G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Season 1.1 (1983)

Genre(s): Action / Animation
Shout Factory || NR - 480 minutes - $29.99 || July 14, 2009
Reviewer: Kushmeer Farakhan || Posted On: 2009-07-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): NA
Cast: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Featurette
  • PSAs
  • Toy Commercials
  • Printable Script


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Stereo)
  • Subtitles: NA

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.::THE FILM::.

...He never gives up, he's there till the fight's won, G.I. Joe will dare. G.I. Joeeeeeeee, a Real American Herooooooo... As a child of the 80's, I had only a passing interest in G.I. Joe. I was hardcore about Transformers but nothing about the Joes stood out to me...except maybe there villains. I remember having a particular interest in Cobra Commander and getting his action figure. But other than getting him, a random Joe as a gift (Doc) and seeing the G.I. Joe animated movie on TV one day, I didn't watch the show much. That all changed for me around 2001 or so. It was the beginning of 80's nostalgia kicking in as everything in the 80's was slowly being released on DVD, on t-shirts and (especially with former 80's ‘toons) being continued as all new comic books. When Image began a new comic series for set after the show and original best selling Marvel comic had ended, I gave it a shot... and was hooked. From there, I bought several old Joe video tapes, Rhino's original season 1 DVD box set and miniseries sets and G.I. Joe the movie, a gloriously ridiculous feature starring Don Johnson, Burgess Meredith, and yes, Sgt. Slaughter.

But Rhino never finished the series on DVD and many fans were left with an incomplete series. The Joes 80's nostalgia had also slowed down and all Joe activity ceased...until around 2007 when toy company Hasbro decided to create a 25th anniversary action figure line for Real American Hero. The figures were all new sculpts of all the classic characters fans know and love. They were an instant hit. In the line's peak, it was selling better than just about every figure out there as collectors were all buying back their childhood and building Joe armies and cobra forces of the characters they knew and loved. I went on "Joe Runs" to Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us and would treat to beat the other collectors there(a couple of times I actually got there at the same time and witnessed myself and 2 other grown men pick a rack clean lol). Eventually I went from having 2 random Joes from my childhood to having somewhere over 100 on the wall of my apartment bedroom. Yo, Joe!

Recently a Stephen Sommers directed live action film was completed and will be released in August and in celebration of all the new Joe Hoopla of the past year or two, Shout Factory now has the rights to the TV show and is putting out new box sets with new bonus features. Is it worth it?

Absolutely. For those who've never seen the show, it follows a (rather large) group of special government agents known collectively as G.I. Joe(who consists of Ninjas, Sailors, Native American trackers and other assorted military types) as they frequently attempt to stop the world domination plans of terrorist group Cobra (a "ruthless organization dedicated to ruling the world" led by a megalomaniac, an arms dealer, and Baroness, ANOTHER ninja, and a freaking gang of bikers).

This box set consists of the two 5 part mini-series that launched the show ("The Mass Device" and "The Revenge of Cobra"), the 5 part series premiere ("The Pyramid of Darkness") and the first 7 regular episodes of the series. The first 15 episodes of the show are all written by writer Ron Friedman. "The Mass Device" is the first up and compared to the other two multi part arcs, it's fairly weak. In it, Cobra launches its first big attack putting together an doomsday device that they can use to attack various things in the world. Only a few Joes appear in this initial series and it's largely focused on Joe's field leader (and icon) Duke as he is kidnapped by Cobra and once rescued needs to figure out what he saw to stop them. Or something. Mass Device is weak sauce. Ron Friedman clearly hadn't figured out the characters yet and it felt very much like he was just cashing a check here.

If that had been it, it wouldn't have been worth it but Mr. Friedman got much better during "The Revenge of Cobra", a 5 part epic in which Cobra builds a weather dominator device. EVERYTHING works better here. Friedman is giving several new and fun characters to work with (like Shipwreck the sailor who acts/sounds like Jack Nicholson and Roadblock the rhyming big black guy) and it makes the show better for it. Friedman even attempts to introduce some slight romance between new Joes Flint and Lady Jaye as well as Cobra Villains Baroness and Destro. The idea of the Cobra forces constantly betraying each other is introduced as Dreadknok Biker leader Zartan tries to turn on Cobra AND the Joes for money. "Revenge..." has a similar plot structure as Mass Device but it's done with much more style and grace.

