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Case Number 23337: Small Claims Court

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Pac-Man: The Complete First Season

Warner Bros. // 1982 // 312 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 17th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Naugle made it all the way to pretzels before realizing he was playing Ms. Pac-Man.

Editor's Note

Our review of Pac-Man: The Complete Second Season, published September 29th, 2012, is also available.

The Charge

Wacka! Wacka! Wacka! Welcome to Pac-Land!

The Case

Welcome to the world of Pac-Man! Everyone's favorite yellow ball of electronic happiness lives in Pac-Land with his wife, Pepper (aka Mrs. Pac-Man) and Baby Pac-Man. Their perfect existence is often put in peril by the Ghost Monsters, controlled by a mysteriously masked Mezmaron, whose only desire is to snatch the power pellets from Pac-Land! Get ready to gobble up some 8-bit fun as Pac-Man keeps his family and town safe from all things paranormal in Pac-Man: The Complete First Season!

Here's a fun game: imagine someone who'd never heard of video games sitting down to watch the Pac-Man animated series. What would they think? "Okay, so this little yellow ball eats other little yellow balls. He's chased by ghetto talking ghosts and a tall, bald guy in a cape with what looks like a respirator on, right? And they live in a town with a sun shaped like the Pac People but they have dogs and cats, only the dogs and cats are round. I'm sorry, how do they reproduce again?"

You can see what we're working with here.

Only the annals of time will tell us if this is what future historians will think of Pac-Man's animated series, based loosely on the classic golden age video game of the same name. The show was produced by Hanna-Barbera (departing from their original shows to animate an already established property), and that should tell you everything you need to know about the quality of the show. Animated sequences are looped and repeated endlessly. Character's mouths never match up to the vocal acting. Plot lines are generic and bland as a bowl of bran flakes. The entire show is just one repetitive story after another. In short, Pac-Man: The Complete First Season is nostalgic fun for about ten minutes and than quickly grows as stale as a week old soft pretzel (worth 500 points, for those keeping score).

Logically, Pac-Man makes little sense; Hanna-Barbera has adapted one of the least adaptable video games ever created. The storyline, as it were, concerns Pac-Man living in a town with other Pac-People and trying to outsmart the Ghost Monsters (Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Sue) who are the minions of Mezmaron, the film's main villain (an original creation, as he never appeared in the game), who wants the coveted power pellets. The whole series feels like a rip off of The Smurfs—itself no animated classic—as Pac-Man spends just about every episode outwitting the ghosts in various ways while his wife and son look on (or get in on the action, depending on the episode). Remember Gargamel and the Smurfs? Wash, rinse, repeat.

Each episode of Pac-Man is a ridiculous stretch of storytelling. In one episode the Ghost Monsters are sent back in time where they meet up with Pac-Man's ancestry, Sir Chomp-A-Lot (ho-ho). In another episode straight out of some stock storytelling book, Pac-Man plays the Ghost Monsters to a game of baseball to decide who leaves town. In one of the dumbest episodes, Mezmeron actually constructs a robotic version of Pac-Man's wife to fool Pac-Man…which actually works for a while. This tells you how bright these electronically dim bulb characters are.

There isn't much more to—or much more to say about—Pac-Man: The Complete First Season. It's middling, disposable entertainment that was never meant to contain artistic merit; it was produced to entertain children for approximately twenty five minutes while their parents poured them a bowl of Donkey Kong cereal on Saturday morning in 1982. My advice is to skip this series and spend a half hour and a few quarters on the original arcade game. Donkey Kong cereal is optional.

Pac-Man: The Complete First Season is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, the show's original aspect ratio. The transfer for each episode is mediocre at best; small defects abound, making the picture quality just slightly better than an old VHS copy. As disappointing as that sounds, I can't say it mattered much for the quality of the show—no matter how good or bad it visually looked, the content quality of Pac-Man wasn't going to get any better. The soundtrack is presented in a flat Dolby 1.0 Mono mix. The less said about it, the better. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are included on this set.

No extra features have been included on this set.

The Verdict

Historically speaking, Pac-Man was the first animated series to be adapted from a video game. It may also be the worst. Recommended for die hard Pac-Enthusiasts only.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 58

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 312 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Animation
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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