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

     July 22, 2009


As someone who will never be accused of being retro-hip, I remain semi-immune to the marketing allure of 80’s pop culture being thrust at us en masse. That and Marshmallow Fluff. Looking back, 80’s stuff was cool simply because, well, it was there. Sure, many of us thirty-somethings have fond memories of childhood pastimes, but to declare their subject matter playtime ‘second coming’ is a bit much. To provide some comparison point: I’m not a betting man, but I doubt ‘Pokemon’ will be making a daring comeback in 2025. I’ll also beat senseless anyone with fond memories of ‘Captain Planet.’ More after the jump:

Needless to say, I was not pre-conditioned to enjoy the four disc set of ‘G.I. Joe – A Real American Hero: Season 1.1’ on DVD. Any pragmatist would declare this boxed set a shameless Hasbro conduit to a quick $30, courtesy of the upcoming ‘G.I. Joe’ feature film.

Like most 80’s retro heart-grabbers, ‘G.I. Joe: Season 1.1.’ features sentimental goodies to suck you in. Temporary tattoos, original commercials and PSA’s, interviews with the series’ writer. For an additional exorbitant amount of cash, you can join the latest iteration of the G.I. Joe Fan Club.

gi_joe_cartoon_image_01.jpgSomething, however, went horribly awry in my quest for sarcasm to completely overwhelm my viewing of this boxed set. Several episodes in, I quickly realized that this series was actually better than I remembered. Much better, in fact.

Somewhere in my sharp recall of ‘Yo Joe!’ battle cries and racial/gender stereotypes, I missed the substance of a fantastic cartoon with a rich plot-line, solid artwork, and fairly robust character personalities. Related, it’s difficult to view this series’ content sans current terrorist threats and global challenges.

Moreover – and akin to watching ‘Spongebob’ episodes – ‘G.I. Joe’ is a cartoon with clear homage to adult audiences. Thanks to Destro and Google, I now know what  a ‘reptilian popinjay’ is. Apparently its also an acronym for jackass leadership of the Cobra army. Or – as disembodied announcer voice continuously reminds us: head honcho of Cobra ‘THE ENEMY.’ Not to be confused with Cobra ‘The sensual masseuse.’

Four DVD’s, four 5-part (2 hours each) miniseries: The MASS Device, The Revenge Of Cobra: The Weather Dominator and The Pyramid Of Darkness. Quality remains fairly good for  a 1983 cartoon. Sure, it shows its age, but still a cartoon MILF in every way.

Through this boxed set, I learned a valuable lesson in early 80’s cartoon warfare: guns don’t kill people, objects near them  that can be hit by gunfire knock them unconscious. Both Joe and Cobra fire lasers that can’t hit a sumo wrestler standing 5 feet away. Even more so when 50 folks are aiming for it simultaneously. You can, however, knock a nearby tree on top of the sumo, rendering it incapacitated.

gi_joe_cartoon_image_general_hawk_01.jpgI’m also convinced Frau Farbissina’s barking orders sound uncannily like Major Blood’s ‘Cobra’ battle cry, sans German accent. Major Blood is pre-op.

Bonus Features are decent. Writer Ron Friedman is a nice, albeit obscure chap, whose 3-part rants on life, liberty and the pursuit of the Baroness get old fast. Do not sit next to this man on the train.

Original PSA’s allow us to relive our long lost ‘knowing is half the battle,’ essential should you ever encounter a strange dog. Or need to enact figure-8 shapes to tread water.

Original toy commercials look like they’ve been through a visual washing machine, barely visible at best. The ‘G.I. Joe’ 1963 Toy Fair presentation, however, is a rare glimpse into Toy Americana…albeit eventually creepy when marketing methods are described. No wonder I didn’t stand a fighting chance to the Hasbro indoctrination campaign.

All in all, color this reviewer very pleasantly surprised over a terrific boxed set. A great gift for anyone looking to finally put a shirt on Gung-Ho or relive their Scarlett fantasy.