A retired boxer (Mike Tyson), his adopted daughter Yung Hee (Rachel Ramras), the flamboyant / departed Marquess of Queensberry (Jim Rash), and an alcoholic pigeon (Norm Macdonald) solve crimes in a twisted take on Scooby-Doo. What's not to like? As one of Adult Swim's newest animated hits, this micro-sized Mike Tyson Mysterious serves up much less bombast and high adventure than its action-packed opening implies, but no worries: it still (mostly) delivers the goods during a brisk ten-episode first season that's over in less time than your average blockbuster. It's got a formula that works in spite---or perhaps because---of a mixture of high-concept goofiness and toilet humor...and at times, it feels like ol' Iron Mike isn't in on the joke. Is that part of the charm? You decide.
Despite a few flashes of near-brilliance in early episodes like ""Ultimate Judgment Day" and ""Heavyweight Champion of the Moon" (the ghost of Trevor Berbick is fantastic), Mike Tyson Mysteries doesn't feel like it fully clicks until ""House Haunters", an apparent break from the series' subverted "meddling kids" format that takes a horrifying turn halfway though. It's got just the right mix of silliness, stupidity, and intelligence to feel effortless and, despite an abrupt ending due to the series' skimpy format, hits the bulls-eye hard enough to feel like we haven't been short-changed. The final two episodes of this debut season also maintain a stronger level of quality, especially "Ty-Stunned": it's loaded with goofy moments that seem to fit perfectly within its absurd atmosphere, not the least of which is having Tyson and company poke around a grisly crime scene long before the authorities are called.
Other episodes don't fare as well. "The End", though high on concept with nods to Cormac McCarthy and John Updike, treads too close to Scooby-Doo territory with a resolution that feels like a last-minute fizzle than a true comedic payoff. "Is Magic Real?" never really offers much in the way of intrigue, although the appearance by Robert Redford is a nice touch. "A River Runs Through It Into a Heart of Darkness" has the opposite problem: there's too much going to fit comfortably within the show's boundaries, and it feels rushed and forgettable as a result. That's not to say there's a genuine clunker in the bunch: at the very least, even the less impressive episodes are over soon enough and will definitely warrant at least a chuckle or two along the way. But it's obvious that Mike Tyson Mysteries needs to tighten up its pacing to continually hit the mark in less than 11 minutes: it's much tougher than it sounds, but the borderline brilliance on display at times makes me think it can rise to the challenge in the future.
Which is great, since Warner Bros.' new DVD collection of Mike Tyson Mysteries: Season One arrives just two weeks before the next batch of episodes on Cartoon Network's November 1st "Adult Swim" block. The good and bad news for rookies is that it won't take long to get caught up: there's less than two hours of content here, especially since no extras have been included (a real shame, given some of the voice talent involved). But the DVD looks and sounds great, serving up a terrific atmosphere that perfectly captures the series' violent mood swings...and unlike the broadcast and streaming versions (five are available to watch on Adult Swim's website), these are uncensored with plenty of cussin'. Oddly enough. the sporadic nudity is still pixellated and I kind of miss all the bleeps.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Mike Tyson Mysteries isn't a visually ambitious show by design, so the DVD's clean 1.78:1 transfer has little trouble handling its modest demands. Smooth line work and vivid, flat colors pop nicely against the more detailed backgrounds, creating an atmosphere that preserves the spirit of the shows it lampoons while still looking like a newer production. Digital problems aren't much of an issue, and the ones that do creep in on occasion (mild pixellation and banding, almost expected on standard-def animated titles) may very well be source material issues. Overall, I can't imagine any fans being disappointed with what we get here, although the lack of a Blu-ray option is unfortunate.
DISCLAIMER: The compressed screen captures featured in this review do not represent the DVD's 480p source image.
From the bouncy, energetic theme song onward, Mike Tyson Mysteries sounds about as lively and engaging as expected on this DVD's default Dolby Digital 5.1 track: dialogue is clean and well-recorded, occasional surround effects give some moments added punch, and music cues are balanced nicely without fighting for attention. Oddly enough, the theme song during Episode 1 ("The End") sounds noticeably quieter than the other nine, but that's possible a source material issue that wasn't caught during its transition to DVD. Otherwise, there are no glaring defects here, and the inclusion of optional English subtitles is appreciated for some of Iron Mike's off-the-cuff rants.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Though predictably low on style points, Warner Bros.' standard menu interface is clean and easy to navigate. This one-disc release is packaging in a standard keepcase with two inserts (including a printed episode list - remember those?) and a matching digipak-style slipcase. Unfortunately, no bonus features have been included.
On the surface, Mike Tyson Mysteries feels like a one-trick pony that shouldn't have lasted more than a few episodes. Yet despite a few speed bumps along the way and its limited format, this first season shows hints of potential greatness and more than a few belly laughs along the way (providing you're a fan of the premise and/or voice actors). If nothing else, I'm glad it's been renewed for a second season that starts in less than two weeks; with a bit of polish and focus, there's room for Mike Tyson Mysteries in the long run. Sadly, Warner Bros.' DVD doesn't offer much in the way of support: the A/V presentation is terrific, but a lack of bonus features and short running time---less than two hours total---may keep casual fans away. At least the price is right, though. Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third person.