"Yo Joe!" I can't tell you how many times I have heard that over the last few days. I actually did start counting halfway through watching the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Season 1.1 DVD set. I loved the G.I. Joe cartoon as a kid. For some reason, I actually preferred G.I. Joe over the Transformers cartoon. This set was released July 14, 2009. Luckily I got my hands on a copy before then. With these DVD sets, I don't like to watch them all in one sitting. It's not that I don't want to so much as it's a matter of me wanting to make it last as long as possible. I figured spreading the twenty-two episodes over three days would suffice. It was a blast from the past.
The set consists of three "mini-series" story arcs along with seven single story episodes. Since it was the 80s, I'm sure you can imagine what to expect if you haven't seen these episodes before. There is some variation in the quality of the stories. Some come across as pretty excellent (considering it's been over twenty-five years now). I'm not going to give episode summaries for each one (as I'm sure you can find those elsewhere). What I thought I'd do is give my commentary on the episodes. Not full blown commentary. Just some thoughts and observations as I was watching. I mentioned I started counting the number of times they yelled out "Yo Joe!" in the last few episodes. They averaged 5.6 per episode with one episode containing a whopping 12 "Yo Joe"s. Cobra only averaged 2.7 "COBRA!"s per episode. Guess they aren't as vain as the Joe team. My counts might be off a bit. At times I was just so engrossed in the episode and I may have missed one or two.
T HE COBRA STRIKES Snake Eyes doesn't wear gloves. Scarlett and Duke seem to be together. G.I. Joe's headquarter seems to be public knowledge, Cobra attacks (with Major Bludd leading). But Cobra's base is a castle with giant Cobras carved into it. Cobra's lisp... Sometimes it seems more intense than other times.
"G.I. Joe will return after these messages" bumpers are nice. Destro is so brilliant, he makes a teleportation device to steal a satellite. Everyone is a bad shot. Laser fire is everywhere an no one gets hit. Cobra and Destro force Duke (and their slaves) to wear mind control headbands. The headbands controlled by an old-school joystick. Amazing that a joystick can control such a wide variety of movements. The ten foot all slave (fighting against Duke) sounds like the Hulk.
THE SLAVES OF THE COBRA MASTER
Even in the snow, Snake Eyes doesn't wear gloves. That's how badass he is.
THE WORMS OF DEATH
Snake Eyes retrieved a device and was exposed to radiation. Radioactive Snake Eyes finds and saves Timber (the wolf that soon becomes his companion, doesn't every ninja need a wolf?). Some old blind dude in the woods can cure radiation sickeness. Good thing Snake Eyes ran into him.
DUEL IN THE DEVIL'S CAULDRON
Amazing how long it takes Scarlett to load an arrow in her bowcaster and that an arrow can blow up an entire Cobra cannon. Stomps on Destro's foot with heel. Great fighting skills there. "Thermal arrows"??? She has an arrow for everything!
A STAKE IN THE SERPENT'S HEART
Scarlett has more trick arrows. Destro starts getting angry/raw. Destro also starts looking like he has a Hitler mustache (the shadow under his nose seems more pronounced). Cobra Commander captured. Oops, hope I didn't spoil the story arc.
BONUS FEATURE: Looking back with writer Ron Friedmean, Part One (7:00)
IN THE COBRA'S PIT ("The Revenge of Cobra" in opening credits, more action)
Cobra's plan involves a Weather dominator. Wait, how did the Commander escape??? First appearance of Crimson Guard. Commander captured again. First appearance of Zartan and Dreadnoks. Storm Shadow (no mention why Cobra has a ninja on staff). Baroness gets her black leather outfit. Snake Eyes gets his new mask. 1st appearance of Flint. Cobra Commander switches to loose mask instead of helmet. "Pit of Chaos"? Woof! Cobra needs a better creative team to come up with the names of his "traps."
THE VINES OF EVIL
Cobra Arena of Sport, just like in the first mini/arc. Duke and Snake Eyes forced to fight. First appearance of Shipwreck in a Cobra saloon. He was a mercenary? First appearance of Lady Jaye. Weird how there's no real introduction to the new characters. They're just all there suddenly. I always wondered, is Destro showing off his bare chest?
THE PALACE OF DOOM
Does the public know of G.I. Joe? 1st appearance of Firefly. He's not as cool as he was in the comics. Baroness to Zartan: "I order you to respond to my orders." You can't argue with that. Spirit vs Storm Shadow, disappointing fight. They will meet again (and again).
BATTLE ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD
Fight continues. Forced to work together. Finally see Duke & Snake Eyes again. Maybe they didn't realize how cool Snake Eyes would become. He's hardly in these episodes.
AMUSEMENT PARK OF TERROR
The Joe base needs better protection. Should be a hidden base like the Pit in the comics. Duke has a 'personal distress signal,' why didn't he use it before? Cobra captured AGAIN!
