After the success of The Flintstones, Hanna Barbera returned to the family sitcom two years later with The Jetsons, doing a 180 on the idea of a Stone Age family and setting the show in the 21st century where people drive flying saucers and most things are automated. However, lightning didn’t strike twice. The original series only lasted one season in primetime on ABC. The 24 episodes ran from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963. The Jetsons: The Complete Original Series is available on a three-disc Blu-ray set manufactured on demand from the Warner Archive Collection.
For those that don’t know the series or its explanatory theme song, George (George O’Hanlon) is the put-upon head of the family. George’s wife, Jane (Penny Singleton), has a cushy life and likes to shop. In the series premiere “Rosey the Robot” Jane says she’s 33. Since daughter Judy (Janet Waldo) is a typical 15-year-old high school student, she had her pretty young. Six-year-old Elroy (Daws Butler) is very smart for his age. Astro the Dog (Don Messick), a stray brought home by Elroy, shows up in episode four, “The Coming of Astro” although he appears in the credits from the first episode. Astro, a precursor to Scooby-Doo, speaks broken English (For example, “Rime Rorry” for “I’m Sorry”) and is very emotional. The family is assisted by Rosey the Robot (Jean Vander Pyl, The Flintstones Wilma), who joins them in the episode of the same name, which is also the series premiere, and “Rosey’s Boyfriend”. George works at Spacely Space Sprockets where he is frequently shouted at by his boss, owner Cosmo Spacely (Mel Blanc).
The Jetsons isn’t groundbreaking beyond its setting as many of the plots could be found in other ’60s sitcoms, as could the accompanying laugh track. In “Jetson’s Nite Out”, George and Cosmo have to lie to their wives so they can go to the championship robot football game. George becomes an overbearing stage father when his son gets a starring role on “Elroy’s TV Show”. “Jane’s Driving Lesson” occurs after she is tired of taking the bus. Exhausted from doing housework, Jane’s doctor suggests she visits “Dude Planet”. Four episodes involve Cogswell Cogs, a competitor of Spacely Sprockets.
The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Primary colors pop in strong hues and earth tons are rich. Blacks are inky and whites are accurate. There are a couple negatives. Film grain is abundant, and when on blue, its appearance resembles moving insects. Throughout the series, spots, marks, smudges are noticeable. The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The dialogue is clear. The music and effects are balanced well in the mix. The track suffers from a hiss.
The extras from the 2004 DVD release of The Jetsons: The Complete First Season are included.
- Audio commentary by Janet Waldo on the first two episodes “Rosey the Robot” and “A Date with Jet Screamer”. She reminiscences on her own and retains a deep love for the show. She doesn’t speak as much during “Date”.
- The Jetsons: The Family of the Future (9 min) – Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera talk about the show.
- Quick looks at Space Age Gadgets (5 min) and Rosey the Robotic Maid (4 min)
- The Nuclear Family Album (3 min) offers brief bios.
For fans that grew up with it, it’s nice to have The Jetsons: The Complete Original Series collected, and they even include bumpers mentioning the sponsors, such as Colgate and Saran Wrap. The video benefits from high definition, although it could certainly use a clean up from a restoration. It’s appeal to those new to the show will depend on how much one enjoys old sitcoms that revolve around a family.
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