With Teen Titans getting their own live action television series, and their spin off about to grant them their own movie, inexplicably, Warner finally unleashes season one of the good version of “Teen Titans” on Blu-Ray for fans. It’s a good way to honor the legacy of a great series, but I take it as a great reminder of a time when “Teen Titans” was a very good animated series that wasn’t exclusive to children. “Teen Titans” is a pseudo-anime iteration of the classic comic book series that is bold enough to set itself apart from the usual Bruce Timm animated style.
This version of “Teen Titans” is completely void of the guest spots from DC characters, relying much more on Teen Titans and their extended universe that proves to be very diverse and exciting. The first season is a wonderful introduction to these exciting characters as we meet Robin who is leading the team of teen superheroes, including the shape shifting Beast Boy, the dark and supernatural heroine Raven, the bubbly and powerful Starfire, and large but lovable Cyborg, a half man half robot who struggles to maintain his humanity.
In fact, a lot of the themes of “Teen Titans” is humanity, the struggle to keep it, maintain it, preserve it, and find it somewhere. Season one starts off with a bang as it gives us a fun and exciting peek in to the universe that we don’t often see in the comics, all the while paving the primary nemesis of “Teen Titans,” with the introduction of Slade, a mysterious and genius foe who remains in the shadows and builds a weird fascination with Robin. With fine animation, and a memorable theme song, the series is topped by some great voice work by the collective cast of Tara Strong, Greg Cipes, Ron Perlman, and “The Walking Dead’s” Khary Payton.
The Blu-Ray release comes with the segment “Finding Their Voices” focusing on the cast and their work on the characters and every episode. “Toon Topia Bonus Cartoons” is two episodes of animated shorts. “Comic Creations” is a look behind the original characters from the comics, including Slade who in the comics is known as Deathstroke. Finally, there’s a featurette starring the K pop band “Puffy Ami Yumi” who sing the theme song, there’s a music video with an extended version of the theme song, and a sneak peek at the absolutely terrible “Puffy Ami Yumi” animated TV show.
The once upon a time controversial complete series of “S.W.A.T.” is now available via Mill Creek Entertainment in its complete form. The short lived but influential series is a spin off of the highly popular “The Rookies” and follows police officer Jim Street. Played by Robert Urich, Street is a tough as nails and strong officer who loses his partner in the line of duty thanks to a gang of cop killers roaming the streets of California. When he realizes his team is being targeted, he’s recruited by Lt. Hondo Harrelson and Sgt. Deacon Kay to join the elite and very strong S.W.A.T. also known as Special Weapons and Tactics. S.W.A.T. watches like a “Dirty Harry” movie and is still a fun and unique premise for a series.
Despite it’s very down to business premise where every episode involves the S.W.A.T. unit engaged in a life or death situation, there’s a surprising depth to the characters, and the Robert Hammer created series manages to build some fun and exciting scenarios and characters all around. I am especially a fan of Forrest who plays the head of the team, Hondo. The first two episodes take a great leap in to the premise, setting itself apart from the original show it sprung from and building a two part episode arc that feels like a long lost crime thriller. Throughout the series, the S.W.A.T. team faces off against deranged snipers, criminals out for revenge, and are tasked with the duty of protecting certain criminals.
“S.W.A.T.” is a fast paced and very entertaining series, and since 1975 it’s yet to show much age. The complete series is now on four DVDs uncut from Mill Creek Entertainment, and is sadly bereft of special features.