The 1990s was the last real great era for television. That decade-long span offered viewers of every age something that so few of today’s programs have. One might ask what today’s shows lack. They lack heart. And they lack substance. To quote Lois and Peter Griffin: “All you see is violence in movies and sex on TV.” Adults and families in general had great sitcoms such as The Cosby Show, Home Improvement, and Third Rock from the Sun. There were even more wonderful shows for adults and families at the time worth watching. This trio is just a sample of that mass of worthwhile shows that filled the networks. Children had just as much from which to choose if not more. Kids had multiple shows from which to choose on weekday mornings and afternoons across the Big 4. And even Saturday mornings meant cartoons, too. Not every one of those cartoons lasted. But even the shorter-lived shows were worth an occasional watch. Among the most notable of those short-lived shows was a little action series that went by the name of Street Sharks. Street Sharks was DIC Entertainment’s (now dhx media) answer to the massively popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s no denying the number of similarities between Street Sharks and TMNT. But what can be said of Street Sharks that sets it apart from TMNT is the show’s animation. Sure the story’s central plot is different. But at its root, it is largely just a variant of the TMNT plot. Keeping this in mind, the best place to start in examining this recently released set is to look at the transfer of the footage from VHS to DVD.
Nearly two decades have passed between the original premiere of this “little brother” to TMNT. The footage has stood the test of time quite well as is evidenced in the set’s four discs. A quick glance through all four discs contained in the set shows that. What’s more, in watching through just some of the short-lived show’s forty episodes, one will notice something else that makes Street Sharks worth checking out at least once, if not more. That other something is the show’s animation. All forty episodes of Street Sharks were hand drawn. And while the show might have had quite a few similarities to its “big brother”, one thing that can be said is that its animation style was completely different from TMNT and almost every other cartoon of its time. Some might consider this to be minor. But at a time when fully hand drawn cartoons are such a rarity, it proves to be far more important of a factor in the show’s success. Its animation really made it look like it had jumped right off the pages of a comic book. In the same breath, it reminds viewers of the importance of art being taught in public schools and colleges today. Far too many of today’s “animated” features are created either entirely or in large part by computer. It makes them all look like cookie cutter presentations. Hand drawn features on the other hand, have more substance and soul about them. Much the same argument could be made about the importance of Disney’s classic animated features being re-issued throughout 2013. Keeping that in mind, this is a cartoon worth watching at least by those that grew up in the 90s.
Street Sharks’ animation was key in its ability to last as long as it did. It isn’t the only positive to this release. There are those that have criticized Mill Creek Entertainment’s continued use of paper sleeves to package its DVDs in this set. Given, it isn’t the completely ideal packaging. But in comparison to DVD sets such Syfy’s Ghost Hunters, at least the DVDs in this set aren’t stacked one on top of another with nothing between them. It would be nice to have at least padded envelopes for the DVDs from Mill Creek, or even more standard packaging that other companies are using today. But given the circumstances, viewers should be thankful that Mill Creek would take the time to try and protect the discs from each other if not entirely themselves. Keeping this in mind, and the show’s old school animation style, the two factors make Street Sharks: The Complete 40 Episode Series worth checking out at least once for old school cartoon fans. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from the Mill Creek Direct website at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Street+Sharks. More information about releases from Mill Creek Entertainment is available on the company’s official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt and http://www.millcreekent.com.
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