G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Season 2.0 (2010, Shout! Factory)
Originally Aired on TV: September 15, 1986 – November 20, 1986)
Run Time: 660 minutes
* Greenshirts: The Legacy Of G.I. Joe
* Knowing Is Half The Battle: PSAs
* Archival Hasbro Toy Commercials
So I’m late on talking about this one but I’ve been kinda busy and I just recently bought it, okay? Of course, that’s not to say I haven’t owned part of Season 2 on DVD before…
So anyway, in 2010 Shout! Factory had the license, desire and know-how to finally give us the complete second season of the original G.I. Joe series. They could’ve been jerks and split the season up but I like to think that they were making up for Rhino’s error and building goodwill throughout the Joe community by giving all 30 episodes to us in one volume.
I was surprised when watching this just how few episodes I remembered. I remember just about every episode from the first season but during this ’86 season there were only a handful I could recall. Plus, just the fact that the first season was around in syndication longer is probably why I was more familiar with it.
Of course, I remember the epic 5-part season opener “Arise, Serpentor, Arise!” though. After that, “Once Upon a Joe” is my next most remembered episode from this season but “Cobrathon”, “Last Hour to Doomsday”, “The Spy Who Rooked Me”, “Sink the Montana!” and “Grey Hairs and Growing Pains” also brought back memories. Much of the rest was almost like watching for the first time (though I’m sure I probably saw most if not all of these episodes as a kid).
Without the benefit of nostalgia on the majority of Season 2, I have to say it is quite inferior to Season 1. The whole series is goofy and held some far out there schemes by Cobra and solutions by the Joes but the 1986 season holds some pretty bad episodes and just goes over-the-top with the brainless plots. Episodes like when Lifeline, Dial-Tone and Shipwreck are all promoted to colonels in “The Most Dangerous Thing in the World” and run the Joes into the ground while General Hawk is away or “Second Hand Emotions” where Dr. Mindbender basically makes a keyboard that can play with people’s emotions don’t do the series any favors.
And while I’m on the subject of characters, this was a new season with new toys to promote so while a lot of the previous season Joes get cameos as background characters, they are no longer the focus and very few have dialogue. The only real holdouts from Season One with any significant screen time are Flint, Lady Jaye, Roadblock and Shipwreck with Duke and Gung-Ho to a much lesser extent. Much to my chagrin, personal faves like Duke, Quick Kick and Spirit are seriously down-played. Duke does have some lines but has basically been reduced to a supporting character while Quick Kick and Spirit (who were prominent characters in the first season) don’t utter a single line and are barely seen.
This season definitely focuses on the new characters: General Hawk, Sgt. Slaughter, Beach Head, Dial Tone, Mainframe, Wet Suit, Leatherneck, Lifeline, Sci-Fi, Low-Light and Slip Stream basically ARE the Joes at this point in the series and appear in the majority of the episodes with a few others like Ice Berg and Cross Country being featured at times. The good thing is — the 1986 line of Joe toys is my favorite year. Duke will always be my favorite Joe but all of the characters mentioned above I love (except Slip Stream… Why’d he get so much face time?!) and I have great memories of playing with their figures when I was a kid.
Cobra was going through some change this season as well with the exception of Zartan and the Dreadnoks (they are still heavily featured). Storm Shadow, who I always loved, is practically non-existent (making only two appearances by my count with one line of dialogue) while Cobra Commander, Destro, Baroness and Tomax & Xamot have extremely reduced roles on the show. Even Serpentor, the great new big bad guy, doesn’t seem to show up as much as you would think. A lot of the season seems to focus on the Dreadnoks carrying out missions for Cobra or Dr. Mindbender’s crazy inventions.
There is a loose story arc throughout the season of Cobra Commander wanting to overthrow Serpentor. In fact, in what ended up being the original series’ final episode (“Into Your Tent I Will Silently Creep”), Cobra Commander (with Storm Shadow and Destro at his side and Tomax & Xamot too, I believe) is seen lording over a secret cult called the Coil whose sole purpose is to destroy Serpentor. Would’ve been really cool to see where Sunbow Productions could’ve taken the third season as the plan was G.I. Joe vs. Cobra vs. The Coil.
From what I understand, the show was getting to be too expensive for Hasbro and that’s why after G.I. Joe: The Movie, the license rested for a few years before returning in 1989 with DIC Entertainment producing the show on a lower budget.
Overall, Season 2 is a fun ride but I wish it featured a smoother transition from the characters of the first season to the new class. The show is a lot more silly and at times I think the animation was actually slightly inferior to Season One. It’s been a few years since I’ve watched Season One though so maybe it’s actually on par. I was hoping the special features would be something new but from what I can tell, they are just recycled from the Rhino releases. What a pity.
This is a no-brainer pick up for fans of G.I. Joe. Now here’s hoping Shout is going to release the DIC series (as sad as it is) like they’ve hinted at.