Wednesday, August 26, 2009

R.I.P. Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy passed away at the age of 77.

Even those fiercely opposed to his positions (or, unfortunately at times, his personal conduct) must regard this as a significant loss to politics and to humanity in general.

It seems to me that, whatever the total of their actual achievements, the Kennedy legacy will always be one of “What Might Have Been”.

If Jack had lived and served two terms…

If Bobby had become president in 1968 – and, perhaps 1972…

If Ted had successfully challenged Jimmy Carter in 1980…

…The ripples and repercussions of THAT ONE ALONE would still resonate three decades hence!

How different would it ALL have been?

Some would have loved it. Some would have despised it. At TIAH Blog, we make a point of not getting into such things – and any and all politically motivated comments to this post (on either side) are not welcome, per our ground rules of “pleasantness”.

In other words, if you comment, keep it civil and general.

But once again, all I WILL SAY (and leave it at that) is that things would have been very different for the USA and the world if a few of those “Might Have Been’s” had actually been.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Buying The Simpsons Season 12 was an Experience Right Out of a Comic Book, …Guy!

Yesterday, I posted a lengthy review of the DVD set The Simpsons the Complete 11th Season. Loved most of the content, but expressed my dissatisfaction with the packaging HERE. Please read that linked post, so you’ll know what I’m writing about now.

Today, August 18, 2009, saw the release of The Simpsons the Complete 12th Season.

To dissipate any built up suspense, the packaging was no different than the ill-advised packaging for Season 11. There WAS one very minor improvement, in the addition of a NOTCH at the end of each cardboard pocket that allows for only the slightest increase in ease of accessing the unsecured discs.

Yes, the folded cardboard is nicely illustrated (VERY nicely so) with comic-book and comic-book convention imagery in Simpsons style – clearly in honor of the package’s featured character, Comic Book Guy. But the discs STILL LIE LOOSE within the folded cardboard, and are not secured by anything. In order to retrieve them, you must STILL (if ever so lightly) touch both sides of the disc, commingling the playing surface with your own fingerprints, natural oils, and sundry hand secretions. (Oh, yuck!)

Be that as it may, ‘tis better to have The Simpsons the Complete 12th Season with inferior packaging, than to have never hand-secreted upon a 12th Season disc at all!

But, the packaging story takes another comic-bookish turn…

The Simpsons the Complete 12th Season, though the interior casings were
the same, was offered in two different exterior packages. One was the flat, rectangular box with the image of Comic Book Guy opening his shirt to reveal the words “Season 12” – and the other was a raised plastic sculpture of Comic Book Guy’s HEAD, affixed to the standard box. (At least I presume it's affixed, as I haven’t removed it – and may never do so! It’s the collector in me!)

The “Head Package” will not stand upon or slide into any of my DVD racks without both being lopsided and taking up an inordinate amount of space. The best thing to do with it, perhaps, would be to lie it flat on a shelf, with the Bas (BAH!) Relief of Comic Book Guy staring straight up – as if he were lying on his back!

For last year’s Season 11, the same thing was done with Krusty, and I bought the standard “flat” box for these exact reasons… limiting my lamenting to the interior alone.

And, I intended to do the same for Season 12…

However, today at Best Buy (…and, presumably for the remainder of the week) the standard “flat” box was discounted to 39.99 from a retail list price of 49.99…

But the dad-ratted HEAD PACKAGE was discounted to 28.99! Yes, really!

There they were… side by side… on the Best Buy racks…

Flat Box – 39.99. Head Package – 28.99.

I actually asked TWO separate Best Buy associates if this were true, before finally accepting it.

And so, I have a raised plastic sculpture of Comic Book Guy’s face – which I undoubtedly WILL have to lie upon its back, outside of my racks – to contain my Simpsons Season 12 DVD set.

In a way, it’s rather ironic… Comic Books in the ‘90s often resorted to “gimmicks” to sell certain “collector’s” issues at higher than usual prices. Here, I get the “gimmick” – and at a LOWER PRICE than the “standard edition”.

