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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Magic > Fantasy > Rock > Pop Music > Mission: Magic! – The Complete Series (1973/Filmation/BCI Eclipse)

Mission: Magic! – The Complete Series (1973/Filmation/BCI Eclipse)

 

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

 

 

Thanks to the original Scooby Doo, Pop/Rock music arrived as standard in many animated TV shows to follow.  Usually this was by talented but unknown artists, but after hitting the nail on the head with Groovie Goolies (reviewed elsewhere on this site) even down to Horror/Comedy, Filmation tried again with Mission: Magic! in 1973.  This time, they would come up with a new Sabrina/Samantha/Jeannie type magic female named Miss Tickle, who happened to be a teacher.  Each week, she would draw a door on her chalkboard and take her class into another dimension and into a new adventure.  And who would be on the other end each week?  Rick Springfield!!!

 

Yes, nearly a decade before losing his Australian accent, becoming a soap opera star and having hits like Love Is Alright Tonight and Jessie’s Girl, here was the 23 year old singer/songwriter a teen idol (with only one hit for the decade!) in his own show.  He wrote and sang the title song, wore a white outfit with bell bottoms and a few lighting bolts on his shirt with a small letter “r” in the center.  Yes, he was a superhero rocker, sort of and the show lasted one season.  This new Complete Series DVD set offers all 16 half-hour shows as the Filmation style tries to imitate the counterculture (and particularly Peter Max) style of art in what is an interesting move on the studio’s part.  What I watched, I wondered back in ’73 if he was a fictional character.  Well, he was not.

 

The art is simpler and not bad, but not as complex as Yellow Submarine, The Beatles own TV show and the like.  The writing is not bad, but you can only go so far with the magic lady rhyme thing and though the scripts attempt to have humanity and humor, the shows are not the most memorable part of the Rock or Magic cycles of the time.  I had forgotten Springfield had his Aussie accent, but I had not seen as many of these shows, so there was little to remember.  Up against Pink Panther & Josie & the Pussycats, it had it rough.

 

Two episodes of interest in particular are Dissonia, where music (especially Rock we gather) has been banned and 2600 A.D., where computers as complex as 2-XL and Atari 2600 (not yet invented at the time) have somehow taken over the world.  The robots will remind you of R2D2, but are inspired by Huey, Dewy & Louie from Douglas Trumbull’s Silent Running (1972, reviewed elsewhere on this site) which would figure prominently at Filmation until Star Wars came along.  They are the best shows and have aged in interesting ways.  The Springfield songs are not that memorable, but can be amusing and you get one per show.

 

All in all, you get something for everyone to see.

 

 

The 1.33 X 1 image is unusual in that is sometimes sharp, sometimes soft and sometimes with fringe detail.  The latter shows that maybe the prints were being made in dye-transfer three-strip Technicolor as the misalignment tends to suggest that when the image gets soft.  The color is not always top notch, but is more often good than bad, but the show could use some work and barely makes its letter grade.  Though this is Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, some songs sound redubbed in a simple or faux stereo including the theme song.  Compare to the copy used as a preview trailer elsewhere on this and other BCI/Filmation DVD releases.  The combination is good if not great.

 

Extras include interview clips with producer Lou Scheimer and his daughter/voice actor Erika Scheimer, the great Magic of Filmation documentary, a Mission: Magic! image galleries, nicely illustrated booklet with episode guide and trivia and DVD-ROM accessible PDF format - scripts and model sheets.

 

Missing is any participation by Springfield, who reportedly turned down participating.  OK.  We know he grew up after being 23 and became a hit act after switching from Capitol Records in the 1970s to RCA in the 1980s.  Until he remade Jessie’s Girl in every configuration possible until that wore out by 1985.  However, though the songs here are not his strongest material, you can recognize his voice (Brits and Aussies loose their accents when singing usually) and he has done much worse.

 

The lack of pride and/or thinking he is above this show is ridiculous.  After over two decades of no hits, it is not like this show would make people forget his 80s hits or trivialize him.  It might have even revived interest beyond his recent legacy nostalgia tours.  He can go and settle for best, but Filmation did not, which is why Mission: Magic! holds up well enough.  Guess some people are just ungrateful, but don’t let that ruin the show for you.  It is a curio more than worth a look and a high quality, child safe program that is getting harder to find these days.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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