Created by: Hasbro and DiC Enterprises
Starring: Gary Chalk, Kevin Conway, Don Brown
G.I Joe is the codename for America’s…whoa, whoa, whoa. This is not the G.I. Joe I remember. At least not completely.
Back in 1983 I found a new obsession with the release of the three and three quarter inch G.I. Joe toys but that obsession shot into the atmosphere when the mini-series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. After that week of television I had to own everything that was G.I. Joe and Cobra. I would rush to get home from school in the afternoons so I could watch the latest episodes. Hell, even the re-runs were a joy to re-watch. And I stuck with the Joes on into my teenaged years (maybe even further into my teens than I should have). But sooner or later it had to end and it did. It wasn’t from lack of love but more from a lack of liking the direction G.I. Joe had gone in.
G.I. Joe: Series 2 was the cartoon that was supposed to bring G.I. Joe to a new audience; an audience that liked things “extreme” and “outrageous.” New characters were created and old ones were given new uniforms with bright colors and too many pouches. Also there were new subcategories created such as the Ninja Force and Eco Warriors. These new and improved toys drove the creation of a new cartoon series in 1990. And don’t fool yourself, from the very beginning these cartoons were designed to sell toys.
In Series 2 we are introduced to new Joes like Grid Iron, Bulletproof and Sub Zero as well as some new Cobra operatives like Metal Head, Cesspool and Overkill. A few of the old characters are still around like Scarlet, Flint, Lady Jaye and Snake Eyes (in a black and silver uniform with a sash and hood) along with Cobra Commander (in battle armor) and Destro but this cartoon is all about the new characters. And what a tangled mess these new characters represent. G.I. Joe was never about character development or complicated plots but this series takes the cake. And it all culminates with the episode “The Legend of Metal Head.”
In both series the Cobra operatives were largely made out as bumbling idiots, especially the Dreadnaughts. But Metal Head is the king of the bumbling idiots. “The Legend of Metal Head” is told in flashback as narrated by Metal Head himself. The episode is fully animated but with the strange choice to barely have the other characters speak their own dialogue but rather to have Metal Head tell what each character said. By season 2 of the series budget cuts had forced the production value to plummet greatly so this probably explains the choice. Still, it is odd to watch and really tough to understand at times as the disjointed storytelling makes it hard to follow.
One of the other big changes in this series is the title song. The familiar song from the original series has been replaced by an unappealing and at times screeching new title track. Like I said in the intro, this is not the G.I. Joe I remember. Much like Transformers: Beast Wars is a far cry from the original series G.I. Joe Series 2 does not live up to its previous incarnation. It’s a shame to see such a great series die a terribly sad death.
The Video and Audio
The audio and video for this release is lacking. REALLY lacking. The video is presented in fullframe 1.33:1 and the audio is in “original mono.” MONO! It looks pretty bad without any kind of re-mastering and the audio sounds terrible. I mean the voice acting sounds like bad overdubs, like it was just dropped in over the animation without trying to make it sound organic or part of the reel.
The Packaging and Special Features
Shout Factory is not known for adding a great deal of bonus features to their releases. And with this release they barely gave us anything, only a featurette about nine minutes long with a couple interviews with the Hasbro toy team. We really do not learn anything about how or why these characters were created other than it was “outrageous” that some of the figures had bright colors and riot shields. It isn’t worth watching.
I know that sometimes the things we loved as children just don’t hold up over time but this is piss poor. True, it isn’t the G.I. Joe I remember but it is an offshoot and the death knell of a once great property.
Overall (Not an Average) 2/10
The Season 2/10
The Video and Audio 2/10
The Packaging and Special Feature 1/10
Overall (Not an Average) 2/10