scuffle between Dragon and Mr. Lee on the top floor of Lee Industries. Or three times, if you count the two fights in San Solomon as well.
  • Female Gaze: Seriously? No matter how much they tried to pimp out Lioness, there was no escaping the fact that it was a team of muscular teenaged men. This trope was in effect any time the guys were shirtless.
  • Filler Villain: Some episodes had the team battling one-time villains who had nothing to do with Paine, Lee, or the Serpent's Tail, such as Bonez and the Racer.
  • Flanderization: While Hawk is supposed to be egotistical, some episodes ignore his good points and turn him into a complete Jerkass.
  • Foreshadowing: Throughout the first season, there are several hints of Lee's true villainous nature:
    • He is seen taking pieces of loose hair off the Alpha Teens.
    • He misinforms the team about his whereabouts when he goes on his business trips.
    • Furthermore, he has a hidden room in his building that Axel and Garrett stumble into, which contains strands of the team's DNA and five new outfits.
  • Fun with Acronyms
  • Genius Bruiser: King, the physically most powerful on the team, and it's resident hacker.
  • Genius Ditz: Shark, who pulls off the same sort of close calls and general dumb luck as Mihoshi from Tenchi Muyo!.
    • Another example is Spydah, who can create robots of great destructive power, including mechas, but he’s not smart enough to shut his gob when Mr. Payne is in a foul mood.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Master Qwan, of the Serpent's Tail, turns out to be the mastermind behind the bomb that supposedly killed Sebastian Manning.
  • Green Rocks: A meteorite that falls in the desert close to the Landmark city even glows green. What's worse is it boosts Paine's power enough to force Axel to separate the chunk around Paine's neck to even face him later on.
  • Hard Light: The tech that Lee's armor in Season 2 is based on is actually called this.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Icarus in "Omega Team":
    Paine: Icarus, your target is Hawk. He's idiotic and vain.
    Icarus: Man, I swear, I hate those types. (sprays on hairspray)
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Exaggerated with Hawk, he’s shown flying not just his jetpack, but a helicopter, a jetplane and even a spacecraft!
  • It's Personal: "Girls from Brazil" when Lioness' cousin Liza gets kidnapped.
  • Just Plane Wrong: There are recurring scenes of coaxial rotor helicopters similar to Kamov KA-27 lifting off. The coaxial rotors spin in the same direction !
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Dragon is revealed to be Axel's father, or so it seems. The truth is that he's a clone of Axel's father.
  • Male Gaze: The Lock-and-Load Montage goes like this: The guys put on helmets and gloves and fasten their seatbelts. Lioness? The viewer gets to see her zip her suit over her boobs, and we get a worm's eye view from the rear of her sitting on her motorcycle.
  • Market-Based Title: In the UK, Australia, and Latin America, the line was a spinoff of Hasbro's earlier Action Man line (Axel being the equivalent of Action Man here), so it was dubbed Action Man A.T.O.M..
  • Meaningful Name: Paine lives up to his name following the pilot episodes, the feedback on one of his destroyed weapons causes him to occasionally suffer excruciating pain. On the flipside, he can transfer some of that pain to others with just a touch.
  • Merchandise-Driven: As noted, the series is based on a toy line (which is based on another toy line).
  • Mooks: Each villain has them.
    • Paine's gangsters in season 1.
    • D-Zel's biker gang.
    • Lee's cyborgs.
    • The Serpent's Tail ninjas.
  • Mission Control: Garrett acts as this for part of season one, and more often in Season Two.
  • Mundane Solution:
    • Axel gets the drop on Paine and Spydah when they assault his house. He turns off the lights, and uses a stealth suit/night-vision goggles to sneak up on them in the dark. Among other things, he drops a pinata on top of Spydahnote . He starts taking down Paine fairly easily, right up to the point Spydah walks over to the switch and turns the lights back on. This causes the suit to short out, and the night-vision to blind him.
    • Spydah gets another one, when a Jet-Ski is flown from the water and hits the deck, heading right towards him and D-zel. D-Zel jumps into his arms Scooby-Doo style, but Spydah just uses his mechanical legs to elevate him over it, no shots, no clever dodging.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In Season Two's "Secret Admirer" King is turned into a Meat Puppet through Mr. Lee's Mind Control device and briefly fights alongside the Mu-Team against the Alpha Teens. Once Axel destroys the device controlling him, King uses this trope, before becoming The Juggernaut against the Mu-Team screaming "WHAT DID YOU MAKE ME DO?!?" Cue the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of King single-handedly wiping the floor with the Mu-Team in Unstoppable Rage.
  • Ninja: Dragon.
    • Many other ninjas are used as Mooks by both Terrence Yao and the Serpent's Tail.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In "Omega Team", Icarus sounds like John Travolta.
  • The Psycho Rangers: The Mu-Team, evil, superpowered clones of the A.T.O.M. team, are major villians in the second season. They were created through genetic engineering by Mr. Lee.
    • Team Omega in the first season.
  • Retcon: In season 2, Mass's past was retconned from a hustler to a wrestler. Though, he was a hustler used in a wrestling match that led to his transformation.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Mass.
  • Shout-Out: Spydah builds a massive robotic spider in one episode, it takes some visual cues from the Spider tanks from Ghost in the Shell.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Multiple counts of this on both ends of the moral spectrum.
    • Lioness is the sole female member of the hero team.
    • Firekat for the MU-Team.
  • Spicy Latina: Lioness is Afro-Brazillian.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Axel is a master of the Jo-Lan martial art which grants him the ability to teleport and fire energy blasts. Apparently, there are other abilities a Jo-Lan warrior can unlock such as telekinesis and force fields.
  • Surfer Dude: Shark
  • The Team Benefactor: Mr. Lee in season one, then Garrett takes over in Season Two when Mr. Lee's stripped of his power.
  • Villain Has a Point: One episode had the team dealing with a villain named "The Architect", a former employee of Mr. Lee who was fired. At the end of the episode, as he's being hauled away by the police, he proclaims that Lee would turn on the teens. Turns out, he was right about Lee all along.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's hard to talk about Mr. Lee after his true colors are revealed in Season 2.
  • The Worf Effect: Flesh gets hit, hard. In his debut, he was strong, and easily got the upper hand, the team got good hits in, but King only defeated him by outsmarting him. Later, he had become incredibly ineffective, Dragon and Mass could easily beat him. Spydah, though, displayed the same competency from his debut (Which wasn't a whole lot, but he could put up an okay fight), more or less, he always got ass handed to him, but he managed to stay in the fight longer than Flesh.
  • You Killed My Father: Axel reveals that Paine was a corrupt agent at a government agency. His father was about to out him, but Paine killed him with a bomb, but accidentally got caught in the explosion. On the anniversary of his father's death, Paine reveals that the bomb setup wasn't from him, and they were both almost killed in the line of duty. Qwan seemingly killed his father, and Paine was injured trying to get him out. Qwan later reveals that his father is still alive.