Shout! Factory // 1997 // 600 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Josh Rode (Retired) // September 4th, 2011
That was nuts!
Norbert and Daggett are brother beavers who, despite the name of the show, aren't any angrier than anyone else. Norbert is cool, calm, and collected, but would rather sit around watching his favorite monster movies than do any work around the dam. Daggett is high-strung and only intelligent when the script needs him to be. In short, the show's setup is the classic "straight man/bumbling idiot" routine. With beavers.
The Angry Beavers: Seasons One and Two begins with an origin episode: Norbert and Daggett are living with their parents, but as soon as the narrator mentions that beaver parents only house one litter at a time, the brothers are unceremoniously shoved out the front door. The fact that it starts at the beginning is about as logical as the show gets. Cartoons are not known for continuity. The events of one episode are usually self-contained and have little or no bearing on subsequent episodes. The Angry Beavers takes this discontinuity to another level; literally anything can happen. Be prepared for hippies, sinister pond scum, a sentient tree stump, and a flock of stripteasing sheep. You read that correctly.
This episodic unpredictability has the potential to be one of the show's greatest strengths but, unfortunately, the unlikeliest episodes also tend to be the worst-written ones. Instead of using the unique premise as a springboard to something great, the script invariably reverts to broad gags and overly simplified solutions. My guess is that the episodes were just too short to give the ideas their full due, but the end result is an uneven mix. There are laugh-out-loud moments, but there are far too many yawners mixed in.
The lack of continuity means that The Angry Beavers shares character weaknesses of other cartoons. Neither Norbert nor Daggett grow or change; they make the same mistakes over and over, just in different contexts and to different extremes. A typical episode involves the brothers doing something they think will be fun, and usually either the mass destruction of everything in the vicinity or a tremendous amount of pain for Daggett. The best parts of the show are those that feature the brothers' monster movies, which are hilarious spoofs on 1950s-style sci-fi flicks. Season two includes "The Day the Earth Got Really Screwed Up," the Halloween special that features the stars of those films, who speak and behave exactly like their characters. The episode is a great encapsulation of everything that is good and bad about Angry Beavers: a great premise with some really funny moments, interspersed with cheap gags and disappointing character interaction. Just like the show, it could have been a classic, but trips over its own feet.
The voice work is great, and the main characters are tremendously engaging. Nick Bakay's (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) Norbert is a dulcet-toned smooth talker who constantly mispronounces common words, apparently to make them sound foreign and therefore cooler (such as "refriera-twa"). Richard Steven Horvitz (Invader Zim) gives Daggett a lot of life simply by adding little sounds when he's not actually talking. His nasal-pinched voice goes perfectly with his frenetic mannerisms.
The Angry Beavers: Seasons One and Two contains four discs and 26 episodes, although as is usual for these kinds of shows, most of the "episodes" actually contain two stories. So there are really 51 shorts including the double-length Halloween special. The show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The picture is clean, with bright colors and decent depth, given the simplistic nature of the animation. The Dolby 2.0 stereo sound is fine; everyone is easy to understand and the music stays nicely balanced. There are no extras per se, but the show has its own little Easter eggs, such as the ever-changing jokes throughout the credits and the episode titles that are often far funnier than the corresponding storylines.
The Angry Beavers: Seasons One and Two is inches away from joining the pantheon of cartoons that transcend their original time period to become true classics. Instead, it's simply a fun show that has enough chuckles to keep the kids entertained through a rainy afternoon.
Review content copyright © 2011 Josh Rode; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated