Sam & Max: Freelance Police – The Complete Animated Series
R0 - America - Shout! Factory
Review written by and copyright: Rob Fields (23rd March 2008).
The Show

I’ve certainly seen my share of comic book cartoon adaptations in my time. There have been the many releases of "Spider-Man", "The Incredible Hulk", "The Silver Surfer", "Super Friends", "Superman", "Batman", "The Transformers" (primarily Generation 1 for those of you who are keeping score), and the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" just to name a few. I know there have certainly been some Japanese Manga graphic novels that have been made into cartoons. I don’t know the names right off the top of my head, but I’ve heard people talk about them before. Now we get to “Sam & Max: Freelance Police”, another such conversion. Unlike the ones that I’ve listed above, I certainly must say that this is probably one of the strangest titles I have ever seen to date. It makes one wonder where some of these comics artists get their ideas. For that matter, where did Steve Purcell get the idea for this particular duo? (More about this in the extras). I tried to wrack my brain to see what comics I might have read that were along the same line, but I couldn’t think of any. Even "Howard the Duck" (a well-known Marvel Comics title) and "The Awesome Slapstick" (probably NOT a well-known Marvel Comics title) don’t come close to the strangeness of "Sam & Max".
This is the synopsis as listed on the back outer cover: “Sam & Max: Freelance Police” is an edgy and often irreverent, impudent, insolent, impious and silly series about a pair of likable law enforcement types who don’t take crap from anybody. It’s about the timeless struggle between good, evil and snack time; the weekly mishaps of a six-foot dog, Sam (Harvey Atkin), and the three-foot rabbity-thing (though he prefers the term lagomorph), Max (Robert Tinkler), who have a mirthful time trying to resolve only the weirdest criminal cases of the day. Really! For your own good, and the good of mankind, enjoy this series. Based on Steve Purcell’s enormously popular underground comic.
I liked the strangeness of the series. As I stated earlier, I haven’t seen a comic conversion like this. For me to say that this series is stupid would be insulting the creator. Still, if that’s how it is perceived then this is the key element that makes it work. Purcell was probably thinking outside the box when he conceived the comic series. I think my favorite part, which happens in pretty much every episode, is when the phone rings Sam and Max keep saying, “I’ll get it!” Then they climb and crawl all over each other just trying to be the first one to get to the phone. They even did this for a beeper in one episode. This was the one joke that didn’t grow old for me. Also, the jokes are right out in the open. For example, in the ‘Fools Die on Friday’ episode, Sam and Max take to the air to stop a crazed madman who has seized control of a commercial flight and threatens to crash it unless his senseless demands are met. This is what Sam said to Max in the opening part of this episode. And what was funny was that they actually had their final episode called...‘The Final Episode’.
The downsides? I’ve been thinking and thinking about some of the dislikes. However, I can’t really list them here, because to do so would be to contradict what I’ve written in the positive paragraph above. For example, I could say that many of the jokes were bad, but then that’s what made the series what it is. Again, it’s just the strangeness part of the series.
My final word: If you are not so much into cartoon shows like this – or any shows that seem to be outside the box – then you may want to think about it before buying this title. If you want to at least sample it, then try renting it first. Otherwise, for those of you who have seen “Sam & Max: Freelance Police” and came to like it during its run, then this set is definitely for you. Shout! Factory went the extra mile to make each and every episode look the best it’s going to look and sound (for now anyway). You get all the episodes plus the great extras on the third disc. I myself am not altogether into "Sam & Max", but I was glad for the opportunity to see something different. And, believe me, different is good.

