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'A' for effort but a mixed bag in execution
on June 7, 2009
As a kid, I devoured all the Saturday Morning TV in the '70s I could take. Now as an adult, I'm amazed by the fact that a 70's Cartoon collection like this even exists so let's start off with the positive.
This is a great sample of pop culture history. Remember, no home video market in the '70's so the best chance to see the new comedy or adventure animated fare were only on Saturdays. It was an weekly event for kids and a boon for animation houses like Hanna-Barbera and Filmation to name a few. I was very pleased to see some long forgotten favorites such as Filmation's Tarzan and HB's Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch (an early precursor to Pixar's 'Cars'). Speed Buggy is another fun show represented I can't believe isn't on its own series DVD set yet. Of course other classics are represented here as well like The JETSONS and SCOOBY-DOO although the episodes here have already been released on other series DVD sets.
Which leads to where I think this set falls short. Too many episodes here that are already on other Hanna-Barbera series DVD sets. There is already a Scooby-Doo Movies set featuring every episode guest-staring the Harlem Globetrotters. Why not feature an episode from that series not currently on that set? There are plenty of them still missing to select from. And by the way, the opening for the Scooby-Doo Movies has been edited. The scene of the robot cowboy gunfire or other "violent" acts have been removed. I really hate the PC-ification of animation history. Questioning other episode selection choices, why run a Josie & the Pussycats episode already on their DVD set when a better choice would have been Josie & the Pussycats in Outer Space, which isn't out there yet?
And boy the mix of series selected here really don't do the Hanna-Barbera legacy any favors. When you can watch all the shows here in a row you really come to realize how sloppy and lazy the studio became as the years went by. Most of the series here became cookie-cutter clones of the Scooby-Doo model. Even admitted to by some of the creators featured in the Docs on this set. Teen-age kids and their talking pet (or car, or whatever) solving mysteries. When you've seen one, you've seen them all and the animation gets worse and worse as time goes by. Shows like The Funky Phantom and Goober & the Ghost Chasers are dreadful in every way. These are the bottom of the HB barrel in character design, story and animation and it's no wonder why these shows don't have their own dvd sets. As an animation history buff, it's almost disheartening to see right before your eyes how fast HB declines from its hey-day of Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons even the earliest Scooby-Doo shows into some of the most forgettable '70s cartoon series ever.
And the worst show on this set? Hands, down, The Roman Holidays. A cheap (and I mean cheaply produced!) attempt to clone the Flintstones model. Awful in every conceivable way.
Buyers should also know some of the quality of various shows on this disk are not as great as one would come to expect. A fact that is properly called out on the disks before you even get to the main menu. Obviously some of the original footage from the animation vaults was in rough shape. Tarzan and The Funky Phantom are prime examples. Which is disappointing because of all of the shows here deserving of its own DVD collection, it's Tarzan. For Filmation, one of its finest examples from its library. For those of you at the WB reading these reviews on these sets, I would still take a low quality DVD set of the Tarzan series any day over most of the other shows represented here.
At best, this disk a trippy reflection of a transitional time in animation history. Especially for the Hanna-Barbera studio. An interesting experiment for Warner Bros. I hope they try again. Only this time, here's hoping they think longer and harder about what will go into a volume two for this series.