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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series
Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series
Warner Bros. // Unrated // July 17, 2007
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted July 23, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

Before Harvey Birdman was an attorney at law on Adult Swim, he was a superhero (created by legendary comic book artist Alex Toth) who went under the name of just plain old Birdman in a short lived series that was done by Hanna-Barbera. Warner Brothers has now released the entire series, which ran as Birdman And The Galaxy Trio on NBC from September 1967 through September 1969, onto DVD spread across two double sided discs.

So who or what is Birdman exactly? Birdman is actually Ray Randall (both Ray Randall and Birdman were voiced by Keith Andes who committed suicide in 2005) who, after getting in good with Ra, the Sun God, found himself with the ability to shoot rays of solar energy out of his hands. He also developed the uncanny ability to surround himself with rays of solar energy that act as a force-field and protect him from harm. If that weren't cool enough, Ray can also grow giant white feathered wings out of his back that allow him to fly under his own power. Along with a trained giant purple eagle named Avenger, Ray (as Birdman) works for a secret government branch as an officially sanctioned crime fighter! Seeing as Birdman's powers are completely related to his exposure to the sun, they are solar powered after all, he periodically has to break to recharge himself but aside from that, he's a pretty tough dude. His powers certainly prove to be a good thing when he continues to find himself put up against dastardly villains such as Number One, Morto, Vulturo and Doctor Millennium.

Alongside Avenger, however, Birdman also receives help from Falcon 7 (voiced by the legendary Don Messick of Scooby-Doo) who is the man he directly reports to at the government agency that employs him (and who hangs out in a volcano a lot), and a boy named Birdboy (voiced by Dick Beals of The Jetsons). Birdboy was the only survivor of a shipwreck. Birdman saved his life by using his abilities to recharge his vitals and as such, he received some of Birdman's solar powers. Using some keen mechanical wings, he too is able to fly and his powers allow him to help Birdman out of more than a few sticky situations. The series would also introduce Birdgirl after fourteen episodes, but she didn't really stick around all that long.

Each episode of the show features two Birdman adventures (each running roughly eight minutes in length) and in between presents a Galaxy Trio story (also roughly eight minutes). The three aliens who make up the Galaxy Trio - a group of superheroes who patrol space and keep it safe - are Vapor Man (Don Messick again), Meteor Man (voiced by Ted Cassidy best known as Lurch on The Addams Family) and Gravity Girl (Virginia Eiler). These three crime fighting aliens would fly around the solar system in a ship dubbed The Condor One and they were employed by the always reliable Galactic Patrol, a space-wide agency bent on keeping the peace.

How does the series hold up forty-years after the fact? Quite well, actually. Though there's definitely some repetition in how Birdman solves his problems and he does tend to yell his own name a little too much for his own good, this proves to be a really creative and entertaining series in certain regards. The character design, much of which has been recycled for the Adult Swim spin-off, is fantastic thanks in no small part to Alex Toth's very clean character designs and the animation is solid. If you think about things too much the shortcomings of the stories become painfully obvious but you can say the same thing about most cartoon's geared towards kids and it's easy enough to forgive the series for the gaffs when the action comes quickly and the show just exudes cool like this series does. The other Alex Toth/Hanna-Barbera creation, Space Ghost And Dino Boy, is better known (likely thanks to the success of its own Adult Swim spin off) but even if Birdman will probably always live in Space Ghost's mighty shadow, at least this set affords the series the chance to be rediscovered by Hanna-Barbera fans and vintage animation buffs. Very little of it makes a whole lot of sense, but that's half the charm. There's no deeper meaning or educational message here, simply some fun, goofy stories about some fun, goofy superheroes and ultra-silly super-villains from a bygone era.

The DVD

Video:

Each and every one of these episodes was originally devised to be shown on television so the 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio in which they are presented in this set is as it should be. In terms of image quality, everything looks pretty good here. There is a little bit of grain here and there and if you look for them you'll pick up on some random specks but aside from that, the episodes look quite good. Color reproduction is solid, black levels are strong and quite consistent and for a four decade old cartoon, there's little to complain about here in terms of presentation.

Sound:

The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound in this set is fine even if it does show its age a little bit. There's not much to these tracks, they're pretty basic, but the DVDs do a fine job of replicating their low-fi feel and sound and you can't really fault them for that. Dialogue is clean and clear and there are no problems to report in regards to hiss or distortion. Everything sounds a bit flat but that's probably to be expected to a certain extent and as such it's forgivable. Optional English closed captioning is provided for each episode.

Extras:

Aside from some nifty menus, nice packaging and episode selection menus the only extra feature of note is a brief documentary entitled Birdman: The Forgotten Hero which is an interesting look at how Alex Toth was brought on board to help create the characters and get the series off of the ground. It gives us a quick little history of the character and it's nice to see Toth, who passed away in 2006, given some recognition on this set.

Final Thoughts:

A little more in the 'extras' department would have been a nice touch but at least the Toth featurette is interesting and the audio/video presentation leaves nothing to complain about. Birdman And The Galaxy Trio may not win over legions of new fans but those who enjoy sixties superhero silliness or who already know they enjoy this serious should definitely give this set a look. Recommended.

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.

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