Defenders Of The Earth: Complete Series, Volume 2
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While I can't say that I was a huge fan of this show when it ran in the 80s, I can say that all the characters were know to me however. Who out there doesn't remember the great strips of The Phantom, the old Mandrake the Magician or the serials from Flash Gordon? Hell, I think everyone has seen the underappreciated Queen driven movie of Flash Gordon.
Flash! Ah-Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Flash!
Sorry, that song really gets into your head. Anyways, Defenders Of The Earth: The Complete Series Volume 2 landed on my desk and I have to say I was quite eager to toss this one in. After watching this collection I felt a great wave of nostalgia wash over me. While the show was not great by any means and showing it's age, it was wonderful to remember what Saturday morning cartoons were all about. Let's run down the back-story real quick.
Flash's wife and son are captured by Ming The Merciless. While attempting to save them Flash is shot down and lands on Earth. He enlists the help of friend Mandrake and his servant Lothar to get his family back. They head off to the planet to save them but Ming ends up killing Flash's wife. Her essence is transferred into a crystal that she was holding that Rick (Flash's son) ends up grabbing before they escape. Ming ends up also escaping to Earth, deciding to take over the planet with his ice robot things. While the team is strong they need one more person that has special tracking abilities, so they enlist the help of The Phantom. Also joining the group are all of the teams children. Seems that everyone is a single parent. The Phantom has a daughter named Jedda who has a pet panther Kissa, Lothar son's L.J and Mandrake has an adopted "Polynesian" son. Well, I hope he is an adopted son or that would just be wrong.
Now, I understand that Flash Gordon's wife just dies, but can't all these others keep a woman in their lives? My other thought is what judge would give these guys sole custody when they are always going around fighting robots, monsters, etc.?
Anyways, Rick (Flash's son remember?) makes a super computer out of his dead mom's essence and they create a base of operations inside a volcano. Let the adventures commence!
Again, I had a blast watching Defenders Of The Earth. The question that comes up though is, should you buy this? Well, that depends. Let's go into the good. This collection is stacked. Like most retro-cartoon collections you get 2 specialty drawn cards included inside, a bonus movie (which is really just some episodes tied together to explain how all the members got together), a Flash Gordon bonus episode, commentary, etc, etc. I could go on, but just take my word for it that there is enough here. It is also nice to see classics like Mandrake, Flash and The Phantom together like a Golden Age Justice League of sorts. And to add one more point; nostalgia can be a wonderful thing.
Now let's get to the bad. The art is a times jarring. Not just because it is jerky and it shows it's age, but the characters and artwork seems to change from a few episodes to the next. Let me give you an example. Watching one episode gives you the feel of watching "G.I Joe" artwork with The Phantom's daughter Jedda looking a certain way and having what looks to be a bob haircut, watching another episode will give you Jedda with some jet black hair done in what looks to be colored pencil. This was quite noticeable after watching the "Bonus Movie" and then some normal length episodes. The music and art from some episodes reminded me of the same look as watching an old episode of G.I Joe and then watching other episodes completely changed the models and faces of the characters. It started to look more like an old Max Fleischer cartoon. Frankly I preferred the look of the characters done in the "80s" cartoon style as opposed to the odd Fleisher look that they had at times. This was the biggest complaint with this collection. Well, that and listening to that horrible theme song over and over again.
Overall if you were a fan of this show in the past, then Volume 2 is worth it. Especially with the collection being under 30 dollars. However, if you are going into this with no knowledge of the characters or for only looking for a great 80s show then you might want to go with a C.O.P.S or a She-Ra (Yes, I said She-Ra). The episodes were not as fantastical as the before mentioned and again the change of artwork is jarring. After watching the full set and enjoying the extras, while not on the top of my nostalgia buys and not a must have, I can still give this a strong "think about" buy of 3 1/2 cans.
Added: Tuesday, March 20, 2007
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