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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Season 1.1 (review)

Cartoon Heroes

We’re already hearing people complain that the upcoming G.I. Joe movie is sure to be a rape of their childhood memories of lovely militaristic cartoons about villains with mirrored helmets and the action-figure heroes who battle him. I don’t recall the early-80s animated series — it wouldn’t have appealed to me then anyway, even though I was certainly overdosing on afternoon and Saturday-morning TV then — but now I’ve caught up with it on DVD. And you can too: Season 1.1 is out tomorrow for your home viewing consumption in Region 1 and, presumably for most of the people who will watch this, remindering of what exactly it is you are cherishing so blindly from your childhood.

you can’t tell me this guy
ain’t one of the Village People

I don’t wanna hear anyone talking about raped childhood memories again. Are these guys kidding? This is some of the goofiest stuff I’ve ever seen, even grading on the nostalgia scale. It’s inoffensive enough, to be sure, but hardly anything worth revering. Now, I do know that the golden age of this crap is not any given year but 12… as in, “whatever got shoved into your malleable brain at that age.” And I’m way over 12 at this point of my first viewing. But c’mon, guys: This is four discs of episodes with titles like “Slaves of the Cobra Master” (featuring scantily clad chicks, and yes, I do get that that’s part of the appeal) and “Amusement Park of Terror” (paging Scooby-Doo!) and “Three Cubes to Darkness” (which for some reason brings to mind that crazy bit of classic Internet nuttiness, Time Cube).

I may be “educated evil” (according to the Time Cube wacko), and I’m sure to be flamed by fanboys for saying this, but: Really, dudes? Really? This is what you’re worried about getting ruined? It’s so completely pointless unless you’re still eight years old. It’s all about Village People-looking soldiers fighting giant American Indians and Santa Claus. Or maybe the Indian and Santa are good guys: I can’t stop myself getting doubled over with laughter long enough to tell. I can readily see that there are lots of helicopters — which, the eternally eight-year-old boy in me concedes are always totally awesome — and guys in cowboy hats with really terrible “Southern” accents, which is perhaps considered “awesome” by some.

you can tell the bad guys are evil because they like volcanoes and destroying the Empire State Building

At least there’s some women soldiers, and at least they do kick some ass. I will grant that this may have been somewhat progressive in 1983. But honestly, the coolest thing about this box set is that it comes with ruboff temporary tattoos. Oh, and there’s also some archival Hasbro toy commericals as a bonus feature on Disc 4, which makes up for the fact that the episodes themselves include the “bumpers” that would have led into and out of commercial breaks during the original broadcasts without actually including the commercials (which would be hilarious today).

I’m not saying this upcoming movie is gonna be good: clearly, it ain’t. I’m just saying there really isn’t much to ruin, if we’re gonna be frank about it.

I know which one I prefer

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

  • I have to admit, the show is painfully bad in retrospect. The comic is marginally better, but it is still the Village People Civil War. B)

    I wasn’t a fan as a kid, but I have become a fan later in life, with the slightly less silly recent reboot stuff. For an idea of what many of we fans woould have like to have seen done with this stuff, check out G.I. Joe: Resolute. It’s in little 10-minute webisodes, so you can check it out without wasting too much of your time. B)

  • JSW

    I was never much of a Joe fan as a kid, but most of the complaints I’ve heard about the new movie are that it looks like it’s not going to be goofy enough and that by trying to make it into a relatively “serious” action movie they’re missing the whole point. I don’t think anyone would ever consider GI Joe to be high art, but it did have its own kind of charm that seems to be lost on the makers of the new movie.

    Hollywood cranks out special-forces vs. terrorists movies all the time, but a Village People vs. terrorists movie would be something unique.

  • Mike

    It ain’t rape if you pay for it.

  • David

    What my worry is that they will try to make a cohesive serious story. The only way for GI-Joe to work (for me) is to make it completely goofy and over the top ridiculous.

  • PaulW

    I think the factor needed in the equation is fun. Watching crazy “What drugs were the writers on?” episodes with literally-cardboard characters chewing the gel-xeroxed scenery was fun. The trailers for the live-action GI JOE does NOT look like fun.

  • PaulW

    Also, I think the episodes you’re watching don’t have Flint and Lady Jaye as the primary Joes. (Flint + Lady Jaye) > 5x (Duke + Scarlett).

  • They better have lots of aerial explosions followed by easily-identifiable parachutes in this movie or else.

    Yeah, I dunno. This is one childhood memory that I don’t mind seeing raped (or not).

    Can’t wait for the Gobots and M.A.S.K. movies. And then, Tim Burton directs Sandman and Emily The Strange.

  • Tony

    I’m curious what kids show they will make into a movie next. I mean we’ve had He-Man, Transformers, Xmen, Simpsons, Power Rangers, Inspector Gadget, Scooby Doo, Spiderman and soon GI Joe. Whats next Captain Caveman? (and son)
    By the way, I loved the MASK theme song, Gobots not so much; they were like the poorman’s transformers.

  • Shadowen

    I preferred the comics.

