So, there are only two reasons for you to be reading this review. Either (A) you are a big fan of the classic Thundarr cartoon and you want to know if this DVD release will live up to your expectations, or (B) you just stumbled across this item and you have no idea why there are so many 5 star reviews for a cartoon that you've never heard of. So, I'm going to break this up into two sections. Feel free to just read the review that you can relate to... Cuz who has time to read a review that talks about stuff that you already know?
Never heard of Thundarr? Okay, picture this: You're 8 years old, it's Saturday morning and you're sitting in front of your TV eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes. After a few hours of Casper, Scrappy Doo and something called "Fred & Barney Meet the Schmoo" (not kidding), suddenly you're bombarded with images of the Earth being torn apart by earthquakes, tidal waves and general destruction. Then a voice basically tells you that 14 years from now, you, your friends and everyone and everything that you know will be dead.
How's THAT for a cure for attention deficit disorder??
That was basically the premise of Thundarr. The world has been destroyed and thousands of years later, life evolves, only now the world is some bizarre mix of dragons, mutants, wizards, robots, aliens, werewolves and descendants of the human race. I won't get into the specifics (there's alot of cool info on wikipedia and other sites) but lets just say that this cartoon was DECADES ahead of it's time. Just about everything that you can compare it to actually came AFTER Thundarr. Not only was this show original (forgiving the few things they borrowed from Star Wars), but as a Saturday morning cartoon? A cartoon with no talking dog or grinning monkey or wacky sidekick? This was a show where characters were actually threatened with death-- most of the time the word "doom" was used instead, but the intent was still there. This was a show were every episode featured recognizable landmarks that were now in burnt out, rusted, bent up, post apocalyptic ruins. In between all the other sugar coated, generic crap of the early eighties, how the heck did this show get on the air?? Well, somebody correctly assumed that kids (and teenagers) were smart enough to understand these stories... solid well written stories full of action, cool villains, excellent voice work and AMAZING cinematic music. No need for goofball characters or a half hour "lesson" to be learned. And no last shot of all the characters all standing around laughing like idiots. Okay, I think that happened on ONE episode of Thundarr... but hey, you gotta lighten the mood some time.
This was a very different type of Saturday morning cartoon. And for the most part it still holds up. Character designs still look good, the animation doesn't make you cringe, and the stories are still interesting. In comparison, another early 80s cartoon, Spiderman and his Amazing Friends (which I used to love back in the day) is pretty much crap now. Old episodes of that show still air a few nights a week and they're just goofy now ("Video-man??? WTF?) But Thundarr is still, to this day, one of the boldest, most mature shows to ever hit Saturday morning. And yes, if you love animation, you need to get this DVD.
As for you Thundarr fans, you're probably wondering the same thing that I did when I heard that this kick @$$ show had finally been released on DVD. I was thinking "what's this recordable DVD crap? Where's the REAL official release?" Well, rest assured, this is actually really well done, and if I didn't know any better, I would think this was any other professionally made DVD. I'm not a big fan of the cover art, but otherwise, it looks pretty good. The first menu you see is really generic but when you get to the episode list, you see the original title screen from each episode. That's pretty cool. So far, these appear to be the complete episodes-- no missing scenes or new replacement music. As someone else said, this is as good as it gets until Hanna Barbera figures out that we really need a remastered deluxe version of this series. There are some specks and dust that show up on several frames here and there (especially noticeable when I'm watching this on my PS3) but it's not enough to ruin the experience. This show will always be one of my favorite old school animated cartoons. Thundarr and Dungeons & Dragons were two of the few cartoons that were consistently well done, from one episode to the next. Several guys from Marvel Comics (including the King of comic illustration, Jack Kirby) originally worked on this show behind the scenes and you can see their dedication in every episode. Well, besides "Trial by Terror"-- I don't know if everybody was smoking weed or what, but that one episode looks goofy and cheap. And the evil wizard looks like a tool. But every other episode is 4 or 5 star.
A friend once told me that any rich jerk can drive a BMW, but it takes someone who loves cars to drive a fully restored 67 mustang. I'll add to that, anyone can say that they love Transformers and GI Joe, but someone that REALLY has an appreciation for old school 80s animation knows, appreciates, and owns the complete series of Thundarr.
So don't be a jerk. Get some Thundarr!