Space Ghost & Dino Boy – The Complete Series +
Birdman & The Galaxy Trio – The Complete Series (DVD/1966/Warner/Hanna-Barbera)
C+ Sound: C Extras: B Episodes: B-
1960s, spoofs of comic book heroes were on the upswing thanks to the
counterculture as well as changing political circumstances, but the field for
heroes was wide open as Marvel Comics excelled and DC Comics were becoming more
popular than ever. Not to be left out,
TV was still new, color TV was newer and several production companies launched
their own entries. For Hanna-Barbera,
two of the most ambitious attempts, Space
Ghost & Dino Boy plus Birdman
& The Galaxy Trio were hits.
After all this time, they are now completely available on DVD in two
they both had to their advantage is that they were designed by the comic book
giant and artistic genius of Alex Toth, a huge coup for the company and one
that continued to pay big dividends when DC Comics’ animation rights switched
from Filmation to their company with Batman on The New Scooby Doo Movies and the mega-hit Superfriends beginning with its original and underrated Wendy,
Marvin & Wonderdog season when he worked on those shows. For Space
Ghost & Dino Boy/Birdman &
The Galaxy Trio, his stunning sketches guided both shows to great heights.
Space Ghost was a streamlined hero out of the
1940s future sensibility Toth so brilliantly fused in The Justice Society of America
comic book, et al at that time. Joined
by Jan, Jace (who can both turn invisible) & Blip (ripped off later as
Zann, Jana (who can assume other shapes and forms) and Gleek in later Superfriends shows before they were
dumped altogether) as teen help, the shows want to emulate the Fleischer Superman shorts to some extend and it
worked. The use of color and good voice
acting overcame budget shortcomings and the show was a hit.
good for its time was Birdman, with
his eagle Avenger, owed as much to Hawkman as to Captain America. Much of what made the one show work, made
this one work as well. What also made
both shows overcome their narrative limits and the fact that they were short in
length per segment is simply that the makers played it straight and took the
situations seriously. Even the secondary
series were fun for this reason, building a new word for Hanna Barbera beyond
their classic animal comedies.
course, the 1970s arrived and the combination of DC and Marvel moving on well
ahead of these heroes left them behind.
By they time they returned to new shows on Cartoon Network, they were
talk show hosts with the in-joke that they could have been contenders still not
ready to retire. However, each set has
all 20 multi-segmented half-hours with all in their prime glory and that will
keep fans more than happy.
X 1 image on both sets is not bad for their age, though they both have some
aliasing troubles here and there. The
color helps save these transfers from being worse and though these are not
given the HD treatment they need and deserve, they will do for the DVD
format. Both sets are in Dolby Digital
1.0 Mono, which is unfortunate because the sound could have been upgraded to
even simple stereo, but Warner is being (too?) purist about this. The sources sound like original optical
mono. Extras on each include two
different featurettes on Toth, while Birdman
The Forgotten Hero featurette.
All are richer and more entertaining than expected, making for a
stronger argument than even the original shows at their best to see both
sets. Let’s hope Warner keeps rolling
out these classic Hanna Barbera series.
- Nicholas Sheffo