The Warner Archives MOD program digs into its catalog of
Hanna-Barbera cartoons once again with their release of The
Space Kidettes/ Young Samson set. While
these two cartoons are very different
in style and are aiming for different audiences, they're both enjoyable
their own way and a heck of a lot of fun.
Before I get to the content of this set, let me give a
little background on these two cartoons. Space
Kidettes started on NBC in September of 1966. It
was a half hour show, telling a single
adventure each week and lasted for a 20-episode single season. Young
Samson originally aired under the moniker Samson and
Goliath starting in September of 1967 (also on NBC), but
that was changed to Young Samson in April of the following year by
who feared that young viewers would confuse it with the Christian
show Davey and Goliath. (Ironically
it was later syndicated under the
original title.) The format was a bit
different with Samson enjoying two 12-minute stories each week instead
half-hour long tale. There were 13
episodes (telling 26 stories) of this show.
A few years later, someone decided that these two totally
different shows would go well together and came up with a package for
syndication of 20 The Space Kidettes/
Young Samson shows. For this they'd
take an episode of The Space Kidettes
and edit it down to about 9 ½-minutes and pair it with a random
12-minute Young Samson adventure, also edited
slightly to make room for more commercials.
The problem was, the unknown genius who came up with this idea
master tapes edited, destroying the original program in the process. So this is the only version of these two
shows that still survives.
As for the shows themselves, they're both entertaining but
they couldn't be more different. The Space Kidettes is a comedy show
aimed that the pre-school crowd. The
kidettes are Countdown, Scooter, Snoopy, and the token female Jenny. They live a care-free life in a Mercury space
capsule-like clubhouse with their intelligent dog Pup Star. Well, mostly care-free. The
kidettes happen to have a treasure map
that is coveted by the space pirate Captain Skyhook (wonderfully voiced
veteran talent Daws Bulter) and his side-kick Static.
Every week Skyhook would come up with another
plan to get the map, one that would ultimately backfire leaving the
safe and sound and the pirate in the lurch.
The show definitely has its moments. One
of the great aspects of the show is that
Skyhook is actually a softy at heart. Whenever
Static comes up with a cruel trap to spring on the kidettes, Skyhook
announce "we can't do that, they're just KIDS!"
He wanted the kids to meet a "'orrible fate', but he wanted it
Skyhook is a wonderful comic villain and his character makes
the show's main flaw all the more apparent:
the space kidettes themselves are bland and boring.
They're almost straight men (or, straight
kids) to the over-the-top and often hilarious villain.
When the kids are on the screen the show slows
down considerably, and only picks up when their antagonists trap is
The fact that these are edited episodes isn't as big of a
problem as I originally thought it would be.
Occasionally a minor plot device's introduction will be left out
other small flaw in the story telling will crop up, but these
episodes actually tell the stories pretty well and may even be an
on the original. I don't have any full
episodes to compare these with but I suspect that in the original
was a lot of padding and more scenes with the not-so-interesting
themselves. As it is, these shorter
installments pack in a lot of jokes without much down time.
The second half of each episode, Young Samson, has
been a favorite cartoon of mine since I first saw
it during the original run. It has
everything my six-year-old self wanted:
action, monsters, and a very cool side-kick.
Samson is a clean-cut teenage boy who rides
around the country (and the world) on his motor scooter (no motorcycle
him. He's not a hoodlum!) with his
trusty canine companion Goliath sitting on the back.
Where ever he goes he finds some robot,
monster, witch doctor, alien, or ancient curse afflicting the locals. Being a kind-hearted kid, Samson investigates
and always runs into trouble. Don't
worry though, all he has to do is clash his wristbands over his head
transform into a mighty superhero. Not
only does he become brawny, but his voice deepens and starts to echo! As if that wasn't enough, touching his
wristbands together for a second time while pointing them at his dog
Goliath into a huge lion; one that can fly and shoot lasers from his
eyes. How cool is that?!?
Yes, I spent many a summer afternoon in my
backyard clanging my mother's old bracelets together crying "I need
power!" and then turning my old beloved mutt Mugsy into a giant,
laser-shooting lion. At least in my
This show is very reminiscent of Johnny Quest. They use the
same style of animation and the exact same incidental music for much of
show. While I really liked JQ,
and still do, my younger self always
thought Young Samson was the superior
show. That's because it was beautifully
simplistic and to the point. Every show
starts out introducing the villain/monster, usually by having it attack
isolated village. Samson arrives, finds
out that there's trouble, and we're off and running.
There are not any long scenes where people
talk or develop characters or any of that motivation stuff. Just straight to the action.
Even today I find the show fun and exciting. Yes
the plots are pretty basic and tend to
run together but the show has a lot of energy.
There are exploding volcanoes, space ships, dinosaurs, giant
etc, etc. With all this going on, it's
easy to look past the show's lack of depth.
All 20 episodes of this syndicated amalgam are presented on
four DVD-R discs. The discs come in a
single-width case with full art.
The mono soundtrack is about what you'd expect from a kid's
cartoon from the 60's. The range isn't
very wide, and the highs are clipped, but the dialog is easy to discern
there isn't any significant background noise.
Like the audio, the full-frame video is about average.
There's a little aliasing, most notable in
the backgrounds, but the lines are generally tight and there is minimal
As with all Warner Archives releases, this set has no
This was a fun set, especially for someone who grew up with
these cartoons. While the Space Kidettes
are a bit silly and lifeless, Young Samson is still an exciting
that has aged rather well. Together
these make for an enjoyable half hour show.