Adventures Of The Gummi Bears: Volume 1 (TV)
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (1st January 2001).
The Film

When I discovered that Buena Vista was finally releasing "Adventures Of The Gummi Bears" I jumped around a little in memory of one of my favorite shows as a kid. The Gummi Bears was a staple part of my Saturday morning rituals, I would wake up at 7.30am eat a bunch of sugary cereals and watch the Saturday morning cartoons until noon. One of those cartoons was "Adventures Of The Gummi Bears", the show was the first Saturday morning cartoon produced by Disney and it stands as among the best as well. Inspired by the candy of the same name, the Gummi Bears are made up of 6 bears (although a 7th Gummi was introduced in season 2, Gusto (Rob Paulsen)), Sunni (Katie Leigh), Tummi (Lorenzo Music), Cubbi (Noelle North), Gruffi (Bill Scott and then voiced by Corey Burton), Grammi (June Foray) and Zummi (Paul Winchell), the bears live underground in a giant hollowed out tree, their home also includes access ways to anywhere in the forest and was built by the ancient Gummi's. One day a human boy, Cavin (voiced by Christian Jacobs, Brett Johnson and David Faustino), stumbles upon the Gummi's. Afraid of humans the Gummi's naturally retreated in fear of being discovered. As it turns out Cavin doesn't want to hurt the Gummi's and they soon develop a friendship. Cavin also helps the Gummi's unlock their sacred book with a medallion that was given to him, the book chronicles their existence and includes many magical spells. Throughout the series the Gummi's help Cavin defend Dunwyn Castle from the evil Duke Igthorn (Michael Rye) a former knight of Dunwyn, he was exiled after plotting against King Gregor (also voiced by Michael Rye) and later found refuge in Castle Drekmore. He formed an army of local ogres and is hell bent on deposing the King and taking over the Mantle, but every attempt is botched by those pesky Gummi Bears and their magic juice, the Gummi Berry Juice which gives them the ability to bounce around.
Not only was this show Disney's first foray into television animation, but it was the most successful of the lot running for the most seasons, the series in fact had impressive production values that trumped many of the shows on television at the time and was primarily responsible for the television animation boom of the 1980's as it opened the door for other Disney animations such as "Duck Tales"(1987-1990), "Darkwing Duck" (1991-1995), "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" (1989-1992), "TaleSpin" (1990-1994) and "Gargoyles" (1994-1996) among others.
The series was popular for many reasons, firstly there were different Gummi's that appealed to kids, 7 in total there was at least one that a kid could form a bond with and make their favorite, the adventure factor was also a high point. The fact that the series was set in medieval times was exciting and led the way for many fantastical adventures that includes dragons and beasts, fighting ogres and the general sense of fun that kids have pretending to wield swords is something that connected with many, including myself. This 'playable' factor meant that anyone can replicate scenes from the show at home among your friends, I remember drinking my juice pretending it was Gummi Berry Juice and bouncing around with my friends fighting off the mean Ogres and saving the Castle Dunwyn from peril. The show was also well written and produced, the freshness of the series was something that also personally attracted me to it.
Disney does the fantasy thing really well and it certainly translated in this series that has now become a classic. "Adventures Of The Gummi Bears" still stands as a quality show that is unmatched by today's shows, it's something that can be shared with family on many levels. If you watched this show as a child and now have a family of your own you can now experience these episodes with your kids, if not then these episodes will certainly unlock that inner child that's been hidden away for years.

Video

Presented in the show's original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1 these full screen transfer range from good to not so great, a lot of the problems may comes from the source materials for these transfers (probably broadcast tapes?) because they look like Disney has used VHS masters to create these transfers, the image is generally soft and has some flaws such as color imbalances (although this may have something to do with the animation itself, at this stage I'm not sure). Character lines aren't defined enough and occasionally move around. I also noticed some edge-enhancement as well as minor pixilation, some episodes in fact appeared to have compression noise but this wasn't a serious issue. While some shots appear sharper than others, the majority of the shots appear at broadcast quality and no better. It would have preferred had Disney restored these episodes, but I suppose that would come at a cost that could increase the retail price of this set, and having to pay over $35 wouldn't really be worth it considering what you are getting.

Audio

A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track accompanies each episode, these are the original broadcast soundtracks, as far as animated shows go this one might have benefited from a full 5.1 considering there's a lot of action involved in each episode but these Mono tracks are actually quite good. The dialogue is clear and distortion free, the musical cues are mixed at an appropriate levels so they aren't overbearing the dialogue. The range and depth is limited but after all this is a 1980's animated show that is mixed in Mono so one would expect that. Otherwise these tracks suit the series quite well.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired only.

Extras

Buena Vista has released this set with no extras at all not even bonus trailers are featured on these discs.

Packaging

This 3-disc includes all 47 episodes from the first, second and third seasons of this TV series and is packaged in slim-line amarays housed in a cardboard slip-cover.

Overall

In terms of extras this set is rather disappointing, I would have loved to see episode commentaries or at least interviews with the voice talents or creators. I suppose if you're a big enough fan of this series (and I'm sure there are plenty of adults that remember this show when they were kids that might like to pick this one up) then it's not a bad purchase considering you're getting three seasons worth of episodes on 3 discs.

The Film: B+ Video: C+ Audio: B Extras: F Overall: D+

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.