WHAT IT’S ABOUT
After a wildly successful run in syndication, Hanna-Barbera brought the space-age cartoon “The Jetsons” back for a second season twenty years after it debuted. The 80s era of “The Jetsons” brings the family of the 21st century back to life with new characters and slightly modernized stories. The first 21 episodes of this second season are available on DVD in a three-disc set.
WHAT I LIKED
As a child, I grew up with the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1960s, including “Scooby Doo,” “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons.” As a testament to how well this second wave of cartoons were developed, I never realized until now that the seasons were made across a twenty-year divide.
What I respect the most is that with some minor animation styles – along with some clothing, hair styles and pop culture references – it’s hard to identify these as 1980s cartoons. The level of animation quality was far above some of the low-rent series of that age. Even though “The Jetsons” were aimed at a Saturday morning audience, it kept the higher standard of animation and creativity than some of the garbage that was churned out for the kids of the 80s.
It’s become standard for long seasons of cartoons to be broken up in smaller sets, releasing in two or three separate volumes. This can be annoying for shorter seasons that only provide an hour or two of cartoons per set. However, the first volume of the second season of “The Jetsons” comes with a nice chunk of cartoons, topping out as more than 450 minutes of programming.
Finally, as a parent, these newer “Jetsons” cartoons are nice for kids because unlike the first season, these are geared towards a younger audience. With the introduction of new characters like Orbity the alien robot and Rosie the robotic maid (who was introduced in the first season but not fully utilized until now), kids should enjoy these even more than the first season.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While I did appreciate the cuter elements of this season, some of the additions are just a bit too childish, or they pander to the cliches of the day. I don’t have a problem with Rosie because she honestly seems like she emerged from the 60s roots. However, the introduction of Orbity reeked of the 1980s, during which it seemed every television show or movie had a cute robot or cuddly creature.
As impressive as this incarnation was in not straying too far from the original show, there were certain references that gave it away. In particular, new age clothing styles (which seem horrendously outdated, even for the 2060s) and spoofs of 80s entertainment (ranging from professional wrestling to TV shows like “Fantasy Island” and “Family Feud”) spoiled the 60s throwback illusion.
Sadly, the success of “The Jetsons” resurgence in the mid-80s also set the stage for the disastrous feature film that came out in 1990. I blame that one on Tiffany, though.
In addition to the 21 cartoons, the DVD set comes with a featurette called “The Jetsons Return to the Future,” which examines how the show gained a second season and how the same flavor was maintained even after 20 years in stasis.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of the show, kids and anyone who realizes that we’re just about half-way to the show’s 2062 time frame. Where’s my folding car?