Comic Book Guy would probably regard this as payback for surviving the nineties!

Monday, August 17, 2009

DVD Review The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season Part One -- The Set

The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season

(Released October 07, 2008 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Another Looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia

If there were a single DVD product that consistently stands above the rest, it would be each and every release of THE SIMPSONS!

Indeed, every review I could write would sound the same. The episodes are always great, and no series offers more in the way of extra features and general quality!

What makes The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season more of a unique experience for me, vs. its predecessors, is twofold.

(1) The PACKAGING for this release takes a sudden and rather dramatically inferior turn – compared to previous Simpsons releases, and other DVD releases in general.

(2) For the first time, the vast majority of episodes in a set were “new to me”.

The Eleventh Season of THE SIMPSONS occurred as part of the 1999-2000 television season, and those who know me know that life took several bad turns for me during that period. In fact, reviewing the episode guide included in the set, I can recall the precise point at which I stopped watching the show (…just after the NINTH episode of the season) and began dealing with a string of personal difficulties that will go unmentioned here. I would not fully reconnect with THE SIMPSONS on a weekly basis until well into the 2004-2005 season. (And wasn’t it a comfort to find them STILL THERE!)

So, given the situation, there were many “new” episodes waiting for me in this set.

However, much of what I read on the Internet indicated that the 11th Season of THE SIMPSONS was the worst season of the series to that point – and the episode “Saddlesore Galactia” in particular (a mere FOUR SHOWS after I stopped watching) was the worst shark-jumping episode of the series!

By now, you’d think I’d know NOT TO BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET… unless it comes from this Blog, of course!

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and the humor quotient of most of the “unseen” episodes! Despite all the e-grousing, THE SIMPSONS had clearly lost nothing (one could argue for GAIN, not loss) as they entered the year 2000!

Even the dreaded “Saddlesore Galactia”, despite an admittedly weird-ass turn, taking Homer into a wooded fantasy-land of gnome-like racehorse jockeys (Yes, really!), had many surprisingly funny moments for an episode so reviled.

With our backstory completed, we proceed with the review, per our custom of CONS and PROS.


The Packaging: Aw, but why repeat myself, when you can just click on THIS LINK!

That’s the ONLY CON, folks! And, unless you count The Simpsons: The Complete 6th Season being released ONLY in a package shaped like “Homer’s Head” (no standard packaging) this is probably the ONLY CON any SIMPSONS set has EVER had… unless the upcoming Season 12 exhibits the same awful packaging.


The Special Features: NO ONE… and I mean NO ONE does DVD Special Features like THE SIMPSONS!

From the beginning, there have been commentaries with writers, directors, producers, and actors on EVERY EPISODE. “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” (Season 9) even had TWO separate and distinct commentary tracks!

Creator Matt Groening hosts an Introductory Feature for each Season Set – discussing the high points and guest stars.

Each set comes with a detailed and lavishly illustrated BOOKLET, listing the contents of the set. As my other reviews have noted, Content Notes have been diminished – or, in the case of certain Warner sets, outright eliminated – but THE SIMPSONS continues to offer the best and most elaborate content listings in all of DVD-dom!

Deleted scenes are offered in a variety of ways: Stand alone – individually or “Play All”, with optional commentary, and (with a touch of your remote) integrated into their intended spots as part of the episodes!

Selected storyboards and animatics are presented with a “picture-in-picture” of the actual animation.

And, specific to this set, are additional features on Krusty (the package’s featured character) and The Simpsons receiving a Star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Easter Eggs are hidden throughout the various menus, so keep (…no reference to “Saddlesore Galactia” intended) “jockeying” your remote to discover hidden treasures!

So… how many of YOUR favorite DVD series can match THAT, eh?

As with my review of Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection, we’ll break right here because too much Blog reading can kill your eyes and rot your mind. But, if you haven’t had enough, please sign a release exempting me from any damages and scroll down for Part Two: The Episodes!

