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Saturday Morning Cartoons 1970s,
Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 10/27/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/27/2009
I hate talking about/writing about anything that makes me feel old, but the truth is that when you begin a sentence with "These kids today...", you sound old. These kids today don't know how luck they are with children's programming. Cable brings us cartoons and kid-friendly shows 24 hours a day. Whenever they want to find something to watch, they can. In some ways, I'm jealous of this, as a few hours in the afternoons after school was usually the only time dedicated to kids when I was growing up. But, I also feel sorry for the little nippers, as they don't know what it's like to look forward to Saturday morning. This was the one time a week which was loaded with not only cartoons, but new ones, unlike the old reruns shown in the afternoon. All three networks could be counted on to show kids shows for at least 3-4 hours on Saturday morning, and parents usually knew to steer clear of the TV. Warner Home Video has attempted to remind us of those bygone days with their Saturday Morning Cartoons series. 1970s Volume 2 has just hit DVD.
The Saturday Morning Cartoons 1970s, Volume 2 DVD contains 12 shows spread across two discs.
-- Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch -- "Help Your Keeper" -- This show
features three hippie bears -- Hair, Square, and Bubi -- who live in a zoo and
are constantly tormenting the Mr. Peevly, the zookeeper. The bears try to
convince Mr. Peevly that he's sick so that he'll leave. (He has "zoolirium") For
once, their plan works, and Peevly goes on sabbitical. However, his replacement,
Grunch, is a militant slave driver. This your typical Hanna-Barbera talking
animals show, and it plays like a "groovier" version of Yogi Bear.
-- The New Adventures of Gilligan -- "Off Limits" -- From Filmation comes this animated version of the 60 sitcom staple. All of the original actors provide voices for their characters, save for Ginger and Mary Ann. The Howell's decide that they are tired of the mixing with the "riffraff", so they decide to create their own private beach club. Of course, they can't be bothered to build it, so they convince Gilligan to do it. The story is like an exaggerated version of the live-action series, but with the odd, stilted pacing which always plagued Filmation "comedies"
-- Sea Lab 2020 -- "Deep Threat" -- I don't remember this one at all, and I had no clue that the Adult Swim show Sealab 2021 was made using an old show. The story is set in the year 2020, and focuses on an underwater laboratory and the scientists and families who inhabit it. An earthquake shakes the area around Sealab and radiation levels begin to rise. And then two kids get lost in the ocean. Scientists try to find the cause of the radioactivity while a search party looks for the kids. This thing is all over the place. Far too talky for an "action" show.
-- The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan -- "The Mardi Gras Caper" -- I sort of remember this one. This is an early entry into the Scooby-Doo rip-off category, with a little Jose and the Pussycats thrown in. Charlie Chan and his family, who are singing group, are enjoying Mardi Gras when a ring which once belonged to Marie Antoinette is stolen. The Chan Clan agree to help solve the mystery. A young Jodie Foster provides one of the voices.
--- Shazzan -- "The Living Island/Master of Thieves" -- Not to be confused with Shazam, the DC comics character. Chuck and Nancy find a ring which takes them back to the time of the Arabian Nights, where they meet a genie named Shazzan and a flying camel named Kaboobie. (Can you say that on TV.) Chuck and Nancy will be trapped in this time until they return the ring to its owner. This giant genie comes when they call and helps the kids. In “The Living Island”, an evil hunter sends giant animals to kill Kaboobie, and then turns his minions on Chuck and Nancy. The kids go up against a sorcerer who wants to steal Kaboobie in “Master of Thieves”. I hate to sound like a 12-year old, but I giggled every time someone said Kaboobie.
-- Yogi's Gang -- "Mr. Bigot" -- I remember Yogi Bear and the flying ark very well, but the show was called "Yogi's Ark Lark" when I watched it and the theme song was different. I certainly don't remember the show being this socially conscious. The green message in the opening credits plays like something that we would see today, not 36 years ago. In this episode, the gang faces Dr. Bigot (not Mr. as in the title), who tries to spread prejudice everywhere. I’m not making that up. As usual, it's great to see characters like Snagglepuss and Quick Draw McGraw in the same show, but this story is really out there.
