Created by Tim Burton
Starring Stephen Ouimette and Alyson Court
Beetlejuice is the ghost with the most in the ghostly Neitherworld of freakishly odd ghouls, monsters, and French weight-lifting skeletons. Let’s see how it holds up over 20 years later.
The Beetlejuice cartoon series follows the ghostly prankster Beetlejuice and his surprisingly upbeat goth friend Lydia as they explore Beetlejuice’s afterlife home in the Neitherworld and find themselves in trouble over and over again, usually all Beetlejuice’s fault.
If you like your sitcoms punny, this show is made for you. Most of the jokes are Beetlejuice making a play on words with his ghostly shape-shifting and conjuring abilities. When he’s on the run from cops, he rides an actual lamb. When he goes camping, he uses a pup tent that’s a living puppy. When he gives someone a piece of his mind, his brain flies out of his head. When he talks about the plot, he’s suddenly in a grave plot of land.
It’s a bit of a one-trick pony, but it’s smart about it. His powers actually seem controlled by his puns, even to the point that some of his puns backfire on Beetlejuice, and correcting them become the goal of the episode. Its witty writing keeps the repeated pun use feel fresh, or at least more so than Beetlejuice’s odor. Tied in with the unique and dark artistic style of the show, it’s a surprisingly entertaining and durable series.
With that said, it still gets tired if going episode after episode through the entire series, so pacing is recommended. The entire series is 94 episodes, spread across four seasons. Oddly, season four comprises of half the episode count, not that the season breaks matter. There’s no overarching plot or heavily connected story lines. This is a tried and true situational comedy, great for a quick chuckle, but not for character development or meaningful change.
If you’re only familiar with the film starring Michael Keaton in the titular role, you’ll quickly notice some key differences. Beetlejuice goes from being the nefarious antagonist of the film to Lydia’s best friend. His pranks now are generally harmless, but still annoying and gross for his victims. The Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis ghost protagonists of the film are stricken from the cartoon. And Lydia’s parents have no knowledge of Beetlejuice or ghosts.
The series introduces a cadre of new supporting and reoccurring characters into Beetlejuice and Lydia’s lives, both in the Neitherworld and the living world. There’s a French weight-lifting skeleton and a tap-dancing spider, as well as Lydia’s stuck-up classmate and nerdy human friends. They and more all serve as the butt of Beetlejuice’s pranks and cons.
Beetlejuice is a fun series, surprisingly better for a movie tie-in than one would expect, and different enough from its source material to stand alone on its own right. Not much depth, but plenty of laughs.
The Video and Audio
The series is presented in its original 4:3 full screen format. The animation quality is good for a long-running broadcast cartoon series, but it does look aged with pale coloring (beyond the characters’ natural pale selves).
The only audio option is standard English stereo. No subtitles and no options for other languages. It’s all pretty basic. The audio is clear enough though to understand.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This is a no-frills release. No bonuses or specials whatsoever. If you’ve been looking forward to a DVD release to go behind the scenes and see what the creators thought, you’re out of luck.
The series is divided between 12 discs split between three DVD cases, kept together in a cardboard box. The box art is nice, but otherwise it’s pretty plain packaging for a bare-bones release.
Overall (Not an Average)
The cartoon holds up surprisingly well. It’s not a show to marathon, but an episode here and there remains funny. Unfortunately, it’s such a slim release with no bonuses or features. However, it still holds up as a good kid’s show, and old fans won’t be disappointed to revisit the show.
The Series 7/10
The Video and Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10