DVD Review: Gi Joe: Series 2: Season 2
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Distributor: Shout! Factory
· John Grusd
· Chris Latta
· Maurice LaMarche
· Ted Harrison
by Chris Delloiacono
Published: July 8, 2012
I still remember those first GI Joe: A Real American Hero toy commercials from 1982. I convinced my mother to immediately take me to Bradlees and get me a figure. That first little guy wasn’t Snake Eyes, Stalker, or even Breaker. No, my first 3 ¾ inch Joe was Short Fuze. From then it only took a year or two before GI Joe overtook Star Wars as my favorite plaything. Between the comic books, the early cartoons, video games, and magazines the next decade was filled with a lot of Yo Joe excitement. My last vestiges of Joe playing, collecting, and regular viewing was Gi Joe: Series 2.
When the second series debuted I was a senior in high school that quietly went about watching and collecting Gi Joe. When the second season of the show hit I’d recently started college and I was still buying a lot of the figures, mostly to keep in the package, and others to display. I recorded the new episodes of the show, but that loving connection was finally starting to wane as my twenties were approaching. For those of us Joe fans that were around in the early to mid-80s, this show is not going to hold up or offer a warm fuzzy feeling. Many of the characters’ names are the same we grew up with, but the uniforms and voices are oh so different. In fact, almost everything is inferior when this cartoon is compared to earlier GI Joe productions.
You'd Have To Be On Drugs
Episodes run the gamut from semi-serious to ludicrous. Themes feature environmental awareness and drug abuse. These shows have a bit of extra bite as the writers attempt to tackle the themes with a bit of seriousness. In the “Greatest Evil” two-parter the Joes and Cobras join forces to stop a well-armed drug dealer. I offer kudos to the writers for actually killing off the dealer at the end of the episode, but the hi-jinks within take away from the seriousness. Don’t look for too much depth as there’re also crazy schemes like rewriting history books with an emphasis on Cobra and high school reunions where Joes and Cobras mingle. The silliest episode may in fact be the search for El Dorado in which Pizzaro’s ghost and ancient Native Americans all get involved. Oh, and don’t forget the sonic battle using music that Gi Joe and Cobra engage in! Eek!
The show is a complete mess at times. The animation and coloring are not particularly pleasing to look at and most of the voice work doesn’t have the crackle of the earlier efforts. Sure, new actors make an attempt to pull off a sound-a-like of Destro or Duke, but they essentially fail miserably. Thankfully Cobra Commander is still voiced by the wonderful Chris Latta. On the downside, the buffoon they make Cobra Commander into in this iteration is hard to fathom. To be honest, the ‘80s cartoon was cheesy and best enjoyed by an eleven-year-old, but this version had to feel like a stretch for even a child of eight. It’s just so ridiculous.
This series comes down to one thing…selling toys, which is in Hasbro’s best interests if they want to stay in business. You can’t fault Hasbro for producing 30 minute commercials. The older cartoons spent a lot of time with characters and settings that didn’t always clearly translate to the toy shelves. This series rarely deviates from focusing on the characters and vehicles you could then go out to the toy store and buy. It’s just unfortunate the writers and animators didn’t push the bar just a bit more.
The writing and animation are the key failing point of this series of cartoons. I could live with the unending toy selling if only the other factors had been enhanced with a little more money. The show was so cheaply produced that the final two episodes are poorly constructed recaps. One is from the Joe perspective and the other from Cobra’s standpoint, each essentially is a roll call of characters and telling about their wacky adventures. Adventures you probably don’t want to relive so soon after watching them in the first place. These Joes may have caught on with that particular generation if this show wasn’t so low rent and didn’t speak down to kids.
Shout! Factory always offers a quality transfer for their DVD releases. This set is no different. Each episode looks and sounds great. The only issues I noticed are in the commercial outros which sometimes seemed to have degraded image quality. That’s a minor quibble. One documentary under ten minutes long doesn’t constitute a heap of extras, but at least the miniature feature is enjoyable. Essentially, you get a walk down memory lane from some of the Hasbro personnel of today and a few of the members of old. It would have been nice to hear from some of the voice talent as well, but at least it’s something.
To be totally fair, this show was not produced in 1991/1992 with a near-twenty year old in mind, and it certainly isn’t aimed at those now approaching-forty either. This is a silly cartoon/toy tie-in aimed squarely at a younger generation growing up in the ‘90s. I can’t speak of the memories those children might have, but for me this show doesn’t hold up very well at all.