Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Animated Shows on DVD - How Some Companies Just Don't Give A Damn

Not a review and not a list, but I felt like typing an observation (or a rant, but it's a well-informed rant with lots of pictures, so at least I know what the hell I'm talking about) that's been eating away at my brain for years now, just festering in my brainmeats like some sort of tumor that just needs to be cured with some sort of chemotherapy.

Namely, how some companies totally rip you off when they release their animated show on DVD.

Well, there goes my rent money.
Collecting DVD box sets of animated shows is a relatively recent thing that sort of needed the invention of DVDs in order to properly work. Whereas before you had to have like 20 VHSes on standby in order to collect your favorite episodes of Tiny Toons, now, you can just go out and buy the show. We live in a glorious, disc-filled age where, if you feel particularly fond of a certain show, there's an 80% chance that you can run out and get the DVDs and everything will be hunky-dory. Companies like Shout Factory! (and yes the punctuation is required) thrive on the business that is nerds having to own physical copies of a certain show because sometimes the Internet access will go down, you're too inept to work a decent torrent, or the only existing video files of a certain show are blurry videos on Rutube with Russian subtitles.

And, as you might expect from someone who owns a blog like this, I own a lot of shows on DVD. Like, a frightening amount. And, like everything, from video games to books and replacement hips, no DVD is the same in terms of quality.

But today, I'm going to talk about how sometimes even a great show beloved by all can be completely and utterly screwed over by a weak DVD package. This is the tale of one such show, a pretty popular show by all accounts, one that should be familiar to fans of cartoons, and the struggles it faces as its parent company seems to believe that fans of the show will just buy whatever they deal out to them regardless of quality.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Filmation's Ghostbusters - Rollerghoster

Hey guys. Still doing finals, but since I turned in a paper and have some downtime between now and the next finals next week, I figure I'd crank out another Filmation post before resuming hiatus. I would say I'd make up for lost time somewhere down the line, but considering the length of these posts, I'd give myself carpal tunnel trying to achieve like a 14 post month sometime during the summer.

Most people know about Filmation's Ghostbusters by accident. For a brief period of time between the release of the movie Ghostbusters and the release of the TV show The Real Ghostbusters (which happens to be named that way due to this show, by the way; I'll get to that in a minute), kids would read that there was a Ghostbusters cartoon in the TV guide, turn on the idiot box in hopes of watching the exciting antics of Peter Venkman and Slimer, and learn the meaning of the phrase "crippling disappointment".

Guys, I don't think the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man is in this...
Oddly, the most interesting thing about this show is the backstory behind its existence. It's what people in the legal business call "a heaping pile of WTF". Back in the day, Filmation had a live-action TV show called The Ghost Busters, a short-lived live action show where two bumbling detectives and some guy in an ape suit (okay, "a gorilla") tried to stop ghosts and supernatural crap. It only lasted 15 episodes (on account it kind of sucked), meaning the legacy of Ghost Busters should've ended there. Unfortunately, some small-time studio called "Columbia Pictures" wanted to make some small-time movie called "Ghostbusters", and they had to obtain the rights to the name from Filmation for the film. Ghostbusters ended up becoming a huge hit and an instant classic, and Filmation, seeing that there was money to be had from the name alone, went into production with its animated series based on the characters from their original 15-episode series.

In short, the name is the entire reason why this show exists. Welcome to the world of capitalism.

But in fairness to this show, it at least tried to deviate itself from the godawful live-action series it spawned from. For starters, since its an animated show, the ghosts can actually use magical powers and behave more like, well, ghosts and the gorilla can finally look like a goddamn gorilla. This show is also supposedly where Tex Hex from Bravestarr originated from, which makes it even sadder is that this show is considered a cult classic on Wikipedia whereas the Bravestarr Wikipedia page is just "This exists".

Unlike Bravestarr where I had to struggle with choosing an episode, picking an episode for Filmation's Ghostbusters was almost too easy. While Bravestarr I had to shift through all the episodes with mature themes in order to find something I could laugh about, Ghostbusters was as simple as picking an episode blindly and realizing that it doesn't matter what episode I choose, I'm going to run into some strange crap either way.

I hope you can tolerate ghost puns, people. The title won't be the last ghost pun that will spook its way into this deathly scary post!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bravestarr - The Day the Town Was Taken

I, again, apologize for the lack of updates. I did not forget about this blog; I just have college. Maybe I should've waited until after I graduated from college and didn't have to put together senior projects and shows before writing this blog. I have papers to write, paintings to paint, and storyboards to...storyboard.

A strange thing happened with this post. Originally it was going to be about He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (because it feels like a crime to have a bunch of Filmation shows without talking about the one everyone thinks of when they think of this company), but then I saw that Filmation had a show that came after He-Man that seemed way more interesting to talk about. 

His name means "We apologize for He-Man" in Cherokee.
Even though Happily Ever After was the last movie Filmation ever made before they closed their production doors and stopped making cartoons ever again, Bravestarr happened to be their last animated series. I've seen multiple stories on what really killed Filmation (and the company's failure is sort of like a game of Clue), but from the looks of it, while Happily Ever After can take most of the blame for slaying the people behind He-Man, Bravestarr helped. The show wasn't all that popular and the toy line didn't do too well.

Although, that can't really be Bravestarr's fault. The toys are incredibly creepy.

Imagine this thing standing on your bookshelf, watching you sleep, eating your thoughts...
Bravestarr has an interesting past. Apparently back when Filmation was making Ghostbusters (no, not the one with Egon and Peter; the one with the ape and the talking vehicle), they came up with Tex Hex, a villain concept so mindblowingly awesome that they had to make a whole new show just to house that sheer amount of win contained within him. So they created this series that mixes Western elements with space elements, hoping that two great tastes will go great together.

Which is good, because this is one of those shows that runs on pure "This is way cooler than it sounds, trust us" and kind of functions like a Mad Libs version of the old west. Instead of a state of Texas, you get a planet called New Texas. Instead of a gold rush, it's a kerium rush. Alcohol is sweetwater, some cacti happen to be robots, the prairie dogs are actually a sentient race of beings, and most of the outlaws happen to be aliens. Oh, and the Marshall's horse? It's a cyborg that can switch from a horse with robot legs to a bipedal horse alien that can use a giant gun capable of destroying buildings.

Now, choosing an episode to cover for Bravestarr is hard. I wanted to pick an episode that gave the heroes and the villains decent screentime so I can talk about all of them, especially since right now I'm too lazy to cover the entire movie pilot. Sadly, this meant I'm skipping the drug episode for now, even though that's probably the most famous episode out of the lot. I had a handful of episodes that would've worked, but I just went with my gut feeling and went with the one that had a showcase scene for practically every character. It's got most of the villains, it's decently Western, it has all the elements of a Bravestarr episode that everyone loves, and at one point, Bravestarr utilizes technology I mastered when I was six. Hold onto your cowboy hats and your radically steampunk-esque technology because this is... 

The Day the Town Was Taken