BONUS: Ron Friedman, Part Two (7:00)
THE PYRAMID OF DARKNESS, PART 1 ("The Further Adventures of G.I. Joe" in opening credits)
Tomax and Xamot first appearance. No explanation as to who they are or their psychic bond. How did Cobra Commander get free? Weird aliens??? WTF? Fatal Fluffies? How did I forget about this stuff? Polly (Shipwreck's parrot) and Timber are on the mission, ugh. Cobra comes up with another one of his crazy schemes.
PART 2: Rendezvous In The City Of The Dead yo joes: 6
Shipwreck & Snake Eyes infiltrate Cobra with Polly & Timber. Destro buffs his face with a sander. Ha ha...laser discs! They had cutting edge technology back then. Who actually remembers laser discs these days? Roadblock rhymes a lot. "Shape up now, or this goes pow." Roadblock's a poet and he didn't know it.
PART 3: Three Cubes To Darkness yo joes: 5 cobras: 3
Lady Jaye's trick javelins are trickier than Green Arrow's. She has one that can make a bubble that can hold her and Flint under water? DANCE SCENE!!! SINGING!! Pure 80s goodness! Kick line and break dancing! Snake Eyes shows that ninjas can break dance!
PART 4: Chaos In The Sea Of Lost Souls yojoes: 4 cobras: 4
Quick Kick (1st app) fighting in the snow with no shirt or shoes (maybe he wants to show that he's a badass like Snake Eyes). He's a movie stunt man shooting a commercial. The psychic bond finally explained between Tomax and Xamot 3 episodes after their first app. Another song/dance scene. Snake Eyes in a dress?!? Baroness and Destro kiss, she's kissing metal. And how the heck does his metal mask allow facial expressions? Cobra says "poppycock"??? "Skullduggery"? Wow.
PART 5: Knotting Cobra's Coils yojoes: 12 Cobras: 2
Shipwreck and Snake Eyes enter new base riding cows! Cobra Commander catches Destro and Baroness making out, "She had something in her eye..." Sure she did, Destro. I guess Cobra never gets any loving himself...
BONUS: Ron Friedman, Part Three (4:45)
COUNTDOWN FOR ZARTAN
Dreadnoks and Storm Shadow are training new Cobra troopers. One's even overweight. No discrimination on Cobras part. Storm Shadows shows he can make a tank fall apart by hitting it in a few (right) places. Interesting that they pair up Storm Shadow and Spirit again rather than bring in Snake Eyes. Boo!
RED ROCKET'S GLARE yo joes: 2 cobras: 1
To the rescue of Roadblock's uncle's restaurant. Punks with laser guns? Yikes.
SATELLITE DOWN yojoes: 6 cobras: 3
Storm Shadow and Spirit again... Hilarious when Dusty tries taking him on. One hit and he's down. Lady Jaye uses a hair rinse for her hair. Guess that means she's not a natural brunette? They find ancient race of people and it's no big deal. Primords? Okay. It's weird hearing a ninja yelling out "Cobra!"
COBRA STOPS THE WORLD yojoes: 7 cobras: 1
Doesn't Cobra ever get tired of trying to come up with plans to take over the world? Cobra gets smart and has a plan if he gets captured. Scarlett is still flirting with Duke. No Snake Eyes love. Where the heck does Scarlett keep her arrows? There's no visible sign of them.
JUNGLE TRAP yojoes: 7 cobras: 2
Written by Paul Dini! "It's a trap!" Imagine if Admiral Ackbar joined G.I. Joe. Zartan is such an arrogant jerk. He actually laughs "ha ha ha ha..." First sign of being captured (or sunlight) and he runs like a little girl.
COBRA'S CREATURES yojoes: 1 cobras:
Why does Doc wear green shades and why did the Baroness stop wearing them (and switched to clear lenses)?
THE FUNHOUSE yojoes: 6 cobras:
60 billion dollar ransom for kidnapped scientists? Alpine actually has a GI Joe Express card. I suppose he needs the money to pay for all the crazy schemes/satellites, weapons, hideouts carved into giant cobras, etc. What about pay for all the Cobra troops? Health care? Is dental included? Vision? What's the greatest luxury Cobra Commander can buy? Revenge.
"Knowing Is Half The Battle" PSAs. 7 of them. Awesome!
Archival Hasbro Toy Commericals
1963 G.I. Joe Toy Fair Presentation (9:05)
Printable "Jungle Trap" Script
This DVD set was a blast. The writing will definitely make you scratch your head at times. It's amazing at how much laser/gun fire there was for a kids show. It's even more amazing that every single person was such a lousy shot. This set is a must-own. You could probably find it for under twenty bucks. That's a heck of a bargain. The show is almost a one-of-a-kind. I can't think of another show that has intricate military objects and then weird zany objects get thrown in without anyone blinking. This is what the 80s were about. Before you see the movie next month, check out what the show was really about. I'd give this set a solid 4 out of 5. Some of the stories were a little weaker than others. You do get some free tattoos with the set, if you needed another reason to buy it. You get the G.I. Joe logo, the Cobra loga and the Arashikage ninja clan logo. What a deal! Also seeing Snake Eyes break dancing and the PSAs are almost worth the price of admission themselves. It's in stores NOW.