When I reviewed the first installment in the two-disc DVD series collecting the complete animated series Galaxy High School, I had some reservations. While the show started with a strong pilot, it quickly devolved into stock plots and less than stellar animation; however, the closer of the first half, episode 7, suggested the original promise could be recaptured, that the series' potential was still within reach.
Unfortunately, on the second DVD, which houses episodes 8 through 13, the tail end of the series seems like it was beamed in from another universe where the rent was much lower.
Galaxy High School originally aired in 1986. The gist of it was that two teenagers from Earth, a brainy girl and a dumb jock, would be the first humans sent to a special high school attended by kids from across the cosmos. It was the brainchild of Christopher Columbus, who was on the rise as a screenwriter and soon-to-be motion picture director. In some ways, it is of its time, featuring brightly colored animation and the occasional mid-'80s cultural reference. When it came out, it was expected to be the big thing on Saturday morning TV, but then it barely lasted half a season. Given how bad the show became, it's easy to see why.
Right from the start on DVD 2, it's clear that Galaxy High School had completely lost its way. The first episode on the disc, "Beach Blanket Blow-Up," looks af it was hurried through the production process. The animation had grown extremely shoddy, and the characters had already been reduced to lame catchphrases (Beef Bonk declaring everything stinks, Rotten Roland insisting, "I love it! I love it!" regardless of what is happening, etc.). Once again, the writers are recycling a fairly tired plot--Spring Break being threatened by a cataclysmic event--and worse, they were increasingly resorting to awful puns. Anything that sounded remotely "spacey" was fodder for their worn-out typewriters, leading to groaners like "Fort Lauderoid" and "Frankie Avalunar."
These ticks end up being the standard for the rest of the series. On episode 9, one can even sense the producers had figured out how bad things had gotten and were trying to cover their tracks by layering on the noise. I don't think there was a single scene without Don Felder's music. His tunes were a highlight of the first disc, but they become so intrusive, even that positive disappears.
In fact, discerning viewers are really left with nothing to entertain themselves with in the last six episodes of Galaxy High School. While the look of the show had been its biggest draw at the outset, the animators relied on far too many cheats the deeper they got into the production. The characters are no longer vibrant, and their movements got increasingly jerky. The backgrounds--including the many crowd scenes--became less and less detailed, until they were flat and uninteresting. Who needs invention when there's a timeslot to fill?
The only pleasant surprise is that the series finale is a real finale set on the last day of school. While the writers contrive to bring all the characters together by making each and every one of them a member of the school's space hockey team, it's an easy continuity indiscretion to accept after all we've already been asked to turn a blind eye to. When Earthboy Doyle (voiced by Hal Royle) grows too cocky and gets knocked unconscious, he has a dream where he advances in time fifteen years, grows to be 400 feet tall, and tears his way through New York City in search of Galaxy High's resident scientist, Professor Icenstein (Howard Morris). Here, the animation picks back up. The curves become curvier, the colors more colorful, and the characters start to move smoothly again. A scene of Doyle running down the street, his giant steps shaking everything around him, is particularly well done. Except it's too late. Rather than excite, the good scenes only reminded me of how much skimping had been done on the rest of Galaxy High School. Instead of a fond farewell, it made the last episode more like waving goodbye to a guest that had stayed far longer than was comfortable.
Along with the general production quality of the show, the presentation on the second Galaxy High School DVD also drops significantly. The picture appears in its original full frame with very little apparent upgrade. The colors look bland and faded, and there are a lot of glitches. The vibrations and digitizing in extreme close-ups are quite common throughout, and it just looks like the people in charge of mastering the material hit record and stepped out of the room.
Mixed in 2.0, the sound is clear and probably as well done as originally intended, though at times the music seems rather loud. As noted above, though, the all pervasiveness of the musical score was annoying unto itself, so it might have only seemed loud.
None whatsoever. Also, just like on volume 1, the cover art bears little resemblance to the look of the actual series. Colors and character modeling are way off.
For a show that only lasted thirteen episodes, it's sort of shocking to see how far past its prime Galaxy High School had gotten once it crested its own halfway mark. There is really nothing here worth revisiting, and I suggest that when it comes to the second DVD in the series, you definitely Skip It.
Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.