I grew up with cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men (1992), and Spiderman (1994.) On Nick, I watched stuff like CatDog, Hey Arnold!, Rocko's Modern Life, Ren & Stimpy, Doug etc. By the time nowadays popular cartoons like SpongeBob and Fairly Odd Parents came around, I had already all but grown out of cartoons. Another series from the era that I missed is called Danny Phantom. Danny Phantom's creator Butch Hartman, who also made Fairly Odd Parents, tries his hand at something a little more serious with this series, it has a bit more of a darker tone and a supernatural feel than his other aforementioned series and it was a huge hit. It's ratings were strong and the series was popular with the audience. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled for some bizarre reason after only three seasons.
Danny Phantom revolves around the life of a 14 year old high school student named Danny Fenton. Danny lives with his parents, Jack and Maddie Fenton, who are true believers in the paranormal and are eccentric ghost hunters. His dad longs to prove the existence of ghosts, and to do so builds a portal in the family basement, that is supposed to link the human and Ghost realms. At first sight the portal doesn't appear to work, until one night when Danny decides to mess with the portal himself. Once inside, Danny accidentally presses the "On" button, something his naïve parents failed to do, which activates the portal, and infuses his DNA with ectoplasm, transforming him into half-ghost. With this, he's able to "Go Ghost", transforming from his normal form as a teenaged boy into a ghost to fight other ghosts who escaped from the portal.
When Danny isn't fighting other ghosts, he attends Casper high (lets be a bit more obvious here eh?) in the city of Amity (as in Amityville Horror) along with his two best friends, the only ones who actually know his secret. Samantha "Sam" Manson, a gothic girl who comes from a family of wealth (which she chooses to keep a secret), and who also has a crush on him. His other best friend is Tucker Foley, a self proclaimed technology geek obsessed with getting a girlfriend. Rounding out the lead cast is Danny's 16 year old overachieving and overprotective sister, Jasmine (usually referred to as Jazz.) While their relationship is typical brother and sister, they develop over time as Jazz stumbles on Danny's secret and decides to help him.
Over the course of the series, Danny, Sam, Tucker and eventually Jazz have to fight off the numerous ghosts that inhabit the town. Due to this, the series does become a bit predictable and stale, Danny becomes a hero in each episode as he fights off ghosts that are trying to terrorize Earth, and at the end he sucks them up into a specially made thermos to contain the ghosts with. Thankfully the characters are developed enough to keep the show interesting even during it's most predictable moments.
While Danny has to deal with the minor villains in each episode, there is an overarching plotline with a big bad, Vlad. Vlad is another element that adds some nice continuity to the series and is the ultimate antagonist to Danny. Vlad is the same as Danny is, he has the same ghost powers, but with 20 some odd years of experience with it. His ultimate goal is to destroy the Fenton family because he's in love with Danny's mom, Maddie and feels Jack stole her from him.
Other than the occasional two part episode and a few recurring villains, the series remains largely episodic throughout with little strings of continuity. My favorite episode from the series is "The Ultimate Enemy", a 2 part episode that involves time travel and is one of the darker toned episodes of the series, I don't want to give too many spoilers, but it involves a villain named Clockwork who controls time, is tasked to kill Danny, but in actuality he wants to help Danny avoid his fate which will be Danny turning evil after some wrong decisions, to do so Danny gets a peak at the grisly future that lies ahead of him. Another one of my favorite two part episodes is called "Reign Storm." Taking place at the beginning of Season 2, all of the enemies from the prior season are released after Vlad awakens an even more powerful ghost, which ends up forcing Danny and Vlad to team up. A few of my other favorite episodes are "The Fright Before Christmas", where we learn Danny is a Grinch around the holidays, and he accidently destroys a ghost's life work, which he shows no remorse about, due to this the Ghost sets out to teach Danny a lesson. "Forever Phantom". which involves a Danny impersonator. Lastly, the series finale "Phantom Planet" is a great, albeit rushed ending to the series.
Possibly one of my favorite aspect about this series is the plethora of fantastic guest stars. This is something I obviously wouldn't notice as a kid, but now that I'm an adult it was awesome to see so many actors of whom I'm a fan of show up. Will Arnett, who portrays one of my favorite television characters of all time, GOB Bluth from Arrested Development, guest stars as a ghost writer who has written a book that is destroyed by Danny. Mark Hamill, who I'm sure everyone knows from Star Wars and Batman fame, guest stars as a ghost who controls plants. The late David Carradine voices Clockwork, an immortal who is the master of time. Eric Roberts, a great character actor, is in a two part episode as the future Danny. Jon Cryer (of Two and a Half Men) guests as a Joker spoof. Lastly, Mathew St. Patrick, who is in one of my all time favorite television shows Six Feet Under has a recurring role as Skulker.
+ Awesome guest stars.
+ The lead performances make the show feel that much more energetic. The standout for me is David Kaufman's Danny. He is able to bring a charm and an energy to the role that makes his performance perfect for the character.
+ Fun stories.
- No Season 4. Sadly it was cancelled before it's time.
- This is minor, but that rap theme song was absolutely ridiculous.
Video and Audio:
The animation quality for the most part is sharp. The character designs are well detailed and the animation can be comparable to that of The Fairly Odd Parents. It was a 2004 show, so if you seen any Nick cartoon from that time period, this looks pretty much like standard fare (which isn't a bad thing.) The only thing that really bugged me was the fact that Danny, after turning ghost, looked the EXACT same with the exception of a hair and eye color change. Yet no one is smart enough to put 2 and 2 together?
The Audio is presented in a 2.0 Stereo track and is solid throughout. There were no noticeable dropouts or distortions throughout the set. Overall it was a great transfer.
- There are no present extras included on this collection at all.
Overall Danny Phantom is quite a bit of fun. It's an enjoyable show (at an affordable price) that will appeal to a broader audience than most cartoons do. The adults will be able to sit down and enjoy the show with their children. The series has a unique premise, solid characters and wacky, fun episodes. Danny Phantom is Recommended.