TV On DVD: Krypton: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray/Digital], Astroboy: the Complete Series (DVD)

As a Superman fanatic it’s been a tough road as I’m still getting over the stinks of “Smallville” and “Batman v Superman,” so when Syfy proposed its own Superman series that side stepped Superman altogether, I was very skeptical. Suffice to say, “Krypton: The Complete First Season” isn’t always a great show, but appreciated as its own attempt to ambitiously tackle the back drop of the Kryptonian Lore, it’s not a bad time spent. At ten episodes total for the first season, there are a lot worse things you can do as a Superman fan. Watching “Superman IV,” for instance. I digress.

“Krypton” is set way before the birth of Kal El, the baby that would become Superman after the planet Krypton was destroyed from natural disasters. The series focuses on Kal El’s young grandfather Seg-El, a charismatic young warrior belonging to the royal house of El, who has to contend with other royal houses vying for control of Krypton. Seg-El is confronted by a futuristic traveler named Adam Strange, sent by the one and only Superman, to help Seg-El in his journey to evade all forces from the galaxy that are attempting to end the bloodline of the house of El to prevent Kal El from ever being born. This includes Brainiac who also travels back in time, as well as a slew of other Superman villains that the series craftily includes because—you know, time travel and stuff.

Why doesn’t Superman come back in time to help his grandfather? A time paradox perhaps. Or rights issues. Let’s go with the latter. DC and Warner Bros. are very weird about these things. In either case, Superman is mentioned and hinted at often, but for now, is not featured in any of the episodes.

Although there are heavy implications toward the Man of Steel with looks at Kryptonian technology, and Seg-El’s mission to find and open his grandfather’s sacred maguffin known as The Fortress of Solitude.  With Superman’s cape deteriorating, implying Superman is also fading away from Seg-El’s lack of progress, Seg-El has to literally race against time with Adam Strange’s help.

“Krypton” has some neat production quality and interesting side stories along with some great choreography and set design. It also manages to use Superman in a unique way that makes him an obvious plot device, but a good one. The series threatens to get wrapped up in continuity problems, and big plot holes stemming from its heavy reliance on time travel and time paradoxes, but for now it’s a solid approach to a Superman series that’s almost never boring.

Along with a Digital Copy for consumer, the Season One Blu-Ray comes with the twenty two minute 2017 Comic-Con Panel, which features footage from the San Diego Comic Con Krypton Panel, with star Cameron Cuffe and showrunners Damian Kindler and Cameron Welsh. The panel is moderated by DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. There are almost ten minutes of Deleted Scenes total on both discs respectively, with no real notation or introductions. On Disc Two there’s “Bringing the Home World to Life,” the seventeen minute Behind the Scenes featurette looking at the production, and the set design.

There are interviews with Executive Producer Cameron Welsh, Executive Producer David S. Goyer, Executive Producer Damian Kindler, Staff Writer Nadria Tucker, Visual Effects Producer Ian Markiewicz, Production Designer Ondrej Nekvasil, Prop Master Ray Perry, Prop Master Paul Stewart, and star Cameron Cuffe. “A Lost Kingdom: Life on Krypton” is a twenty two minute segment with members of the cast and crew, all of whom discuss the world of Krypton, and how the series allowed creators to explore recently unexplored regions of Krypton and Superman lore. Included here are comments from Executive Producer Cameron Welsh, Executive Producer David S. Goyer, Staff Writer Nadria Tucker, and star Cameron Cuffe. Finally there’s a three minute Gag Reel featuring bloopers and flubbed lines.

Mill Creek Entertainment originally released “Astro Boy: The Complete Series” on DVD back in 2015, and they re-release it for 2019, adding a new fancy slip cover for the series. Although nowhere near as good as the 1963 animated series of the 1980 series (and yes, even the excellent 2009 movie), 2003’s “Astro Boy” is a fun and accessible bit of anime for kids everywhere. Folks that want to get their young sprites in to Anime but don’t want to pile on heavier, bloodier stuff, “Astro Boy” almost never fails to entertain, bringing about a more contemporary incarnation of the classic series.

“Astro Boy” follows an AI robotic child named Astro who created with a new technology known as Kokoro, which allows robots to be built with their very own heart. Astro was originally created by Doctor Tenma as a sort of replacement for his dead son Tobio (channeling “Pinocchio” in a sense). When he went crazy, disappearing, he is replaced by the kindly Dr. O Shay, who discovers Astro and brings him to life to help humans and robots.

Meanwhile Astro tries to navigate life as child while fighting evil robots and villains with his superpowers including hand and feet rocket boosters, super strength, and a lot more. This “Astro Boy” isn’t an amazing incarnation of the classic series, but it’s entertaining enough to warrant sitting through it all and seeing it to the end. The writers here follow a very tightly knit narrative and story arc with some genuinely good tension, as well as some fantastic animation that in many ways resembles Megaman.

While I much prefer the blue bomber and the 1994 animated series, “Astro Boy” works as a great companion with some fun episodes involving Astro Boy conveying a sheer admirable sense of compassion and empathy along with his inherent heroism. The series garners some great voice work from Candi Milo, Dorian Harewood, and the one and only Greg Cipes. The re-release comes with zero extras, sadly, but it’s a great starter kit and a solid iteration of the classic property.