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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Warner Home Video presents
Teen Titans: Complete First Season (2003)

Starfire: This tangy yellow beverage is truly delightful.
Cyborg: Uh, Starfire?
Robin That's mustard.
Starfire: Is there more?

- Hynden Walch, Khary Payton, Scott Menville

Review By: Jeff Wilson  
Published: February 06, 2006

Stars: Scott Menville, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Hynden Walch, Tara Strong, Ron Perlman
Other Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Wil Wheaton, Clancy Brown, Dave Coulier, Tom Kenny
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for cartoon violence
Run Time: 04h:46m:00s
Release Date: February 07, 2006
UPC: 012569747722
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+A-A- B

DVD Review

While I was a longtime collector of comics as a kid and teen, I was never a fan of DC Comics' books, aside from an occasional issue of Batman. I was fully in the thrall of Marvel Comics and their creations. So I have no real background in the Teen Titans, other than having heard of them and seen the odd issue. That Warner's Teen Titans animated series is a rousing success appears to owe far less to the original comic than it does the ingenious method in which it was adapted to the screen. I say ingenious more from a marketing standpoint than an artistic one, but the show succeeds quite well in what it sets out to do.

The series has adapted a style drawn from the world of anime, and the creators were smart enough to keep the series evolving, with new members coming in as time passes, and using story arcs rather than one shot episodes that don't add up to much. In this first season, we are introduced to the threat of Slade (voiced by Ron Perlman). Slade, known in the comics as Deathstroke the Terminator (can't say "death" in a kids show, because kids' fragile minds would be shattered, I guess), has targeted the Titans for reasons that are revealed in the season's final two-parter. Slade provides a real threat to the team, making him a compelling villain, and Perlman's performance is well gauged, filled with quiet menace instead of pompous bluster. The season also features a number of other villainous threats as well, some working for Slade and some in unconnected tales.

For the uninitiated, the Teen Titans, at least in the series, are comprised of five members: Robin (of "Batman and" fame), the nominal leader; Cyborg, the muscular strongman who is what his name says; Beast Boy, who can morph into different animals; Starfire, an alien girl learning about Earth; and Raven, the moody Goth girl with magic powers. They live in Titans Tower, which is hilariously (to me at least) shaped like a giant T. Who did the contracting work on that? Questions like "why are a bunch of teens allowed to live on their own, not go to school and fight as vigilantes" are not to be pondered, as the show, though it features serious moments in the Slade arc and otherwise, is as much concerned with goofy fun as realism and angst.

The characters are well drawn, acting like typical teens in many ways and allowed to have their own quirks. Beast Boy, in a sensible move, is a vegan, for example. Robin is written to be a junior version of Batman in many ways, with the same driven attitude toward crime-fighting, but thankfully with less of the monomania. Each of the characters gets their spotlight during the season, with Robin the heart and soul of the team, though he remains the most mysterious of the group.

There are numerous high points here, but the best come later on, as the series started to find its footing with the characters and what they were capable of. My favorite standalone episode was Detention, featuring guest voice Malcolm McDowell as the Mad Mod, a '60s throwback who wants to teach the unruly kids a lesson. The episode throws enough references around to fill several episodes, but nods to A Clockwork Orange, Scooby-Doo, and Speed Racer are just three, not to mention a slew of homages to various fine artists. The final three episodes with Slade (Masks, Apprentice Part I and Apprentice Part II) raise the stakes in the group's battle with the villain, and demonstrate that our heroes are capable of failure.

The series has gone on to a further four seasons on the Cartoon Network, but at this writing stands in danger of cancellation despite a strong fan base. With two previous DVDs collecting much of this set already on the market, hopefully sales will be strong enough to lead Warner to release the rest of the series, as it certainly deserves the attention.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Given the recent vintage of the series, you'd expect a crisp, colorful image with few defects, and that's what we have here. The series' bold colors look great.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 2.0 English soundtrack is the only option, and it's perfectly fine. A variety of sound effects come across well, sometimes a little better than expected, and does nothing to disappoint.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring DC Kids, Justice League/Batman Beyond, Batman: The Animated Series Volume 4, Superman: The Animated Series Volume 2
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Puffy Ami Yumi Music Video
  2. Teen Titans Game Card
  3. Teen Titans Game Trailer
  4. The Hiros episodes 1 and 2
Extras Review: All extras are located on the second disc of this two-disc set. Finding Their Voices (07m:52s) covers the casting and ideas behind the voices of the Titans, and includes interviews with the cast and staff members who discuss how the characters affected the casting and vice versa. Short and to the point. Comic Creations (21m:58s) covers the comic book version of the Titans, interviewing co-creators Marv Wolfman and George Perez, who worked on the comic during its 1980s revival. They talk about the characters and the ways in which the book differed from the typical comics of the time, and series staff discuss the ways in which the show and comic relate and differ, and more. It's well done and interesting.

One subject touched on in that piece is covered in two further, and drastically less interesting extras: in Puffy Ami Yumi Featurette, (13m:14s) and yes, that really is what it's called, we get nearly 15 minutes of silly questions posed by the animated Robin to the J-pop duo, which they answer in Japanese with English-subtitled responses. Nothing of note is asked, and there's an equal amount of info given in return. The music video Puffy Ami Yumi did for the show's theme song is also on hand (03m:30s), as is a brief preview of "their" series on Cartoon Network. The show appears to be little more than an excuse to shoehorn their songs into an animated setting, with little actual participation from the duo otherwise. Two episodes of something called The Hiros are next (08m:33s); I'd never heard of this before seeing it here, but it's an attractively retro-designed spy-action thing that otherwise left me unmoved one way or the other. Several previews for other DC Comics related DVDs are included as well.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Teen Titans parlays an anime-inspired style into an hugely enjoyable show for superhero fans of whatever stripe. Warner's two-disc set gathers the first 13 episodes together in a nice, compact package, with a couple of good featurettes and some useless filler.

 


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