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Disney's Adventures of The Gummi Bears: Volume 1 DVD Review

Buy Disney's Adventures of The Gummi Bears: Volume 1 DVD from Amazon.com Adventures of The Gummi Bears: Volume 1 (1985-1987)
Show & DVD Details

Producer/Directors: Arthur Vitello, Alan Zaslove

Associate Producer: Tom Ruzicka / Producer: Tad Stones

Regular Writers: Bruce Talkington, Douglas Hutchinson, Mark Zaslove, Michael Maurer, Bruce Reid Schaefer / Story Editors: Jymn Magon, Tad Stones

Voice Cast: June Foray (Grammi Gummi), Lorenzo Music (Tummi Gummi), Paul Winchell (Zummi Gummi), Noelle North (Cubbi Gummi, Princess Calla), Katie Leigh (Sunni Gummi), Michael Rye (Duke Igthorn, King Gregor, Sir Gowan), Will Ryan (Unwin, Gad, Zook, Ogres), Corey Burton (Gruffi Gummi, Toadie [Seasons 2-3]), Christian Jacobs (Cavin - Season 1), Bill Scott (Gruffi Gummi, Toadie, Various [Season 1]), Rob Paulsen (Gusto Gummi), Roger C. Carmel (Sir Tuxford), Brett Johnson (Cavin - Season 2), Brian Cummings (Artie Deco, Various [Season 2]) / Guest Stars: Bob Holt (Dom Gordo, Giant), Pat Parris (Trina), Jim Cummings (Chummi Gummi), Lennie Weinrib (Zorlock), Howard Morris (Sir Paunch), Tress MacNeille (Marzipan, Great Oak), Frank Welker (Ditto, Mother Griffin, Mervyns), David Faustino (Knight of the Gummadoon)

Running Time: 665 Minutes (47 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-Y equivalent)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English (Enhanced for the Hearing Impaired)
DVD Release Date: November 14, 2006
Original Airdates: September 14, 1985 - November 11, 1989
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Cardboard box with three clear slim keepcases

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Season 1 Episodes (Disc 1 and Disc 2)
Page 2: Season 2 and 3 Episodes (Disc 2 and Disc 3), Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts


Season 2

Chummi Gummi lives up to his name in his lone episode, "Up, Up, and Away." Aside from the boomerang, Flint Shrubwood clearly calls to mind Clint Eastwood's character in The Man with No Name Trilogy. Heck, the episode is called "For a Few Sovereigns More" -- what do ya expect? Like grandfather, like son... All tied up, Cavin hopes to rescue Galwin and himself with a bit of Gummiberry juice.

22. "Up, Up, and Away" (22:52) (Originally aired September 27, 1986)
An airborne ship crashes in Gummi Glen and it holds a Gummi Bear! Chummi Gummi gets along well with the others,
who plan excitedly (especially the recognition-craving Cubbi) to travel with him and meet the Great Gummis. Igthorn has his eyes on claiming the boat.

23. "Faster Than a Speeding Tummi" (11:40) (Originally aired September 20, 1986)
Exhausted by hours of cleaning up a soapy mess, Tummi tricks Zummi into casting a speed spell on him.

24. "For a Few Sovereigns More" (11:11) (Originally aired September 13, 1986)
Igthorn tries to double-cross Flint Shrubwood, the Clint Eastwood-esque, boomerang-slinging bounty hunter he has hired to capture a Gummi Bear. The act leaves Iggy and Cubbi imprisoned together.

25. "Over the River and Through the Trolls" (11:40) (Originally aired September 13, 1986)
Cavin hatches a plan to rescue his grandfather Galwin from some feisty forest trolls.

26. "You Snooze, You Lose" (11:10) (Originally aired October 25, 1986)
In trying to concoct Gummiberry Juice, Igthorn creates a sleeping potion instead. Naturally, he uses the substance to try to take over Dunwyn, but Calla, Cavin and the Gummis won't let him do that without a fight.

