Shout! Factory // 1996 // 540 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 1st, 2012
Not really big or bad, but they are indeed Beetleborgs.
Three kids -- Drew, Jo, and Roland -- are just trying to make it the topsy-turvy world that is Charterville. These normal fun-loving pre-adolescents spend their days enjoying mid-'90s shenanigans, like wearing large hats and acid-washed jeans. But when the local pretentious brats dare them to venture into the infamous Hillhurst Mansion (which may or may not be haunted), they're about to be introduced to a whole new world of insanity. Sabansanity.
Poltergeists, demonic possession, and bleeding walls are one thing. But when some guy named Flabber shows up, summoned by a magic pipe organ, we're dealing with a whole new level of abject terror. Flabber is an unholy cross between The Joker and Jay Leno; pale white skin, a gaudy purple outfit, and a chin the size of Rhode Island. When not running around acting like an a-hole hopped up on crank, Flabber is giving our heroes various missions to eradicate monsters. To make it easier and ensure they don't die, Flabber imbues the kids with the powers of the Big Bad Beetleborgs, plastic-armored superheroes that come with the usual mayhem-dealing affectations common to a Saban show.
Big Bad Beetleborgs is decidedly more breezy and low-impact than the overwrought lesson-learning and stylized violence of other Saban series. Lots of slapstick, lots of goofy voices, and just enough sophomoric humor to keep a young mind engaged. In fact, the focus on comic book combat is so reduced the Big Bad Beetleborgs don't get a whole lot of screen time. They show up because that's what audiences are expecting, but they certainly don't dominate like their evil-battling brethren.
Is Big Bad Beetleborgs: Season One, Volume 1 worth revisiting? If you were a fan from back in the day, I'm going to say no, guaranteeing any soft spot you may have had for these characters has since completely eroded. For a new generation of Beetleborg-o-philes, kids whose parents steer them clear of Power Ranger violence, this is an okay alternative. But it still doesn't supersede having them play outside on the tire swing, or make macaroni sculptures of dinosaurs.
Shout! Factory provides us with yet another no-frills DVD release: 26 episodes in standard def 1.33:1 full frame, with Dolby 2.0 Stereo, English closed captioning subtitles, and no extras.
This concludes my whirlwind tour of Shout! Factory's Haim Saban video explosion. I've tangled with the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, VR Troopers, and even the live-action Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. This corner of the Saban-verse is definitely the most kid-friendly, aimed squarely at rugrats younger than the target audience for the heavy-duty martial artistry of the Rangers and Troopers. Flabber is a walking nightmare and the plots don't make sense, but the content is original and doesn't take itself seriously.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 540 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated