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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animated > Action > Robots > Japan > Children > Fantasy > Superhero > Martial Arts > Music > TV > Robotech: The Complete Original Series (A&E Video DVD Box Set) + He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season 2 (Mill Creek DVD) + Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 9 (Lionsgate DVD) + Thundercat

Robotech: The Complete Original Series (A&E Video DVD Box Set) + He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season 2 (Mill Creek DVD) + Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 9 (Lionsgate DVD) + Thundercats: Season 1 – Part 1 (Warner DVD) + Jem and the Holograms: Season Two (Shout! Factory DVD)


Robotech: The Complete Original Series (A&E Video DVD Box Set)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B+     Episodes: B



Robotech is the series that introduced a young impressionable generation to anime.  It is a series that was originally produced in Japan and then later dubbed into English.  There was other Americanized Anime prior to Robotech, but nothing made a connection with audiences like this 1985 series.


The Robotech series is actually three different tales packaged into one.  The three ‘chapters’ are The Macros Saga, The Robotech Masters, and New Generation.  Originally, the series was three separate series (oddly similar) entitled Dimensional Fortress: Macrocross, Super-Dimensional Cavalry: Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber: Mospeada. 


The first leg of the series (Macros Saga) chronicles the arrival of a space ship as it enters earth’s solar system and crashes onto a small island.  A group of researchers are dispatched to analyze the wreck and see what can be learned from its technology.  After ten years of research and development scientists manage to create a series of jets that transform into robots referred to as Robotech.  Soon after that they repair the wrecked ship; calling it the SDF-1.  But change is on the horizon as a group of aliens called the Zentraedi arrive on earth to steal away the technology; destroying anything in their path.  It is the job of a group of untrained Robotech pilots and a newly assembled SDF-1 crew to save humanity.  We are then jutted out into space where an epic battle ensues, as the Zentraedi and the Robotech crew fight until the bitter end.  There is love, hate, huge plot twists, and many surprises.  The series is epic and definitely has a level of depth unlike many other series of the era.


Robotech then moves onto the next two chapters (The Robotech Masters and New Generation) where we pick up with the series 15 years after the first segment ended.  The Zentraedi return to get the technology they so desperately crave and again a crew of Robotech rookies must stop them.  The second chapter doesn’t have the same level of depth or creativity as the first season and overall the storyline is lacking; but nevertheless enjoyable.


In the third chapter (New Generation) the story picks up again with more detail as Earth has been transformed into a horrible wasteland; having been beaten down by a new alien invader.  A crew has been sent into space to find a new home land, but earth is at the mercy of the aliens.  A rag tag team of “know nothings” gather to man a mission to save earth one last time.  The story is somewhat unbelievable, but better than the previous chapter and a good Robotech installment.


The extras on this Robotech are impressive and copious; including the following:


·         Carl Macek’s Robotech (Documentary)

o        This featurette is overflowing with everything Robotech and is an excellent homage to the man who put the series all together, Carl Macek.  We as an audience are treated to Music Videos and a ton of insight of how the series was originally constructed and produced.

·         We also get the original unaired pilot of the series

·         Deleted Scenes

·         Promo Spots

·         Art Galleries

·         Original Openings/Closings

·         Even more as we are treated to over 10 hours of extras!!



He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season 2 (Mill Creek DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Episodes: B



By the power of Grayskull!! He-Man is back! Well…kind of…


Nothing new to mention for this release from Mill Creek Entertainment, with the exception that Mill Creek (who now holds the rights to the series) gives fans the opportunity to own each season of the series in its entirety, without having to own those annoying volumized sets previously released.


Now on DVD is He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete Second Season, full of the same mighty goodness and surprising extras.


We follow Prince Adam as he wields his power as the great He-Man to defeat the evils of Skeletor and his army of super villains.  Along with Cringer, Man-At-Arms, Teela, Orko, and the Sorceress, He-Man must face some of his hardest challenges in this epic Second Season.


