In 1962 ABC television debuted one of the most futuristic and ahead of its time television series ever: the animated space-age family comedy The Jetsons. Designed and created to be the future based match to the much more prehistoric Flintstones television phenomenon, The Jetsons took things in a different direction by looking ahead to the future of society. It was a world of crazy cool contraptions, gadgets, gizmos, and far-out technology that in some ways has been a close predictor of future inventions - and in other ways a radically different and curiously amusing alternate view of what our future would become.
The series took place during 2062 (a century after its broadcast debut). The Jetsons was one of the first series to ever air on television in color - at the time, this in and of itself was futuristic. Yet the series ratings suffered and it was no match for The Flintstones. The series was soon cancelled after only one season of episodes was produced. One might have guessed that the creation would have merely disappeared after cancelation.
However, the popularity of The Jetsons continued to rise over the years with good syndication ratings on a variety of networks -- so much so that the show received a revival (with all of the principal voice-actors back) during the 1980's and a few spinoff films followed (including the theatrical feature film The Jetsons: The Movie).
This series was always about family and the misadventures of the characters due to various technological and futuristic things. The core characters of The Jetsons were: George (the husband and father), Elroy (the son), daughter Judy, and George's wife Jane. The family dynamics were also complimented by their dog Astro and Rosey the robot housekeeper.
Throughout the series the episodes would focus on the various ongoing aspects on these fascinatingly fun family member characters. George was always busy working on these confusing projects for Mr. Spacely (of Spacely Sprockets), who was always the big bad organization boss who undervalued George. Many episodes would end with George in significant trouble with Mr. Spacely. The number of times he lost his job only to get it miraculously back is one of The Jetsons most astonishing elements.
George was always getting into a mess, but cares for his family a great deal. Jane was the smart and loving mother and compassionate wife who helped everyone out when there was a blunder. Elroy was the science-smart whiz making new devices no one else in the family understood. In experimenting on these devices, Elroy was often beside dog Astro. Judy was unquestionably the most rebellious (as the teenager of the show) but she was also a kind, sweet-natured person with a lot of love for her family (when she wasn't being distracted by a new fashionable trend or boys first). Ultimately, all of these great characters made the show the charming animated sitcom that won the hearts of many viewers... even if it was a few decades belated.
The 80's version isn't necessarily the best of the bunch. Season 3 was not the finest. However, there are still plenty of good moments and the characters continue to make it worthwhile. The writing is always inventive and fun. The production values seem a bit weaker during the third season: the animation is particularly less successful as it seems to have not been produced as effectively. There isn't enough artistic movement to these character designs and the stylistic background art seems to be a tad more generically done. The art is adequate if not quite as memorably created.
However, the fundamental attributes remain the same (or are at least quite similar) and one will still easily recognize the episodes as being a part of The Jetsons lasting legacy regardless. The writing, characters, humor, and inventiveness of it all was something that made it worthwhile. The Jetsons: Season 3 is not as well remembered as earlier seasons but it's still the important piece of the series fascinating production history that it's a nice farewell batch of episodes to television's seriously iconic (if underrepresented) futuristic animated sci-fi creation. Fans of entertaining, fun, and family-friendly animated programs will have a good time revisiting or discovering the third season of The Jetsons (now available on DVD from Warner Archives).
The picture quality provided on this Warner Archive DVD release isn't all that great. Frankly, episodes on this release look about the same level of quality one might expect to find from a VHS tape. The encoding is average and the source material isn't too good with dust, dirt, softness, and a color presentation that lacks much 'pop' in the way of fine reproduction. These episodes aren't in the greatest condition. If Warner Bros had bothered to restore these episodes (like some other Hanna-Barbera made on demand releases) things might have fared a bit better but alas these are merely average presentations. Each episode is presented in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (full frame).
The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio presentation isn't too impressive but it's a moderately okay reproduction of the simplistic sound design used for the series. The dialogue is easy to follow and understand. There is a certain lack of fine clarity though and some episodes exhibited an element of hiss that was undesirable. Yet the quality of these recordings is at least acceptable, given the age and condition of the elements.
There are no extras at all on this release.
The Jetsons third and final season is the shortest. It's also not as high quality as the series was during its classic season or the prime episodes from the 80's. Even so, The Jetsons was truly wonderful as a series and the characters (and voice-performances) made it a must see show. Despite some average episodes and a middling PQ/AQ presentation, fans will want to see everything and perhaps complete their collection with this final swan-song DVD outing containing the last episodes ever produced of the animated series.