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G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero — Season 1.1 (DVD Review)

13 Jul, 2009 By: John Latchem

GI Joe 1.1

Street 7/21/09
Shout! Factory
$29.99 four-DVD set
Not rated.


A great many of the shows we grew up on when watched again in our adult years are revealed to be little more than mindless fluff. A childlike mind can only appreciate so much sophistication, after all.

Still other shows have enough of a coolness factor to stay with us after we grow up, despite their flaws. The 1980s animated classic “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” definitely fits the latter category.

Shout! Factory’s initial volume of episodes includes the five-part miniseries that started it all, its five-part sequel, the five-parter that kicked off the actual series, plus seven standalone adventures for a total of 22 episodes. The release pattern varies slightly from Rhino’s earlier boxed sets, so there isn’t much wiggle room for collectors looking for a straight replacement.

However, the remastered Shout! Factory versions at least have the correct opening title sequence, which automatically give them the advantage over the Rhino releases.

The set also has a few of the famous “Knowing is half the battle” PSAs from the show, and some toy commercials, which offered some of the earliest animation for the franchise. Especially fascinating is a 1963 Toy Fair presentation of the original G.I. Joe dolls, which were basically just Barbie for boys. It would be another 15 years before Star Wars kicked off the craze of action figures in the four-inch scale.

There’s also a three-part interview with writer Ron Friedman, who discusses how he didn’t treat the material as a cartoon but tried to write it as a straight action-adventure show. That may explain why some of the wit of the show still holds up and is likely the source of little tidbits (Destro calls Cobra Commander a “reptilian popinjay” at one point) that may have escaped the notice of many a younger viewer so many years ago.

The new DVD is well timed for the Aug. 7 theatrical release of the live-action G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.



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