Judge Cynthia Boris forgot to plug in the maid this morning.
Our review of The Jetsons: The Complete First Season, published July 15th, 2004, is also available.
Blast off to the future with classic cartoon comedy.
People thought it was extremely unusual when Fox revived their animated series Family Guy three years after its cancellation. Three years? That's nothing. Try having 20 years between your first and second season. This is The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 1 on DVD.
Facts of the Case
Meet George Jetson, a typical suburban dad in the 21st Century. He spends his days working for Spacely Space Sprockets while wife Jane has made a career out of shopping. Teenager daughter Judy can usually be found talking on phone with her girlfriends while young son Elroy is a science whiz and tinkerer who likes to figure things out on his own. And let's not forget man's best friend, Astro who's capable of barking out close approximations of English words as long as they start with an R—right Reorge?
But living in the future doesn't mean things are better than they are now. George still has trouble pleasing his boss, Jane has to deal with household machines that go haywire, and the kids are still kids. The only upside to this life is that they have cars that fold up into a briefcase to avoid parking problems, showers that wash, dry and dress you in a matter of minutes and machines that pop out anything you want to eat with just the push of a button. Isn't technology wonderful?
You get 22 episodes on this DVD set.
I grew up watching The Jetsons, so I jumped at the chance to review this new DVD. I hadn't done my homework on the show yet, so I assumed the "second season" label on the box meant that these were episodes from the '60s. But when my husband and I sat down to watch, we both noticed something odd. It didn't feel like the same show we had both loved as kids. The voices sounded the same…sort of. The colors were the right colors and the characters were all there, but it didn't draw us in the way we remembered. That happens sometimes when you rewatch a childhood favorite as an adult, so I was ready to put it off to selective memory.
It was my husband who suggested that these might not be original episodes, but ones from the show's revival. Sure enough, he was right. I had no idea that the show had been remade in the 1980s, and then there was the packaging that leads you to believe it's part of the original run. Off to the Internet I went to do a little research and it all became clear.
The Jetsons originally premiered in 1962 and, like its prehistoric cousin The Flintstones, it was an animated primetime series aimed at adults. The plots at the time were typical of what you would find on any family sitcom such as Leave it to Beaver or The Brady Bunch. The new Jetsons, however, was produced as a Saturday morning cartoon for kids so there was a big shift in the plots and the characters. This new version gets away from the daily living problems of George and Jane and focuses more on the kids, Astro, and Robot Rosie. They even added a new character in the form of an adorable, bouncy alien pet whose very design screams plush toy merchandising.
Incredibly, all of the original voice actors are back but with many of them in their senior years, the voices don't come across quite the same. Maybe that can be attributed to a poor audio mix. As for the visuals, you would think that the animation would be better 20 years later, but I found it to be very flat, and the flaws in the DVD print don't help.
Overall, I found these new episodes lacked the warmth of the original series, and I don't just mean in the familial connections. There's this intangible, indescribable something that separates fabulous classic animation such as The Flintstones from the newer works such as Scooby Doo and Hong Kong Phooey. I think the difference might be in the human touch, as I'm sure in the 70s and 80s we found faster, cheaper, more mechanical ways of turning out cartoons.
This DVD is nicely packaged with static navigation screens and a hidden special feature! I hate when they don't tell you which disc the feature is on. It's a featurette called "The Jetsons Return to the Future" It's a nice look at how the revival came to be, and it details the differences between the two versions. I do wish the featurette had spent a little more time with the voice artists as they truly were some of the very best: Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyle, Don Messick, Janet Waldo, Penny Singleton, and the wonderful George O'Hanlon who really was George Jetson.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It would have been easy for Hanna-Barbera Productions to revive The Jetsons with a whole new cast and wilder, spacier imagery. They didn't go the easy route and for that I give them a hearty slap on the back. I'm sure there were studio heads who balked at the idea of bringing in a 73-year-old actor to play the lead in a weekly cartoon series but having the originals obviously mattered to them, and it matters to me. O'Hanlon was George, I don't want to hear another actor doing an approximation when I can have the real thing.
The revival's real saving grace comes from the fact that the show was set in the future. That meant it wasn't dated and thus the clothing, backgrounds, and characters didn't have to change at all in order to conform to the times. Look at the clothing on Jane and Judy, it's much more wearable today than anything people were really wearing in the '80s!
As revivals go, this one is better than most.
I'm probably being picky when I point out the flaws in this Jetsons revival DVD, but I hate it when I find a gap between my happy memories and the real thing. The Jetsons was appointment TV in our house, and I'm sure it had a lot to do with my current love of SciFi on TV. As a kid, I marveled at the idea of push-button dinners and cars that flew through the air. Okay, so we haven't reached that point, but think about this. How many baby boomers thought we'd have portable phones that could connect you to anyone in the world at the touch of a button? Ovens that heat a casserole in three minutes instead of 30? A box that lets you rewind live TV so you can see that incredible pass or amazed reaction over and over again.
Seems to me that the world of The Jetsons isn't as far away as we once imagined.
I find The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 1 to be a good quality knock off of the original, but a knock off nonetheless.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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