DVD Review The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season Part Two -- The Episodes.

Here’s Part Two of my DVD review of The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season, dealing strictly with the episodes – which I’d put decidedly under the “PRO” category. Let’s find out why…

The Episodes: For a season that some on the Internet would have you believe was the worst (…or, at least the worst up to that point), there are a surprising number of great episodes – and some particularly notable beats in the continuity of the series.

Here are the highlights:

Beyond Blunderdome (09/26/1999) Homer assists Mel Gibson in creating a remake of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. The result is a hilarious parody of bad action films – with Gibson spouting lines like “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” and “All in favor say DIE!” There is an alternate ending to this one with a final line that I think is even better than the aired ending. Not to show “Fox-Animated-Favorites”, Gibson later appears – also as himself – on FAMILY GUY in 2005.

Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner” (10/24/1999) Homer becomes Springfield’s leading food critic, running afoul of the town’s restaurateurs, who plot to kill him for his relentlessly negative reviews. Here, too, there is an alternate ending… the aired one where Homer GETS his “comeuppance” and the alternate where he and Lisa brag about NOT GETTING his “comeuppance” – and express their mutual contempt for the audience and their expectations! See what you’re missing by not getting the DVD, folks!

Treehouse of Horror X(10/31/1999) Among the delights are Comic Book Guy as an obsessive villainous collector of heroes, and the fearsome menace of Y2K. Two of my favorite things, so how can I not LOVE this!

E-I-E-I (Annoyed Grunt)” (11/07/1999) On the run to escape a duel of honor with a Southern Gentleman (!), Homer hides out on the old Simpson Family Farm. Combining Tomato and Tobacco seeds with Plutonium, he creates the bad-tasting but highly-addictive “TOMACCO”. The commentary track features a guest who, inspired by this episode, ACTUALLY DID create his own real-live-growing “Tomacco Plants”!

Eight Misbehavin’ (11/21/1999) One of THREE continuity changing episodes for this supposedly lesser season – the birth of Apu and Manjula’s Octuplets!

"Grift of the Magi" (12/19/1999) The Christmas episode, where an unscrupulous toy manufacturer takes ownership of the bankrupt Springfield Elementary School and uses it as a focus group to create the year’s new “must have” toy. The resulting product, “Funzo” a “Furby-like thing”, inadvertently manifests evil programming – and it’s up to Lisa, Bart, and Homer to steal the “Funzo” from every home in Springfield and destroy them.

Say, what about all the evil “Funzos” in the rest of the world? Ahhh, I guess that’s someone else’s problem! Personal Note: This was the last one I saw on original broadcast. From here on, the rest were all new to me.

Faith Off (01/16/2000) Inspired by a faith healer (superbly voiced by Don Cheadle), Bart takes up the “backyard revival tent game” – and performs a wonderfully staged musical number while doing so! At the same time, a European kicker is recruited as Springfield University’s greatest football hope! At the end, the two plots come together in the most amazingly funny way! This might be one of the best episodes of THE SIMPSONS ever!And this was supposed to be a lesser season?

The Mansion Family (01/23/2000) Mansion sitting for Mr. Burns, the Simpsons get into all sorts of trouble – culminating with Homer clashing with modern pirates on the high seas, while using Burns’ yacht as a “party boat”! The pirate encounter is surprisingly funny, with one very unexpected twist that saves Homer and Bart from a watery grave! A tad more “out-there” than when Fred Flintstone borrowed Mr. Slate’s yacht, I’d say!

Saddlesore Galactia (02/06/2000) Here it is! This supposed WORST EPISODE OF THE SIMPSONS doesn’t really live up to its hype – despite Comic Book Guy calling it the “Worst Episode Ever” during the end credits! Homer and Bart rescue a county fair attraction diving horse and turn it into a racehorse with extreme attitude! The band Bachman Turner Overdrive makes an appearance and even President Bill Clinton shows up at the end. Of course, we have the extended Jockey-land encounter for about a minute and a half (including a musical number) and the Jockeys openly show their true sinister colors attacking Homer and Bart with a cannon and a charge of thundering horses down Evergreen Terrace!
It’s decidedly weird… but watch it for yourself and decide.

