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The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 1 (1985)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 6/2/2009

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/8/2009

The law of diminishing returns simply states that each time something is asked to manufacture a result, the quantity or quality will be less each time. This idea can easily be applied to entertainment. Think of sequels -- when was the last time that you saw part six of a series and thought, "Well, that was the best movie I've ever seen!" While it can and has happened, it's rare for a series to keep getting better and better, or to simply maintain the quality of the original entry. For an example from the world of TV, just look at Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo, Where are You?! was a great show. However, every subsequent incarnation of the show got progressively worse (Yes, I'm looking at you Scrappy-Doo.) Even die-hard cartoon fans may not know that something similar happened to The Jetsons.

The Jetsons premiered in 1962 as a prime-time animated series from Hanna Barbera. The show was set in the future and focused on a "typical" family, the Jetsons. George Jetson (voiced by George O'Hanlon) is the hard-working provider, who pushes buttons all day at Spacely Sprockets. His wife, Jane (voiced by Penny Singleton), is a housewife, who gets help from the live-in robot maid, Rosie (voiced by Jean Vander Pyl). The Jetsons have two children, teeanged girl Judy (voiced by Janet Waldo) and young son, Elroy (voiced by Daws Butler). They also have a dog, Astro (voiced by Don Messick), who sounds just like Scooby-Doo. (And not just because Messick provided the voice for both dogs.) The stories here are of the standard sit-com variety, as George and Jane have money problems, the kids get into (mild) trouble, and there's always some sort of misunderstanding.

When I first learned that The Jetsons had only run for one season from 1962-1963, I was very surprised. Based on the reruns, I assumed that the show had a long run, as with its predecessor, The Flintstones. (That shows, which premiered two years before The Jetsons clearly laid the groundwork for the series. They simply took every Flintstones joke and set it in the future.) In 1985, Hanna-Barbera decided to revive the Jetsons and created new episodes of the series, as if there hadn't been a 22-year break. To help bridge that gap, all of the original voice actors returned for the show and the original opening sequence, where George drops the family off on his way to work, was used.

Unfortunately, the actors and the opening are where the similarities to the original series end. Yes, this sounds like The Jetsons and it sort of looks like The Jetsons, but something here isn't right. For starters, the first episode of this "Season 2" introduces a new character, Orbity (voiced by Frank Welker). Orbity is a cute and cuddly alien who moves in with the family. Orbity is to The Jetsons what Scrappy-Doo was to Scooby-Doo. Remember, this new season arrived during the mid-80s when things like The Smurfs, Care Bears, and My Little Pony were popular. So, cute and cuddly were in. So, we get Orbity. But, this was the last thing that The Jetsons needed. As with The Flintstones, the original episodes of the show had carried a somewhat sarcastic wit (most likely because the show aired in prime-time and was aimed somewhat at adults). Sure, there was the occasional cute and cuddly moment, but most of the show was based on real-life humor juxtaposed in a futuristic setting. The introduction of Orbity makes The Jetsons feels too much like a kids show.

As if that weren't bad enough, the overall "vibe" of the show feels wrong. It has something to do with the audio. Not the audio on the DVD, but the audio in the show. The voice acting is there and there's seemingly constant music, but the lack of background noises creates an odd effect, as if the show is taking place in a vacuum. There are sound effects, but the voices and the music dominate the show creating an odd effect. This gives the show a sluggish pace and even when things were happening on-screen, I found myself watching the DVD player's timer, wishing for the episode to end.

If you have fond memories of The Jetsons and weren't aware of this revival, then avoid it. It will make you wonder why they ever brought it back.

The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 1 walks a dog on a weird outdoors treadmill courtesy of Warner Home Video. The 3-disc set contains all 21 episodes from the season. The shows are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. From the outset, the video is disappointing. Again, the original opening is used, and its riddled with dirt and defects. This continues somewhat into the episodes, as black spots on the image are quite common. The colors look OK, although they are slightly muted at times. Some shots appear a tad blurry. For the most part, this doesn't look that much better than a VHS presentation. The DVDs have a Dolby Stereo audio track which delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. As noted above, the voices come through loud and clear, but I didn't detect much in the way of stereo effects.

The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 1 contains one extra. "The Jetsons Return to the Future" (8 minutes) features interviews with some crew members from the show (including Janet Waldo) and animation historians who discuss the resurrection of the show. They talk about the short-lived nature of the original series and how all of the original cast was brought back for the new shows.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long