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The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers - The Collection, Vol. 1 - animated DVD / children's and family DVD, television series DVD review
Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 2 1/2 stars
Actors: Jerry Orbach, Bob Bottone, Maia Danziger, Laura Dean, Earl Hammond, Henry Mandell
Creator: Robert Mandell   Distributor: Koch Vision
DVD release: 13 May 2008   Feature runtime: 704 minutes
(4 discs)
Format: Animated, Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (Dolby Digital Stereo - English), Never-before-seen pilot/demo reel, On-camera interview with series creator Robert Mandell, Select episode audio commentary with Robert Mandell, story editor Christopher Rowley and voice talent Henry Mandell, Original music tracks and "No Guts, No Glory" music video, Recreated slideshow of the vintage talking storybook "Tortuna, the Outlaw Planet," 32-page "Visual Guide to Characters" collectible booklet

Somehow the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers escaped my attention when it first aired in 1986. Perhaps my local station was showing Dance Fever starring the charismatic Deney Terrio, I don't know. Somehow I never heard of this show until it decided to make its way to DVD.

Galaxy Rangers is a space Western. You may recall that Gene Roddenberry envisioned Star Trek as a space Western. Galaxy Rangers manages to go more Western than Star Trek ever did (except for the Next Generation episode A Fistful of Datas, but I digress). The uniforms are Western-themed: the badges are stars, the ground transport the Rangers use are mechanical horses, and some of the sets seem to resemble Western towns.

The year is 2086, and two peaceful aliens journey to Earth looking for help. In exchange, they hand over the plans for hyperdrive technology. This gives us the ability to travel great distances without spending all those tedious years in suspended animation. Obviously these aliens know nothing of the Prime Directive - interfering with primitive cultures, how rude.

The Galaxy Rangers include Zachery Foxx (Jerry Orbach), Doc Hartford (Hubert Kelly), Niko (Laura Dean), and Shane Gooseman (Doug Preis). Each of them has been granted special abilities in order to help them fight evil. Foxx has been given super-charged bionic implants that allow him to throw energy balls and bursts of super strength. Hartford has been turned into a Computer Wizard (no kidding, their terminology!) and given the ability to conjure fantastic computer programs (but can he get me the cheat codes for Grand Theft Auto 4?). Niko has been granted enhanced psychic senses. Gooseman has been given advanced biodefenses, making him nearly invincible. If he calls in sick for work, you know its BS. No kidding gang, these are the Series 5 Brain implants running the Rangers' upgrades. I wonder why they couldn't all be given every one of these powers - no doubt to inspire teamwork.

The stories are neither too compelling nor too disappointing. They're the usual 1980's cartoon fare. Everyone learns a lesson, and none of the animators are taxed too much. Some of the space action sequences are wonderful; with shining spaceships and anime-style explosions and weapons fire, they're quite engaging. Where Galaxy Rangers lacks brilliance is in the character animation. It's choppy and wooden, as is much of the voice work. Jerry Orbach had a wonderful voice, but I wonder if they directed him to talk slowly and enunciate very clearly to help the animators. Most performances are weak, and some are downright annoying. The ship's computer, GV (Bob Bottone), provides all the beeps and boops as well as the vocals. The alien voices are often shrill, and their characters are likely meant to provide comic relief or attract younger viewers. While not as repulsive as the voice work for Orko on He-Man, it's not good.

Animation has come a long way since Galaxy Rangers hit the scene. Not that there have been innovations so much, but producers have realized that a better quality product might sell better, and indeed sell more toys. That's what cartoons in the '80s were made for. Better writing, better animation and better performances from the vocal performers makes a much more palatable show. On its own, The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers isn't worth the time. However, if you remember the show fondly and want to relive the past, the collection is worthwhile. The set includes the pilot/demo reel, an interview with creator Robert Mandell, audio commentary on the more compellling episodes, a recreation of the vintage (can things from 1986 be considered vintage?) talking storybook "Tortuna, The Outlaw Planet," and a printed visual guide to characters.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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