Timeless Media and Shout! Factory have done it yet again. The two companies have proven once again today why they are collectively the absolute leader in home entertainment. How have they done this? They have done so by re-issuing yet another of Gerry Anderson’s classic supermarionation series, this time in the form of Joe 90. This release, much as with the companies’ other re-issued series, was originally released on DVD by A&E Home Video some twelve years ago in 2003. While Anderson’s series Thunderbirds leads the way among his many works, Joe 90 is deserving of its own credit, too. One could actually argue that among the many series that Anderson created throughout his life, this series actually stands right on par with Thunderbirds. Perhaps part of the reason for its success is its writing. One could argue that unlike Anderson’s other series, Joe 90 follows more purely the classic action model. Those other series were more sci-fi and fantasy-based by comparison. It is more akin to Thunderbirds than those series when placing them side by side. On a related note, there is something about the overall look of the series, too. There is something about the detail of the marionettes and the way that they move, coupled with the acting of those pulling the marionettes’ strings that makes this series look more realistic than any of Anderson’s other series. Simply put, seeing is believing. The bonus material included in this set rounds out the reasons that it performs so well. There is another archived interview with Gerry Anderson in which he discusses the roots of his work in even more depth, and commentary with specific episodes just as with Timeless Media Group’s other Gerry Anderson sets. The bonus features, the look of the series, and the writing are each important to the enjoyment and success of Joe 90 in their own right. When all three elements are assembled together, they show clearly why Joe 90: The Complete Series is another welcome addition to any classic TV buff’s collection. They also show collectively why Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory together are the single leading entity in the world of home entertainment.
TMG and Shout! Factory’s brand new re-issue of Joe 90: The Complete Series is another big win for both companies and for classic TV buffs alike. It is not the first of Gerry Anderson’s classic supermarionation series that the companies have released so far. But it is one of Anderson’s best by comparison. One of the reasons that this series stands out among Anderson’s many series is its writing. Unlike Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons, Stingray, and Fireball XL5–or even Supercar, which is due out next month–Joe 90 is that one series that is perhaps most closely akin to Anderson’s biggest hit, Thunderbirds. The sci-fi elements of those other series are present here. But this series is more characterized by its pure action elements more so than the sci-fi elements. The sci-fi elements incorporate here are more tools to help the episodes advance than the star of the show again unlike those aforementioned series. Audiences that might not be so familiar with Joe 90 will appreciate in this series that as with Anderson’s other series, the main character–Joe 90–goes on all kinds of adventures. But in the case of this series those adventures are all centered on Earth. They don’t take Joe into the depths of space or the sea or any other outrageous backdrops. This makes the stories a little more believable and in turn even more interesting. Speaking of that ability to suspend disbelief, two of the series’ episodes pit Joe 90 against two of the West’s biggest Cold War foes in Russia and China. Presenting two real foes from the time the series ran helped to make the series that much more believable and in turn enjoyable. It made it that much easier for audiences to root for Joe 90. On another note, Joe 90 also boasts its own share of pure action stories. One example comes late in the series’ run in the episode “Trial At Sea.” This episode sees Joe 90 having to stop a madman that wants to sink a ship. Only Joe can stop the bomb from going off and sinking the ship on which he and his father are riding. Even when Joe and his dad try to go on vacation, they can’t get a break as they are pulled into an international incident in which a military organization has taken over one of W.I.N.’s outposts. It’s yet another example of how the stories crafted for Joe 90 make this series stand out from Gerry Anderson’s other series and in turn, what makes it so enjoyable. Whether for the noted episodes or for those not noted, Joe 90 proves itself a fun watch for the whole family. Its stories are more reality based despite their sometimes outrageous settings. One can’t help but think about James Bond at least to some extent in watching this series. And maybe at its heart, this is why the show works. Not only is it similar to Thunderbirds, but it also bears a similarity to James Bond. Regardless, the episodes crafted for Joe 90 are collectively one clear reason why Joe 90 is so enjoyable for audiences of all ages and why it is one of the best of Gerry Anderson’s series.
The writing that went into Joe 90 is one of the most important parts of the series’ enjoyment and success in its new re-issue. That is hopefully made clear with the basic outline of the writing noted above. As important as it is to the whole, the look of the series coupled with the work of the people pulling the strings is just as important. The look of Joe 90 is noticeably different from that of Gerry Anderson’s other supermarionation series. The detail on the marionettes makes them look even more human than in any of Anderson’s other series. The work of those pulling the strings adds to that feeling of realism as audiences will see. Maybe it is just the interpretation of this critic. But the motions of the marionettes seems more fluid and real than in any of Anderson’s other series. Those fluid motions from the marionettes and their seemingly more detailed look overall makes them as close as marionettes could come to being human without being human. It makes the ability of viewers to suspend their disbelief all the easier. In turn, it makes the series in whole that much more enjoyable and all the more worth adding to any classic TV buff’s home library.
The surprisingly impressive look of Joe 90 by itself makes for plenty of reason for classic TV buffs to check out this blast from the past. The series’ solid writing taken into consideration along with its look shows just as much why it is so enjoyable for audiences of all ages. They are not the only factors to note in the set’s success, either. The bonus material included with this box set rounds out the package. Audiences are treated to episode-specific commentaries and another archived interview with Gerry Anderson. The commentaries in question add their own insight into the given episodes, just as with TMG’s other Gerry Anderson series. Together with the archived Anderson interview, in which Anderson discusses another star of his series (not just Joe 90), the interview and companion commentaries offer plenty of insight into Joe 90 and the other series that made Gerry Anderson so famous in his day. They also collectively show why this series and his others remain family favorites to this day.
The insight offered via the bonus commentaries and archived interview are few. Even as few commentaries as there are, the amount of insight offered via said commentaries–and the bonus interview with Gerry Anderson–makes for plenty of enjoyment for every classic TV buff. The same can be said of the series’ writing and its equally surprisingly impressive look. All three elements considered together, they show without a doubt that Joe 90 is one of the best of Gerry Anderson’s supermarionation series. It also proves itself to be, again, a piece that any classic TV fan will love to have in his or her own home collection. Joe 90 is available now on DVD in stores and online and can be ordered direct online at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-action-adventure/joe-90-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from TMG is available online at:
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