The Cartoon Review Website List Of DVDs That Should Be Released
(And What Should
Be On Them)

.....Oh, DVD (and Blu-ray), how I love thee. So round, so firm, so fully packed, so easy on the draw. However, you continue to vex me with multiple cartoons (be it movies or TV series) that are either unavailable, or available for purchase in an entirely unacceptable form. So, in conjunction with the Video Variations section of the CRW, the time has come to list the shows that desperately need to be seen on DVD (or Blu-ray, if possible), or need some seriously improved releases. And, to give this listing some teeth, your fair webmaster shall not encourage the purchase of the following shows (unless noted otherwise) until these conditions are met. And now, to the list:

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

Originally Aired: 1983-1987 Original Network: None/Syndication DVD Status: Released, With Errors And Censorship

.....One of the mightiest cartoons of the '80s syndication boom, G.I. Joe also suffers from one of the saddest fates on DVD among its peers. Every release of the series save for the direct-to-video G.I. Joe: The Movie on the format has been nothing short of atrocious. The first two miniseries, aired in 1983 and 1984, had relatively minimal issues with botched re-takes (a time-honored tradition for shows produced by Marvel and Sunbow), but the only audio option was an ugly remixed soundtrack that added all sorts of poor new sound effects. When the regular series came out on DVD, most first season episodes had the opening from the second season, in addition to more Rhino shenanigans with the re-takes and with digital alterations made to fix supposed errors with the 35mm negatives. Adding insult to injury, however, was the decision to uphold an edit to what is widely believed to be the series' best episode, "There's No Place Like Springfield" Part 2, and Rhino's failure to release the entire series on DVD. Shout! Factory's recent release of the series did little to fix these issues, and the remaining episodes of Season 2 had a host of issues much like those with the episodes Rhino had put out on DVD, including the decision to uphold an edit in the series finale, "Into Your Tent I Will Silently Creep", which was admitted to openly by Rhino in their Season 2, Part 1 set as as a "deleted scene".

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes, complete, uncut, and as originally aired
Original openings and end credits for all episodes (using broadcast masters)
All title cards with correct fonts and layouts, with proper credit for all writers
All PSAs, included with the episodes they aired with originally
Special features specific to the Marvel/Sunbow series, and not other versions of the franchise

What Would Be Nice To See

Spotlight on key characters and relationships (Duke and Scarlett, Flint and Lady Jaye, Zartan and the Dreadnoks, Shipwreck, Spirit vs. Storm Shadow, etc.)
Spotlight on key episodes (All miniseries, "Synthoid Conspiracy", "The Traitor", "There's No Place Like Springfield", etc.)
Spotlight on key staff (Steve Gerber, Buzz Dixon, Russ Heath, Michael Bell, Chris Latta, Jay Bacal, etc.)
Full soundtrack CD (including all background music and songs)
Scripts and storyboards for all episodes
Complete writer's bible (both versions) and style guide (with character designs)

Dungeons & Dragons
Originally Aired:
1983-1985 Original Network: CBS DVD Status: Released

.....Unlike the other series on this list, Dungeons & Dragons already has a perfectly serviceable release, in this case Mill Creek's budget release of the series that was issued early in 2009. However, since it was a budget re-issue, it lacked the special features of the prior BCI release that was rife with music replacement. Also, the layer changes on the first two discs were a bit sloppily handled, meaning that the best way to view a couple of episodes remained the aforementioned BCI boxed set. Finally, the series still lacks the episode previews and correct openings and end credits for all episodes. The openings, save for Season 2's, are properly represented on the BCI set (that set's version of the Season 2 opening comes from a low-quality, PAL-format source), but the end credits all cut off in an attempt to hide the Marvel Productions logo (which was actively removed by Saban when they held the rights to the core Marvel Productions library). So, really, D&D just needs one final release to bring everything together in a final and definitive manner.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episode previews
Correct openings and end credits for all episodes
The same or equivalent special features to the BCI/Ink & Paint release

What Would Be Nice To See

Scripts and storyboards for all 27 episodes
Interviews with more cast members and/or key staff
Full soundtrack CD

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
She-Ra: Princess of Power

Originally Aired: 1983-1987 Original Network: None/Syndication DVD Status: Released, With Time-Compression And Edits

