Into the SatAm world of caped crusaders in 1968 came the carrot- topped teen from Riverdale, star of radio and comics, the inimitable Archie. The first SatAm cartoon with a laugh track, from the start Filmation's show was all about music. The Archie Show opened with The Archies in a band. Each episode consisted of two ten minute cartoons, a dance and a song by the Archies. One of the songs, "Sugar Sugar", from a later incarnation of the show (there were eight), hit no. 1 on the Billboard chart in 1969.
Anyone who understands how limited were the budgets for kids' TV cartoons, as compared to the lavish resources for theatrical animation, will enjoy watching shows from this era to study what might be called the art of limited animation. As with Hanna- Barbera, it means characters running by the same shops and barber poles repeatedly to minimize backgrounds. It also meant finding clever ways to reuse footage. Here, one way was to use the dance visuals for the song segment. The musical production was supplied by Don Kirshner, fresh from TV's live action teen hit, The Monkees. Archie comics from this era were published by Archie Music Corporation, so the musical angle is not an accident. Another clever Filmation touch is to sometimes use no backgrounds at all, strobing the background color in time to the music. This burgeoning sense of psychedelia in SatAm cartoons would reach its height in Hanna- Barbera's 1969 Cattanooga Cats.
This set is excellently presented, with two single sided discs that look like 45 RPM records. The Archie Show ran 17 episodes, unusual since a season generally has 13. Bonuses on the discs include character sheets and a Jukebox to play the song segments as videos. But what's worth the price of the set is the interview with Filmation producer Lou Scheimer. This hopefully signals a trend for Filmation DVD releases, as interviews were also a high point bonus on their live-action Ghost Busters set.
The packaging is an engaging mix of art from various styles in Archie comics and the animated Filmation characters, which were simplified for the show. They still retain the sense of the comic book however, and the writing also echoes the comic. Jughead's dog, Hotdog "voices" his thoughts to the viewers, and Archie and pals talk to viewers between segments. You even get a miniature reprint of a story from the first "Everything's Archie" comic from 1969 in which the gang meet Norm Prescott, Lou Scheimer and Hal Sutherland of Filmation. The back pages cleverly include the DVD menu and a subscription blank to subscribe to Archie comics in what can only be called a total packaging deal of "Everything Archie". One episode of the show also has the gang meeting Mayor Prescott, a caricature of Norm Prescott. All in all, this ground breaking series made with way more heart than money gives yet more evidence why since 1941, readers, listeners, and viewers can't get enough of Riverdale's most famous teen.