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My DVD review - originally posted at my blog (http://bleuunicorn.livejournal.com/56300.html)
I was fifteen when Gargoyles debuted on the Disney Afternoon and while ten years have gone by, I can honestly say my enjoyment and affection for the show have not waned. If anything, watching these remastered episodes exactly as they aired was an incredible treat for me. The first season was released years back on VHS and I own that entire set, but those old tapes pale in comparison to this set. A fact that not only was expected, but greatly satisfying.
Secretly, I was a bit skeptical when sitting down to watch the show again. Ten years is a long time - almost half my life! Deep down I was fearful that the decade of basic separation from the series had made my memories of it far grander than it was. My fears, however, were completely misguided. Here's a show that truly does withstand the test of time. And I really shouldn't be surprised, considering even when it first aired it was appealing to me and I wasn't part of that "target audience" - a fact which only drew me into the show more!
The series (in 75 words): The aptly named Goliath and his gargoyle clan are cast into a thousand year slumber, only to awake in New York City to learn they are now the last of their kind. While acclimating themselves to their new surroundings, they discover both allies and enemies alike. And soon renew their vow of protection that defines their species to include all of Manhattan and its inhabitants, both gargoyle and human.
Video: Here's where DVD transfer really can shine, but also where a cartoon can fall most miserably. Gargoyles, though looks absolutely stunning, the colors just look so beautiful. Not surprising with, considering the wonderful palette of colors used. I did notice some minor interlacing (mostly in "Long Way to Morning") and some dirt and dust in some scenes. But nothing overly bad. Definitely one of the best transfers of an animated television series I've seen.
Audio: The episodes on the set are all remastered and while for the most part the audio is superb and better than I remember listening to on my TV - Certainly an improvement over my ancient VHS copies - I did notice some odd fluctuation at times. At first, I thought it was my copy (or my hearing was going), but I've talked with other people and it's definitely not just me. It's pretty infrequent - I noticed it the most in the five-part "Awakening" pilot, but it was apparent in disc two as well.
Special features: I love special features, especially done well. I can't say I was jumping for joy over these, though. The commentary on "Awakening" was very interesting and entertaing, though I'm ashamed to say that anyone who isn't a big fan may find themselves kind of bored. (Of course, I'm usually bored by commentaries and as such rarely listen to them.) I always hate it when commentaries consist of long pauses of no talking, but you won't find that on this set! These guys - mostly Greg - have lots to say and they don't let little things like recaps and credits stop the flow of words.
The featurette on "The Gathering of the Gargoyles" convention was...okay. I didn't really find it all that interesting, but it was pretty neat to see. It's nice to know there's still a loyal fandom out there.
The original show pitch was pretty interesting to watch. It's the one thing on the set that shows how old this show really is. I'd already listened the commentary before watching this, though so it wasn't very informative or earth-shattering. Still, the original character designs were very intriguing - lots of changes were made from that pitch to what finally became. Stuff like that is just nifty.
Packaging & setup: Thankfully, Disney has never gone the route that Warner Bros. did with the horrid snapper cases. Instead, we get the standard double-disc case. Though, I can't find much love for the rather blah disc and cover art. And for a show with so much history...the only insert is just a chapter/episode listing - with equally blah art. The menus, though were really just...ugh. There's so much great artwork from this show that Disney could have used and didn't. And the animation? It was cool the first time, but afterwards I just found it annoying and distracting.
Frankly, considering how long fans have waited for this release, it's plainly obvious that there wasn't that much work put into the frills of the release.
Over-all: Scrutinizing this set is really hard for me. I'm finding myself quibbling over minor things that don't necessarily bother me because in all truth it really comes down to the content for me, which is just beyond amazing. Having the first season in remastered quality, uncut is like a dream come true. And I'm fervently hoping for a release of the second season to complete this collection!
Ultimately, extras, menus, etc. can be nice or whatever, but one would hope that the prize is, as you noted, the content. The actual episodes.