Nostalgia run amuck.
That was my immediate thought when word spread that there was going to be a continuation of the long-dormant Karate Kid franchise. And without the participation of the late, great Pat Morita, such an undertaking seemed misguided at the very best. So imagine our surprise when the first seasons of the YouTube Red original series was a soulful viewing experience more interested in exploring issues of legacy than merely coasting on memories of a beloved IP. Cobra Kai is exactly how these sort of revivals should be handled, with the sort of heart and humor that would make Mr. Miyagi proud.
The show chronicles the continuing adventures of characters from the previous films. Prosperous L.A. car dealer Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) still felt the sting of losing Mr. Miyagi, the mentor who schooled him in martial arts as a teen. Down-and-out janitor Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) sought new purpose by reopening the controversial dojo where he trained in his youth. Odd fate would find their adolescent rivalry renewed in middle age…in exciting, funny and downright touching ways.
The show’s first two seasons are included in a new DVD release that comes packaged with a two-sided headband (representing each of the show’s dojos). This series shouldn’t work, but it does, masterfully so, and as such is essential viewing.