Cubbi hasn't been getting much sleep on the nights that this mysterious Crimson Avenger fellow protects Dunwyn. Wonder why... Toadie points at the Gummi Bear who saved his life in "Do Unto Ogres." Mad wizard Zorlok locks up Gruffi, Zummi, and Grammi in "For Whom the Spell Holds."

27. "The Crimson Avenger" (22:50) (Originally aired October 4, 1986)
Cubbi's nighttime antics secretly earn him the persona of Dunwyn's defender The Crimson Avenger. Things turn sour, though, when the Avenger's heroic reputation takes a dive and Cavin and Calla get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.

28. "A Hard Dazed Night" (11:39) (Originally aired September 12, 1987)
Igthorn traps King Gregor in a glass egg, so Gruffi (inside a mechanical knight's costume) and Calla (in drag) try to rescue Dunwyn's monarch.

29. "Do Unto Ogres" (11:09) (Originally aired October 19, 1985?)
Hurled out of Drekmore again, Toadie befriends Sunni when she saves his life. He returns the favor, with the help of some growing potion.

30. "For Whom the Spell Holds" (22:49) (Originally aired November 8, 1986)
After Zummi first wanders into the advanced magic pages, the Great Book of Gummi gets stolen by Zorlok, a mad wizard, and his monster henchman.

31. "Little Bears Lost" (11:40) (Originally aired September 28, 1985?)
In the process of figuring out who is behind the disappearance of various possessions, Zummi and Grammi get shrunk down to an inch while solving the mystery.

32. "Guess Who's Gumming to Dinner" (11:11) (Originally aired October 1, 1988)
When Sunni invites Calla to dinner and promises her a lavish evening per tradition, the rest of the Gummis decide to have fun inventing strange new customs.

"Too Many Cooks" spoil the imperial taffy. In "Just a Tad Smarter", the Gummis and Igthorn break with tradition and join forces! Stuffed and unhappy amidst birthday bakery items? That can't be the real Tummi in "If I Were You."

Disc 3

33. "My Gummi Lies Over the Ocean" (22:52) (Originally aired October 11, 1986)
Gruffi joins Tummi as he test-sails the first full-sized boat he's built. After close encounters with a sea monster and a draining ocean, the two end up on an island where they meet Augustus "Gusto" Gummi, a Bear who fancies himself an artist. Needless to say, Gruffi and he don't hit it off too well.

Season 3

34. "Too Many Cooks" (11:47) (Originally aired September 26, 1987)
Imperial taffymaker Sir Paunch comes to Dunwyn with the disappointing news that he's retiring.
While he makes his final batch, Sunni, Tummi, and Cubbi try to snatch his secret recipe and make the sweet sticky stuff on their own.

35. "Just a Tad Smarter" (11:19) (Originally aired September 26, 1987)
Toadie's intelligent cousin Tadpole visits Drekmore, overthrows Igthorn, and leads the ogres on a Gummiberry-destroying mission. In response, the Gummis do the unthinkable: help Igthorn!

36. "If I Were You" (11:48) (Originally aired September 20, 1986?)
Moping over the fact that nobody has remembered his birthday, Tummi stumbles into Igthorn, who uses his recently-acquired Star of Lochlumen to switch bodies with the Gummi Bear.

37. "Eye of the Beholder" (11:18) (Originally aired October 3, 1987)
Sunni is the only one who notices strange things afoot in Dunwyn, as King Gregor prepares to wed Marzipan, a spell-casting, appearance-changing hag/princess.

This troll takes a break from disrupting Internet forums to whoop the Gummi Bears in "A Tree Grows in Dunwyn." Before there was Ariel, there was Aquarianne, a mermaid that Gusto approves of with a thumb up. The Middle Ages were simpler times. So simple that people could mistake Gusto's feeble creation as a real, living Gummi Bear.

38. "Presto Gummo" (11:48) (Originally aired November 12, 1988)
To cure his own boredom and help a friend realize his dreams, Cubbi choreographs some "magical" tricks for Tummi to do. When Igthorn shows up, Tummi's confidence is unhelpfully unfounded.