Alone Again Natura-Diddly (02/13/2000) Another series turning point – the death of Maude Flanders!

Missionary Impossible (02/20/2000) Hey, an airdate with only two digits in it! Only Homer could dodge paying on a pledge to PBS by becoming a missionary on a tropical island! He tops that by getting the natives addicted to gambling! Look for a good “using-an-animal-as-a-tool” reference to The Flintstones, employed by Homer to its unfortunate but logical conclusion! Also
check out all the visual references to other FOX animated shows like FAMILY GUY, KING OF THE HILL, FUTURAMA, THE PJ’S and that eternal cartoon star Rupert Murdoch) in the ending PBS fundraising parody! This is just another in a GREAT RUN OF EPISODES!

Bart to the Future (03/19/2000) Journey to the Simpsons’ future, where Bart and Ralph are underachieving slackers, Lisa is President of the United States, Flanders is blind and his sons Rod and Todd are… are… JUST SOME MORE 11th SEASON GREATNESS!

Days of Wine and D’oh’ses (04/09/2000) In the THIRD series turning point of this collection – town drunk Barney Gumble goes sober! Not just for an episode – but he remains this way for quite a while, before eventually falling-off in more recent seasons, unfortunately as some do in real life!

“Behind the Laughter” (05/21/2000) A superb “Behind the Music” style documentary spoof on the rise and fall of THE SIMPSONS as an entertainment icon. This season finale is the only one of the run that I happened
to catch randomly during the bleak period. I was not disappointed – then and now. There’s a brief closing joke that disparages my beloved Huckleberry Hound – getting surprise laughs even from me!


The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season meets all the standards of quality held by previous Simpsons sets. Story-wise, it far exceeds anything expected of it, given the unfortunate influence of its online critics. Indeed, this is one magnificent collection of shows – some unexpectedly funny and some serving as “game-changers” in the Simpsons Universe – made all the more memorable to me, by seeing many of them for the first time on DVD.

The Simpsons: The Complete 12th Season will be available on August 18, 2009. With a full season’s worth of “new-to-me” episodes ahead, I can only hope for a similar experience as with Season 11… except maybe with better packaging!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fun with DVDs: “In Order? …Or Favorites First?”

FAMILY GUY Volume Seven was released on DVD, June 16, 2009. As with the more recent sets of FAMILY GUY, it did not represent a “season as a whole” but the 13 episodes contained therein comprised the latter portion of the 2007-2008 television season and the earlier portion of the 2008-2009 television season.

As quickly as I could rip open the packaging, I reached for DISC TWO, and popped it in to enjoy “The Road to Germany”!
This outrageous tale of Stewie, Brian, and (GULP!) Mort Goldman’s inadvertent time trip back to Nazi Germany was my favorite episode of the collection and, as is my wont, I went for it first.

One or two other standouts followed, before I settled into watching the balance of the set in chronological order.

Never one to pass up the opportunity for a good Blog post, I wondered about the general habits of those who enjoy Season Sets of TV Shows on DVD!

For instance, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA – SEASON TWO, VOLUME TWO found me going straight to favorite episodes “Graveyard of Fear”, “The Phantom Strikes”, and “Killers of the Deep” in that order – rather than start with the first episode of the set and watch them sequentially.

Most of the time, it would seem that I GO FOR KNOWN FAVORITE EPISODES FIRST… IF it is a series with which I am thoroughly familiar. As is the case with VOYAGE, FAMILY GUY and others noted below.

This is my regular pattern. With THE SIMPSONS Box Sets, I’ve gone for such faves as “Springfield Monorail”, the one where Homer skips church, and talks to God in his dreams, “Frank Grimes”, “Sharri Bobbins” “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” -- and every set’s “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episode and all Sideshow Bob episodes. These come first, and the rest come whenever…

PINKY AND THE BRAIN – a beeline for “Tokyo Grows”. (Yesss, I seeee!)

