This attractive 4-disc set comes in an embossed slip-cover box with metallic foil printing accenting the characters and text. The disc case is the thickness of a standard dvd, with two interior hinged flip 'pages' holding all four discs (vertically offset rather than laid directly back-to-back), all fashioned from clear (flexible) polypropylene to showcase the illustrated menu printed on the inside of the cover (similar to Sony's "Transformers: the Movie" 20th anniversary special edition dvd, if not prettier). The discs themselves likewise have an admirable design with their labels, using reflective text for the SilverHawks logo; the fourth disc (unfortunately) has no label because it's double-sided to hold the bonus features. It all looks highly impressive as far as packaging goes, possibly scoring a new high in my dvd collection (if excluding deluxe box-set treatments).
Setting aside the package glamour, the dvds have eight episodes per disc. Their menus are accompanied by the SilverHawks theme song and look appealing enough, but are not animated or anything fancy. Although there's no mention of remastering work, picture and sound are pristine, with no apparent age artifacts apart from an occasioned darkness to some episodes (in particular, sections of "The Bounty Hunter"); on a few of the middle episodes (eg., "Darkbird", "Gold Shield"), a minor horizontal tracking flicker is visible along the topmost edge during the closing credit scroll. The show was not originally recorded in stereo, so it's all unseparated center-channel audio, with tracks in English, French, and Spanish, plus proper subtitles (not Closed Captioning) in English and Spanish.
Teaser preview segments ("...find out on today's exciting episode!") are included prior to the intro sequence for each show, but there are no circa-1986 TV promo ads among the dvd extras, nor any toy commercials. As with many other 80s cartoon dvd releases, the bumper segments (commercial lead-in / lead-out animation) have been omitted; in my opinion, some of the original broadcast drama is lost without the zing of those flashy bumpers. Also, the first episode on disc 2, "Sky-Shadow", is missing its title card altogether.
The epilogue of each episode takes the format of an educational astronomy quiz. (...Did you know the Earth is 93 million miles from the sun?) For some reason, the lesson presented here for episode 2 is different from the one seen in the 1986 airing, whose Q&A were originally: 1."Closest natural object to Earth? Moon"; 2."Planet which makes closest approach to Earth? Venus"; 3."Ringed planet with the most moons? Saturn." This absented segment is not found elsewhere on these discs -- I checked every episode, some of which have repeat lessons between disc 3 and 4.
The bonus material on disc 4 consists of a 10-minute documentary with comments from supervising producer Lee Dannacher and a few other creative staffers discussing the origin of the series, primarily from a marketing perspective. There's also a fantastic sneak preview of DC's animated "Wonder Woman" (see details below), plus a couple of trailers for ThunderCats dvds. The slipcase additionally promises a "Gallery of Characters and Action Figures", but no such bonus item can be located on the disc, and the few glimpses of action figures shown within the featurette are obscured by an ill-placed graphic effect of simulated video scan lines.
SilverHawks first aired as a one-hour special preview in mid-1986, which was later split into the first two episodes of the ongoing series. However, in that hour-long presentation there was a musical interlude sequence (roughly a minute or two) spotlighting Bluegrass playing guitar during the heroes' departure from Earth and their space flight to the Galaxy of Limbo, which was trimmed for time considerations from between those first two series episodes -- you only hear the very last bit of said missing scene fading in after the inserted "Journey To Limbo" title card as the second episode begins. This deleted footage has not been restored and is sadly unavailable on the bonus disc.
As for story content, this was a kids' action cartoon and it doesn't pretend to anything grander. Lee Dannacher describes the show's creative intention as "cops and robbers in space". Plots are simplistic and the dialogue is largely juvenile, sometimes losing viewer attention amid overlong, speechless battle scenes or the vapid cackling of several villain characters. Still, it all has a wonderfully high-spirited tone -- the music is positively addictive -- with richly textured background paintings and cool reflective shading on the figures. Watching the episodes dubbed in French or Spanish is an amusing novelty should you feel a need to escape the familiar English voice cast -- be sure to check out the opening theme and Copper Kid's voice (haha) en español.
Warner Bros did a very fine job assembling this dvd set. Other than the absence of the promised "Character Gallery" and other bonus features suggested (delayed for inclusion on Volume 2, we hope?), I can't find anything to genuinely complain about. The gorgeous packaging definitely deserves praise. The scripted material of the show itself is the weakest link in this equation, which is the only component I can deduct marks for. As long as you're prepared for storytelling delivery aimed to charm a younger demographic -- complete with absurdist liberties in the show's depiction of physics -- you'll be happily enamored by this kid-friendly 80s-retro offering.
Riveting enough to practically warrant its own review, the included "Wonder Woman" direct-to-video animated movie preview is actually a 10-minute mini-documentary and not the routine trailer expected. Between interview clips with the wowing voice cast, as well as insights from the director, producer, writer, and DC Comics personnel, we are treated to a history of iconic Wonder Woman comic book covers, glimpses of character design sheets from the movie, and a progression of storyboard sequences conspiring to excite anticipation even though no finished animation is seen... "Coming February 2009!"