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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Action > Defenders Of The Earth – The Complete Series: Volume One (Animated)

Defenders Of The Earth – The Complete Series: Volume One (Animated)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes: C



King Features Syndicate had great success with licensing characters before, especially Flash Gordon and other classic heroes like Mandrake The Magician, The Phantom and Lothar (Mandrake’s assistant) had not been seen by the 1990s in a while.  With Superhero teams and military teams popular in the 1980s, King continued to work with Filmation and decided to bring in Marvel Comics and Stan Lee for Defenders Of The Earth, a mid-1980s production that tried to turn the unrelated characters into a sort of old Teen Titans or X-Men and failed on many levels.


The heroes have teenaged children now, but they also have their fights, including the return of Ming The Merciless.  The biggest problem is that all the teleplays are rushed like a Music Video, which also serves as the same short, angry 1980s action cartoon “might makes right” Rambo mentality that runs contrary to the Filmation aesthetic and good cartoons in general for children of all ages.  The style never meshes with the classic characters, who are gutted out and minimized somewhat to fit into the Rambo mold without totally being Rambo.


It is one of the most bizarre failures of the 1980s and maybe any animated show, but as compared to the superior 1979 Flash Gordon animated series, all were doomed from the start trying to follow that up.  The Phantom later got his own animated series and feature film, while further Gordon revivals crashed and burned as of this posting.


The 1.33 X 1 image is very detail-challenged, though color can be consistent, yet I was never happy with the final color schemes that never made sense or were very convincing.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is better, if not great.  The combination is passable, but not up to the best BCI/Filmation releases we have covered to date.


Extras include two collector’s art cards and pullout episode guide booklet with series facts inside the DVD case, DVD-ROM printable script, bible and storyboard for the series, trivia/fun facts section, text character profiles, interview with the show’s creators, commentary on the pilot show, stills, storyboards for one entire show, original demo film for the show (which was much more promising than what we finally got) and the first episode of the superior 1979 Flash Gordon animated series already available and reviewed elsewhere on this site.


At best, this is a curio with respectable supplements, but is a disappointment most of all if not as bad as the animated Flash Gordon on a skateboard!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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