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The Adventures of Tintin: Season One DVD Review

The Adventures of Tintin (1991): Season One DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com The Adventures of Tintin: Season 1 (1991)
Show & DVD Details

Writers: Robert Rea, Christopher Poujol, J.D. Smith, Alex Boon, Aaron Barzmann, Laurel L. Russwurn, Danial Campbel, Peter Meech, Toby Mullally, Eric Rondeaux, Dennise Fordham; Hergé (books)

Director: Stéphane Bernasconi

Regular Voice Cast: Colin O'Meara (Tintin), David Fox (Captain Haddock), Wayne Robson (Calculus), John Stocker (Thompson), Dan Hennessey (Thomson), Susan Roman (Snowy)

Running Time: 301 Minutes (13 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated

1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (English, Spanish)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned
Season 1 Airdates: October 2, 1991 - December 23, 1991
Suggested Retail Price: $19.93 / DVD Release Date: November 22, 2011
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Clear Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover

Buy The Adventures of Tintin: Season One on DVD from Amazon.com

Americans haven't really felt the need to know Tintin, but that might change with the Christmas week release of a major motion capture film directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson, and written by Edgar Wright.

Created by Hergé in 1929, the Belgian comic book series is one of Europe's most popular. It tells the globe-trotting adventures of young Belgian reporter Tintin and his faithful white dog Snowy.
Spielberg's upcoming film, whose rights he first secured back upon the week of Hergé's 1983 death, is the highest-profile adaptation to date, but many before him have translated the comics to other mediums, from stop-motion and live-action feature films to stage plays and musicals.

Two animated Tintin television series have been made. The first consisted of 5-minute episodes produced in Belgium from 1959 to 1963. The second was the half-hour 1991-92 French-Canadian series "The Adventures of Tintin". Shout! Factory has wisely seized the movie's release as an opportunity to issue a Season One DVD of this latter show, with a 2-disc, 13-episode collection hitting stores a month before the film of the same name hits multiplexes.

The second title logo for Hergé's "The Adventures of Tintin" features Tintin and Snowy on the go. Bumbling British detectives Thomson and Thompson take many a spill, even in the hallway outside their shared office.

I am at a loss to figure out who this TV series is meant for. The content makes it less than ideal for kids. Multiple episodes deal with drug smuggling. Gunplay, violence, drinking, and abduction by chloroform also feature prominently. At the same time, the show is not mature enough for adults to want to watch; the characters are broad and even dead serious situations play goofily. There's also a crude pig-nosed Asian caricature, the only one of the comics' now controversial ethnic stereotypes to make the cut here.

Furthermore, things are highly serialized. Only one of the thirteen episodes doesn't have a title that ends in "Part 1" or "Part 2" and it is in fact an unbilled Part 3. Storylines continue from one arc to the next. Even with judicious recapping, that design requires passion and interest the series does not deserve.

Much of the blame would appear to lie in the comics, which are adapted faithfully from seven of the 23 issues published in Hergé's lifetime. The first five episodes here will form the foundation of Spielberg's film.

There just isn't much appeal in either the stories or the characters. The latter include salty alcoholic Captain Haddock (mo cap legend Andy Serkis in the film), bumbling twin British detectives Thomson and Thompson (to be played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), and absent-minded Professor Calculus.

On DVD, Shout! serves up the English language version of the series (which first aired on HBO in the US and The Family Channel in Canada) along with a Spanish dub, but not the original French. Episodes are presented in order of original broadcast, which doesn't correspond either to the comics' publication or chronology. Read on for more details on the highwater-panted hero's derring-do captured here.

Watch Shout! Factory's Season One DVD trailer:

Captain Haddock and Tintin take on the Sahara desert in "The Crab with the Golden Claws, Part 2." The dastardly pirate Red Rackham (right) squares off with Captain Haddock's ancestor Sir Francis Haddock in tale retold in "The Secret of the Unicorn."

Disc 1

1. The Crab with the Golden Claws, Part 1 (23:13) (Originally aired October 2, 1991)
A crab tin and a drowning are the first clues to a ship's drug smuggling.

2. The Crab with the Golden Claws, Part 2 (23:11) (Originally aired October 9, 1991)
Cast away in the desert, Tintin and the Captain Haddock try to expose the crew of the Captain's ship for its wrongdoing.

3. The Secret of the Unicorn, Part 1 (23:11) (Originally aired October 16, 1991)
The theft of a model ship is connected to pirate adventure of yore, which Captain Haddock relays to Tintin.

