Judge Patrick Naugle's first crush was Ms. Pac-Man.
Our review of Pac-Man: The Complete First Season, published February 17th, 2012, is also available.
Pac-Man and his family—wife Pepper and Pac-Baby (or Jr.)—are living out a quiet life in Pac-Land eating Power Pellets and taking side jobs as 1/3 of a stop light. Unfortunately, Pac-Man's life isn't all Pac-Wine and Pac-Roses, as he's forced to dodge the never-ending treats of the dark lord Mezmaron and his ghostly minions: Inky, Blinky, Clyde, and Sue. Mezmaron and his ghosts often have the upper hand, but Pac-Man will always have the final laugh!
• "Here's Super Pac / Hey, Hey, Hey…It's PJ"
If you can believe it, someone was able to take a yellow circle, some generic colored ghosts, and make them into an addictive video game. More amazingly, they took these same shapes…er, characters…and stretched them out into a half hour Saturday morning television series. Even more amazing: This narrative was rich enough to spawn not one but TWO seasons. Pac-Man: The Complete Second Season is yet another 216 minutes of poor animation, overwrought voice work, and stories that have all the weight of a helium balloon.
Season Two's eight episodes are pretty much what you'd expect: colored ghost monsters try in vein to catch/kill/maim/eat/thwart Pac-Man and his family. The ghosts are the minions of Mezmaron, a Darth Vader-esque villain who looks like Mr. Clean sucking on a metal air vent. Most of the episodes deal with Pac-Man and his family running away from the ghosts, eating a Power Pellet, and subsequently chomping down on the baddies. Along the way there are trivial side stories (like visiting Pac-Hollywood), but not a single one is even remotely worth discussing here.
It's hard to criticize a show like Pac-Man; one that was never meant to be great or even very good art. What it was simply meant to entertain small children who loved jamming quarters into arcade machines. In the early '80s, it may have been fun to see your favorite arcade game come to life each week. In 2012, the only people who will find Pac-Man worthwhile are nostalgia freaks who own plush Q*Bert dolls and old Donkey Kong cereal boxes. After only two episodes of Pac-Man: The Complete Second Season, I found myself needing a break. There's only so much I can take of shoddy animated arcade characters reliving the same adventure over and over again, made worse by Hanna-Barbara's infinitely recycled backgrounds.
The main draw for Pac-fans is the inclusion of "Christmas Comes to Pac-Land," an ABC prime time holiday special aired during the show's first season, featuring a human Santa Claus heading into Pac-Land. Now, I don't want to over-think a cartoon where logic is not only in short supply but aggressively dismissed, but why is Santa human? Does this mean the Pac-People live in the real world with humans? Is it an alternate reality? Do the Pac-People worship a Pac-Christ? To make matters worse, they give Santa a cup of hot cocoa that has traces of Power Pellets in it. Is that even safe for humans to ingest? Will Santa die? WILL SANTA DIE?!!? These are questions that beg answers. By someone. Not me. I just felt they needed to be asked. Not to sound like a broken record, but this holiday special will only be enjoyed by those who saw it as a kid, and even they'll be disappointed by the mediocre quality.
Presented in standard definition 1.33:1 full frame, those hoping for an amazing transfer will be disappointed. While the image quality is certainly better than VHS—the colors look good and the black levels are fair—these episodes aren't going to blow anyone away. At this point, fans should just be happy Pac-Man: The Complete Second Season is available at all on DVD. The Dolby 2.0 Mono mix is completely front heavy without any directional effects. The dialogue, music, and effects are all easily distinguishable and solidly recorded. No alternate language tracks or subtitles are available. The only bonus feature is a collection of promotional "bumpers" for the show.
C onsidering the mundane animation, flaccid characters, and short runtime (less than four hours for a complete season), I can't really offer a hearty recommendation for Pac-Man: The Complete Second Season. I've seen better cartoon work on the stalls of bar bathrooms. Eighties fanatics are the only ones who will be interested, and even they'll have a hard time shelling out $20 for this.
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