Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Complete First Season

No fangirly blog would be complete without a mention to one of the big moves made for a classic 80's cartoon - the 2005 release of Count Duckula: The Complete First Season on DVD in the United States. It was released by Capital Entertainment, a company which I haven't heard of before, on the 4th October 2005, and contains the first 26 episodes of the show, which make up the first season. There are also a few special features to go along. This will be available in the United Kingdom - where I'm from - in July.

But I don't have to wait for that.

In March this year I bought a copy of the USA version from an eBay shop. It costed me nearly £15, including postage and packaging, and only took twelve days to come all the way from the US to my doorstep. This was really good considering the distance, as the user sent me an email after I paid saying that the shipping would take as much as 3 weeks!

When it came, I was lovestruck. What made this even better was that it worked well on the DVD player in my parents' bedroom, where I like to retreat if my sister's on MSN. It didn't work well on my PS2, but that didn't really matter because I had my PC's DVD player as well. So there was in this room, eagarly waiting to watch the DVD.

Now, this is the ONLY problem with this box set. I was presented with DREADFUL menu graphics - graphics that are so badly drawn that they look like a child's gone and drawn them. This comes along with some VERY cheesy music that isn't at all related to the show, which is merged with voice clips from the episodes. Well, I certainly hope that the next season DVD [yes, there WILL be one] will have better menu art. The ones for the subtitle menus and the episode menus are worse...making the Legend of Zelda CD-i FMVs look like the Lion King!

That aside, it's a very good DVD. It's a good value for money - £12 [what I paid] for 26 episodes, whereas the existing Prism Leisure release of only six episodes over here costs £5.99 at most! It also comes with subtitles, which is a good thing as I can now spell some of the additional characters' names, like Hezekiah for example, and just make out what they say sometimes. It's also good because I'm partially deaf...

After all, it's the episodes we all want really, but we do like a few special features. Alas, these range from somewhat mediocre to quite good. There's...

  • An interview with Brian Cosgrove
  • Interview with Jon Doyle, background artist of some episodes
  • 'How to draw Duckula', where an artist called Mike Whaite draws Duckula step by step.
  • Photo Gallery - basically some cels, paint guides and other pieces of artwork related to the cartoon.
  • 'Restoring Duckula' - this is what they call a split screen test comparing the difference between the original footage and the restored version. It doesn't really show much difference when seen on a TV, but you can judge for yourselves below.
The features aren't too bad I suppose, but I hope they do better for the next DVD set. The interview with John Doyle however is interesting, saying that he gets his inspiration from the Disney film 101 Dalmations. This pretty much explains the beautiful style of some of the backgrounds. In Brian Cosgrove's interview, he explains how the concept came about since Dangermouse to point out one of the answers. The How to draw was interesting as well, as it starts with the shapes I use [after following other drawing guides of course] in the blueline and then pencil. And I thought it was a lovely drawing...

If you Count Duckula fans haven't got this DVD set yet, I suggest that you do so whenever you can. Those who live outside the USA, be aware that you'll need to have a DVD player or computer that can play Region 1 DVDs. This shouldn't be a problem for the UK in July, I'm pretty sure £20 wouldn't do much harm for 26 episodes. Despite the bad menu graphics et all, it's much worth it.

Really can't wait for the next sets.

1 comment:

Jano said...

*shiver* Wah - these menu graphics really look awful. :-(
Maybe you should apply for a designer job at CE, Stacey. :-)