Hello out there in tvland, or rather cartoon land, and welcome to my review of Silverhawks volume one on DVD! To those of you who are unfamiliar with this show, it is the cousin of one of the most popular cartoons of the eighties, Thundercats….HO! After kids in the mid-eighties went ga-ga over the pack of ferociously fun and morally upstanding humanoid felines, the same creative team of Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass quickly assembled another animal/human/hero concept for the kiddies 1986 after school line-up.
What is probably paramount to understanding the very existence of the show is its complete unapologetic cash-in on everything that made Thundercats a smashing success, a move often made in the entertainment industry which usually doesn’t yield the best results. As one can see from the basic concept of a small family of heroes with an elder mentor and a side kick battling a gravely-voice beast of a bad guy who transformers himself through a ritual into a bigger, badder guy, to the same dynamic style of animation, to the recasting of almost all the same voice talents, to the use of the educational epilogue, to the various ways of incorporating the toy’s gimmick into every episode, and, of course, the toy tie-ins themselves. All these elements, which worked exceedingly well in Thundercats, were the foundation for the show, which probably seemed like a sure fire idea but ultimately doesn’t quite work. Although the writers and directors will insist that Rankin/Bass simply had
expert savvy in structuring kids shows in the featurette, one can clearly see the dollar signs in their eyes.
Of course that is not to say the show isn’t enjoyable or loads of eye candy, as it delivers all the fast-paced, sleek-looking dynamic style and action one comes to expect from the wild, cocaine-addled golden days of eighties animation. The show is positively chock full of beautiful, spectacular science fiction/mythological battles of epic proportion, which will keep your eyes reeling ( and even possibly scrounging around in flea markets and ebay, looking for those action figures to play along with!), but will probably leave you wanting more story and character development to go along with the spectacle.
While Thundercats followed much the same formula of light-hearted fun turning to heroism in the call to action against insidious evil, it also managed to develop fun, unique characters in the writing and vocal performances which kept the adult in me coming back for more on DVD (in all four volumes also available from Warner Bros. Entertainment;-). All gripes aside though, the show still holds a special place in my heart, as one of the better, more visually stimulating programs that engulfed my childhood in a plethora of colors, shapes, and lasting images of superior craft and exhilarating style.
Spanning thirty-two episodes across four discs in this first dvd volume, this collection is seven-hundred and fourteen minutes of pure wing-armed popping fun! However, buyer beware, this DVD collection’s advertisement of it being four discs is a bit misleading, as its actually only three one-sided discs, and a fourth double-sided disc with episodes on one side and special features on another. This trend from Warner Bros. Entertainment, which started with their first volume of Tiny Toon Adventures, is a total disgrace in this day and age of DVD technology and collecting. They might have gotten away with it till about three years ago, as Universal released nearly all their TV shows in this double-sided, no frills fashion on DVD, but this is a total slap in the face to collector, as most people store their DVDs in binders and this simply makes it impossible to store it in a binder without scratching or damaging the other side of the disc. Not to mention the cheap, displeasing aesthetic this creates when one first looks through the DVD case. There is absolutely no excuse for this, and at 40 smackers for this bad boy one will probably feel a little skimped.
The special features may also cause this sensation, as they only consist of a featurette, an animated Wonder Woman promo, and some other animate Warner Bros. trailers. The featurette on the show, like the Thundercats DVDs, covers the basics of the shows inception and creation through a writer, director, and voice actress Maggie Wheeler. However, what some might find a bit more interesting is that the featurette also covers and details the rather unapologetic toy tie-in in a somewhat nostalgic, yet self-serving fashion that focuses on the catchy gimmicks of the shiny colors and wing popping action that was done with the sole purpose of getting kids to scream bloody murder to collect them all. I know this because I can attest to being one of those kids (although I always pleaded with polite civility mind you), and have been a collector of all such things since the tender age of birth. Of course, hearing from more of principle cast members would have been a nice addition, and including any and all vintage toy commercials or even just still galleries would have been enough to make this package a must own. If for no other reason then allowing the viewer to fully melt into a pile of nostalgic goop, hopefully this will be remedied with future releases (fingers crossed).
Overall, a fairly decent package from Warner Bros. Entertainment, with clean, full length transfers of the episodes and a nifty little extra feature. However, if Warner Bros. continues to release so called “4-disc” collections that are actually three discs and a flipper, I will probably stop buying their dvds and boycott them, because that is just not tolerable. But I doubt many others will kick-up such a fuss over this inconvenience, the nostalgic pull is just too strong. So ‘wing-it’ over to your nearest retailers and pick-up your ‘partly metal, partly real’ copy of Silverhawks vol. 1 on DVD today!