If you are a subscriber of Comcast, the nation's largest cable television provider, you can now watch programs from all four major network on your On Demand service! As of Thursday, Comcast has become the first cable provider to provide programming from all four major networks (with Fox and ABC being the most recent additions), allowing subscribers to watch current programs a day after the original broadcast. Among the sitcom offerings available, Comcast subscribers can now watch 30 Rock, American Dad, Bob's Burgers, Community, Cougar Town, The Office, Outsourced, Parks and Recreation, Raising Hope, Rules of Engagement, The Simpsons, Traffic Light, Two and a Half Men, among many other series, a day after the episodes originally air. If you have another cable provider, you can likely watch programming from some of the major networks as well, but only with Comcast can you watch them all.
UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW
Tuesday (May 3) doesn't bring us much, aside from three releases from Lionsgate, all of which actually have additional seasons coming out in July (it is nice to be able to look ahead like that!). First up, we have According to Jim - The Complete Third Season. We've also got the fan favorite series that appeared to be abandoned forever, with Boy Meets World - The Complete Fifth Season. And finally, we step into the animated realm with The PJ's - Season One. We'll have reviews of all of these on our Main DVD Reviews Page as soon as we possibly can.
BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
Warner Archive has truly been digging deep into the Hanna-Barbera archive over the past few months releasing the most obscure of series, and they've got another one for us now with The Space Kidettes/Young Samson. It's a bizarre mesh of two cartoons, The Space Kidettes, a story about kids living in outer space and having a treasure map that is always at risk of being taken (but never actually is), and Young Samson is the story of a teenager going across the country on a motorbike with his dog, always able to transform into a biblical hero when the time is right. Sound strange? Well, it is, so you should definitely check out our review of The Space Kidettes/Young Samson.
DVD Review: The Space Kidettes/Young Samson
by Greg Brobeck
The Space Kidettes/Young Samson (Warner Archive, $29.95) is coming to DVD from Warner Brothers as they seem to be determined to release every single Hanna-Barbera series they can through their burn on demand Warner Archive service. Today we're reviewing another of those released recently, a four-disc set called The Space Kidettes/Young Samson. The shows are made up of shorts from these two different cartoons. Kidettes follows the adventures of four children—Scooter, Jenny, Countdown, and Snoopy, along with their dog Pupstar--who live in a futuristic space setting. The kids have secret meetings in a clubhouse, and go on adventures in their spaceship… leaving you constantly wondering where the adults are. The only adults in the show are the evil space pirate Captain Skyhook and his sidekick Static. The two are constantly chasing the Kidettes, trying to steal a treasure map that the kids inexplicably have obtained… and though they are pirates, they refuse to hurt the kids, because they're only kids. The Kidettes win out every time and keep the treasure map.
Young Samson follows a teenager and his dog that travel the country on a motorbike. Whenever they encounter some sort of villainous happening, Samson can turn himself into a version of the Biblical hero by hitting his golden wristbands together. The dog, Goliath, also transforms into a menacing lion. Samson has great strength and abilities and manages to stop whatever is happening. These two shows have one of the strangest broadcast histories in the entire Hanna-Barbera library. The two cartoons were not originally part of the same series... and didn't even debut in the same year! The Space Kidettes premiered in 1966 on NBC, while Samson premiered in 1967. The shows' main sponsor was cereal company General Mills and they owned part of the show. In fact, the syndication arm of General Mills' advertising representative, The Program Exchange, still syndicates the shows. The seven-minute Kidettes and Samson segments were originally grouped with cartoons, not produced by Hanna-Barbera, but by other companies with which General Mills was associated, such as Fractured Fairy Tales and Tennessee Tuxedo! The Kidettes and Samson cartoons were also broken up into multi-part segments which would be scattered throughout the 30 minute broadcast.
