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Birdman & The Galaxy Trio Show: The Complete Series
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Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series (DVD)
Granted the power and wings of an eagle by high priests, Birdman defends the rights of mankind across the universe accompanied by his constant companion, an eagle named Avenger. The two roam the galaxy in their spaceship, Condor 1, and are often aided by the Galaxy Trio: Vapor Man, who can dematerialize into a gaseous mist; Gravity Girl, who defies gravity; and Meteor Man, a stupendously strong hulk.]]>
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The twenty episode series ran from September 1967 to September 1969 on NBC, with the titular character of Birdman being voiced by Keith Andes (who tragically took his own life in 2005). Birdman is in fact a man named Ray Randall who was granted solar-based powers from the Egyptian Sun-God Ra. As such, he is able to create solar blasts from his hands, project a solar shield to repel enemy attacks, and can fly due to having natural feathered wings protruding from his back. The only flaw that Birdman possesses is having to recharge his solar-based powers by being energised by the sun's rays on a regular basis, which presents a problem when super-villains, such as Morto, Dr Millennium, the Duplicator and Mentok the Mind-Taker, amongst others, deploy their evil schemes under the cover of darkness. Towards the end of the series, Birdman is aided by a young boy that he rescues from a shipwreck, who he names Birdboy after passing on some of his powers onto via a transfusion, and along with his government liaison Falcon 7, they are assigned to protect their home-town of Central City from their specially designed Bird-Lair.
Each episode of 'Birdman and the Galaxy Trio' is presented in three parts, with two Birdman shorts lasting approximately eight minutes each, with a segment starring the Galaxy Trio being sandwiched in-between, making each full episode having a total running time of about twenty-four to thirty minutes.
Regarding the Galaxy Trio, their adventures take place in a futuristic Star Trek-esque setting, where the Intergalactic Police patrols space, attempting to thwart invading forces on unsuspecting planets. The team consists of Vapour Man, who can turn into any gaseous form, Meteor Man, who can enhance his growth cells to enlarge any part of his body, and Gravity girl, a princess from the planet Gravitas who can utilise gravity force to fly and suspend enemies in mid-air. Together, they form a formidable fighting force that protects civilisations from certain take-over, such as protecting the planet Aqueous from its rightful king 's evil power-hungry brother, and stopping the robotic Computron from turning his humanoid creators into robot slaves.
'Birdman & the Galaxy Trio - The Complete Series', distributed by Warner Home Video for the Region 1 market during July 2007 under its 'Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection' banner, has a total running time of 420 minutes. That's seven complete hours of golden-age animation fun, containing all twenty episodes over two double-sided discs, with five episodes presented on each side. There is some lovely artwork depicted on the set's packaging, which is a cardboard sleeve fold-out tucked into an outer casing, indicative of Warner Bros' distributed animation DVD packages from the Hanna-Barbera studios and Filmation, amongst others. On the DVDs themselves, menus are presented with some more clean-cut artwork with an episode selection option, as well as being able to play all, with the added choice to view episodes with subtitles for the English hard-of-hearing. The picture quality is sometimes a little grainy, although for the most part, this cartoon from the late-sixties holds up pretty well. Regarding special features, there isn't really a lot to bulk up the collection apart from a mini-featurette looking at Alex Toth's original contribution to the series, lasting approximately ten minutes or so, along with some trailers which advertise other golden-age animated series on DVD.
Birdman and the Galaxy Trio teamed up once in the 'Hanna-Barbera TV Superheroes' comic book series, with our titular hero also having a one-time appearance in Cartoon Network's Toonami comic series, published by DC Comic's some time later. The character of Birdman would later be used, almost three decades later after the original show, as a guest star on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim series 'Space Ghost: Coast to Coast', appearing as an unemployed superhero looking for work. Following the popularity of this series, Birdman subsequently starred in his own Adult Swim production, along with his supporting cast members, in the popular adult-oriented series 'Harvey Birdman - Attorney at Law'. In this series, he offered his services in representing fellow Hanna-Barbera characters in a court of law, having completed an online law degree after giving up his crime-fighting career.
All in all, 'Birdman & the Galaxy Trio' is recommended for all classic animation enthusiasts, as well as those who were brought up watching similar shows, such as the Super Friends, along with people who have an affinity towards superheroes in general. The stories can definitely seem repetitive at times and the narration of action can be somewhat expressed as a form of televisual radio. However, if you don't take the premise too seriously, the characters definitely come alive with Hanna-Barbera's classic animated charm that the studio is historically famous for.
Additionally, it is most definitely worth exploring Hanna-Barbera's sister superhero creations, such as 'Space Ghost & Dino Boy' and 'The Herculoids', amongst others, as well as Adult Swim's 'Harvey Birdman - Attorney At Law'; all currently available for purchase on DVD.
Like most of the Hanna Barbera cartoons of this era, it's still fun to watch if you're a hardcore animation enthusiast like me. But even then, only in small doses, and only provided that you don't ask too much of it. I do roll my eyes when I see people of around my own age lament "They don't make cartoons like this any more!"
No, they don't! Today's cartoons are incomparably better. Both technically and artistically. If you watch Birdman and The Galaxy Trio side by side with Adventure Time, or for that matter almost any animation produced since the early 90's, it's quite simply no contest. This is the kind of show where the baddies are baddies, the goodies are goodies, the art is rough and ready, and everyone kind of narrates their own actions and motives as they go along just to make sure you know what's happening. It also hails from the era of "limited animation," when - as the old joke goes - Hanna Barbera's motto as a company was always "Don't nobody move!"
Good music though. Background and title.
But assuming you're not just in it for the tunes, I'm sure at this point you must be wondering: why in this day and age would you want to watch this show at all?
Well, nostalgia and camp value certainly apply. It's also kind of interesting as a cold-war era cultural artifact. In each half hour episode of the show proper, there are actually three mini episodes: an episode of Birdman, followed by an episode of Galaxy Trio, followed by a second episode of Birdman.
Of the two, Birdman is the show most overtly influenced by the cold war. Birdman himself is even given a kind of spymaster who sends him out on assignments. Missiles, missile plans, and the security of "the free world" are all constant concerns. It's also rather interesting to see just how often the baddies are evil scientists. The fears and the mentality of the age seep into even this, a children's cartoon
Galaxy Trio can also be kind of interesting though. There's an episode (Drackmore, The Despot) where a bunch of colonists who go to new planet get enslaved by the guy who was already living there. But even in this colonial scenario, it's the colonists who are the innocent victims, and the native the baddie. After all, the doctrine of terra nullius applies, for the innocent colonists never even realized that anyone else was there before them. At the end of the episode, the colonists even get to keep the planet, while our heroes send the previous inhabitant off to the reservation... uh... I mean "the intergalactic court of justice."
Like I said, the mentality of the age.
Cultural studies aside, I think I'll end this review where I began it: This show is still kind of fun to watch.
Just so long as you don't ask too much of it.
Keith Andes is the mysterious Bird Man who has solar powers and has bird wings. With the aid of his super eagle Avenger they protect the near future Earth from perils both mundane and bizarre. We get no history on Birdman so have worked up a background story. Genetically created super soldier that originally fought vampires. Avenger is a line of GMO living weapons. They are linked.
Nothing special otherwise.