-- The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour -- This was simply a collection of old Looney Tunes shorts, packaged with some new bumpers. “Duck! Rabbit, Duck!” (You can‘t go wrong with the classic “Rabbit season! Duck season!” formula), “For Scent-Imental Reasons” (You either like these one-joke Pepe Le Pew cartoons or you don‘t. I don‘t.) , “Stop, Look, and Hasten” (Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote are at it again.), “Hare-Way to the Stars” (Bugs Bunny vs. Marvin the Martian. Classic.) It's nice that these are included here, but, I’m sure completists would want these on a Looney Tunes Collection DVD set.
-- Valley of the Dinosaurs --“Forbidden Fruit” -- For some reason, I remember this one very clearly. This debuted at the same time as the live-action Land of the Lost and both have very similar plotlines. (I can remember assuming that the cartoon was meant to be a companion piece to the Sid and Marty Krofft show, but I don’t think that is true.) This plays like Land of the Lost, but with more characters. The Butler family goes down a whirlpool and finds themselves in a pre-historic world, where they are befriended by a family of cavemen. While harvesting fruit, dinosaurs attack.
-- Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape -- This is an odd combo. The show combines old and new Tom and Jerry cartoons with the adventures of The Great Grape Ape. In case you aren't familiar, Grape Ape is an enormous (think King Kong) purple ape who rides on top of a van driven by a dog named Beegle Beagle. “No Way Stowaway” (Tom and Jerry), “That Was No Idol...” (Grape Ape), “The Ski Bunny” (Tom and Jerry), “The All American Ape” (Grape Ape), “Stay Awake or Else” (Grape Ape)
-- The Banana Splits Adventure Hour -- This appears to simply be an excuse for the live action Banana Splits to wrap around a series of shorts. We get several minutes of the Splits doing their schtick in their amusement-park hideaway, and then an episode of the following shows: “Joining the Knights” - “Arabian Knights” is sort of a super-hero show set in ancient Baghdad. “Danger Island” is a live-action show that plays like a cross between Treasure Island, The Swiss Family Robinson, and Benny Hill. It’s an adventure show with odd comic moments. “The Littlest Musketeer” - “The Three Musketeers” is simply an animated series based on the famous novel.
-- Inch High Private Eye -- “Diamonds Are a Crook’s Best Friend” -- The title meant nothing to me, but upon seeing the opening credits, I immediately realized that this looked familiar. This is yet another detective show, but the catch here is that the main character is incredibly short. “Inch” works with his niece, a dude who looks like Jethro Bodine, and a St. Benard. Drugs must have been plentiful at Hanna-Barbera. In this episode, they must find a missing necklace.
-- The New Adventures of Batman -- "A Sweet Joke on Gotham City” -- This Filmation version of Batman has Adam West voicing Batman, so that’s a good thing, right? It’s also has Batmite, perhaps the goofiest sidekick ever. Even as a child, I found Batmite annoying and confusing. That aside, this show tries to give us good Bat-action, but it’s often too silly for its own good. But, we do a Paul Lynde-sounding villain in this episode.
Saturday Morning Cartoons 1970s, Volume 2 brings back memories -- some welcome some not -- on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The shows are all presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. A warning at the beginning of the disc tells us that the best efforts have been taken to clean up these shows, but defects still exist. Honestly, I've seen much worse. For the most part, the images are sharp and clear. Some of the shows displays some grain and defects from the source prints. And while these defects vary from show to show, they're never that bad. The live-action shows fare the worst, as they look dark. As for the cartoons, the colors are good and bright on most. The shows carry a Dolby Digital mono audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Some of the shows are accompanied by minor hissing and one or two "pops", but otherwise things sound fine and are exactly what one would expect from these shows.
The DVD set contains only one extra. Disc 1 contains “The Power of Shazzan” (6 minutes), a featurette which takes a retrospective look at the show. Hanna-Barbera artists and writers give an overview of the show, point out its foibles, and how the show is viewed today.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long