The Series (3/5)
I'll start out by admitting I have NEVER EVER seen Tim Burton's film Beetlejuice in it's entirety. I've seen bits and pieces, but never the whole film, which I should correct seeing as I have the Blu-ray of the film sitting on my shelf. Nevertheless, I am VERY familiar with the films animated counterpart. I grew up as a Monster Kid in the late 80's and early 90's, and with my parents vehemently disapproving of my love of violent monster films at that age I had to sneak around past bedtime to see the good stuff on the rented tapes the clerks were goodly enough to rent me at the video store. If I wanted to see anything with horror elements in it at all while my parents were around it had to be family friendly, luckily back then horror was en vogue, and even violent films like the Toxic Avenger could be turned into kiddie fare (Toxic Crusaders), hence he have a character like Beetlejuice, and the supernatural setting that comes with him toned down for the world of children's television.
Now I haven't seen Beetlejuice: The Animated Series in about 20 years, so when the offer was made to review it I couldn’t say no. It was an integral part to my horror loving childhood, I have a policy normally to not revisit childhood favorites as they usually do not hold up, but I went into this (with my own kids in tow), and actually went into it expecting it to not hold up. I was half correct, some elements of the show are dated, but it still plays better to me than a lot of more modern animated shows.
That being said Beetlejuice is far from perfect. The basic premise of the show is Beetlejuice and Lydia (goth girl from the movie) are best friends. She can call on him from the Neitherworld at anytime by chanting his name 3 times and he will appear. She does this, and the duo get into amusing and bizarre situations that usually involve Lydia's school or family life, on occasion the duo find themselves in the Neitherworld itself. The show basically follows a template, Lydia has a problem, and with the troublesome and bizarre assistance of Beetlejuice it gets resolved in a mostly comedic fashion. Which brings me to the humor of the show, which being directed at very young children is very basic, but I have to wonder if I ever found the jokes in this funny.
The high points are the quality of the animation, which although very low budget looking does have a nice hand drawn aesthetic to it, that fits the content of the show quite well. Also, on the visual style side of the coin, it has a very hyperactive style to it, and a sort of anything goes attitude, that probably stems from the movie.
Honestly, Beetlejuice: The Complete Series is probably more of interest to 90's kids looking to revisit their youth, than those looking for some undiscovered gem. It's a fun way to look back, but it far from perfect, but if you did grow up with it, there is still quite a bit of fun to be had.
Shout! Factory presents Beetlejuice: The Complete Animated Series in 1:33:1 full screen transfer preserving their original aspect ratios. The transfer are as good as they could possibly get with unrestored transfer of 20 year old broadcast animations. There is a bit of fading, occasional bits of scratching and other minor bits of print damage, but nothing overly distracting. The colors are for the most part very nice, and detail is good.
Shout! have offered the set a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track in English. The track is decent for what is presented with dialogue coming through clearly, as does the music and FX.
A nice stroll back through monster kid memory lane, Beetlejuice: The Complete Animated Series is a nice little time waster for 90's kids looking for something to revisit. The A/V is of decent quality, and some extras would have been appreciated. Recommended.