Following The Flintstones and Top Cat, famed animation studio Hanna-Barbara unleashed The Jetsons onto the nations television screens in 1962. By 1963, the show had been cancelled after only 24 episodes but remained a fan favorite throughout the next four decades through syndication and reruns. Add to that the fact that they were licensed out for comic books, toys, games, movies, and then a second animated series in the eighties, and it's no wonder that they're one of the most recognizable cartoon families in history.
Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbara now present the entire original run of the first Jetsons cartoon series for the first time, spreading the series out over four disc and wrapping it all up in a fancy slip case package. Here's what on those four discs…
Episode 1 – Rosie The Robot The first episode to air finds George trying to find a maid to help out his wife, Jane, around the house. He finds out after inviting his boss (Mr. Spacely) over to dinner that Jane has accepted a free trial run of a used 'Rosie' model robotic maid. George is worried that he won't be able to convince his boss to give him that much needed raise when he finds out that the Jetsons have a maid. When Spacely fire George, it's up to Rose to make it all better and win him his job back.
Episode 2 – A Date With Jet Screamer Rock star Jet Screamer puts together a little contest in which one lucky winner will win a night out on the town with him! Judy is a big fan of Jet and despite George's best efforts to keep her away from Jet, she wins the contest. George allows her to go out with him but only if he can chaperon the two of them.
Episode 3 – The Space Car In need of a new car, the Jetsons head out to Molecular Motors to get themselves a new vehicle. The end up buying the closest thing that they can find to their old car after test driving a few fancier models, but end up on the wrong side of a gangster named Knuckles Nuclear.
Episode 4 – The Coming Of Astro George isn't a fan of pets but the kids and wife want one for companionship and protection. In order to appease his family, George finally breaks down and agrees to let them get a robot dog as it will be ok in their apartment. Eventually though, the family finds a real dog in the form of Astro, and the work together to break George down into letting them keep him.
Episode 5 – Jetsons Night OutMr. Spacely takes George out to a football game played out by robots. Jane wanted George to go to the PTA meeting with her instead but he's fooled her into thinking that he's actually burning the midnight oil at work. All goes fine until Jane finds out that George has lied to her.
Episode 6 – The Good Little Scouts George escorts his boy Elroy on a Space Cubs camping trip to the moon where he runs into Spacely and his son Arthur. The two fathers end up in a competition of sorts, neither wanting to be outdone in front of their boys.
Episode 7 – The Flying Suit When a new flying suit gets mixed up with a regular everyday suit, George ends up flying around under his own power. Elroy has him convinced though that it's his pills that are working the magic, not the suit.
Episode 8 – Rosie's Boyfriend Rosie is lonely and so Judy and Jane set out to find her a boyfriend. They end up bringing home the most jumbled up robotic man that they've ever seen.
Episode 9 – Elroy's TV Show Elroy is cast in the new hit TV series, Space Boy Zoom And His Dog Astro! Rivalry ensues once more when Spacely finds out about this, as he thinks his son and his dog should have been cast in Elroy and Astro's place instead.
Episode 10 - Unilab George ends up having to work longer hours than he's used to when Spacely buys a new Unilab model robot. None too happy about this, George enlists the aide of the local janitor to help him find a solution.
Episode 11 – A Visit From Grandpa George's father, Grandpa Jetson, pays the family a little visit. When he befriends a woman he meets along the way, the family thinks that he's gotten involved with her when really he's just babysitting for her family.
Episode 12 – Astro's Top Secret While at the country club, Spacely and his competitor, Cogswell, decide to do their best to put the other out of business. When Astro eats a toy plane and can all of a sudden fly, Spacely figures this is the best way for him to take his competitor down and Cogswell begins trying to figure out how to get a flying dog of his own.
Episode 13 – Elroy's Pal Elroy, following in his sister's footsteps, wins a contest to meet his hero – Nimbus The Great! Sadly though, Nimbus gets sick. George doesn't want his son to be disappointed when the man backs out, and so he impersonates him.
