.....Television, almost by
is an incredibly ruthless business. Of all the ideas for series that are
developed in the minds of potential producers, only a small fraction of
reach the airwaves. Even then, the chances of that series being successful
increasingly minute. Now, try and imagine how difficult it is for a
series to become a leader, an innovator. Only the rarest of shows can
have literally re-shaped their genre (or the entire television industry
matter) into something far different than anything before.
.....If you can imagine such a series, then you have realized the beauty that is G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Upon premiering on September 12, 1983 (two weeks before Filmation introduced He-Man and the Masters of the Universe), the first G.I. Joe miniseries (now known simply as The MASS Device) singlehandedly brought the multi-part episode into prominence as a device for cartoons, in addition to becoming the first fully-animated program in over 20 years.
.....Together with He-Man, G.I. Joe successfully showed the power not only of toy-based cartoons, but of syndication as an avenue for the production of intelligent, high-quality (and high-violence) cartoons. While the next miniseries (which hit airwaves in September of 1984), G.I. Joe: The Revenge Of Cobra, cleaned up some of the more "offensive" displays of violence, G.I. Joe (and the other cartoons in the Marvel/Sunbow family) would quickly become known as the most violent of the toyline cartoons, and would quickly come under fire for this by many parents' groups. (In fact, one may rightly argue that the V-chip and the Children's Television Act of 1991 are the direct results of the licensed cartoon revolution of the 1980s.) Nevertheless, G.I. Joe would last for a total of 95 half-hour episodes, and a feature-length direct-to-video movie, dubbed G.I. Joe: The Movie, before ending its run in 1987, ironically a victim of the environment that the series had helped to create.
.....While DIC, another animation studio involved in the licensed cartoon revolution, produced a follow-up series from 1989-1991, those episodes are not considered to be part of cartoon canon, and as a result shall not be reviewed. Trust me, you'll be thankful that I'm not reviewing those episodes (provided you see any of them). They are generally very poorly written, animated, and voiced (exceptions include Sgt. Slaughter, Morgan Lofting as the initial voice of the Baroness on the DIC series, and, as always, Chris Latta as Cobra Commander), and stand as some of the worst half-hours of television I've ever seen (especially the dreaded "Chunnel"). Ironically, though, Sunbow and DIC episodes were aired together from 1989 until 1996, first in syndication (on many of the stations that signed on 4-6 years earlier) and later on USA (where both versions were badly edited by what is easily the lowest-rent station on cable).
.....However, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero still lives. In 1999, some three years after USA unceremoniously dumped the show, Rhino, a major distributor of re-released CDs, videos, and other "forgotten" classics, did just that with G.I. Joe, under their Kid Rhino label. The initial release on September 21, 1999 (which included "Worlds Without End", "An Eye For An Eye", "Twenty Questions", "My Favorite Things", and "Into Your Tent I Will Silently Creep") was supplanted by the release of the movie (both on VHS on October 5, 1999 and DVD on June 20, 2000), and two more releases (February 2000 and June 20, 2000) of episodes. Most of the series was released to DVD starting in 2003, though as with all of Rhino's Sunbow releases, there are issues with the restored sound and footage that was corrected before the original airings.
.....Before Rhino could release the last episodes of Season 2, Rhino lost the rights, leaving fans of G.I. Joe (and Jem, as well) out in the cold. What resulted was, until Hasbro's 25th Anniversary line threw Sunbow fans a bone, the longest period of commercial unavailability in the series' entire history. However, when Hasbro acquired the Sunbow library, they began releasing figures based on the series, which, after some lame attempts (the hideous attempt at a MASS-era Baroness), evolved into an ambitious affair that saw Sunbow-perfect renditions of many characters, some of whom were issued with parts of a miniature-sized MASS Device, and episodes of the series. The complete series was finally released to DVD, and even airs on Hasbro's new TV network, The Hub, but with two exceptions on the TV airings ("Amusement Park of Terror", the final episode of The Revenge of Cobra, and "Cobra Stops the World") uses the painfully poor Rhino remasters, though with the original, unaltered audio. remasters, though with
.....Episodes are listed in order of original airdate.
Character Bios (listed alphabetically by group)
the closing of Joe Land , this is by far and away the biggest (and best)
the web for info on the cartoon. That, and David is a really cool guy. :)
The Ultimate G.I. Joe Cartoon Website-It's not the biggest site on the web, but this creation of the Robbins sisters (Maryann and Kett) and a number of other people has absolutely vital data about G.I. Joe, with some of it coming from the mouths of the fine people behind the show. (Besides, it, and the mailing list hosted by the site, are the reasons why my love for old cartoons has been fully rekindled. ;))
The G.I. Joe Cartoon Mailing List-Go here to join the UGIJCW's mailing list, where we discuss the shows, and read fanfic written by the ultra-talented people on the list (especially me). A must-join, especially when the fanfic is flying at a fast rate.
yojoe.com-Basically the world's finest repository for info on the toys-including the many foreign incarnations of the Real American Hero.
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