You may be asking yourself why someone would write a review on the release of Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space: The Complete Series on Blu-ray. There are many reasons. With the original animated series debuting in September of 1970, we just missed the 50th anniversary of the cartoon! Sure, she may have appeared in comic books back in 1963, but we’re talking animation here, people. Either way, Josie and the Pussycats look great for their age! I have fond memories of Saturday morning cartoons, so I guess I chose to review Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space because, like Josie and the gang, I’m old! I’m pretty sure I’ve aged better than Alex, who always seemed older than the rest of the gang.
So, we know that Josie appeared in comic book form in 1963, and the Pussycats and friends were launched into animated outer space in September of 1972. What happened in between? Well, Josie would eventually form the musical group Josie and the Pussycats and the comic book was published until 1982. With the fictional musical group The Archies, who were appearing in Filmation’s animated series The Archie Show, hitting number one on the Billboard chart with “Sugar Sugar” in 1969, it didn’t take long for Filmation’s competitor Hanna Barbera to dip into the Archie Comics well. Hanna Barbera took Archie Comics’ Josie and the Pussycats and put them into stories like the already successful Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, added some musical chase sequences like The Monkees, and the Josie and the Pussycats cartoon was born. After two seasons, someone came up with the brilliant idea to launch the group into outer space. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at that pitch meeting.
On September 9th, 1972, Josephine “Josie” McCoy (voiced by Janet Waldo/sung by Kathleen Dougherty), the red-headed lead singer, songwriter, guitarist, and leader of the band; Valerie Brown (voiced by Barbara Pariot/sung by Patrice Holloway), the band’s black bassist and backup singer; Melody Valentine (voiced by Jackie Joseph/sung by Cherie Moor), the band’s drummer and backup singer and a stereotypical dumb blonde; Alan M. Mayberry (voiced by Jerry Dexter), the group’s tall, blond and muscular roadie and Josie’s love interest; Alexander Cabot III (voiced by Casey Kasem), the group’s manager; Alexandra Cabot (voiced by Sherry Alberoni), the only girl who is not a Pussycat band member but still part of the group as the convenient antagonist; Sebastian (voiced by Don Messick), Alexandra’s snickering cat, were accidentally launched into space.
Assuming that children did not require a detailed explanation and were already familiar with the characters, the opening credits sequence shows the group taking a promotional photo at the launch site of a new spaceship. A jealous Alexandra, who was always trying to steal the spotlight, pushes the entire group, into the ship and accidentally triggers the launch sequence.
Each week our friends, along with space creature Bleep (also voiced by Don Messick, though “voiced” is a generous term since all Bleep ever said was…well, I’m sure you can figure it out), would encounter aliens, who were often led by an evil creature set on taking over Earth. Josie and the Pussycats were always able to distract their captors with music. Though they did not always have their instruments, they somehow always were able to change into their costumes. Luckily, Valerie not only figured out how to fly the spaceship, but also was consistently able to understand and manipulate alien technology to aid in the group’s escape.
The animation looks great on this new Warner Archive release that hit shelves on April 13, 2021, though there are some flaws as there were in the original series. In the first episode of this series, and episode 2 of the original series, there are scenes where Valerie, who was the first black female character on a regular Saturday morning cartoon series, appears white.
The sound quality is good, but it doesn’t sound like music was the focus of this series. The original series had complete songs, though none were as successful as “Sugar Sugar”. Most songs from outer space consist of only a few lines and thus seem incomplete. Many are repeated from one episode to the next.
Recommendation: I enjoyed visiting with these old friends, but I suggest you make a 16-week investment. Every Saturday morning, pour yourself a Jethro Bodine bowl of cereal, preferably a brand with marshmallows, and spend 20 minutes on an intergalactic trip down memory lane. Binging does not work. The stories are far too similar, and you would have to eat far too much cereal to get any enjoyment out of the experience. Once a week is the way to go. The original series is superior on many levels, so, if you alternate and make it a 32-week run, you can start each weekend rocking and running with Josie and the Pussycats!