Episode 14 – Test Pilot Spacely has developed a jacket that can protect a man against everything. When George's doctor misdiagnoses him and tells him he's dying, Spacely figures George to be the perfect guinea pig for his new invention.
Episode 15 – Millionaire Astro A long lost millionaire turns out to be Astro's real owner. The Jetsons end up having to give Astro back but he knows who his real family is and will do anything to get back with them once and for all.
Episode 16 – The Little Man When the decompression system shrinks George down to six inches tall, he has to replace the defective parts with Cogswell brand materials in order to get back to his normal height.
Episode 17 – Las Venus George takes Jane off to the exciting planet of Las Venus for gambling and fun. Spacely pays the bills on this trip for George, who has to sell some sprockets to a lady who lives there and George gets caught in the middle playing husband and employee at the same time.
Episode 18 – Jane's Driving Lesson Jane doesn't want to take the space bus anymore and decides to get her license. When she ends up being taught to drive by a man who is actually a wanted criminal, things get complicated for her.
Episode 19 – G.I. Jetson George gets drafted into military service and things go to bad to worse for him when he finds out that Mr. Spacely is his commanding officer.
Episode 20 – Miss Solar System George and Mr. Spacely setup a Miss Solar System beauty contest. When Jane gets word of this, she enters herself but doesn't want George of Mr. Spacely to know that it's her.
Episode 21 – TV Or Not TV George and Astro witness a movie being made but don't realize that it's fake and they end up thinking that they've been witness to a robbery. George and Astro figure the robbers are going to want to keep the quiet and they try to figure out who to get out of this mess.
Episode 22 – Private Property Cogswell is behind the giant new building that has gone up beside the Spacely Sprockets building. The two of them compete to find out who's got the taller building and of course, George ends up in the middle of it all.
Episode 23 – Dude Planet When Jane takes a much needed relaxation break at the Dude Planet, the rest of the family has to try and figure out how to fend for themselves in her absence.
Episode 24 – Elroy's Mob When a nasty fellow student swaps his homework for Elroy's, Elroy gets an F. His family get mad at him and after he can't convince them that someone stole his work, he and Astro run away from home.
Obviously, as is a vintage television series, the episodes are presented 1.331, which is how they were meant to be seen. While the quality isn't perfect, the colors are still pretty nice with decent black levels and only minimal dirt visible throughout. There is some shimmering that occurs in a few scenes and some edge enhancement throughout but it's minor and doesn't really ruin the experience much at all unless you're really looking for it.
The entire season is presented in a simple but clean sounding Dolby Digital Mono track, in its native English. While a stereo or surround track might have been fun for a few of the scenes (I'd love to hear the space car sounds in 5.1!) it's not really needed and having the original sound mix on the set is in keeping with the time that the episodes were made. No real hiss or distortion or problems worth noting – it's a basic track but it does the job just fine. Optional subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish.
The biggest and best of the extra features are two commentary tracks (on Rosie The Robot and A Date With Jet Screamer) from Judy Jetson herself, Janet Waldo. She's got plenty of interesting anecdotes to talk about and it's a shame that only two of the episodes have commentary tracks as I would have loved to have heard more from her.
Aside from that though, the rest of the extra features leave you wanting more. A short making of featurette entitled Jetsons – The Family Of The Future does a nice job of giving a brief rundown of the series' history and his nice footage of Hanna and Barbara from the era, but it's too brief and there isn't enough information to really make this that important a documentary.
The rest of the features are limited to a feature on Space Age Gadgets which takes a look at some of the made up technology that the characters were always using on the show, as well as some character biographies and a Tribute To Rosie The Robotic Maid.
Fans of The Jetsons have been waiting a long time for this set and Warner Brothers has done a pretty nice job bringing the first family of space to DVD for the first time. Decent audio and video and a few interesting extras make this set a recommended purchase for anyone who loves The Jetsons or classic cartoons.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.