TeleToon Retro And The Case For New G.I. Joe And Transformers DVDs
.....An odd thing is happening in Quebec,
on the French-language version of cable channel TeleToon Retro: the broadcast
masters for G.I. Joe and The Transformers are airing again.
While the episodes are an odd mix of the French Canadian and France's
IDDH-produced dub and "The Revenge of Bruticus" has been rather sloppily
scrubbed of all of its transitions, a version of the broadcast masters for
these two venerable favorites have been pulled out of mothballs.
.....Wait, "a version," you say? Yes. Having seen a number of episodes of The Transformers, including Season 1's "A Plague of Insecticons" and "Heavy Metal War", Season 2's "Autobot Spike", "The Core", and "The Revenge of Bruticus", and "Fight of Flee" from the third season, I can definitely say that what TeleToon has is both native to the NTSC format (well, maybe not the intros, to be perfectly honest), and inherently different than what Shout! Factory has claimed.
At left is a screen grab from the Shout! DVDs, and at right is a capture
from the Teletoon Retro airing of the same episode, "Heavy Metal War". Ignoring
the issues of generational degradation aside for a moment, it's clear from the
colors alone that these captures come from separate sources (though I strongly
expect that Shout! boosted the color in clips from the broadcast masters that
they inserted into the Rhino DVD masters). Furthermore, there's a lot of
interference/signal degradation visible in Teletraan's alarm light in the
Shout! version that simply isn't present on the tape Teletoon is using. Another
telling detail is that I've watched "A Plague of Insecticons"-the episode is
uncut, and in overall strong condition, something which Brian Ward claimed was
not the case with the master Shout! had access to (a claim that is essentially
lost to the ages, as Shout! Factory's rather poorly-policed message boards are
currently down because of a spam attack of apparently biblical proportions,
that I've heard was done by Power Rangers fans for some arcane
.....At present, Teletoon Retro does not seem to be airing "Day of the Machines" from the second season of The Transformers, but looking at the upcoming viewing order for the series reveals a highly chaotic schedule that, at the time of this writing, favors the latter part of Season 2 this week, and a hodgepodge of Season 3 episodes at the start of next week. For G.I. Joe, I have yet to undertake any serious inquiry other than to verify that the broadcast masters are being used, largely because I feel that its masters are in better shape than The Transformers (in part because there were fewer episodes of G.I. Joe produced before 1985, and all 10 of those episodes were featured intact with their broadcast masters on Hasbro's DVD Battles box sets from 2008). This will eventually change, however, so watch this space for further updates.
.....The result of Teletoon Retro's actions, which only partially satisfies its French-speaking audience (while a scanning of French-language Transformers fan forums shows signs that fans are pleased to see the broadcast masters again, they are still upset that the French-Canadian dub is not available for all episodes), is that the greater Sunbow fan community (or, more accurately, the greater G.I. Joe and Transformers fan communities) should now be able to see complete, uncut DVDs using the 1" broadcast masters, and with all correct openings, end credits, and commercial bumpers attached, with only a minimum of footage culled from the PAL masters. The problem is, Shout! Factory has a disturbing trend of not putting in the sort of work required, or any at all, really, as multiple Mystery Science Theater 3000 releases by them have come to market with tape defects that could have (and probably have) been fixed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team in its sleep. And then there's the double-dipping issue, which is a constant plague upon DVD and Blu-ray release schedules. But, for now, the discerning viewer can take a little bit of comfort in knowing that there is a definitive alternative to Rhino's horrid "remasters" of G.I. Joe and The Transformers at last.
Special thanks must be given to Brad, Sarah, and Ryan, who provided much of the information used in this editorial.
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