Thundercats: Season 1 DVD Review
PictureThere appears to have been quite a lot of disappointment about the fact that this show has not been re-mastered. Well, to be honest, was that ever on the cards? And, even if it had been, would the results gained from old 80's archived tapes of line-drawn cel animation really have looked any better than this? I don't think so.
The image on these discs is actually very pleasing indeed and consistent throughout the entire package. There is some grain and some damage, a little bit of ghosting here and there, and the picture does that vintage wobble from time to time. If you sit up close to the screen to re-enact the way in which you used to watch it as a kid, then, yes, you are going to see every defect imaginable flickering about the image. But, from a normal distance, and with a few concessions made for the age of the material and the media from which it has been sourced, then I don't think you have much to complain about at all. The colours are rich and bold, the fast action is handled extremely well and detail is where it is meant to be - all up front. The damage is actually quite minimal, the wear and tear only registering if you are specifically looking for it.
Depth of field is well-achieved and the black levels are reasonable enough. Blocking or artifacting didn't pose a problem and the edge enhancement actually looks like it has been there since the original broadcast. Overall, I can find little to moan about. If I absolutely had to have my animation pin-sharp then I would have watched The Incredibles instead of some old TV show from the 80's. I certainly cannot imagine that these episodes have ever looked better than this.
SoundWell, there really isn't anything much that can be said about the Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track, other than the fact that you can hear it. Doing its job without fuss or fancy-effects, the track delivers the audio with clarity and a fairly decent bit of oomph for the action and the explosions. I have to mention that a well-reported glitch on Episode 2 The Unholy Alliance means that it plays without the backing music on the English track. The French and Spanish tracks have the correct audio. Subsequent releases of this package may well have rectified this by now. Thankfully, the theme tune remains intact.
Other than that, I can't think of any spectacular, or woeful, moments to highlight, folks. There is some occasional, but very slight, hiss and crackle but, basically, the DD 1.0 does a pretty good job of bringing Thundercats to acoustic life.
ExtrasI hope you weren't expecting any commentary tracks, folks, or any making of's because all we are treated to here is a very lowly fan-rave entitled Feel The Magic! Hear The Roar! Thundercats Fans Speak Out! (7.07 mins) This is a smirk-inducing mini-featurette that just details the love some serious fans have for the show, among them Star Trek's Wil Wheaton. It is quite clear that the makers of this goaded some of the participants into doing impressions and then, hysterically, singing the theme song. Wheaton, though, knows that he is being excessive and just doesn't care. I actually don't mind this type of thing. I've never lost touch with the geek inside me and it's always good fun to witness such rabid enthusiasm. Look out for the bald bloke coaxed into the singing the theme song - it's hysterical. Me and my little lad just kept replaying his rendition over and over, and it just got funnier every time.
However, on a more serious note, it would have been nice to have had some background on the production - interviews, conceptual artwork etc. I know next to nothing about the genesis of this show and watching it now has given me a desire to learn more. Perhaps on later volumes this aspect will be addressed. As such, this meagre one-off bonus is clearly lacking.
Oh, we also get some Trailers for the likes of The Batman and The Superman Animated Series.
VerdictWell, I found this to be thunderously good entertainment. There are a few clunky episodes, as is only to be expected, but overall the imaginative animation and wildcat style of storytelling can't fail to win you over. The anime influence is particularly relevant when you consider what some of the creative team behind the show went on to produce, and it is nice to think back to a time when all that felt astoundingly fresh. Fast, engaging and with the emphasis on action and wonder over the moralising that dogged He-Man, Thundercats has a wily, yet simple, set-up that the show just builds upon with each new story. Perfect for the kid inside all of us.
The discs offer an image that I, for one, found very pleasing but sound that could have done with a slight makeover. Extras-wise, there is nothing of worth here. But hey, it's the show that matters. Well recommended.
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