DISNEY’S DUCKTALES – “All Ducks on Deck(Donald Duck AND The Phantom Blot in ONE episode!), “The Uncrashable Hindentanic” (one of the funniest Duck stories ever done in any medium – even parodies my sainted Irwin Allen!), and “Home Sweet Homer” (an adventure in the grand Carl Barks tradition!)

FREAKAZOID! Season Two actually leads off WITH the best episode of the series – the hilarious “Dexter’s Date”, featuring a magnificent “Hello Dolly” musical parody sung by arch-villain The Lobe! See my related post on that HERE.

STAR TREK – straight for “Amok Time”, “I Mudd”, “Mirror Mirrror”, “Doomsday Machine”, and “City on the Edge of Forever”.
TREK Fans, you KNOW what I mean!

This applies to most series like THE FLINTSTONES, LOONEY TUNES, BATMAN and SUPERMAN ANIMATED, LOST IN SPACE, OUTER LIMITS, KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER, etc. Also, I will view episodes with commentaries, or play the interviews and special features, very early on!

Short cartoons, such as the Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera, MGM, Popeye, or Woody Woodpecker series – and even Sony’s Chronological Three Stooges sets (…not a cartoon, but close enough!), I’ll tend to watch in order so as to watch their stylistic evolution up or down.

If it’s a series I’m less familiar with – either because I’ve seen relatively little of it, or my specific memories of it have faded over time – I will tend to watch them in the disc set order, which is almost always the original air date order.

This applies to the first (black and white) season of THE WILD WILD WEST, with the “Pick-and-Choose” method applying to the more frequently seen color seasons. Dim, but fond, memories account for my “In-Order” watching of THE TIME TUNNEL, LAND OF THE GIANTS, F-TROOP, McHALE’S NAVY, and JONNY QUEST.

Also in the “In-Order” grouping are: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMTED (seeing it for the first time), SEX AND THE CITY (seeing many of them for the first time), and a cartoon like WACKY RACES where the order would make no difference, because they're all the same! (Yes, Dick Dastardly CHEATS in every one! …And Muttley snickers accordingly!)

Oddly, with PERRY MASON, I will skip around from season set to season set because, in content and style, the show changed very little from season to season – but will watch each episode WITHIN a season set in its original order.

For THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., I’ve also skipped from season to season (it was released in one Four-Season Mega-Set) and watched each show “in-order” WITHIN its respective season. But, unlike PERRY MASON, I sampled each season concurrently because each season DIFFERED in its tone and approach – and I wanted to note and enjoy the contrasts.

So, do you “Go For Faves”, “Go In Order”, or “Do What Works, According to the Series”? It might make for an interesting discussion.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Realizations: Something’s Missing!

I don’t know how many of you go back through my older posts but, if you do, you will find that many (though, oddly, not ALL) of my Hanna-Barbera “embedded-from-You-Tube-videos” are no longer available for viewing!

As you can see above, Huck is rather surprised over this development!

All of the Huckleberry Hound cartoons, the one Yippie, Yappie, and Yahooie, and the one Hokey Wolf cartoon all no longer play – but display the following message:

This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.”

Fair enough, I say. I don’t own them, and Warner Bros. does. And, the specific targeting sweep would seem to point to Warner rightly protecting its intellectual property.

Someone(s) thought enough of these cartoons to post many, many of them on You Tube – and I, with the same admiration, embedded them into my Blog. So, shame on me, if I’ve done something inappropriate. Unlike many you’ll encounter on the Internet, I don’t feel it is “MY RIGHT” to do as I please with the property of others!

BUT, my refrain throughout these posts – particularly when it comes to Huckleberry Hound – is that the particular cartoons in my posts HAVE NOT BEEN RELEASED ON DVD, nor does it seem to be Warner’s intention to ever do so.