.....In what stands as one of the most maddening moves ever, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and its sister series, She-Ra: Princess of Power were released with heavy fanfare on DVD with time-compressed episodes (sourced from PAL-format masters), which the public was told were the only versions of the episodes available at all (even though two episodes, "Into the Abyss" and "The Problem With Power", were released with certain figures from the 2002 MOTU toyline at their proper speed). This was far from the only issue, however: He-Man, and to a much lesser extent, She-Ra have serious issues with digital video noise reduction, known popularly as DVNR, which has a bad habit of erasing thick black lines such as the ones in cartoons. The time compression and generally awful encoding (which makes capturing screen grabs for use on the site an extreme pain in the ass) only emphasize these problems. However, the end may be nearing for at least one of these issues: the version of "Diamond Ray of Disappearance", the first episode of He-Man, that is posted on Hulu is not time-compressed, though it is subject to heavy DVNR and is missing the section of the episode absent from the BCI DVD release and the equally time-compressed video cassette issued with the Battle Sound He-Man figure from the 2002 toyline.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes uncut and at their proper running time
Episodes presented in original broadcast order (which better reflects the order the episodes were completed)
Correct opening credits for the earliest "Blue N" episodes
Special features from or equivalent to the previous BCI DVD sets

What Would Be Nice To See


Scripts and storyboards for all 130 episodes of He-Man, 93 episodes of She-Ra, and the Christmas Special
Original commercial bumpers
Filmation's original animated He-Man commercial
Introductions and intersitional segments from The Greatest Adventures of All and Skeletor's Revenge
Full soundtrack CD

Gargoyles
Originally Aired: 1994-1997 Original Network: Syndication/ABC DVD Status: Partially Released

.....Few shows inspire such a strong cult following, but what makes Gargoyles unique is the desire of the show's studio to bury the property at all costs. When the series reached the 65-episode plateau (which has become something of a hard stopping point for all Disney-produced children's TV shows), it was given a promotion to ABC, then newly-purchased by Disney, with the continuation series The Goliath Chronicles, of which only the pilot was produced with the input of creator Greg Weisman. Despite this, fandom thrived, and in 2004, the first season was released on DVD, with the first half of Season 2 following the next year. It was stated that sales of this second set would determine the fate of later releases. However, fandom believes, and not without reason, that Disney is openly discouraging the success of Gargoyles. Besides the abandonment of DVD releases, the in-canon comic was essentially cancelled when the license fee was greatly increased, and as an added insult, Weisman's Spider-Man series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, was cancelled the exact day after Disney purchased Marvel Comics. Most maddening of all is the realization that Disney will not license out Gargoyles as they did early in the DVD era with such forgotten '70s live action films as The Black Hole and The Watcher In The Woods (which have since seen their video rights revert back to the mother ship).

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes of the original Gargoyles series, plus the pilot episode of The Goliath Chronicles
Carryover of special features from the original DVD releases

What Would Be Nice To See

Scripts and storyboards for all episodes
More cast/crew episode commentaries
Special features for later episodes of a similar quality to the original DVDs
Full soundtrack CD

Darkwing Duck
Originally Aired: 1991-1992 Original Network: Syndication/ABC DVD Status: Partially Released

.....Riding off the heels of the outrageously popular DuckTales and the extremely brief superhero boom started by Tim Burton's Batman, Darkwing Duck happily skewered a lot of standing superhero conventions while staking its claim as a legitimate superhero series in its own right. While the series now continues, rather fittingly, as a comic book, it essentially faded away in that pleasant way that most TV shows do. However, some small things have conspired to leave the series incomplete on DVD. Firstly, the episode "Hot Spells" (which would be released on a third and final Volume if it is ever released) was outright banned from rebroadcast on Toon Disney beacause Gosalyn sells DW's soul to the devil during the episode (albeit not on purpose), along with some others for similar content reasons. Second, Disney in general is not very respectful of its TV cartoons-the opinion by some in the old guard at the studio is that these efforts are of an intrinsically lower quality than the theatrical canon due to its mass-produced nature. Third are the complaints about the existing release: the series premiere is presented on the DVDs in its rerun format, where the one-hour special had a scene removed to accommodate the additional footage of the intro and end credits. (Ironically, some of this removed footage is used in the series' opening.) As with the other Disney Afternoon-era DVD sets, Darkwing Duck's DVDs are sourced from the broadcast masters, in part because the title cards, credits, and even some re-takes were performed in post-production in the same manner as the various Sunbow cartoons. This, coupled with the complete lack of special features, has led to a negative impression of this and the other Disney Afternoon-related DVDs.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes, uncut
Some sort of special features