The series aired from 1983-1985 and was produced by the world renowned Filmation Studios; creating some of the most memorable, heroic moments to ever hit the animated airwaves.  He-Man holds a special place in this reviewer’s childhood as I am sure it does for man; as the series expanded far beyond an animated series and had tie-ins from breakfast cereals to action figures.  He-Man is a brand that has not faded away into obscurity either as even in recent years a resurgence of the character has appeared on TV and in film.  A classic hero that isn’t going anywhere.


Extras include:

  • 10 Complete Episode Scripts
  • 50 Detailed Profiles of Various Characters, Creatures, and Artifacts
  • Documentary: The Stories Behind He-man
  • Documentary: The Magic of Filmation
  • Documentary: Animating He-Man
  • Episode Commentaries: On 6 Episodes



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 9 (Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: B-


Well nearly two years after the last DVD release of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Season 8), fans get another installment in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Season 9.  Almost at the end here as 8 of the final 16 TMNT episodes are released; Season 10 is the last season.


Nothing epic happens in Season 9 and it is more than apparent that the end was near for our green shelled heroes.  Most people don’t even realize that TMNT was still airing up until 1997; the 80’s generation having somewhat outgrown their childhood heroes by that point.  Also with only 8 episodes airing, it is not hard to imagine these episodes slipping through the cracks.  Season 9 continued to usher in the changes of Season 8, dropping many of the familiar villains in favor of darker new ones.  The series attempts to be dark, but is concurrently goofy in turn portraying an unbalanced, odd feel.


By no means are the episodes horrible, but nothing ground breaking either.  It is nice to see the series finished off on DVD and fans can rejoice knowing that they nearly have the entire collection on their shelves.


The eight (8) episodes this season are:

  1. The Unknown Ninja
  2. Dregg of the Earth
  3. The Wrath of Medusa
  4. The New Mutation
  5. The Showdown
  6. Split-Second
  7. Carter, The Enforcer
  8. Doomquest


Though the set comes with a nice cardboard, lenticular slip cover no extras are included in this time; but perhaps we will get one last clump on the final season set.



Thundercats: Season 1 – Part 1 (Warner DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Episodes: B


Thundercats was one of my favorite animated series as a child. I had ever coloring book, action figure, and pajama that I could get my hands on…to put it simply, nothing was better.


Viewing Season One, Part One of this set re-released by Warner Bros I am reminded of many good times and good memories.  What I am also now seeing is how hokey the series was in the first place.  Now it is not quite on the level of He-Man in terms of silliness, but it is up there.  I was a kid, what did I know?


The fact remains the series is fun and action packed as Lion-O and his allies try to defeat evil on the Planet of Third Earth.  The series follows the Thundercats as they crash land on Third Earth after a violent encounter with Plun-Darr who were attempting to steal the ‘Eye of Thundera;’ a mystical weapon housed in a sword Lion-O carries.  Once on Third Earth the Thundercats attempt to establish home base, but soon come to find a new enemy in the form of Mumm-ra.  Mumm-ra is an ancient mummy wizard who joins forces with the Plun-Darr mutants in attempt to possess the ‘Eye of Thundera.’


As Season One unfolds we see the Thundercats, lead by Lion-O, right off the mutants and Mumm-ra as they establish themselves on the planet.   There are some larger story arches and elements of continuity, though most episodes are simple and self contained.  The target audience again being young children to sell toys to.


I find the series insanely nostalgic, well animated, and fun after all these years.


Extras include:

  • Feel the Magic, Hear the Roar! Thundercats Fans Speak Out!: Will Wheaton and Other loyal Fans Give their Memories and Supports to Animation Classic
    • A very fun and interesting extra that gives great insight to the series and its huge fan base. Bravo.



Jem and the Holograms: Season Two (Shout! Factory DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C-     Episodes: B-


With series like He-Man, TMNT, Thundercats, and GI Joe overtaking the airwaves in the 1980’s and early 90’s; the market for fun, heroic female influences was severely lacking.  For some reason Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Bright, and Care Bears was simply cutting it; enter Jem and the Holograms.


In 1985 Jem and the Holograms hit television and both boys and girls alike were hooked.  The series focuses on music studio owner Jerrica Benton, who (as her alter ego Jem) along with her band The Holograms sets off on a series of adventures.  The series was created as a joint venture by the same people who created the GI Joe and Transformers craze (mainly Sunbow Productions, Hasbro, and Marvel).  This with the obvious intention to pull children in and then subsequently sell them (their parents) a boat load of related merchandise.


