Originally broadcast during the 1966-67 TV season, Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles is a fondly remembered show, by this reviewer at least. Full of humor and action (the later of which would soon disappear from Saturday morning cartoons) the program is good clean fun and is still entertaining all these years later. Happily, the Warner Archives MOD program has dug this classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon out of its vaults and released the entire 18 episode series on two DVD-R discs.
Each episode of Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles consists to three 7-minute cartoons: two episodes of The Impossibles with a Frankenstein Jr. adventure sandwiched between them. Since Franky gets top billing (to make up for the fact he's only in 1/3 of the show I assume), I'll deal with that cartoon first.
Buzz Conroy, son of a scientist, Professor Conroy, is something of a scientist himself. Presumably with help from dear ol' dad the young boy has built a 30-foot-tall sentient robot that he's dubbed Frankenstein Jr. Activated by a ring on his finger and controlled by his voice, this show actually precedes the Japanese program Johnny Sokko and His Giant Robot by a year, which had basically the same concept. (Alert reader Brian S. pointed out that this show aired a couple of years after Gigantor made it to US shores. How could I forget about that early anime program??) The big difference between the two (aside from the fact that the Japanese show was live-action) is the fact that Buzz had the foresight to give his creation a mask, so that no one would recognize him. From his father's mountain-top home/research lab (complete with a telescope and radar dish, so you know he's a scientist) Buzz activates the giant champion of justice whenever evil rears its ugly head.
Emitting a ray from his ring which both opens the closet where Frank Jr. sleeps and activates him when the ray touches the antenna on his head, Buzz would climb onto Franky's shoulder and with a cry of "Allakazoom!, the pair would fly off to confront danger! (They would leave through a giant mountainside door that is decorated with a giant F, which totally negates the need for Frankenstein Jr's mask! If everyone know he lives under the Conroy house/lab, what's the secret?? And Buzz himself doesn't wear a mask, yet he rides on the flying giant robot. Shouldn't he conceal his identity too? As a kid, that really bothered me.)
Each short 7-minute adventure would feature a mad scientist, alien, or other nogoodnik releasing a giant monster/creature/animal on the unsuspecting city. When he hears about it on the radio, Buzz activates his giant buddy and off they go to save the day.
The cool thing about the show, and what I really liked as a kid, is that creating a 30-foot tall flying robot wasn't enough for Buzz. He took it to the next level. The young inventor installed a myriad of secret devices inside his creation that would come in handy almost every episode. There was a giant magnet he could pull out of his chest cavity, a giant spring that comes out of his head, and, of course, Buzz had an oxygen tank installed so that his robot could breathe underwater! What a guy.
The Impossibles were a rock and roll group (all three played guitar and sang). But that was only their disguise! Their guitar's had hidden two-way TVs with which their boss, the enigmatic "Big D" could give them assignments. They'd drop everything and change from a world famous rock band into The Impossibles: Coilman (whose arms and legs were springs) Fluidman (who could turn his body into a liquid) and Multiman (who had the ability to make countless duplicates of himself). Like Frankenstein Jr., The Impossibles fought a wide array of bizarre super-villains, alien invaders, and monsters.
Their adventures were a tad more comic, they once fought a villain who could control all office supplies, and each seven minute story would begin and end with a song.
The thing that I enjoy about both shows, both now and when I was a kid, is that they're short and sweet. With only 7-minutes to set up the plot, fight the bad guy and capture him, there's not a lot of room for padding. Both shows hit the ground running and never let up, pausing only long enough to throw out a groan-inducing pun. And isn't that what you want in an action/comedy cartoon?
The DVD:All 16 episodes of this show are presented on two 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 and 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 print damage.
Though this is a Warner Archives release, there is an extra! It's just a 5-minute look at the show, but it is fun nevertheless.
Two great 60's spoofs in one action-packed half hour show. What more could you want? Highly Recommended.