What Would Be Nice To See

Scripts and storyboards for key episodes
Material from the planned (but unproduced) fourth season
Alternate opening titles (there are actually quite a few)
Full soundtrack CD

DuckTales
Originally Aired: 1987-1990 Original Network: None/Syndication DVD Status: Partially Released

.....The show gets a little bit too much credit in fan circles at times, but there's no mistaking that DuckTales is a fine series, particularly for fans of the famous Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge comics (from which the setting and a number of episode plots were derived). Like Darkwing Duck, there have only been a couple of bare bones releases covering only a part of the series. Complicating matters, however, was the choice to use the original airing order, which, when taken literally, put the series-opening miniseries on the second set because it had first aired in a "movie" format, and Disney's rather foolish decision to make the theatrical feature, Treasure of the Lost Lamp, exclusive to the company's mail-order service.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes in order
Some sort of special features
Treasure of the Lost Lamp available in wide release (and on Blu-ray if possible)

What Would Be Nice To See

Scripts and storyboards for key episodes
Full Soundtrack CD

The Transformers

Originally Aired: 1984-1987 Original Network: None/Syndication DVD Status: Released, With Errors

.....It's by no means a perfect series, but there's no doubt that The Transformers deserves better than what it has received on DVD. Like with G.I. Joe, the botched Rhino re-masters have left a black mark on the various DVDs. The Ultimate Doom and "The Rebirth" were put on DVD in their broadcast versions (though the removal of the former's commercial bumpers was quite sloppily handled) in America, and the entire first season and "Five Faces of Darkness" received the same treatment in the UK via Maverick (a foreign imprint of Sunbow's then-owner, Sony Wonder), although the episodes were released wildly out of order, but Sunbow's PAL mastering eliminates the usual time-compression found in film-to-PAL transfers. However, once the Rhino season sets began to make the rounds, things devolved fairly quickly: Maverick re-issued Season 1 and "Five Faces of Darkness", but with the notorious 5.1 audio track paired with the broadcast video. This version eventually found its way to Australia, where it is still in print (the rest of the series is simply a direct port of the Rhino DVDs). At the same time, "The Rebirth" was released by Maverick in the same fashion (though the latter has only been available on the format in its original form) before the license passed to Metrodome, who simply ported the Rhino DVDs (and continues to do to this date). Oddly, even though Shout! Factory made some attempts to fix things, it's the Rhino version of the series that airs on The Hub.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes, complete and as originally aired
Original end credits for all episodes, using broadcast masters
Season 3 historical trailers paired with the episodes they aired with (already done with Madman's Region 4 set)
Special features more directly focused on the Marvel/Sunbow run

What Would Be Nice To See

Spotlight on key characters and relationships (Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, the humans, etc.)
Spotlight on key episodes (All miniseries, "Transport to Oblivion", "S.O.S. Dinobots", "Fire in Sky", "War Dawn", "Dark Awakening", "The Return of Optimus Prime", etc.)
Spotlight on key staff (Dick Robbins, Bryce Malek, Flint Dille, David Wise, Frank Welker, Peter Cullen, Chris Latta, Jay Bacal, etc.)
Full soundtrack CD (including all background music and songs)
Scripts and storyboards for all episodes
Complete writer's bible (both versions) and style guide (with character designs)
Blu-ray release for Transformers: The Movie

Jem
Originally Aired: 1985-1988 Original Network: None/Syndication DVD Status: Partially Released, With Errors