4. The Secret of the Unicorn, Part 2 (23:11) (Originally aired October 23, 1991)
In the search for pirate treasure, Tintin is separated from Haddock, while Thomson and Thompson try to find the pickpocket who got there first.

Haddock and Tintin search for Red Rackham's Treasure at the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea. Double agent Mitsuhirato provides a none too flattering portrayal of Asian people.

5. Red Rackham's Treasure (23:11) (Originally aired October 30, 1991)
Continuing where the previous 2-parter left off, Tintin and company pursue the Unicorn wreckage and the treasure it must hold.

6. Cigars of the Pharaoh, Part 1 (23:10) (Originally aired November 6, 1991)
After being framed for opium possession on his vacation, Tintin joins eccentric Dr. Sarcophagus on an archaeological expedition in Egypt, but gets separated and threatened by the real smugglers.

7. Cigars of the Pharaoh, Part 2 (23:11) (Originally aired November 13, 1991)
In India, Tintin finds Dr. Sarcophagus, who has lost his mind as the result of a poisoned dart.

Disc 2

8. The Blue Lotus, Part 1 (23:11) (Originally aired November 20, 1991)
Nothing is as it seems in Shanghai, where more poisoned darts bring madness and Tintin is endangered.

9. The Blue Lotus, Part 2 (23:11) (Originally aired November 27, 1991)
Still in China and still dodging trouble, Tintin befriends a boy named Chen.

Tintin is threatened by an angry gorilla on Scotland's The Black Island. Thomson and Thompson do their best to blend in with the locals of whatever country they're in. Their best just isn't good enough.

10. The Black Island, Part 1 (23:11) (Originally aired December 9, 1991)
In Eastdown, England, Tintin is targeted by mysterious German thugs.

11. The Black Island, Part 2 (23:11) (Originally aired December 9, 1991)
Tintin tries to thwart the German counterfeiters, following them to Scotland's "haunted" Black Island.

12. The Calculus Affair, Part 1 (23:11) (Originally aired December 16, 1991)
Tintin and Captain Haddock try to save Professor Calculus from goons on his trail in Geneva. In a related event, inexplicable disturbances cause glass things to shatter at Calculus' place.

13. The Calculus Affair, Part 2 (23:11) (Originally aired December 23, 1991)
Tintin and Haddock's efforts to save Calculus take them to Italy and Borduria, where they are pursued as spies.

Tintin has been known to pull off a disguise, making a convincing Japanese general here. Captain Haddock is in a rush to watch Disc 2's episodes.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The picture and sound are what you would expect for a 20-year-old imported cartoon. Some light, infrequent scratches are the only blemishes on the 1.33:1 full screen element.
The decent, reasonably lively animation has the limited detail of '90s TV cartoon. The video is soft and the colors are pale, but both of these qualities likely date back to the original production. The Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack is equally adequate, with the Spanish dub mixed much more loudly than the default English. Like most Shout! releases, this one lacks subtitles, but at least closed captions are provided.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

No bonus features of any kind are offered. Shout! is more likely than most studios to dig up and include relevant supplements on catalog TV series, but I don't think anyone will fault them for not doing so here. No extras were included on the show's Canadian DVDs Universal released in 2005-06.

The 16:9 main menus animate the background of the front and rear cover art while the theme song plays.

The two discs are packaged inside a clear keepcase that is stingy on artwork. It is topped by a cardboard slipcover, entirely redundant save for some character and title texture effects. Episodes are appropriately divided into four chapter stops coinciding with act breaks, which allows a quick skip of the opening title sequence if so desired.

Absent-minded Professor Calculus, Young Tintin, Snowy the dog, and excitable Captain Haddock are on the case! Everyone loves an Asian boy, including Tintin who makes Chen his friend in "The Blue Lotus, Part 2."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"The Adventures of Tintin" didn't do much for me on its own or to whet my appetite for Steven Spielberg's movie. There may be good reason why the comic series' popularity in Europe has never spread to the US. I was unable to warm to the tone, the storylines, and the characters. If you enjoy this TV series, you should be satisfied with Shout! Factory's basic Season One DVD treatment. Picture, sound, and the price are fine, the lack of bonus features is excusable, and the timing couldn't be better. Still, your animation tastes will have to be far from mine to enjoy this Eurocentric production.

Buy The Adventures of Tintin: Season One on DVD from Amazon.com

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Reviewed October 26, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1991 Ellipse Programme, Nelvana Limited, and 2011 Shout! Factory.
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