"Pyramid of Darkness" is the best arc on the set and possibly one of the most sweetly awesome groups of cartoons ever assembled (and I say that as a compliment). Shipwreck and the Joes mute ninja, Snake Eyes end up on a side adventure where they hook up with a pop singer who wants revenge on Cobra (and we get to see Snake Eyes break-dance. Really.), Roadblock hangs out with a sweet country girl and leads an assault on a Cobra facility, and we're introduced to the goofy dynamic duo of Alpine and Bazooka who along with their new buddy Quick Kick(an karate chopping former stuntman who loves quoting movies), get into all sorts of wacky adventures. "Pyramid of Darkness" is frankly, hilarious. But everything here is cranked to 11 with Friedman clearly now in love with these characters and doing whatever the hell he wants with him. If it was implied that Destro and Baroness had a thing in the previous series, here we see a hard cut to them making out coupled with Cobra Commander yelling at them for it. "What are you doing, Destro?!" "Ummm... she had something in her eye, Commander. ummm.." hheheheh, Yo, Joe.

Sadly, Friedman didn't write the last 7 episodes on the set which were the beginnings of the regular series. These episodes are a mixed bag with "Red Rocket's Glare"(in which Cobra tries to take over Roadblock's family's burger joint. Yep. I know lol) and "The Funhouse"(Cobra puts some Joes in a funhouse that they must escape from full of...Cobra Commander Balloons. COBRA COMMANDER BALLOONS, I SAY!) being standouts and "Satellite Down" and "Cobras Creatures" being letdowns. But even the good ones are a dip in quality compared to the brilliance Friedman wrote for "The Pyramid of Darkness".

So with about 10 awesome episodes and the rest ranging anywhere from decent to poor, the episodes are a mixed bunch indeed.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Like the Recent, Shout Factory release of “Transformers: Season 1”, it's obvious that there was more time taken with these than Rhino did during the original releases.

"Looking back with Ron Friedman" Parts 1-3 are spread out over the first 3 discs and they are awesome. It's a long interview with Friedman where he talks about how he got the job; how he viewed Cobra and the Joes as dysfunctional families (he compared Zartan to "someone's creepy uncle who always screws up. Yes, he's creepy and a screw-up but he's your uncle so you love him anyway."). Friendman is undeniably the driving force behind most of this set and it's fun to hear his enthusiasm for the show after all these years. He went on to write the G.I. Joe animated flick, the 5 part season 2 premiere ("arise Serpentor Arise" which I also think was classic), and even Transformers: The Animated Movie (his best work by far).

"Knowing is Half the Battle” PSAs are a staple of the franchise and we get some really fun ones here. There are about 8 total.

Next we have G.I. Joe's original 1963 Toy Fair Presentation which is a very explanatory sales tool Hasbro used to pitch the first GI Joe dolls to Toy Stores in 1963. It runs about 15 minutes long but it's very convincing and you can see why it became such a hit out the gate. I hope on the next set we get to see the pitch for "A real American hero".

Finally we get Archival Hasbro Toy Commercials. Like the recent “Transformers” set, there are some real fun goodies here especially if you remember some of this stuff (which I do). There is also a printable script.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

I didn't remember but “GI Joe” appears to cost a little more than “Transformers” so the animation is of a much higher quality on a regular basis. It's still an 80's cartoon so there are still some mistakes but the show has never looked this good as it appears to have had some light remastering done. Sound is also better than the earlier DVDs.



.::OVERALL::.

Some real gems and the features are great. If you already have the earlier sets, the extras make the double dip worthy. It's not for everybody but if you’re a fan of goofy 80's action cartoons, you can't go wrong with the show that made goofy action an art form. YOOOOOOO, JOE!