    Yeah, it had all the rah-rah AMERICA! FUCK YEAH! attitude of the cartoon, but it also included things like bureaucratic screwups, actual plot twists you couldn’t see coming, blood, death and mourning, and characterization.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    The comics were always better with this kind of thing, particularly the UK Transformers comics. I can totally understand someone watching the Saturday morning cartoons and not understanding why I find the Michael Bay Transformers movies so depressing, but the comics have real charm.

  • Hoptoad

    Hey Maryann

    if uh… you got that set of obviously terrible GI Joe dvd lying around, why not hold some sor tof fanboy contest to let one of us take them off your hands?

  • Jurgan

    I just wish people would stop using the phrase “rape my childhood.” Why is it always rape, anyway? It’s what George Orwell talked about: certain phrases take on specific meanings to the point where, when describing something, people don’t have thoughts and find words to fit them; they find pre-arranged phrases and those phrases shape their thoughts. It’s pretty much reflex that, every time a remake of an 80’s property is announced, people start talking about “raping my childhood,” even before they know anything about it.

    I do have a good bit of nostalgia for G.I. Joe, but I’m grateful for Cartoon Network replaying episodes that I could see as an adult. Rewatching, I saw quickly just how silly it was (Thundercats was the same thing, and even the great Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has cringe-worthy moments). I always hate the broad declarative sentences that most cartoon characters spoke in, because kids were apparently too stupid to appreciate genuine human dialogue. The only G.I. Joe I remember clearly was the five part episode/movie that I had a tape of and thus watched many times. I think that was better than the average episode, but probably still not the height of cinema. So, yeah, I’m not that invested- I might watch the movie, and I might like it, but I don’t expect greatness.

    That said, while Eccleston looks good in the suit, he’d better have a metal face mask by the end. And if they mess up Snake Eyes, there’ll be hell to pay. Yeah, for all my ironic detachment, the eight year old boy in me still has a voice.

  • MaryAnn

    I’m curious what kids show they will make into a movie next.

    They’re onto toys and games now. Movies are in the planning stages based on Candyland (the board game), Asteroids (the video game), and — no shit — Viewmaster.

    if uh… you got that set of obviously terrible GI Joe dvd lying around, why not hold some sor tof fanboy contest to let one of us take them off your hands?

    Hmmm… I’ll think on that.

  • LaSargenta

    Ya know, I’ve always wondered how this stuff ended up even broadly linked to SF. I mean, really. GI Joe with Bladerunner? Or Silent Running? Or even Dune or Running Man? I’ve always looked to SF to transport me to some other reality, not just get my adrenaline pumping.

    When I was 12 (but I was older when this was on the tv), this would not have been something I’d have wanted to watch. From my memories of what I did like when I was 8, I don’t think I’d have liked it then. GI Joe was action stuff with a gloss of futuristic something. Even in the comics.

  • JoshDM

    Since you’re reviewing these, I’m going to suggest you review the “G.I. Joe : Resolute” series too.

  • Tony

    never heard of viewmaster, I don’t think. I wonder if they will make Contra and incorporate the code to get the 30 extra lives. The Legend of Zelda would be awesome…

  • infragreen

    stupid article by a stupid bitch. For obvious reasons

  • amanohyo

    infragreen, real American heroes don’t talk down to their superiors. And on the visible spectrum, wouldn’t infragreen correspond to yellow? If so, you’ve chosen an appropriate code name, for obvious reasons.

  • stupid article by a stupid bitch. For obvious reasons.

    You’re not exactly displaying a superior intellect with this post.

    If you can’t be civil in your disagreements with MaryAnn, please don’t post here.

  • Questions of intelligence aside, I’ve always hated this series if for no other reason that it meant the disappearance of the original “old school” G.I. Joe action figure–the same figure that was last seen in an old Simpsons episode.

    My siblings and I used to love that toy–but when we tried to get a replacement for some of our younger cousins back in the 1980s, it was no longer available in stores.


    Because the only G.I. Joe toys anyone was interested in selling were the silly tie-ins to this series.


  • never heard of viewmaster, I don’t think.


  • Victor Plenty

    Wait… Viewmaster? Are they serious? A movie based on Viewmaster?

    Are we really talking about the same Viewmaster?

  • Tony

    Wait, after checking the link provided I do indeed remember Viewmaster…

  • MaryAnn

    stupid article by a stupid bitch. For obvious reasons

    Oh, infragreen is SO getting highlighted in my Week in Women column this week.

  • MaSch

    Now, although I guess infragreen made his point a little less eloquently than possibly, I still think the flak he gets for his comment is a bit unwarranted.

    Oh, who am I kidding, that guy is obviously an impolite idiot who is treated rather kindly here.

  • Jurgan

    Don’t feed the trolls, guys.

  • Tony

    I don’t always agree with you but I’m still stunned that people take your criticism of movies so personally.

  • Don’t feed the trolls, guys.

    But I’ve got this wonderful Apple Strudel that happens to be laced with 20 lbs of arsenic just going to waste…

  • jon jon goufema liames zenbin

    i think is one of the cheesiest cartoons of all time,but,i have nostalgia with that thing,cause the action figure stuff and vehicles collection,
    so…the final season looks like village people,but,who cares,i like their music,i dont give a fuck if they are gay or not,its all about nostalgia,i preffer the Transformers cartoon,than this fucked real cars and some not fun jew charachteres John Turturro jango fet clones on this Jewlywood Transformers new series..

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