Hot dogs, apple pie, and GI Joe -- doesn't get much more American than that you could say, on this 4th of July.
GI Joe Series 2, aka the DiC series, is a fun show, but only if you don't take GI Joe too seriously. The plot lines are goofy and on some levels embarrassing, at least to Cobra. In this final season of Series 2, Cobra takes over a carnival, attempts to poison the minds of youth by publishing altered history books, and Cobra Commander manages to get out-witted by a few kindergarteners. There's also a pretty silly episode where Storm Shadow tricks Cobra into thinking he's going traitor on GI Joe and a two part story where a musician, Billy Blaster, is kidnapped and forced to rock out to provide ammo for Cobra's sonic weapon.
Indeed, the plots are pretty far out there, but then again, so was GI Joe at the time. I remember collecting the toys during the 80s and into the 90s, but whenever they started re-releasing toys and coming out with all kinds of subsets, I began to lose interest. You know the ones I'm talking about; Python Patrol, Sky Patrol, Tiger Force, Eco Warriors, Drug Elimination Force, Ninja Force, Supersonic Fighters, the spring action designs, the wild color schemes, the helicopters with the pull strings and plastic hang-gliders -- the toyline became a glutted mess in the early 90s. The Series 2 cartoon featured lots of these new characters and vehicles but retained a few of the old ones, like Duke, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow, and Snake Eyes. For the most part, however, characters like Mercer, Top Side, Road Pig, BATs, and others were given the spotlight. It was neat to see so many new faces, but at the same time it just wasn't the same as the more traditional original series and toys that I preferred.
Regardless of what you may think of Series 2, it's great to see Shout! completing what they started years ago with the original series release. Now, collectors and fans alike can have the entire GI Joe cartoons from the 80s and 90s on DVD. For Season 2, Shout! didn't put in an extraordinary effort, but that isn't too surprising with this type of niche release. Expect a typical full frame, 1:33:1 image, which is how the show aired in the first place, along with mono audio. No subtitles are included, they never are. The image quality is ok, but really just ok -- the images look faded and lack any pop that could have brought the plethora of colors from these characters and vehicles alive. Then again DiC's animation was never the best; it's kind of stilted and sluggish at times. The audio quality is about what you'd expect, it gets the job done -- voice-acting is another story, I cringe at hearing Storm Shadow talk such as in the "Shadow of A Doubt" episode. On the other hand, I thought the cover art, packaging, inside art, disc art, menus, and all that was well done.
There is a lone extra feature where a couple of reps from the Hasbro Toy Team reminisce about the series for just over nine minutes. While they talk, clips from the series and some vintage TV ads for the toy line are shown, which is neat to see. Basically, they discuss how DiC's series was bold and also just sign of the times -- clothing and apparently youth interest at the time favored plenty of pastel and offbeat colors and things, and I think it's safe to say Hasbro took that idea and ran with it. I often wonder if they had just kept things more traditional, and didn't get so far from what made GI Joe great in the first place, how the GI Joe brand would have fared differently these last twenty years.