Even after more than forty years, Judge Dennis Prince's "trio" is ready to spring into action at a moment's notice—mostly.
Don't look up into sky but, rather, down and into your television set to witness the flying superhero that gets his energy and powers from the rays of the sun—it's Birdman (Keith Andes, Winged Victory). Headquartered in a technologically well-appointed dormant volcano shell, the Bird Lair, Birdman and his super-powered companion eagle, Avenger, takes aim at the evil and otherwise unwelcome deeds from a gallery of creatures and criminals. Maintaining total secrecy over his true identity, that of Ray Randall, Birdman has been enlisted by the patch-eyed informer, Falcon-7 (Don Messick, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, to thwart international schemes typically put forth by the non-descript terror organization, F.E.A.R. It was no secret that Birdman's powers—those including flight, all manner of stunning and destabilizing force beams, and power shield—came from the sun via the ancient Egyptian god, Ra. Routinely, then, Birdman's foes sought to sequester the hero from the empowering rays in order to carry out their evil plans. But Avenger would often come to the rescue as would Birdboy (Dick Beals, The Gumby Show), the sometimes-available younger hero, to help Birdman regain control of the situation and send the bad guys packing—until the next time.
Alternately, The Galaxy Trio—Vapor Man (Don Messick), Meteor Man (Ted Cassidy, The Addams Family, and Gravity Girl (Virginia Eiler, Ben Casey)—would also be busy putting the brakes on intergalactic baddies. Serving the Galactic Patrol, the Galaxy Trio patrolled space in their interplanetary spaceship, the Condor 1, to maintain peace and justice. Each hailing from their own home planet, this trio has come together to prevent the ill intents of outer space's ill-adjusted denizens.
With Space Ghost having proven to Hanna-Barbara that the superhero genre was ripe for Saturday morning harvesting, the studio responded—naturally—with more of the same. Interestingly, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio was certainly a sub-par follow up from the mind of character designer Alex Toth but it managed to run for a similar two seasons before floating into perpetual reruns and syndication. The plotlines of the adventures—both for Birdman as well as the undeniable inane Galaxy Trio—are sketchy, at best. The formulaic approach was liberally borrowed from predecessor Space Ghost without a hint of apology and with even greater disdain for coherent plot devices and reasonable resolutions. Look—it was a bunch of heroes in uniforms battling a bunch of kooky creeps, so what else is needed by the sugared-up youth tuning in? With that, set your expectations appropriately low when you venture into the (non) sensibility of Birdman and the Galaxy Trio.
In a similar spin-off approach, Warner Home Entertainment presents Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series in identical fashion as that of the Space Ghost DVD release. This two-disc package is also delivered in a fold-over slimline digipak securely tucked into an outer slipcase with plenty of heroic artwork. The two flipper discs inside house the entire collection of 20 original episodes, each featuring two Birdman adventures with one Galaxy Trio escapade tucked in between. Framed at their original 1.33:1 television broadcast format, these episodes look as good as the Space Ghost episodes, meaning they're not full-on restorations. Again, the picture quality benefits most from the vibrant color palette but are dotted with source dirt and scratches. Aliasing is again present, giving most edges that jagged appearance. Another of Hanna-Barbera's 30-minute time slot-friendly productions, each show begins with a one-minute opening title sequence then proceeds into a six-minute Birdman adventure. After this comes the opening titles that set up the ensuing Galaxy Trio outing. The show wraps up with one more Birdman flight before the end titles roll. Each episode is accompanied by a suitable Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono audio track. Now, as of this review, I'm not as intimately familiar with the original broadcast elements for Birdman and the Galaxy Trio yet the lack of any bridging bumpers between cartoons makes me suspect another clipity-clip by the folks at Warner Bros. There are no additional elements to be found within the episodes and I can only suspect this is yet another "not quite complete" presentation.
Showing more signs of "leveraging," the only extra on this disc is a brief overview of the show characters, briskly explained in Birdman: The Forgotten Hero, a featurette that goes back to creator Alex Toth but doesn't cover much of interest beyond what was already presented on the Space Ghost disc set.
If you're fond of the flying fowl and prefer your superheroes with feathers over capes, then Birdman and the Galaxy Trio may be just the thing to line your home entertainment nest. Don't expect meticulous story telling but it's easy enough to still get lost within the nostalgic goodness of this (mostly) complete offering.
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• Featurette: Birdman: The Forgotten Hero
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