Not even calls from Ranger Smith seem to change their minds!

The Huckleberry Hound Show: Volume One was released in 2005. If we haven’t seen anything additional by now, I’m not holding out much hope for the future.

I’m all for the rights-holders getting their entitled due – especially in this age of all manner of electronic piracy – and I would gladly pay Warner for the ability to pop Seasons 2-4 of The Huckleberry Hound Show into my DVD player, but if they are not going to come through (…and it is certainly THEIR CALL on whether or not it is financially feasible for them to do so), why sweep through You Tube and remove these cartoons from view?!

Since I can’t watch an authorized studio DVD of “Huck’s Hack” or “Cop and Saucer”, it was nice to know that I could always call them up on my Blog to enjoy… until now, that is.

It could be argued that Blog posts such as mine, that extol the virtues of these undeservedly obscure works of early television animation, might even serve as “free (and heartfelt) advertising” and help create or increase a demand that might make additional DVDs a more likely endeavor.

I suspect this sort of thing happens periodically. Eventually, most if not all of these cartoons will find their way back to You Tube and other such services, and the “unauthorized enjoyment” will continue. Kinda like small bands of “rebels” continuing to mildly sting a large “empire” (Hey, somebody oughtta make a MOVIE about that… and put some ROBOTS in it!), and on-and-on it will go.

I will continue my practice of embedding, as situations allow – not out of any inappropriate sense of entitlement, and certainly not because there is any gain in it for me – but because of my great affection for the cartoons themselves, and my wish to enjoy them and have others enjoy them too.

…But, I’d REALLY like to legitimately purchase them on DVD! Let’s try to work on that, okay?

Don’t be angry, Huck! The videos will return someday!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Huckleberry Hound: Introductory Interstitial Segment (1958)

Here’s something that hasn’t been on TV in decades – but was once an integral part of Hanna-Barbera’s THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOWan introductory interstitial segment.

Such segments, long since eliminated for the sake of additional commercial time, changed the way television would package and present animated product.

In it, we meet Huck and the other cast members of his show. Such a thing is far more significant than one would think from our present-day perspective because, back then, cartoons were generally introduced by and presided over by local kiddie-show hosts.

As unlikely as this seems today, perhaps the most radical change brought about by THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW was the elimination of such a host.

Here, H-B’s jack-of-all-trades, southern blue-blooded hound presided over his own show, greeting the viewers with a “Hound dog howdy to y’all!” and introducing each segment or component part of the half hour program.

For instance, at the beginning of each show there would be a framing sequence in which, through Huck, we would be introduced to Pixie, Dixie, and Mr. Jinks and Yogi Bear – each being regular weekly features of the program. A similar sequence would close the show, and a brief interaction between Huck and the characters of each feature would directly precede the airing of that feature.

Huck might share a brief gag with Yogi Bear, and then invite the audience to stay tuned for Yogi’s upcoming cartoon. Alas, only the cartoons themselves, and not these innovative bits, appear to exist today.

Note the Kellogg’s’ Corn Flakes Rooster at the very beginning of the piece, indicating the sponsor’s influence upon the show. Oddly, until about 1965, The Rooster had more on-screen time in the show’s opening theme sequence than did Huck!

Hanna-Barbera would repeat this format in its later Quick Draw Mc Graw and Yogi Bear shows, thus proving that the toons could “…do it for themselves”. Jay Ward’s Rocky and his Friends and later Bullwinkle Show would adopt this approach to some extent as well.

So, having received our quota of esoteric detail on the history of early television animation for today, let’s enjoy this lost curio from THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW.

Monday, August 3, 2009

DVD Review: Green Lantern First Flight: Two-Disc Special Edition

Green Lantern First Flight: Two-Disc Special Edition

(Released July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video)

Another Looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia

In Brightest Day…

In Blackest Night…

No Evil Shall Escape My Sight…

Let Those Who Worship Evil’s Might…

Beware My Power…

Green Lantern’s Light!

