"The Jetsons: The Complete Original Series" Blu-ray Review
“Meet George Jetson…his boy Elroy…daughter Judy…Jane, his, wife”.
Fans of classic TV animation recognize those lyrics from the theme song for one of Hanna-Barbera’s most popular shows, “The Jetsons”. Warner Archive Collection has issued all 24 episodes of the futuristic cartoon family’s complete original series for the first time on Blu-ray. The show has never looked better and is more enjoyable than ever in this new collection, “The Jetsons: The Complete Original Series”.
The program ran for just one season in prime time, on Sunday nights as part of ABC’s 1962-1963 TV lineup. In a way “The Jetsons” were like the “Classic 39” episodes of “The Honeymooners”, which also was broadcast originally for just one season but never really left television for decades. Following its network run, “The Jetsons” episodes appeared on ABC’s 1963-1964 Saturday morning schedule. The show then aired on CBS and NBC for the rest of the Sixties, and on The Peacock Network during the Seventies. The program returned to ABC for a year in the Eighties, then moved on to syndication. Cartoon Network took over the airings in the Nineties, and now you can find "The Jetsons" streaming on the Boomerang app.
Warner Archive has done a tremendous job in producing this “Jetsons” Blu-ray set. The team worked for close to two years preparing the release. The label's George Feltenstein, Senior Vice President, Theatrical Catalog Marketing for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, said in the Archive's 9/17/19 podcast “Murder, Robots and Spinach” that, “The goal was to have the episodes be complete as they were originally aired on ABC”. He and his staff definitely accomplished that objective. The episodes all have their original music and end credits. Some of them feature bumpers promoting Scotch Tape, Saran Wrap, and Colgate Dental Cream. The episodes, on three discs, have been remastered from the original film elements, with a 1080p HD resolution. Total running time is 621 minutes.
Colors are bright and really pop in the “Jetsons” Blu-ray discs. Whether it’s the purple in Jane’s dress, the pink in Judy’s skirt and pants, Astro’s grey coat, or even the green in George’s flying car, the hues really shine now. The blue brush strokes in the galaxy backgrounds or the red on the side and bottom of the family’s home, the Skypad Apartments, are easily noticed.
Watching these episodes has brought a new appreciation for the canine character Astro, the Jetsons’ Great Dane. Who wouldn’t want a pet in real life that would have his paw around your shoulder and be your buddy? In addition to barking, he communicates in English too, albeit by starting most words with the letter “r”. In “The Coming of Astro” episode, Elroy explains to his mom, Jane, that the reason Astro speaks “baby talk” is “because he’s just a puppy”. So, you have Astro saying things like “Ri, rom” for “Hi, mom” or “Reased to reet rou” for “pleased to meet you”. Plus, he’s loyal to The Jetsons family, as even after it’s discovered in “Millionaire Astro” that he can live in luxury with his “fabulously wealthy” original owner, J.P. Gottrockets, he’d still rather live with George, Jane, and Judy. A split level doghouse, heated doggy pool, and seven course doggy meals doesn’t make him happy, and he reunites with The Jetsons. Additionally, he didn’t like his former name, Tralfaz. Don Messick is tremendous as the voice of Astro. In 1969, Messick became the original voice of another Hanna-Barbera cartoon pooch, Scooby Doo.
In addition to Messick, all of the cast were excellent voice actors and did a top notch job on the program. Even though she was in her early 40’s at the time, Janet Waldo (Penelope Pitstop, Granny Sweet) had the perfect teenage voice down for Judy Jetson. Daws Butler (Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound) also had the right tone, with a tinge of his Augie Doggie voice for the 6 ½ year old Elroy. The interplay between George O’ Hanlon (George Jetson) and Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, et. al) as his cantankerous boss, Cosmo Spacely, was just right, too, often ending with Spacely saying “You’re fired!”. The phrase and its tone were copied by Vince McMahon decades later for a few of his WWE storylines. As for George Jetson, he would be rehired and back at work in the next broadcast, but the job security was tough. Penny Singleton was a good choice to play his devoted wife Jane, as she had portrayed the comic strip character Blondie Bumstead in movies and on radio for 12 years. Jean Vander Pyl (Wilma Flintstone) played Rosey the Robot maid and Mrs. Spacely.
It’s fun to see the gadgets in use today that were part of the Jetsons animated world for 2062, but not yet available in the real world of 1962. In the premiere episode “Rosey the Robot”, Jane does her push button finger exercises in front of a flat screen TV. She also speaks to George at work via a Facebook Portal type video screen in “Elroy’s TV Show”. The vacuuming of the Jetsons’ apartment is taken care of by a Rhoomba iRobot type device in “A Date with Jet Screamer”. Additionally, George swallows a “Peek-a-Boo Prober Capsule” during a physical exam by his doctor in the episode, “Test Pilot”. The capsule transmits TV images from inside George’s body to a TV screen. Today, there is the PillCam, which gives a direct view of a patient’s digestive tract.
One episode that stands out among the 24 is “A Date with Jet Screamer”, which Waldo said in 2004 was her favorite of the series. The premise is Judy is the president of a fan club for rock star Jet Screamer, voiced by Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass of “The Andy Griffith Show” ). Judy wins a date with Screamer, and he takes her to such spots as the Spaceburger Drive-in, the Swivel Lounge (Screamer’s signature dance is The Solar Swivel), and an amusement park. While this is all going on, they’re trailed by George who tells Jane that his daughter will have a chaperone for the date whether she likes it or not. Things all work out though, as George bribes Screamer’s drummer and takes his place in the band. George ends up being pretty good at playing the “boom-booms”, as Jet calls them, and joins the group in a successful performance of “Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah”. “Eep Opp…” was Elroy’s secret code that actually won his sister the date when George tried to sabotage her song entry. As an aside, it’s interesting to see George smoke and have a martini during one scene of this “Jetsons” installment.
The Blu-ray picture is in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio, with a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mono soundtrack. Only English subtitles are available on the discs. Each episode does offer chapters. The Bonus features are all in SD, and originally appeared on “The Jetsons: The Complete First Season” DVD set issued in 2004. Waldo provides commentary for the first two series episodes. “The Jetsons: The Family of the Future” is a retrospective of the program while “Space Age Gadgets” looks at the tech inventions shown in the broadcasts. “Rosey the Robotic Maid: Tribute” honors The Jetsons’ mechanical housekeeper, and “Family Album” is a group of onscreen biographies of the characters. There’s no booklet or liner notes included with the discs. The episode titles are listed on each individual Blu-ray.
The discs only contain the episodes from the original 1962-1963 series, and not the shows created in the 1980’s when “The Jetsons” were reintroduced into syndication.
Congratulations to the Warner Archive Collection team for bringing a classic cartoon show back to the marketplace in such superb quality. Whether you watch “The Jetsons: The Complete Original Series” Blu-ray discs on a giant TV screen like Judy viewing “The Jet Screamer Show", a much smaller set, or even an iPad or smart phone, you’ll be guaranteed hours of entertainment. You won’t be saying “Stop this crazy thing!”.
© 2019 Marshall Fish