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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Pop > Rock > TV > Archie’s Funhouse (1971/Filmation/animated/Genius – Classic Media DVD)

Archie’s Funhouse (1971/Filmation/animated/Genius – Classic Media DVD)


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



Packaging note: This is the debut of a new kind of foldout case where the discs are held by buttons on the edge/sides of the disc, as anyone will see when they try to get to the first two discs.  The third is in a traditional center-holder, but the first two may take some adjusting to accessing.



A growing hit for Filmation and the original owners, Everything’s Archie did very well and all involved decided to follow-up that show with Archie’s Funhouse in 1971, which replaced narrative stories with Laugh-In style snippet gags and puns.  You can read more about the debut show at this link:





The rock band The Archies not only remained in tact, but the music angle was pumped up, resulting in the ultimate bubblegum megahit, Sugar, Sugar.  Jingle Jangle was also a hit, all from this version of the show.  Two more characters from the long-running comedy comic book classic (67 years as of this release year!) were added to the line-up: Big Ethel and Moose.  Ethel was not so good looking and chased Jughead all the time, ruining his character here somewhat and making her’s shallow and useless.  Moose is a good-hearted dimwit who loves sports and the lack of storylines did not use him to best advantage.


Each episode opens with live-action footage of children running into a big single-screen movie house and on stage is Archie, the gang and a new star, the giant jukebox that can play any song, is as large as King Kong and even has instruments the mechanical arms can pull out and play.  You can see vinyl records through the window!


Besides the choppy nature of the gag approach, which did work with Groovy Goolies (reviewed elsewhere on this site and featuring the original and only Sabrina – The Teenaged Witch, who also debuts on this show with her comic mates) the new songs are not always as interesting as the set from the last DVD set.  Maybe it was just the bubblegum being stretched too thin, but the songs began to sound too much alike, the singing started to have less range and arrangements began to sound flatter.  Sure, they had the big hits, but the amusing Mr. Factory is among a minority of interesting songs that seem more from the period than just processed and overfabricated.


Fortunately, the same color schemes and positive, energetic approach remained, which is why the show became a bigger hit.  Sugar, Sugar put it over the top, assuring the characters found a high new pop culture peak they have unfortunately not matched since.  Maybe these DVDs will eventually change that.



The 1.33 X 1 image is among some of the best transfers of Filmation-produced material we have seen to date on DVD, with the Archie owners taking care of the 16mm film materials.  Boy does it pay off here, though color is sometimes not as vibrant as I remember it and DVNR (digital video noise reduction) has been used in automatic mode, causing for some mixed images and detail limits.  They are still so good, you’ll want to see them in HD.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is in pretty good shape throughout, though the sound can vary as much as the picture and many of the songs are still monophonic.


Extras include jukebox presentations of al the songs, which essentially give you access to the records outside of each episode, Sugar, Sugar and Jingle Jangle the same way isolated as if they were Music Videos, seven additional episodes of this show made to be paired with reruns of the first series for The Archie Comedy Hour, the nice 1971 half-hour Archie & His Pals TV Special which is the only narrative material featuring this configuration of the new cast and a great featurette interview with Ron Dante: The Voice Of The Archies.


Dante was a successful jingles singer who landed the role as the singing voice of Archie himself, though he also did plenty of overdubs.  His story is great and he also has some great memorabilia to show off.  Too bad there is not a frame-by-frame slideshow section here to show some of the items, though it seems some extras may have been cancelled as this was being put together.  We cannot encourage Genius enough to add as much as possible.  Still, that is a good selection of extras and they have a few more DVD collections left to issue, so we’ll see.


Next up, separate from the already-issued Groovy Goolies will be Sabrina’s own hit animated TV show.  We look forward to that and the rest of the Archie’s archive hitting DVD.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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