Call it corny if you must, but it gets me every time! And, at the risk of a tiny spoiler – the recitation of the classic Green Lantern Oath by the entire corps at the end of the film is as impressive as all get-out!

With 1992’s BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES, producer Bruce Timm began a roll of excellence in adapting DC Comics’ characters and concepts to animation that continues unbroken to this day!
In GREEN LANTERN FIRST FLIGHT, Timm hits all the right notes, concepts, and character bits to create as perfect a Green Lantern film as could be imagined.

Everything is as it SHOULD BE. Test Pilot Hal Jordan is summoned to the crash site of the dying alien Abin Sur, receives Abin’s Power Ring, and is transformed into Green Lantern! Little of the precious running time is spent on this well-known origin, and the transformation takes place between 3:45 and 4:10 of the film.
THAT’S EFFICIENCY!The balance of director Lauren Montgomery’s film (again, as it SHOULD BE) is spent introducing the Green Lantern Corps, their masters the Guardians of the Universe… and the untidy matter of Sinestro. BIG kudos to writer Alan Burnett for working it all into little more than 70 minutes.

As a reader and fan of DC Comics since the Silver Age – and all phases since, both good and bad – I can say this film (Pardon) “RINGS” TRUE!

You can link to my previous post of a promo for this DVD HERE.
As is our custom in these reviews, we’ll break it into CONS and PROS.


The Special Features: The “Two-Disc Special Edition” is chock full of Extras – many of them great – but there are some notable exceptions that are usually standards in other such sets.
There is NO COMMENTARY TRACK for Green Lantern First Flight.
There are “Promotional / Making Of” documentaries for OTHER DC Comics Animated Features – Justice League: The New Frontier, Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess, Batman: Gotham Knight, and a very welcome “first look” at the upcoming “Superman / Batman: Public Enemies” (which brings to DVD an adaptation of the major “President Luthor Arc” of the SUPERMAN/BATMAN comic book title)…

But there is NO “Making Of” or “Behind the Scenes” feature on Green Lantern First Flight! Couple this with the lack of a producers’ commentary track, and there is little or no information on the film you’ve just purchased – though plenty of it on Warner catalogue titles. In all, there are NINE separate Special Features, and not one of them is actually about Green Lantern First Flight!
Credit Where Credit is Due: Much of the documentary material focuses on the current writers of the Green Lantern comics, Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. And, so it should, as they have restored the Green Lantern mythos from a long run of mediocrity to renewed greatness.
BUT, there is virtually no mention of those who created said mythos in the first place!Artist Neal Adams makes a cameo along the way, but there is not one word about editor Julius Schwartz, writer John Broome, and artist Gil Kane – who conceived the whole shebang early in the Silver Age of Comics! The Corps and its specific members, the Guardians, the Central Power Battery, the Yellow Impurity, the Planet Oa, Hal Jordan, Sinestro – and The Oath.
ALL of it sprang from the minds, words, and pencils of these talented individuals – but you’d never know it by the focus presented here. Even Denny O’Neil, who (along with Adams) revolutionized the Green Lantern concept at the end of the Silver Age, is among the unmentioned. DC Superhero projects from WHV have usually been good – or at least adequate – on historical perspective of the source material. But, not here!
The Film Itself: No more spoilers than I’ve already given, but… YES! Simply, YES!
The Cast: Christopher Meloni as Hal Jordan and (especially) Victor Garber as Sinestro make a great pair of lead cosmic adversaries. Michael Madsen, Tricia Helfer, and John Larroquette are nicely cast as supporting GLs Kilowog, Boodikka, and Tomar-Re.And a very special treat for fans of sixties television! Among the actors voicing The Guardians are old stalwarts William Schallert and Malachi Throne! ...How wonderful!

The Characters: Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris, Abin Sur, Kilowog (Yes, he says Poozer!), Boodikka, Tomar-Re, Sinestro, and The Guardians of the Universe.

