Frankenstein Jr. & The Impossibles

Running Time: 383 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR - but a TV-G
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 1
MSRP: $39.99

Own It!
Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles: The Complete Series (1966)

In the Fall of 1966, Hanna-Barbera produced many superhero cartoons, capitalizing on the nation’s Batmania. Though most of these were cancelled around 1968 due to an outcry over violent content, their popularity lives on, thanks to re-runs on cable networks like Boomerang. Space Ghost and Birdman, thanks to retro-snarky series on Cartoon Network’s [Adult Swim] block, got DVD releases of their classic episodes. It was left to fans of their contemporary series to pine for more.

Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles is one of those whined-for series (at least by me), finally brought to shiny disc by Warner Archive, who have been turning out good, but virtually frill-less, DVDs of popular cartoon series that weren’t considered a good enough risk for a mass market offering. The two-disc set presents all 18 of the original episodes, each composed of two Impossibles stories and a Frankenstein Jr. tale (despite Frankie’s headline billing).

The Impossibles are an outlandishly successful rock trio who are also superheroes (fancy that!), receiving instructions via guitar-neck TV, from their boss “Big D”. The heroes - and each name is pretty much a descriptor of their powers – are Multi-Man, Coil Man, and Fluid Man (as they refer to each other, even in civilian garb as “Multi”, “Coily” and “Flooey”, secret identities do not seem to be much of a problem). They take on villains like The Satanic Surfer, Mr. Instant, and Cronella Crutch, most of whom seem to be masterminding schemes to steal government secrets to sell to “an unfriendly foreign power”.

Frankenstein Jr. is a giant robot, very much in the Gigantor mode, who is built and controlled by two-fisted boy scientist, Buzz Conroy. In a futuristic Civic City, they take on more giant-sized menaces controlled by villains with such names as Dr. Shock, Mr. Menace, Dr. Hook (but no Medicine Show) and Baron Von Ghoul. Conveniently, Buzz always seemed to build into Frankie exactly the gadgets required to defeat these monsters.

The general tone of the stories is more like the genial goofy comics satire of the previous year’s Atom Ant (a giant crab, divested of its shell, looks directly to the camera and states, “How embarrassing!” before scuttling off), rather than the more serious pulpy space opera of Space Ghost, which can make one wonder about the complaints of violence; until, that is, a frozen Fluid Man is fed into an ice-cube making machine and chopped to bits, or several of Multi-Man’s identical copies are sealed in a block of steel. Those rather shocked me as a 9 year old, and still make me go “Wow!” to this day.

No major remastering has been done to the cartoons, but the elements used are flawless and, best of all, uncluttered by “bugs” or logos for cable channels. The menus are spare and uncluttered, offering either a “Play All” or “Episode” option. Each episode plays as a unbroken whole, from theme music to end credits. Though the menu lists the titles of each story in the episode, there is not option to simply go to a specific story.

There is a (too-brief) extra with a few Internet personalities talking – again, briefly – about the series and the accusations of violence. Then, Warner Archive discs are treasured for the quality presentation of previously unattainable content, not the extras.

Me, I’m just happy to be able to watch a childhood favorite and once more, being able to say, “Hey! This is the one where they sing Hiddy Hiddy Hoo!”

Dr. Freex, 7/7/2011