Eventually, Hanna-Barbera began syndicating the shows themselves, and paired Kidettes and Samson together. The multi-part cartoons were edited together to make one continuous story. Warner claims that the original negatives were cut to make the new syndicated versions, and besides, they would be unable to release the original network versions of this show to DVD anyway because they would contain cartoons that are owned by other companies. Because of this, the show running times are a bit short. On original network broadcast, the shows would have contained either Kidettes or Samson and two or three other cartoons. Since these presentations are only two cartoon shorts, they are a bit shorter. Each short features the main title and closing credits for the corresponding series, minus any credits for the non-Hanna Barbera shorts. Nothing is missing from any of these cartoons. The first cartoon episode title is listed is from The Space Kidettes and the second from Young Samson:
1. Molemen Menace/The Curse of Monatabu (19:24)
2. Jet-Set-Go/The Aurora Borealis Creature (19:43)
3. Space Indians/The Great Colossus (19:45)
4. Swamp-Swamped/Cold Wind from Venus (19:51)
5. Space Heroes/The SSX-19 (19:46)
6. Space Witch/Operation Peril (19:50)
7. Tale of a Whale/The Secret of Evil Island (19:40)
8. Space Giant/The Monsteroids (19:33)
9. Space Carnival/The Idol Rama-Keesh (19:42)
10. The Laser Breathing Space Dragon/Salamandro (19:29)
11. The Flight Before Christmas/Baron Von Skull (19:41)
12. Beach Brawl/Moon Rendezvous (19:39)
13. Dognapped in Space/The Lost City of the Dragon Men (19:07)
14. Secret Solar Robot/The Colossal Coral Creature (19:41)
15. King of the Space Pirates/Zuran's Creature (19:35)
16. Planet of Greeps/The Dome (19:35)
17. Cosmic Condors/Nerod (19:39)
18. The Space Mermaid/The Terrible Dr. Desto (19:44)
19. Haunted Planet/From Out of the Deep (19:39)
20. Something Old, Something Gnu/Thing From the Black Mountains (19:12)
We again have a clear multi-disc Amaray case holding the four discs in this set. This is the same thin plastic case that seems to be vulnerable to damage. Fortunately mine came intact. Two moving pages hold the four discs. The front cover has the two show's logos, along with characters from each show, with a big slash down the middle separating them, with Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection at the top, and 4-Disc Set at the bottom. No mention is made of "Complete Series" or anything. The back cover features more pictures (though The Space Kidettes are more prominent) and text describing the two shows. The disc artwork is nice, though bland. Each disc features a starburst sort of design with the two shows' logos, along with numbers to indicate which episodes are on which disc. Each disc is a different color as well. There is nothing on the outer packaging to indicate what the episode titles are, so that can make it a bit difficult to navigate the disc and tell which episode is where.
This is the first H-B set released in a while that doesn't have a designed menu. When you pop a disc in, you get the generic blue Warner Archive menu asking you to choose either "Episode Selection" or "Play All." Episode Selection then takes you to a menu screen with screenshots of the title cards corresponding to the first three shows on the disc. Selecting "More Shows" reveals two more episodes, along with another "Play All" option. While the menus are a little boring, it's nice to finally have episode titles on the menu screens (as opposed to some previous sets that only had numbers) but now we're lacking that information on the outer packaging!
I was very impressed by the video and audio quality. I won't go as far as to call either of them perfect, but considering likely no remastering work went into these episodes, they look very good. This is the first H-B show from the 1960's from the Warner Archive to be released, as most have been from the 1970s, but some of the episodes look as if they could have been on network TV last week! You might find a bit of dust or grain on some episodes, and there are a few whose colors appear a little washed out, but for the most part colors are vibrant and shows are relatively dirt-free. Audio is surprisingly clear as well, with no noticeable pops or defects. One chapter stop is in each episode, in between the Space Kidettes and Young Samson segments. There are no closed captions or subtitles.
There are no special features, once again for these Warner Archive sets. There have never been any on any of the Warner Archive Hanna-Barbera releases, and I'm not sure what they could have included. While the show is decent, it's not that memorable, and much of the original broadcast material is likely either destroyed, or contains elements that Warner does not own. There were bridging materials and commercial bumpers for each show, but again, I'm not sure what exists of that, so I'm not at all sure what could have been included as a bonus feature. Fans should feel fortunate the show is being released at all, I suppose.
Overall, this is sort of high-end mid-grade Hanna-Barbera product. It was produced in the waning days of what was the height of the company's creativity, but at the same time, was part of the beginning of the "cartoon factory" era. I enjoyed the Space Kidettes segments more than the Young Samson ones, but I've always been more of a fan of comedy/adventure, rather than action/adventure. With its two vastly different segments, this show is a blend of both. Many people have fond memories of watching both cartoons on Saturday mornings, and they are far better than some of H-B's 1970s and 1980s product. I could recommend the set for any Hanna-Barbera fan and many cartoon fans in general. The shows still get heavy airplay on the Boomerang cable channel, and are appropriate for just about any age group.
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That concludes this week's edition of Digital Digest. We'll have more news and reviews for you next week, and we hope that you'll be back for that. Until then, keep it digital!