Green Lanterns in lesser roles: Ch’p (voiced by Frank Welker, natch!), Arisia, Saalak, Arkis Chummuck, and the “Big Head GL”. There are surely more that escaped my enraptured notice.

Other villains include Kanjar-Ro (from 1961’s JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 3) and the
Weaponers of Qward.No John Stewart, Guy Gardner, or Kyle Rayner, as this is the tale of Hal Jordan becoming Earth’s first Green Lantern. They would all come later, and I’ll simply assume that “Charlie Vickers” was probably expunged from DCU continuity as part of the original “Crisis on Infinite Earths”.
The Special Features: (For the “Two-Disc Special Edition”)

Two features on the current Green Lantern comics – one overall and one specifically about the upcoming arc “Blackest Night”. Though lacking in historical perspective (see the “Cons” section) they ARE very informative for those interested in being brought up to speed.

There are two “mini-features” – one on Sinestro and one on the Guardians of the Universe. Neal Adams gets the “line-of-the-day” in the Sinestro piece:
We had TRIPLETS. Here’s BOUNTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL, and SINESTRO… Who’s gonna be the BAD GUY? Sinestro’s gonna be the BAD GUY – I don’t know why…

Bruce Timm picks a favorite JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED episode that is tangentially related to Green Lantern: The Once and Future Thing” Parts One and Two. Bruce T. KNOWS how to pick ‘em! This tale of Batman, Wonder Woman, and John Stewart Green Lantern vs. a wonderfully browbeaten, disrespected, and resentfully angry version of time-mastering villain KRONOS – takes them from the Old West (with Bat Lash, El Diablo, and Pow-Wow Smith) to the future of Batman Beyond! (Yes, Bruce Wayne gets to meets Old Bruce Wayne! Wouldn’t you feel cheated if he didn’t?)
And the Crowning Glory of the Special Features: “The Green Loontern” a 2003 episode of the DUCK DODGERS TV show, where Daffy / Dodgers’ DRY CLEANING is accidentally mixed up with Hal Jordan’s (Ring included!) and Daffy is summoned to assist the Green Lantern Corps with a Sinestro-spawned galactic crisis!
It took FOUR WRITERS to pull off this crossover masterpiece – Spike Brandt, Tony Cervone, and old WB hands Tom Minton and the great Paul Dini – and they wring every ounce of Daffy-esque humor and admiration for the Green Lantern concept from this script, as perfectly as could be!

If you thought the character list of Green Lantern First Flight was something, check out who they squeezed into this 22-minute marvel: Duck Dodgers, Eager Young Space Cadet, Dr. I.Q. Hi, Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Katma-Tui, Kilowog, Tomar-Re, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, G’nort, Arisia, “the Diamond Green Lantern”, Saalak, Ch’p, Boodikka… and (in keeping with casting sixties icons to voice Guardians) John Stephensonat his most regal and officious – as Ganthet!

Great Line:

DAFFY/DODGERS: Hey, you know… In person, you REALLY DO look like THE DEVIL!

SINESTRO: (resigned) Yes, I get that a lot!

DUCK DODGERS has yet to be released on DVD, making this a TRUE bonus! If ever a single Special Feature was worth the price of admission, this is it!

Content Notes: In other recent WHV animation set reviews, I’ve lamented the lack of any sort of CONTENT LISTING anywhere inside the package. As such, it is worth noting here that, for Green Lantern First Flight, there is a complete such listing on the back of the package.

OVERALL: Green Lantern First Flight Two-Disc Special Edition is a rousing success in both the feature itself, and the extras. If you are a fan of DC Comics (Now – or Silver Age), the Warner Bros. DC Comics Animated Series – or are just looking for a great introduction to the Green Lantern concept -- Green Lantern First Flight is highly recommended!
Oh, and if you’re handing-out rings that wield vast power that is only limited by the size and scope of your will and imagination… it’s probably not a good idea to give one to someone who goes by the name of “Sinestro”!