.....Practically unnoticed while G.I. Joe and The Transformers saw their DVD releases from Rhino was Jem. Despite a strong cult following and continued involvement from the show's de facto creator, Christy Marx, Jem has been long ignored by fans of other Sunbow shows, and for no good reason. The Rhino DVDs featured the first-ever episode commentaries by Marx and fellow story editor Roger Slifer, and a number of excerpts from the show's bible, as provided by Christy Marx herself. But, there were a number of issues: the art, while never a strong suit with Rhino, was even worse with the two Jem DVD sets, and the liner notes were rife with misquotations and misspellings. The episodes had the same problems with unfinished/uncropped animation, and using the 35mm prints had another problem: colors, such as Pizzazz's hair, were markedly different from the broadcast masters. The songs, which were originally recorded in stereo, were presented in mono (as with the original airings), but remixed to sound like stereo. And, to make matters worse, the final part of the series featuring the Stingers, was never released. At the time of this writing, however, Shout! Factory has announced Jem DVDs, and with Christy Marx's involvement. The question remains, however, if they will fix the myriad problems with the old Rhino sets, and The Hub has begun airing the show at a near-saturation rate, and using the broadcast masters (though not the final versions of all of the earliest episodes). The hopes for a quality release are a lot higher than it was at the time of Shout! Factory's announcement.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes, complete and as originally aired
Both versions of the earliest episodes: 8 minute Super Sunday segments and 22:45 minute re-edited standalone versions
All "Jem Superstar" PSAs paired with the episodes they originally aired with
Natural stereo (as opposed to mono upmixes) for the songs
Special features equivalent or superior to the Rhino DVDs

What Would Be Nice To See

The complete series bible
Spotlight on key characters and relationships (The Jem/Rio/Jerrica triangle, Kimber and Stormer, Pizzazz, Roxy, Ba Nee, Riot, etc.)
Spotlight on key episodes (All multi-part episodes, "KJEM", "The Bands Break Up", "Roxy Rumbles", etc.)
Spotlight on key staff members (Christy Marx, Roger Slifer, Anne Bryant, Will Meugniot, Samantha Newark, Britta Phillips, Susan Blu, etc.)
Scripts and storyboards for all episodes
Any existing materials for the partially-developed-but-unproduced Jem feature film

The Inhumanoids
Originally Aired:
1985-1986 Original Network: None/Syndication DVD Status: Partially Released

.....Before any other DVD releases except for G.I. Joe: The Movie and Transformers: The Movie were two discs (covering the contents of four VHS tapes) of Sunbow's darkest show, The Inhumanoids. The show, like Jem, was a product of Sunbow's failed Super Sunday experiment, but it never went past a 13-episode weekend run. However, the creepy, Lovecraftian, and surprisingly explicit nature of the series, coupled with some of the craziest characters of any Sunbow cartoon, has created a small cult following. However, these discs were pretty unheralded (and joeguide.com's David Thornton reported issues with the encoding and the sound mix), and sold terribly (but are now worth a mint online). The thing is, a two or three disc complete series set could sell rather well if properly marketed. The best part of such a set? Flint Dille has intimated in interviews that substantial portions of the show were cobbled together in post production best the animation studio involved was chronically late. The chances of a "restoration" like the ones the more popular Sunbow shows have received is practically nil.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes, complete and uncut
Special features of some sort

What Would Be Nice To See

Scripts and storyboards for all episodes
Full soundtrack CD
Featurette on Hector Ramirez (The Inhumanoids is where the character appeared most prominently)

Visionaries
Originally Aired: 1987-1988 Original Network: None/Syndication DVD Status: Released Overseas

.....The last show of the classic Sunbow era represents probably the greatest missed opportunity of the entire period. While the writers (primarily Flint Dille and Buzz Dixon) have admitted that they knew the end was near (and it's not shocking given the fates of G.I. Joe and The Transformers), the quality of the content is easily up to Sunbow's standards. For whatever reason, the show did receive a 2-disc release in Europe, but there were no special features to speak of, and it has since faded away into obscurity, much like Visionaries itself.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes, complete and uncut
Special features of some sort

What Would Be Nice To See

Featurette on the end of the Sunbow/Hasbro partnership
Featurette on the rivalry with Marvel Comics (and Larry Hama in particular)
Featurette on the switch to TMS from Toei and AKOM
Scripts and storyboards for all episodes
Full soundtrack CD

Muppet Babies
Originally Aired: 1984-1991 Original Network: CBS DVD Status: Partially Released

