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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Animation > Compilation > TV > Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 1980’s Collection, Volume 1 (Warner Bros. DVD Set)

Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 1980’s Collection, Volume 1 (Warner Bros. DVD Set)


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



Everyone has a different propensity for 1980’s television series, animated or otherwise.  There are those zany series that reflect an era of excess and outlandish styles and others that remain solid/classic television to this day.  For the most part, however, many series have been forgotten with time, never to be seen or heard from again. Thankfully (perhaps) the invention of DVD has allowed the forgotten and dismissed to resurface just as horrible as ever.


Now for your ‘enjoyment’ on DVD is Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 1980’s Collection, Volume 1; a compilation of some of the most idiotic animated series from the 80’s.  While classic series like GI Joe and Transformers have lasted the test of time, even inspiring recent feature films; many of the Saturday morning cartoons from the 1980’s were mindlessly taking advantage of popular trends of the day.  The set being reviewed here features episodes from odd series like Kwicky Koala, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Flintstone Kids, The Mr. T Show, Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos,  The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, Goldie Gold and Action Jack, The Biskitts, The Monchhichis, Galtar and the Golden Lance, and Dragon’s Lair.  Wow!  Seriously, it is such a cornucopia of 1980’s animated randomness that as I watched them my head was spinning.  There is a sampling from each of the series, some with one episode and others with several, but overall I was stunned at how bad the series were.  Each series used the basic Hanna-Barbera premise and classic archetype of good vs. evil, but what was more stunning to me was the variety of shows that I had forgotten.  It took almost the whole episode on most series for me to get a brief ‘flashback’ of my childhood and watching the series, but sure enough their horribleness was stored in the back of my mind.  I am guessing that audiences will never get a full run of these series on DVD or otherwise, due to rights reasons as well as the risk of no one buying them, but Warner Bros has once again done a solid job of giving fans a taste of the past; mostly emphasizing what they ARE NOT missing.


For those of us in our mid too late 20’s Saturday morning cartoons are a fond memory (though I do recall sleeping in quite a bit), but nostalgia is at times better left as a warm fuzzy feeling not to be further explored.  The Saturday Morning Cartoons were a chance for studios and companies to promote their newest toy or diabetes inducing cereal to a young audience, while their parents were unwittingly asleep in their bed.  Back then substance and depth were not too much of a concern when it came to television and like I said before time has not faired well for our childhood memories.  This set was packed to the brim with pure awfulness.  Not only were the cartoons horrible, but as will be further reviewed below the picture/sound quality is atrocious.  I have emphasized in my reviews time and time again that 1980’s animated properties were not taken care of; simply because no one had the foresight of DVD/home video and its profitability.  This oversight has left us with a jumbled mess in which only bits and pieces of the aforementioned series still exist.  Whereas I did not enjoy watching these series fully, the nostalgia coupled with laughable nature of what is being offered was enough to think these series deserved better.  And who knows perhaps there is someone out there who is anxiously awaiting the full release of The Monchhichis…though God knows they need help.


The technical features on this set are awful.  Perhaps by no fault of the studio itself (in terms of restoration/digital transfer efforts) the series are overflowing with color, sound, grain and quality issues beginning to end.  There is even an ambiguous warning at the sets opening screen that emphasizes that ‘stock footage’ from multiple sources had to be utilized to recreate episodes and may not be as originally rendered; in other words SORRY NERDS WE MESSED UP, but did our best.  The picture is a simple 1.33 X 1 format with bland colors, a worn appearance and enough grit/debris to create a dust storm.  There is no doubt in my mind that the studio could simply not find good source material, being lost or mistreated over the years. Instead we are left with a subpart product due to years of carelessness.  The Flintstone Kids seems to be the one exception to the quality debacle, but I was already expecting a full release of this (more popular than the rest) animated series.   The audio does not fair well either as they are presented in their weak (yet original) Dolby Digital Mono.  The sound comes through MOSTLY crisp and clear, but offers nothing special.  Quality is lacking even with nostalgia running rampant.


The extras are absent with the exception of the featurette Lord of Light, which gives a basic ‘behind the scenes’ look at Thundarr the Barbarian; in the end being nothing special, though it makes me think they had at one point intended to have a ‘full series’ release.


I can not say run out and buy this set, but if you are looking at a sampling of your past or want to see how your little ones react (consider it an experiment) I would say go for it.  The worst thing that could happen is that you realize how old Chuck Norris really is.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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