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Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends: The Complete Third Season
The TV Series
Attention, fans of Mac, Bloo, Wilt, Eduardo and the gang: the long wait is over… While Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends counted as one of more beloved Cartoon Network offerings during its 2004-08 run, DVD collectors were left high and dry after it was decided to halt the show's physical media releases following the second season set in 2007. Think of it: a kid born back then would be seven years old now - the perfect age for discovering this manic, visually gorgeous story of a boy and his eclectic menagerie of imaginary friends. Thankfully, the third season has finally arrived for kids and kids-at-heart to enjoy in a sparse U.S. edition from Warner Bros.' made-to-order DVD program. After all this time, is it worth the long wait?
With Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, series creator Craig McCracken followed the template which made his Powerpuff Girls so successful - providing a zany, semi-subversive venue which both kids and adults could enjoy. As established from the very first episode, the action in this third year mostly centers on Madame Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, a baroque Victorian mansion where a wild array of orphaned imaginary friends await adoption. A bright local 8 year-old named Mac (voiced by Sean Marquette) is a daily visitor at Foster's, a condition he must stick to in order to avoid his beloved imaginary friend, the sarcastic Bloo (Keith Ferguson), getting adopted out. Mac and Bloo have endless adventures with other Foster's inhabitants like the friendly, long-legged Wilt (Phil LaMaar), fearsome-looking yet childlike monster Eduardo (Tom Kenny), and Coco (Candi Milo), a weird bird-tree hybrid who talks in sing-song squawks. Their activities inside and out of the home fall under the watchful eyes of the petite, mischievous granny Madame Foster (Milo) and her imaginary friend, a prim and proper British-accented rabbit named Mr. Herriman (Tom Kane). The schemes of Bloo and pals can often get chaotic and messy, but there's always Frankie (Grey DeLisle), the home's caretaker and Madame Foster's granddaughter, to keep them in line.
This third Foster's season continues with the wacky plots, terrific voice acting and wondrous imagery that made it a smart, snappy Cartoon Network fixture, although there are several episodes which wear out their welcome long before they conclude (ten year-old me would've dug 'em, however). The gang indulges in a faux beauty pageant for imagined friends (Hiccy Burp), a constantly delayed European voyage (Foster's Goes to Europe), an attack of colonizing fleas on Eduardo's hide (Land of the Flea) and a stampede of fake Santas (A Lost Claus). Other episodes generously give themselves over to lesser-seen characters, such as the imperious, Picasso-faced Duchess (Duchess of Wails) and the constantly beleaguered Frankie (Imposter's Home for Um.. Make 'Em Up Pals). They're all pleasantly silly, although the only truly memorable episode came midway through the run with #7, Go Goo Go. This is the one which introduced Goo, a motor-mouthed, hyper human girl whose habit of conjuring up a rapid succession of new imaginary friends had her permanently banned from setting foot in Foster's. After she declares Mac as her newest bestie, however, all bets are off. With wild visuals and a busy plot (by frequent Foster's contributor Lauren Faust) as unhinged as its new character, the episode shows what this show could accomplish when everyone involved put their best foot forward.
Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network's made-to-order DVD edition of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Season 3 consists of the following episodes, spread over two discs:
3-01 ____ 22/Jul/05 ____ Eddie Monster
3-02 ____ 05/Sep/05 ____ Hiccy Burp
3-03 ____ 09/Sep/05 ____ Camp Keep a Good Mac Down
3-04 ____ 16/Sep/05 ____ Imposter's Home for Um... Make 'Em Up Pals
3-05 ____ 23/Sep/05 ____ Duchess of Wails
3-06 ____ 04/Nov/05 ____ Foster's Goes to Europe
3-07 ____ 11/Nov/05 ____ Go Goo Go
3-08 ____ 18/Nov/05 ____ Crime After Crime
3-09 ____ 25/Nov/05 ____ Land of the Flea
3-10 ____ 01/Dec/05 ____ A Lost Claus*
3-11 ____ 10/Feb/06 ____ One False Move
3-12 ____ 17/Feb/06 ____ Setting a President
3-13 ____ 17/Mar/06 ____ Room with a Feud
3-14 ____ 24/Mar/06 ____ Cuckoo for Coco Cards
* Christmas special; listed as bonus episode.
In effusive 2007 reviews of seasons 1 and 2 of Foster's, DVD Talk's David Cornelius praised the video quality as "flawless." The season three set preserves the sharp, flat shapes and vivid, kaleidoscopic color from the original broadcasts (in 4:3 aspect ratio), although the obvious aliasing and image compression makes it a letdown. Maybe this comes from a more enlightened perspective of 2014 and being able to watch crystal-clear streamed and downloaded official versions online, but cramming seven episodes to a disc (the first two seasons were formatted the same way) produces a shabby-looking image not worthy of a visually splendid show like this. Home video quality sticklers probably won't mind the blocky picture, but this viewer was disappointed.
A Dolby 2.0 Stereo soundtrack is provided in a clear, mix which adequately balances the frenzied voice acting with sound effects and a whimsical music track. It's nice enough to annoy the person in the next room (as in my case). No alternate audio or subtitle options are provided.
Foster's 2005 Christmas episode A Lost Claus is listed as a Special Feature, even though it was part of the normal third season run. That's all.
The third season of Cartoon Network fave Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has finally arrived on DVD, and it's… OK, I guess. Craig McCracken's lunacy and extravagant visuals are still out in force for this 13-episode set, although it seems a little more routine than it ought to be. Cheesy picture and zero extras makes this overdue set not nearly as essential as the first two Foster's DVD seasons from so, so long ago. Rent It.
Matt Hinrichs is a designer, artist, film critic and jack-of-all-trades in Phoenix, Arizona. Since 2000, he has been blogging at Scrubbles.net. 4 Color Cowboy is his repository of Western-kitsch imagery, while other films he's experienced are logged at Letterboxd. He also welcomes friends on Twitter @4colorcowboy.