.....One of the most popular (and most imitated) cartoons of the '80s had to be Muppet Babies. Spawned from a dream sequence in the third Muppet film, The Muppets Take Manhattan (the TV rights to which were initially sold to none other than CBS), Muppet Babies gave birth to the "kid version of popular characters" cliche that was run into the ground in animation circles (primarily by Hanna-Barbera) in the '80s and '90s. The reason why, of course, was because Muppet Babies was that good. The thing is, since the show's cancellation (after an incredible seven year run that saw only two real shifts in format, and then these were fairly minor and short-lived), the Henson empire has crumbled, with the Muppets eventually ending up in the hands of Disney, leaving the Henson company owning only The Creature Shop (Henson's interest in Sesame Street having been sold to the Children's Television Workshop in the '90s). And while Disney has proven to be fine stewards of the Muppet legacy, Muppet Babies is not on their priority list. Part of this is the new movie that's currently in production. Part of it probably lies with the truly Herculean task of getting The Muppet Show out on DVD with all segments intact. But I keep getting the nagging feeling that two things are keeping Muppet Babies off DVD are Disney's general disregard for TV animation, and the films happily referenced by the series. While it's true that Jim Henson blocked CBS' desire for more parodies like the first season's Star Wars parody/homage, "", relying on public domain live-action footage for the Muppets' fantasy sequences, the contemporary films Henson mined footage and situations from are generally considered classics (well, excluding Batteries Not Included), so acquiring rights to those episodes could be tricky, as could the opening, which incorporated footage from Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It should, however, be noted that "" was one of the episodes included with the short-lived Muppet Babies stuffed animal line that was cut short by the Disney purchase of the Muppets.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes, complete and uncut
Special features of some sort
Featurettes on characters created for the series (i.e., Nanny and Skeeter)

What Would Be Nice To See

Scripts and storyboards for all episodes
Interviews with key cast and crew
Detailed documentary on the creation of the show
Full soundtrack CD

Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
Originally Aired: 1976-1984 Original Network: CBS DVD Status: Partially Released

.....The last show on our list for now has become, for no good reason, one of the most obscure on this list. Despite being an anchor of CBS' lineup for nearly a decade, Filmation's interpretation of the Tarzan mythos has been largely forgotten. It's a shame, as the show is incredibly loyal to the original stories, and in many ways established the path that Filmation would take as a studio until their untimely closure in 1989: action-adventure series with a good portion of its stock library created using rotoscoping. Given these circumstances, it came as a bit of a surprise when Warner Bros. announced that an episode of Tarzan would be paired with an episode of The New Adventures of Batman in a re-creation of sorts of the Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour that aired during the 1977-1978 season. Oddly, though, "Tarzan and the Colossus of Zome", which was the episode featured in the set, was not the episode teased in the Casey Kasem-narrated roll call. However, the episode teased, "Tarzan and the City of Gold", was the first episode of Season 1, which was one of the few years that Tarzan was not packaged with another show. We can only hope that the switch was made in the name of proper continuity and not because the originally selected episode has some sort of substantial damage to the existing masters.

What Needs To Be On The Next Release

All episodes, complete and uncut
Special features of some sort
Comparison of the books and the cartoon

What Would Be Nice To See

Full restoration of the series
Detailed documentary on the creation of the show
Interview with David Gerrold on attempts to develop the show
Featurette on Filmation's action-adventure cartoons
Full soundtrack CD

.....So, that's the official list-for now. I'll be up front: there are gaps. HUGE, freakish gaps. These, however, are intentional. I, for instance, would love to see Robotech re-mastered in the manner that Voltron has-that is to say, re-built from the ground up using the restored 16mm negatives. But, since the edit-decision lists have been destroyed (along with a lot of Harmony Gold's archival materials), I'm fine with the unremastered Legacy sets, and Harmony Gold has understood, unlike, say George Lucas, that keeping the original version available for sale is to everyone's benefit. Similarly, with the core Filmation library, it's basically the same story as He-Man and She-Ra: it's all sourced from those DVNR-heavy PAL masters (at best), with the exception of certain parts of The Super 7 and the notorious Uncle Croc's Block, which are believed to be lost forever. I for one never expect to see Super Sunday as it was aired on DVD, because of Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines, which was based on the then-ubiquitous monster truck. For now, this is a "most wanted" list, and one that will hopefully shrink as opposed to grow.

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