Beloved Cartoon Superhero For Baby Boomers

For a period in the 1960s, Space Ghost ruled Saturday morning cartoons and excited legions of young fans. Space Ghost & Dino Boy was an immensely popular and influential cartoon that ran on CBS from 1966 to 1968.

Most of Generation X likely remembers the character’s return to television in Space Ghost Coast To Coast, a hip talk show makeover of the property in the 1990s. It was the Hanna-Barbera production in the 1960s that first popularized the intergalactic cop and his spacefaring adventures from animation legend Alex Toth.

For generations of American children before the Internet and cable conspired to kill the tradition off, Saturday morning cartoons were a weekly childhood ritual. Airing on CBS and explicitly intended for young children, Space Ghost is a rollicking superhero cartoon built on action. Featuring simplistic but easily animated designs by Alex Toth, the characters stand out in the Hanna-Barbera catalog.

Space Ghost & Dino Boy was an immensely popular and influential cartoon that ran on CBS from 1966 to 1968

Colorful alien villains like Metallus and Zorak threaten galactic peace on a weekly basis with plans of universal domination. Thwarting their evil intentions is Space Ghost. Flying around in his Phantom Cruiser, aided by young sidekicks Jace and Jan, they go on space adventures across the galaxy. Their pet monkey Blip also helps in the fight against evil, even wearing a mask to conceal his identity. What type of monkey needs to hide his identity?

The straightforward, good-versus-evil adventure narratives are simple tales. Either Space Ghost or his sidekicks often wind up in danger battling foes, signalling for help when needed. Aimed at young children, mostly boys, the strange villains always get their comeuppance by the end. Space Ghost usually saves the day using his power bands and what he calls Inviso Power.

While Space Ghost felt fresh and new with its exotic alien villains and imaginative technology, each episode also had a seven-minute Dino Boy segment sandwiched in-between two different Space Ghost adventures. Dino Boy teams with caveman Ugh and his pet dinosaur Bronty in a primitive precursor to Land of the Lost.

Lacking the excitement and polished storytelling found in Space Ghost’s adventures, Dino Boy is a much lesser cartoon from the period and makes for painful viewing today. About the only thing Dino Boy has going for it is voice actor Don Messick. His Bronty is a direct precursor to his work as Scooby-Doo.

Video

Warner Archive gives Space Ghost & Dino Boy an impressive Blu-ray presentation at its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, exactly as it was aired on CBS back in the 1960s. Both are colorful shows with nicely saturated primary colors and deep black levels.

This set is a faithful transfer of the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon’s complete run, retaining the original broadcast’s three-segments-per-episode format with all introductions and end credits. All twenty episodes are divided evenly over two BD-50s. Receiving excellent AVC encodes with efficient transparency, eagle-eyed viewers will catch the classic animation’s cel dust and other natural imperfections.

The transfer offers modest but definite improvements in texture and resolution over DVD. Unfiltered, the vintage animation holds up better than expected with Alex Toth’s straightforward character designs and clean lines taking center stage. Some of the alien designs are wild, showing imagination and fertile creativity.

Hanna-Barbera cartoons were never wellsprings of fluid movement. Cheap and quick was often their motto, so recycled backgrounds and stiff movement are commonplace. That being said, animation collectors have been waiting on Space Ghost’s original Saturday morning adventures hitting BD for quality 1080P transfers. The show is never going to look much better than this set.

Audio

Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the period always had interesting audio properties with superb voice casts. The 1966 program’s original mono soundtrack as it was heard on CBS is presented in lossless 2.0 DTS-HD MA. Laser blasts from Space Ghost’s power bands are the most prominent audio element that stick out in the serviceable but dated recording.

Despite limited dynamics and a punchless low end, the vintage television audio survives without noticeable wear. With legendary voice actor Don Messick providing vocals for several characters and Jase being voiced by a young Tim Matheson, dialogue is smoothly heard in fine fidelity.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Warner Archive isn’t known for extensive bonus features but they’ve included a real gem this time for Space Ghost & Dino Boy. Space Ghost’s creator and a hugely influential animator for an entire generation, the spotlight shines here on Alex Toth. The full-length profile on Toth features his children and several prominent guests like Bruce Timm discussing the animator’s career and life story. If you haven’t caught this fantastic retrospective, it’s essential for animation lovers.

Simplicity: The Life and Art of Alex Toth (78:57 in SD) – For fans of Alex Toth and animation in general, this superlative documentary is worth the price by itself. An engaging and candid glimpse into Toth’s personal life and personality that revels in the man’s art. There’s a great anecdote brought up by one guest when Marvel legend Jack Kirby called Toth up out of the blue, believing they could learn from each other. Bruce Timm discusses how his design for Batman was influenced by Toth’s style.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Space Ghost & Dino Boy
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  • Audio
  • Extras
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Series

Space Ghost finally defeats evil on Blu-ray in this lovely presentation of his classic Saturday morning cartoon adventures from the 1960s.

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