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DVD Review: The Space Kidettes/Young Samson

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Whether the fruits of their loins wound up becoming eternally famous or faded into obscurity, the dynamic animating (or maybe that should be “dynanimating?”) duo of William Hanna and Joseph Barbara always had some sort of programming up their sleeves. Following the demise of The Flintstones original network run in 1965, Hanna-Barbara brewed up a couple of cartoon oddities that never quite succeeded in becoming as iconic as their creators might had hoped. Two such curiosities that aired on the television — The Space Kidettes (1966) and [(Young) Samson] & Goliath (1967) — were about as far-removed from each other as you could possibly imagine.

The Space Kidettes revolved around the adventures of several interplanetary-trotting tikes (and their token doggie). The cold, unforgiving vacuum of outer space ne’er posed a problem for these kids (neither did the lack of oxygen, for that matter): Scooter, Jenny, Snoopy, Countdown, and Pup Star encountered more danger from their evil nemeses Captain Skyhook and Static (both of whom were voiced by the great Daws Butler) than anything. Armed with a valuable treasure map, the pint-sized prepubescent heroes scoured throughout the cosmos in an attempt to locate the legendary riches; while their ever-resilient and unstoppable foes did their best to steal the map and make the children die an unpleasant-but-ultimately-painless demise.

[(Young) Samson] & Goliath, on the other hand, told the random tales of a teenaged lad and his faithful canine companion. No matter where on Earth they were, Samson (whose voice was provided by a young Tim Matheson) and his trusty four-legged pal Goliath always found themselves encountering some sort of diabolical scheme that had been conjured up by the wildest array of bad guys imaginable (from mad scientists to super villains to hovering aliens!). Fortunately for the world and its inhabitants, Samson was able to off of his motorbike and transform into a dark-haired He-Man prototype via a pair of magical metallic wristbands. The golden bracelets also allowed Goliath to turn into a gigantic ferocious lion for some reason.

Like most ‘60s animated kiddie programs, The Space Kidettes and [(Young) Samson] & Goliath didn’t rely on their intricate plots to entice their viewers. The former had a consistent storyline that could be accessed at any point in the series without fear of confusion, while the latter show was comprised of nothing but arbitrary scenarios. In all honesty, these two ‘toons had nothing in common except a) their producers, and b) the fact that they both had dogs in ‘em. This, however, did not prevent somebody somewhere at some point from doing a bit of dissecting on these two vastly-different programs and combining them (à la The Human Centipede) into one “new” series.

The Space Kidettes/Young Samson (as it was now known as) hit TV airwaves a couple of years after both of the original series had ceased to be. Each episode would start out with half of a Space Kidettes chapter and conclude with one of the unsystematic stories from Young Samson (its title was changed at least two times prior to being paired with The Space Kidettes to avoid confusion with another, Religious animated program — resulting in a great bit of confusion itself).

Now, while the whole re-editing and subsequent combining of two completely dissimilar programs is hardly cause for any sort of major criticism (some quibbling, perhaps…), the fact that whomever was handed the task of doing so totally and utterly destroyed the original masters in the process is. As such — whether you like it or not — The Space Kidettes/Young Samson is the one and only way anyone can encounter either series. Unfortunate? Yes, Virginia. However, we should applaud the efforts of the Warner Archive Collection for making these two nearly-forgotten Hanna-Barbara efforts to light at long last.

Presented on four discs, the Warner Archive’s release of The Space Kidettes/Young Samson brings us all 20 episodes of the remaining remnants of two other shows in their original ‘60s television aspect ratios with mono English soundtracks. Like all other Warner Archive titles, these discs are made-to-order DVD-Rs and have not received any restoration or remastering (additionally, this set lacks any sort of special features or subtitles). That said, though, the image here is remarkably clean considering its origins and history. The barebones set is available exclusively at www.warnerarchive.com.

The bottom line: whether you’re a fan of half-elapsed vintage Hanna-Barbara animation, or you’d just like to see the end results of a bizarre cut-and-paste job, The Space Kidettes/Young Samson are a delight to behole — and a real treat for young and old audiences alike. Recommended.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.