Thanksgiving (also known as Indian Genocide Day, or Eat Until You Pass Out Day) is upon us, and it can mean one thing:
It means that there are tons of DVDs coming out!
The deluge has already started. Disney has unleashed the fall Platinum Edition, The Lion King (with a special version that has even more impractical packaging than the special version for the old DVD release), and of course Cars 2: Herp And Derp With Larry the Cable Guy is out. Plus, Warner has unleashed the first Looney Tunes Blu-ray set (the whining about the double-dipping of shorts having started half a year ago), and the first Golden Collection for Tom And Jerry, which will (finally!) collect all of the duo’s shorts, fully restored and uncut. However, what’s coming down the pike is even more exciting. Shout! Factory is even in the act, with Part 1 of Conan the Adventurer‘s second season having come out today.
First and foremost, Shout! Factory is releasing a complete series set for Underdog, the first in a cycle of releases that will see all of the Total TeleVision Productions cartoons released to DVD for the first time. And, unlike with the Sunbow shows, there is 1) a definitive, published expert on the studio’s output, and 2) Classic Media, the current owner of the Total TV library, has enlisted this expert, a man named Mark Arnold, to completely rebuild each episode as it was originally aired (as syndicators have long since redistributed the individual Total TV shorts and jumbled them around, often mixing them in with Rocky And Bullwinkle shorts for perpetual rebroadcast). While I hold no claims of being the Sunbow expert (I haven’t even interviewed a single Sunbow staffer in over 8 years of running this site, for one thing), having someone with a good, working knowledge of the Sunbow shows would have been far preferable to letting Brian Ward (who has at times admitted on the Shout! Factory message boards some level of ignorance about the Sunbow shows, to say nothing of his ignorance of what the Doctor Who Restoration Team has proven can be done to restore videotape masters) fumble about.
Next month, Warner Archive is releasing the second volume of Season 2 of The Jetsons (these are more of the ’80s episodes with that Orbitty thing, if that helps any), which will leave only the last 10 episodes of the series unreleased.
Season 2 of Rocko’s Modern Life is coming in February, which leads me again to wonder why You Can’t Do That On Television still hasn’t been considered for a DVD release.
Mill Creek, who has sublicensed the DVD rights to a number of DiC shows from Shout! Factory, is releasing an odd 3-disc compilation featuring C.O.P.S., Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors,….. and Pole Position. The latter show has never had a home video release before, which has long been assumed to be a result of Namco asserting their US rights to their early arcade games (most ’80 Namco games were released in America by either Bally/Midway or Atari-the latter of which Namco became a part owner of for a time when the arcade division was spun off as Atari Games after the notorious Video Game Crash). The problem is, Pole Position has 13 episodes, and Mill Creek crams a maximum of 10 half-hour episodes per disc on its releases. I’m sure that you can do the math. Also, you know that those jerks at Cookie Jar/DiC/whatever the Hell the name is now have nuked the original end credits logos (which will cut off part of the end credits theme song, one of the more memorable parts of the series).
Hovering off in the horizon is another run of DVDs for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power by Mill Creek as part of Mattel’s rather odd 30th Anniversary celebration for the Masters of the Universe toyline. Now, I have it on good authority that the man himself, Lou Scheimer, retains 16mm prints for all episodes of both shows (and one would presume that the same is true for Secret of the Sword and the Christmas Special, though who knows if the same is true for The Greatest Adventures of All and Skeletor’s Revenge), but my faith in Mattel (who seems barely able to control its contempt for Filmation and its co-founder), Classic Media (a prominent example of a “media archive mill” that leeches off the remains of fallen independent studios will little regard for what masters they do or don’t have), and Mill Creek (who is infamous for their “budget” DVD releases) is pretty low. Personally, I think that Lou Scheimer’s personal archives should be raided to fuel as many Blu-ray releases of Filmation shows as is possible, starting with He-Man, seeing as how crappy DVNR-heavy PAL-compressed transfers with a huge chunk of the pilot missing due to “print damage” do no one any good (to say nothing of the heavy amounts of material missing from the Archie and Fat Albert series as currently presented on DVD).
And now for something you’ll real hate! Shout! Factory is releasing the first season of DiC’s G.I. Joe on DVD in January, which has prompted this review from yours truly on Amazon. Shockingly, unlike my scathing takedown of the Shout! “Complete Series” Sunbow Joe set, I haven’t seen my review counterbalanced by the webmaster of “GeneralsJoes.com”, a site run by a guy who has no knowledge or affinity for the Sunbow series, and whose action figure reviews are laden with so many repeated clichés, he has literally inspired a bingo game. (And yes, that sounded sufficiently bitter, don’t you think?) I’m not advocating destroying the DiC Joe masters, but I’d at least like a correct, uncensored release of the Sunbow series before any love for the DiC series is given. Just imagine my reaction if special features that should have been on the Sunbow DVDs (like, say, the Sgt. Slaughter wraparounds) end up on these DiC DVDs.