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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Pop > Rock > TV > The Archies/The Archie Show – The Complete Series (1968/Filmation/Genius DVD) + Josie & The Pussycats - The Complete Series (Warner DVD)

The Archies/The Archie Show – The Complete Series (1968/Filmation/Genius DVD) + Josie & The Pussycats - The Complete Series (Warner DVD-Video)


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



By the late 1960s, Rock and Pop Rock were so popular that they began to become part of another major movement of the time that was also on the upswing and becoming more and more popular: Saturday Morning Cartoons.  With The Beatles at their peak of power, characters suddenly formed Rock bands of their own.  The Hardy Boys did this with some friends, Pop/Rock records appeared at the climax of every original Scooby Doo show and even breakfast cereal ads sported mascots singing “yea, yea, yea” while The Monkees (the live action hit eventually rerun successfully on Saturdays) offered TV’s all original band.


Don Kirshner had made that series possible and soon was giving the same treatment to the hit characters from Archie Comics.  First established in 1941, Archie Andrews and his gang were The Beatles of the comedy genre in comic books and to this day, know no rival.  They even had their own hit radio drama, but nothing could have prepared the world at large for Archie, a collaboration between Kirshner, the Archie owners and red-hot Filmation Studios into a classic hit that forever changed and influenced children’s animation.


In this version, Archie, Reggie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead formed The Archies, a new Pop Rock band.  The music eventually became known as part of the subgenre of Bubblegum Rock and though many of the songs are forgettable, this first of many animated hit TV shows with the characters that spawned hit albums and four big hit singles.  The 17 half-hours in this Complete Series collection is long overdue on DVD and set the standard before Scooby Doo to have a song in each show.  In this case, it was separate from any narrative segment.


Bang-Shang-A-Lang was the song in the first episode and became a Top 25 hit, but the next hit would come from the next series, the 7-million selling #1 hit Sugar, Sugar and adult Rock fans were climbing the walls while others just enjoyed the songs for what they were.  Unlike the radio version, the voicings for the show here have far more distinct voices for each character, including Hot Dog, Jughead’s prized pet sheepdog.


The animation may be simple by today’s standards, but is a classic reinterpretation of the classic style of the comics by genius artist Don DeCarlo.  As was the case with all Filmation shows, where recycled animation was noticeable and detail limits were dictated by even more limited budgets, other clever designs, fun gimmicks and exceptional use of color more than made up for the shortcomings and the resulting show remains one of the biggest Saturday Morning hits of all time.


Rival studio Hanna-Barbera not only followed suit wisely with Scooby Doo in one of the smartest moves in TV history, but wanted their own Rock Band Cartoon series.  While Filmation combined Scooby, Archies (literally with the presence of Sabrina, The Teenaged Witch) and beloved monsters with their great hit Groovie Goolies (reviewed elsewhere on this site), H-B landed a coup of their own by landing another Don DeCarlo comic hit and the result was one of their most charming hit TV shows, Josie & The Pussycats.


Josie was a very popular character DeCarlo created based on his wife, a big inspiration in his life in general, he turned her exploits into that of a band and this show resulted.  With male side characters a little too similar to that of Scooby (like several H-B shows) down to the same voice actors, audiences did not care and this series too was a huge hit.  Warner (now owner of the H-B catalog) has issued all 16 shows on a 3-sided double DVD set.  That you had a female Rock band was rather cutting edge at the time for any age group and that one member was African American (Valerie) put the show over the top, then add their dune buggy and it was assured its place into the counterculture cannon and children’s hearts for good.


But the show has so much more to offer.  Josie, Valerie and Melody were the band, while Alexandra and Sebastian The Cat was their rivals.  Alexander and Alan were the guys.  It has been a long time since I have seen the show and only having seen the mixed live action revival, forgot how much humor and energy the show really had.  It really was groovy, if not as outright hilarious as Archie was.  The animation had some more detail than that of Archie, but not by much.


Both shows are classics and fans have been waiting forever.  So how do they playback.


The 1.33 X 1 image is not perfect on either set, but any issues with softness and detail are more than made up for with the color quality.  That may not please some fans and the Josie prints are not in as good a shape, though one Archies song was missing from the vault and an old analog (VHS or Beta) fill-in had to be added to the copy that survived.  Yes, there may be aliasing, digital combing, maybe some digital video noise reduction and other issues, but they play back well enough to accommodate most.


Unfortunately, sound is another issue.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Archie is a little too low in the transfer, especially for its age.  Turning up your volume (a dangerous thing in this case) just increases background hiss.  The Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on Josie is even worse, with nose, distortion and especially warped sound that is just unacceptable for a DVD release at this point.  Where are the original camera film and sound materials?  How could Warner allow so much warped sound to be so present and prominent throughout all the episodes?


Fortunately, both have nice packaging and extras.  Archie comes with a collectible booklet on the show with info on all the episodes, stills section, isolated music/sound effects tracks for two of the episodes, jukebox feature isolating all the songs (though they are sadly not matched with stereo audio form the hit record recordings) and a documentary on the making of the show.  In it, Filmation co-founder Lou Scheimer discusses the show, his memories and how he, his partners and the Filmation offices were featured in the first comic book based on the show.  The booklet reproduces the beginning of that issue.  Josie’s sole extra is a really terrific featurette The Irresistible Charm Of Dan DeCarlo: The Man & His Art on the artist whose vision, innovations and classic work made these shows and other chunks of pop culture possible.


As a result, even with some problems, both sets are must-sees and more than worth your time.  These will undoubtedly win new generations of fans for both shows.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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