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Freakazoid!
Season 1

review by Zach B.

 

 

Not Rated

Running Time: 300 minutes

Starring the voices of: Paul Rugg, David Kaufman, Tracy Rowe, Tress MacNeille, John P. McCann, Edward Asner, Jeff Glen Bennett, David Warner, Cree Summer, Stephen Furst, Brian George, Craig Ferguson, Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Joe Leahy

Written by: Tom Ruegger, Paul Rugg, John P. McCann, Paul Dini, Tom Minton

Directed by: Ronaldo Del Carmen, Jack Heither, Scott Jeralds, Eric Radomski, Dan Riba

 

Studio: Warner

Retail Price: $26.98

Features: Audio Commentaries by Senior Producer Tom Ruegger, Writer/Actor Paul Rugg and Writer John P. McCann, Freakazoid: The Original Freak, Freakazoid-less Freakazoid Promos

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Surround Stereo, English Subtitles, Episode Selections, Two-Disc Set

Released: July 29th, 2008

 

 

The first season of "Freakazoid!" is presented in 1.33:1 full screen, and the episode transfers are consistently strong. Colors are pretty bold and don't smear, and detail looks really nice. For the most part, the episodes do look sharp. However, there is some shimmering to be had for moments in some episodes. Most unfortunate is that the prints aren't so clean, so expect a decent amount of dirt pieces, blemishes and scratches - which are sometimes distracting. Despite the flaws, all the episodes are quite watchable and look rather pleasing overall. 

 

Just like the first volume of Tiny Toon Adventures on DVD, "Freakazoid!" is given the Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment. I'm certainly happy about this upgrade, as the mixes are pretty robust. The show's musical cues and its theme song sounds snappy and deep through the channels, and dialogue is always clear and crisp. Surrounds are not always discrete, but there are a few that make good use of the rear channels and there are some that are on the subtle side. Dynamic range is pretty good, and fidelity is high. There isn't too much use of the subwoofer, though. In all though, these are pretty lively mixes that do justice to the zany, action-oriented antics of the show. 

The original English Surround Stereo tracks and English subtitles are also included. 

 

Certainly the most packed DVD of all the 1990s animated series Steven Spielberg produced thus far, "Freakazoid!" has a few goodies. Three episodes (the first, second and twelfth) feature Audio Commentary by Senior Producer Tom Ruegger, Writer/Actor Paul Rugg and Writer John P. McCann. The three share a lot of laughs over the creation and key talent of the series, and there's also plenty of tidbits about writing the show. They also point out characters and bits that were only seen once, and of course, highlight many of the obscure pop culture references. There's also a small mention in how Emmit Nervend made it into the series. I'm sure all fans of the series will devour these with glee. (I certainly did.)

The second side of the second disc houses the video-based extras. Freakazoid: The Original Freak is a strong featurette, about as long as a series episode, that discusses how the show developed. Steven Spielberg wanted to do an action-adventure show, and the legendary Bruce Timm developed the concept and designed a bunch of characters. Spielberg then decided to change gears, and make the series more comedy-oriented, like "Tiny Toon Adventures" and "Animaniacs." Timm parted ways with the project, which was inherrited to Tom Ruegger. Ruegger, along with Rugg and McCann, literally made the show on the fly: it was put into production in February 1995, and had to be ready by that September. It seems this was how the show's zany style was born, and there are plenty of great anecdotes about the "anything goes" process. We also learn that some of Rugg's voice "audition" made it into the final product since there was no time to re-record (that includes Rugg's chant atop of Cave Guy's head in "Dance Of Doom"). The trio also lament the show's various time slot changes, and how its ultimate demographic didn't skew toward the young ones. An entertaining and informative piece that is well worth anyone's time. 

Finally, there are Freakazoid-less Freakazoid Promos. Introduced by the trio, these short commercials apparently played on cruise ships before the series launched. But since there was no footage to show, this is what the writers came up with. They're a bit tongue-in-cheek and bizarre, keeping in spirit with the show. And after watching a few, they just might get under your skin. (And all you Freak Fans out there probably know one of these promos were used to close out the third episode). An interesting watch.

 

One of the funniest TV series that has ever been broadcast (in my opinion, at least), "Freakazoid!" was ahead of its time - and it's a shame the show didn't reach the same longevity as "Tiny Toon Adventures" and "Animaniacs." I'm thankful the show has made it to DVD, and it's an excellent package: great transfers, strong 5.1 mixes and a nice variety of supplements. Here's hoping a lot more people get to discover the brilliance of "Freakazoid!" because of this release. Bring on season two...