39. "A Tree Grows in Dunwyn" (11:20) (Originally aired October 8, 1988)
The Gummis help Calla move her father's Monarch's Day present -- an apple tree -- into the Castle Dunwyn, but in doing so, they raise the wrath of fugitive trolls who were hiding loot inside the tree.

40. "Day of the Beevilweevils" (23:05) (Originally aired November 14, 1987)
Tummi's efforts to attract bees only bring unwanted beevilweevils in large numbers, who quickly consume the gang's entire crop of Gummiberries. The journey to make things right find the Gummis meeting a group of trees who hold a major grudge against their kind.

41. "Water Way to Go" (11:44) (Originally aired October 29, 1988)
Gusto and Sunni meet Aquarianne, a mermaid whom Gusto intends to draw. When Igthorn enters the picture, the demands go beyond artwork.

42. "Close Encounters of the Gummi Kind" (11:17) (Originally aired November 1, 1986?)
Gusto creates a mechanical "Gummi Dummy" that resembles Gruffi, which proves convincing when many spot it and follow it. From Igthorn to commonfolk, suddenly everyone is on the Gummis' trail and expecting something.

Chill Beard is not just an awesome way to calm down someone with facial hair, it's the person who's responsible for the extensive winter the Gummis are experiencing in "Snows Your Old Man." Sunni likes her pet Boggle, Ditto. It's griffin feedin' time and you're next, Cubbi Gummi.

43. "Snows Your Old Man" (11:47) (Originally aired November 26, 1988)
When the Gummis hear that their kingdom is the only one in which winter has yet to pass, Tummi, Sunni, and Cubbi investigate. In doing so, they encounter Chill Beard, the ruler of the north wind, whose horn has been keeping Gummi Glen snowy.

44. "Boggling The Bears" (11:17) (Originally aired September 30, 1989)
Sunni adopts a Boggle (that is a shy tiny creature which often takes the shape of non-living things, FYI) whom she names Ditto. She learns that you can take the Boggle out of the wild, but you can't take the wild out of the Boggle; havoc ensues.

45. "The Knights of Gummadoon" (23:04) (Originally aired September 19, 1987)
True to legend, the castle of Gummadoon shows up in Gummi Glen for its day-long centennial visit. Cubbi is made a knight but the fabled Gummis' distrust of humans puts Cavin in jeopardy. And of course, Igthorn is around to create further conflict.

46. "Mirthy Me" (11:46) (Originally aired September 12, 1987)
Cubbi and the others get harassed by a "gigglin" with a terrible sense of humor.

47. "Gummi Dearest" (11:17) (Originally aired October 18, 1986?)
A close call with a mother griffin's eggs leaves Cubbi to stand in for a missing child (i.e. the "mervyn" griffin) while Gruffi tries to pave the way for a switchback.

This is exactly what it looks like when you fall down and look up to see a sextet of Gummi Bears staring down at you. It's okay, kids. Even Gummi Bears get scared.

VIDEO and AUDIO

With an utter void in the extras department, the picture quality should be the real selling point on this DVD. Sadly, it is fairly unspectacular. There is some print wear and the occasional artifact, with certain shots looking very scratchy. Compression appears to be an issue as well; with each dual-layered disc serving up well over 3 hours of video content, there is some ringing to be found. Inconsistency is a theme: some episodes look better than others and even within episodes, some scenes look better than its neighboring sequences.
Video in the wonderful, memorable opening title sequence sometimes appears blurry too, in contrast to what follows. The vibrant colors have a distinctly 1980s look to them, and the DVD seems to preserve them without issue.

Overall, there is definitely no sign that drastic restoration efforts have been made and there is a lot of room for improvement. But while shy of terrific, the video is decent, certainly watchable, and surely eons better than the next-best alternative, which would be 15-20-year-old videocassettes.

As far as sound goes, there is a straightforward two-channel Dolby Mono track. There is a fair amount of evidence there to indicate that this is no newly-produced series. The elements can be slightly distorted or a bit muffled, but for the most part, they're plenty intelligible and a hearing-impaired-enhanced subtitle track does do a good job of filling in any blanks that may arise. In short, you'll have to turn your volume levels up higher than usual and you may notice some static and anomalies, but these are not as noticeable as visual shortcomings and do not seriously hinder your viewing enjoyment.