Each episode mainly revolves around Jerrica Benton protecting her secret identity after she transforms into her alter ego Jem.  Jerrica creates Jem by using a specialized hologram projection device known as Synergy; a device (concealed in her earrings) bequeathed to her by her now deceased father.  Synergy was intended to be the ultimate special effects stage device, but has instead been utilized by Jerrica (Jem) to go undercover and make her and her bands dreams come true.


The Holograms consist of Jem, Kimber Benton (Jerrica’s younger sister), Shana Elmsford, and Aja Leith.  All of the girls are aware of Jem’s secret and conspire with her to keep it hidden.  The rival bands of the group are The Misfits and The Stingers, who are often the center of conflict for The Holograms.


The series does not rely too heavily on continuity or deep character development; mainly focusing on standalone episodes that are fun, adventurous, and mildly entertaining.  Not much changed between the First and Second Seasons of the series; as one member leaves, new member Raya comes on board.  It is becoming increasingly hard to keep Jem’s true identity a secret as suspicions surmount from all those around; especially the rival bands.


The show is fun, though a tad repetitive after a while as I ask myself “do I care if her identity is unveiled?”  Though the girls go on some strange and wacky adventures, it is not as if Jem is Superman, Bruce Wayne, or even James Bond; her secret identity is of little consequence to humanity.  So again, the series is enjoyable and nostalgic as the 1980’s are beaming in this girly, colorful, bedazzled series.

The twenty-five (25) episodes in Season Two include:


  1. The Talent Search, Part 1
  2. The Talent Search, Part 2
  3. Scandal
  4. One Jem Too Many
  5. The Bands Break Up
  6. The Fan
  7. Father’s Day
  8. The Treasure Hunt
  9. Aztec Enchantment
  10. Music is Magic
  11. The Jazz Player
  12. Danse Time
  13. Alone Again
  14. Roxy Rumbles
  15. KJEM
  16. Trick or Techrat
  17. The Presidential Dilemma
  18. Rock ‘N’ Roll Express
  19. Mardi Gras
  20. The Middle of Nowhere
  21. Renaissance Woman
  22. Journey Through Time
  23. Out of the Past
  24. Hollywood Jem, Part 1: For Your Consideration
  25. Hollywood Jem, Part 2: And the Winner Is…


There is only one extra to speak of in this set, which is a Video Jukebox; highlighting musical performances by The Holograms.  It is nothing special, but if you like this odd, 1980’s, glam music it is right up your alley.


Technical Features

The video on all five (5) of these series is a 1.33 X 1 Full Frame that is nicely presented with varying levels of grain.  I would not say one series is much better than any other in terms of colorful crispness, clarity, or level of grain/debris; as all are adequate, but all have their downfalls.  Little restoration (if any) has been done to these 1980’s/90’s series and it shows.  The colors are probably the standout video feature of each, whereas the crispness, clarity, and amount of grain are the impeding elements.  Outside of the lack of restoration these series were never cared for much to begin with; film cels being auctioned off on the likes of eBay and original production copies of the episodes being lost to time, being transferred to DVD via old VHS/analog copies.  The sound is a different story for all series reviewed above.  Jem has been amazingly restored to a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (originally a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) and it sounds well rounded and clear.  Granted with Jem we still don’t get the panning/blasting effects of a cinematic experience, but it is much improved and the dialogue and music truly come to life.  With Robotech: The Complete Series we also get a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track that is more explosive and incorporates splendid panning effects when the action picks up; however, when the action stops so do the surrounds, dialogue all front and center.  On He-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the sound is about the same as the video (if not a tad better) being rendered in a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo for all episodes.  The sound in these series is not very dynamic, coming all from the front but it does project clean and clear without much distortion or softness.  Thundercats is the only series in this review that is in its original Dolby Digital Mono.  I found it to be of the same level of clarity as He-Man and TMNT, with the sound coming from the front with little distortion to mention.


In the end, all of these series are outstanding in their own way; and audiences should rejoice that we even get the opportunity to view these series with ease all of these years later.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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