Thanks to this review, Judge Patrick Naugle is now a hero to A/V Club nerds everywhere.
Our reviews of Thundercats (2011) Season One, Book 1 (published December 14th, 2011), ThunderCats (1987) Season Two, Volume One (published May 24th, 2006), ThunderCats (1987) Season Two, Volume Two (published January 17th, 2007), Thundercats (2011) Season One, Book 2 (published July 21st, 2012), and Thundercats (1985) Season One, Part One (published July 12th, 2011) are also available.
Considering there is apparently a lot of back story to Thundercats (and since this is the second volume of the first season, and I never reviewed the first set), I found a far better description of the show on the Internet Movie Data Base than I could ever muster:
"The inhabitants of the planet Thundera evacuate just before it is destroyed. They were pursued by a band of mutants. All but one of their escape ships was destroyed. Only a small group of Thunderans (Thundercats) remained. With only half engine power, the group, which was led by Jaga, had to set a course for the nearest planet. Jaga commanded their ship while the other seven were in their stasis tubes. Jaga died on their journey to Third Earth and their ship crashed there. Soon they made friends with various groups in the area and they designed a fortress. Mumm-Ra, the centuries-old embodiment of evil, along with the mutants that destroyed the rest of the Thunderans, are a constant threat. But Lion-O, the new leader of the Thundercats, with his weapon the "Sword of Omens" will help the Thundercats to have a standing chance."
Now, with out further ado, the top 10 reasons why you should watch Thundercats:
10.) ANIMATION'S FIRST GAY CHARACTER!: Okay, so maybe he wasn't totally gay. But let's be honest: Elderly Snarf (who appears to be a mixture of a Scottish Terrier, a ripe Florida orange, and Paul Lynde) has all the tendencies of a Blue Oyster patron if I've ever seen one. Sporting blindingly bright orange hair that appears to have been drawn straight from a Whitesnake music video, the little beastie is not only the world's first nearly homosexual animated character, but also part dog and maybe even a little bit marsupial. Billy Crystal from Soap, eat your heart out…oh wait, that wasn't animated.
9.) IS IT JUST ME, OR IS PANTHRO A BALD, ANIMATED VERSION OF SAMUEL L. JACKSON?: Panthro is the precursor of animated cool. Obviously pattered after a black man who knows what the ladies like, Panthro is to Thundercats what Sam Jackson was to Pulp Fiction. Maybe he doesn't get away with blowing anyone's brains out or attempt a discussion on the merits of a foreign cheeseburger, but dang if Panthro doesn't come off as Saturday morning's own Jules Winnfield!
8.) MUMM-RA WAS AN AWESOME VILLIAN!: Yes, he looked like Abe Vigoda wrapped up in toilet paper, and he shuffled around like Boris Karloff on downers. But when you got old Mumm-Ra mad…hot damn, watch your back! He suddenly sported a red headdress that made Medusa look like a second rate Carmen Miranda! Though Mumm-Ra's skin often looked like it was on the border of having leprosy (the last person I knew with green/gray skin spun their head around and spit up pea soup), he was still one of animation's best monstrous villains!
7.) I GOT ONE WORD FOR YOU—CHEETARA: A woman crossed with a feline that looked like a Warrant music video babe gone wild. 'Nuff said.
6.) THAT THEME SONG!: "Thundercats are on the move/Thundercats are loose/Feel the magic/hear the roar/Thundercats are loose!" Yes, that mighty theme song let you know that the Thundercats had arrived! This is easily one of Saturday morning's catchiest theme songs (trailing only slightly behind the Smurfs, if only because I've never been able to get that damned song out of my head).
5.) AWESOME SECONDARY VILLIANS: With characters like Monkian (a walkin', talkin' muscle bound monkey) and Slythe (a giant axe wielding lizard), it was as if Dr. Moreau had free reign in creating Thundercats villainous foes. How can you not love a show that has the entire spectrum of the animal kingdom battling as mutated humans?
4.) THE STORIES: While Thundercats wasn't that revolutionary when it came to storytelling (it often reminded me of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe), the plotlines were a lot of fun, combining a bit of space opera, a little horror, a lot of action, and some goofy humor (a personal favorite includes the Thundercats children meeting up with a mystical genie that doesn't have a funny Robin Williams-esque bone in his body).
3.) THUNDERCATS: Just the title is dang cool. Say it with me: Thundercats. It's like the marketing people sat around and said, "Okay, kids like animals. How about cats? And what's a cool word in front of cats? THUNDER! Holy cow, we've got a hit on our hands. Great work! Everyone break for a few lines of coke."
2.) NOSTALGIA: I dare anyone between the ages of 27 and 33 to re-watch Thundercats and not get just a little teary eyed. Like He-Man and G.I. Joe, Thundercats was a staple in the cartoon diet of almost every red-blooded American kid.
1.) LION-O: The leader of the Thundercats, he was as memorable as any lead character from the golden age of TV animation. With the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the heroics of George Washington, and a wardrobe snatched straight out of Can't Stop The Music, Lion-O was truly the cat's meow, just like the show!
Each episode on Thundercats: Season One, Volume 2 is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, the original aspect ratio of the TV show. There isn't a heck of a lot to say about these episodes; while the transfers are certainly in fine shape (colors and black levels are all solid and well defined), the images look like they came from the mid-'80s (the animation is clunky and cheap). These transfers are nothing to get excited about, though fans of the show will be happy that they still look exactly as they remember them.
The soundtracks are each presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English, French, and Spanish. In other words, each of these audio mixes is flat and uniformly boring. Surround sounds and directional effects are lacking. Then again, considering the source and what this is (a cheapie kids cartoon), what else were you expecting? Also included on this set are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
The only extra features on this set include a decent interview featurette with executive producer Arthur Rankin, Jr. (titled "Thundercats Ho!: Creating a Pop Culture Phenomenon") discussing his role on the show, the characters, animation, and other aspects of Thundercats. The set comes housed in a slipcase box that has a shape shifting cover.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• "Thundercats Ho!: Creating a Pop Culture Phenomenon" Featurette
Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Naugle; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.