The Gummis appear marching along, as their song fills the air of the Disc 3 Main Menu. The 10th of 12 Episode Selection pages, this one depicts Season 3 episodes on Disc 3. Half of the primary Gummi Bears get their own slim keepcase in Volume 1. Guess the other half must wait for Volume 2.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The complete absence of bonus features is very disappointing, but not too surprising based on how Disney has treated its other cartoon TV series on DVD. When one considers how easy it would be
for many relevant bonuses to be dug up for this release and how much value they'd add to the box, it's just baffling why Disney doesn't put the tiny bit of effort into it. There are vintage TV promos and toy commercials galore, and even a basic gallery would be something. Then there is the surviving cast and crew, much of whom would probably be tickled just being asked to comment on the show. Even a bonus episode of "The Wuzzles" (which itself could lay the groundwork for a two-disc DVD release of Disney's other first cartoon series) or another unreleased Walt Disney Television cartoon would have been an apt and appreciated inclusion.

Instead, there is merely the depressing "nothing", which only those with a complete disregard for supplements can claim not to mind, and even these folks are kidding themselves at not being interested in seeing at least relevant archival materials.

Maybe this set somehow redeems the lack of extras with the world's most imaginative and amazing interactive menus? Nah. Like other Disney cartoon series that have come to DVD, we get basic stills set to an instrumental version of the theme song or some other lyric-less music. In other words, the amount of inspiration in the menu design matches the limited number of listings on the Main Menu. (...Three.)

The episode layout is pretty workmanlike as well. The shorter episodes alternate between no end credits (running around 11 minutes and 40 seconds) and no opening theme (running around 11:10), though using "Play All" partially shrouds this fact, with the quarter-hour shows merely sharing a half-hour timeslot like they would on the air (though online episode guides suggest, the shorter episodes were mixed and matched regardless of their production placement). Season 3's episodes run a few seconds longer than their earlier counterparts. There are no chapter stops within any of the episodes, whether 11 minutes or 22. Even the content-per-disc isn't evenly distributed, with Disc 3 holding about 34 minutes less than the other two platters. Perhaps this was necessary so as not to separate credit-sharing episodes, but for that matter, spreading out the lot among a fourth disc wouldn't have hurt anyone and would have eased compression.

The only insert (found inside Disc 1's slimcase) is an entry form for a contest to win a Disney Preschool DVD Library of your choice, further illustrating that the studio just doesn't have a clue on who is buying these box sets.

Dashing and daring, courageous and caring, faithful and friendly...with stories to share! Igthorn just doesn't give up. Review's almost over, Dukie. Time to go home.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Whether you've got rosy childhood memories of the show or have never before seen it, Disney's "Adventures of The Gummi Bears" holds up as a fun series that carries through its interesting original premise and engulfs you in a strange but compelling medieval world. Today, it may not be as visually or structurally impressive as it was when it debuted on NBC twenty-one autumns ago, but there is definite wide entertainment appeal beyond the significance of it being one of Disney's first two animated television series. Still, it is best when viewed in moderation; in bulk (as this had to be, with a fast-approaching release date deadline), like others of its ilk, the show can be a bit demanding of one's patience and attention.

It seems like a minor miracle that Disney is even putting the show on DVD, which makes it somewhat easy to overlook the manner in which it makes its digital debut. This Volume 1 box set, though certainly customer-friendly in price and comprehensivity, offers about the thriftiest treatment anyone could imagine. Picture and sound are imperfect, and there is literally nothing that can be deemed a bonus, despite there being plenty of potential for neat extras. The missed opportunity is not insignificant, but at least at the core there is a show which endured six seasons in a changing Saturday morning marketplace and remains uniquely entertaining now.

Buy Adventures of The Gummi Bears: Volume One DVD from Amazon.com

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Season 1 Episodes (Disc 1 and Disc 2)
Page 2: Season 2 and 3 Episodes (Disc 2 and Disc 3), Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed November 13, 2006.