Beetlejuice: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
Shout! Factory / 1989-91 / 2160 mins / NR
PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE may have been the first feature film from Tim Burton but it was his 1988 follow up, the comedy smash BEETLEJUICE, that truly introduced the world to his unique gothic-inspired esthetic. The dark yet positive sense of humor, the striking visuals from costumes to sets, not to mention the perfect casting of Michael Keaton as titular "ghost with the most" and Winona Ryder as the ultimate Goth girl Lydia Deetz who has no problem communicating with the deceased, all contributed to making the film a huge success.
Needless to say Warner Brothers wanted to continue the adventures of this popular (and moneymaking) bio-exorcist but a script could not be nailed down (BEETLEJUICE IN LOVE and BEETLEJUICE GOES HAWAIIAN are two titles that have been bandied about and are STILL being worked on for a hopeful live action sequel.) However, the cartoon nature of the Beetlejuice universe did lend itself to a cleaned up (all those adult double-entendres would have to go) and ever so slightly tweaked Saturday morning kid's show. With Burton and original film producer David Geffen on board as Executive Producers, ABC debuted the BEETLEJUICE animated series on September 9, 1989.
The main difference between the film and the series is that Beetlejuice is no longer a villain. He and Lydia are best friends and the duo has adventures in both our world and the after-life each week. Canadian voice actor Stephen Ouimette stepped into Michael Keaton's ghoulish shoes and does an admirable job replicating both Keaton's voice and his breakneck line delivery. Canadian voice actress Alyson Court takes over Lydia but does not attempt to recreate Winona Ryder's intonations creating a much sunnier and happier character for the Saturday morning crowd. These changes may sound counter to the world set up in the live action film but they work incredibly well in this series (so much so that it would go on to co-win the 1990 Outstanding Animated Program Daytime Emmy... with THE NEW ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH!)
What is probably most surprising about this series is how well it plays to adults (well, at least to adult Burton fans.) Yes, it is a kiddie show and firmly aimed at them but it is filled with Tim Burton characters, monsters, worlds and situations that remain just as entertaining to adults as to the 10 year olds the series is aimed at. After years of only having most of the first season available on VHS, fans of Beetlejuice can finally rejoice with this box set from Shout! Factory that collects all four seasons of the series in one very attractive package.
It's been over two decades since the live action BEETLEJUICE came into our world to wreak havoc but he has never the hearts of Tim Burton fans. While we wait (and wait and wait) for that next live action film, this animated series is an excellent diversion to the Neitherworld and a series well worth revisiting.
While it doesn't appear that any restoration work was done on these episodes, the source prints Shout! Factory used were in extremely good condition. The wild, bright color palette of purples and reds comes through very strong and while line definition isn't exactly razor sharp, there is no sign of stair-stepping or any digital noise. Fans should be more than happy with the 1.33 transfer offered here.
Likewise, the Dolby Digital 2.0 sound mix is clear and bell and frenetically aggressive. Overall, this is another great presentation of an early 1990's cartoon from Shout!
No supplements! Not a single one! Did the sandworms get them?
The BEETLEJUICE Animated Series may not have the adult themed undertones of the live action film but it is very much from the same source. Fans both young and old will find (nether)worlds of fun here. Despite the complete lack of supplements, this Complete Series set comes Highly Recommended!
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )