Tuesday, July 7, 2009


To tie-in with Stephen Sommers’ big budget summer blockbuster re-imagining, Shout! Factory has brought the first 22 episodes of the 1983 G.I. JOE animated series to DVD in a 4-disc boxed set.

For the uninformed, G.I. JOE is the codename for a top secret American fighting force dedicated to battling the terrorist organization COBRA, a group dedicated to nothing less than world domination. Both organizations are made up of eccentric, colorfully codename soldiers, who use highly advanced – and improbable – technology in carrying out their ongoing battle.

For a show that existed to sell Mattel action figures, G.I. JOE actually employed some fairly sophisticated storytelling, with multi-episode story arcs that would run for five or six installments and then move on to another. Despite goofy codenames and costumes seemingly inspired by The Village People, the "Joes" were all given some rudimentary character development and personalities. The villains were more well rounded, as well, with understandable motivations. It wasn’t Shakespeare, but it was surprisingly smart for a syndicated, weekday afternoon cartoon.

Shout!’s DVD set includes the first 22 episodes of the first season, in clean, bright full-frame transfers. Features include a three-part, on-screen interview with series writer Ron Friedman, a bunch of "Knowing is Half the Battle" PSAs, a handful of vintage G.I. JOE toy commercials from the 80s, and the 1963 Toy fair presentation for the original G.I. Joe action figure.

For fans of the show who grew up watching it every afternoon in the 80s (and there are millions), picking up this DVD set is pretty much a no-brainer. The episodes look and sound better than they probably did in ’83, and if you liked it then, you’ll probably still get a kick out of it now.

BUY: G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Season 1.1