Not even the Funky Phantom can out-funk Judge Patrick Bromley.
It's Saturday morning. Dig it, baby.
Having recently finished watching Warner Bros.' companion collection, Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s, Volume 1, I can say with a good deal of confidence that by the 1970s, the quality and originality of kids' cartoons had already begun its long decline. I accused some of the cartoons on the 1960s set of being merely product. I spoke too soon.
Having found success in the '60s, Hanna-Barbera (the studio responsible for the majority of the 'toons in both collections) was quick to adopt an "ain't broke/don't fix" policy. The result means two things: every cartoon features a group of kids solving mysteries, and every cartoon features a rock band. The cartoons on 1970s, Volume 1 are largely all clones of one another, beginning with Scooby-Doo and then diminishing in quality.
These are the cartoons found on Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970s, Volume 1:
"The Pest/Tarzan and the Colossus of Zome"—The
Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour
The Tarzan cartoon is pretty silly stuff, too, but also provides a neat look into the kind of stuff on kids' airwaves in the early '70s. It's one of the least preserved cartoons on the set, looking somewhat faded and old and showing some print damage.
"Car Thieves/Zoo Story"—Hong Kong Phooey
"Assignment Ahab Apparition"—Goober and the Ghost
"Speed Buggy Went That-a-Way"—Speed Buggy
"Double Cross Country/The Infiltrator/The Stunt
Show"—Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch
"Scotland Yard"—The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
"Double Date"—Roman Holidays Essentially a Flintstones clone, only set in Ancient Rome. Hanna-Barbera had no new ideas in the '70s, did they?
"The Nemo's A No No Affair"—Josie and the
"The Ghostly Creep From the Deep"—The New Scooby-Doo
"I'll Haunt You Later"—The Funky Phantom
So, there you have it. There's not a whole lot of actual watchability in these cartoons; unlike those included on the Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s, Volume 1 set, I can't imagine sitting down to watch these with my son. This collection is more for the adult collector and cartoon enthusiast, who may remember some of these obscurities or who, like me, is fascinated by some of what made it on the air in the '70s.
Like 1960s, Volume 1, this 1970s collection features all 16 cartoons in their original full frame aspect ratio. There's a disclaimer at the start stating that some of the cartoons have been compiled from the best available sources, and at times it shows. Tarzan probably suffers the worst, but other cartoons like Yogi's Gang and The Chan Clan certainly look somewhat faded and old. For the most part, though, everything looks good—Warner Bros. has done their usual fine job with the video. The mono audio track is perfectly serviceable, too.
Each disc has its own "Saturday Morning Wake-up Call" commercial, which provides an overview of the cartoons and plots contained on the disc (and it's narrated by Casey Kasem, no less). On the second disc is a pair of brief featurettes. The first, "Solving Crimes the Chan Clan Way," is an interesting discussion by the show's writers about the constraints of meeting the Hanna-Barbera requirements for what must and must not be shown in cartoons (there always had to be a band; none of the kids could get physical with any of the criminals). The second, "Heavens to Betsy Ross: The Spirit of Funky Phantom," is essentially a "what were they thinking?" piece where animators and writers both old and new wonder how the heck a show about kids solving mysteries alongside a ghost from 1776 made it on the air. They're right to question that.
For pure entertainment value, Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970s, Volume 1 falls short of the 1960s collection. But as a novelty, it's something of an improvement. I, for one, am glad it's been put together; where else are you going to find nearly all of these rare cartoons?
Not guilty, but recommended mostly as a curiosity. Bring on the '80s.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• IMDb: The Jetsons
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