This collection includes all 24 episodes of the series:

- "The Thing That Wouldn’t Stop It" (21:01)
- "The Second Show Ever"/"Max’s Big Day" (21:17)
- "Bad Day On the Moon"/"They Came From Down There" (21:17)
- "The Friend For Life"/"Dysfunction of the Gods" (21:17)
- "Big Trouble At the Earth’s Core"/"A Glitch In Time" (21:17)
- "That Darn Gator"/"We Drop At Dawn" (21:17)
- "Christmas, Bloody Christmas"/"It’s Dangly Deever Time" (21:17)
- "Aaiiieee, Robot"/"The Glazed McGuffin Affair" (21:17)
- "The Tell Tale Tail"/"The Trouble With Gary" (21:17)
- "Tonight We Love"/"The Invaders" (21:17)
- "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"/"Little Bigfoot" (21:17)
- "Fools Die On Friday"/"Sam & Max Vs. The Uglions" (21:17)
- "The Final Episode" (21:16)


All episodes are presented in full screen format (1.33:1 ratio). Shout! Factory continues to impress with their awesome transfers. Each episode is just bursting with colors, and no signs of any defects. You can play each of the episodes together in a continuous marathon by selecting the ‘Play All’ option on the Main Menu, or you can watch them individually. While there are no actual chapter selection menus, each episode does have chapter stops. Judging where they are located, they are probably where the commercial breaks would be.


The episodes and the extras are all accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. There are no subtitles available whatsoever. You wouldn’t know it was a mono track. It sounds more like 5.1 audio. I mean, for only the left and right front speakers, the mix just fills the whole room. This just goes to show that Shout! Factory continues to aim to please, especially when they keep releasing these nostalgic titles that you would have thought were long swept underneath the rug.


Shout! Factory have released this series along with 2 featurettes, a collection of short films, an additional clip, bonus trailers and some DVD-ROM extras. Below is a closer look at these supplements broken down per disc.


There is a collection of bonus railers presented in a reel before the start of the Main Menu only and include:

- "The Super Mario Brothers Super Show: Volume 2" which runs for 46 seconds.
- "The Weird Al Show: The Complete Series" which runs for 1 minute 11 seconds.
- "The Film Crew" which runs for 1 minute 12 seconds.

There is a hidden Easter egg on this DVD. While on the Main Menu, be on the ‘Play All’ option. Press down to highlight the ‘SRP 695’ license plate. Select it to see a 3 minute featurette called "Steve Purcell Chats with a Fan". You will see creator Purcell talking to an admiring fan at a comic con.


There are no extras presented on this disc.


There are three animated shorts about Sam & Max. They are as follows:

- "Vice Squad" runs for 1 minute 23 seconds – Sam and Max talk about things that can be crushed in a vice.
- "Our Bewildering Universe"/"Chock Full O’ Guts" runs for 1 minute 26 seconds – Sam and Max talk about the vital organs of the human Operation (the board game) style.
- "Artsy Craftsy Bit of Time Wasting Nonsense" runs for 1 minute 3 seconds – Sam and Max show you how to make a Max bag puppet.

There is a featurette entitled "A Comic Conversation with Steve Purcell" that runs 13 minutes and 43 seconds. Here you will learn how Purcell came up with the idea of Sam & Max. You get to watch him sign some DVD's for fans as he talks.

"Our Bewildering Universe" clip lasts 2 minutes and shows what appears to be an earlier animated short of Sam & Max as they do an autopsy on an alien. Unlike the series and the animated shorts, they do not utter one word. All they do is play with the alien’s brain, which leads to an interesting punchline.

The second featurette "Telling the Tale of Telltale Games" lasts 5 minutes and 18 seconds. Here, you will see Purcell talking about the video game of Sam & Max. It is accompanied by interview clips with Dan Connors (CEO / Founder of Telltale Games) and Dave Grossman (Design Director of Telltale Games). You also get to see some clips from Sam & Max, which is 3-D animation.

There is a concept art gallery which features 39 frames or artwork.

Rounding out the disc extras are a collection of DVD-ROM content that includes:

- There is a playable demo of the Sam & Max video game called "Ice Station Santa". To play it, you must have a PC. There is an option to where you can view the system requirements. Since there are no system requirements listed for a MAC, it is safe to assume (something you never want to do around computers) that this demo is not compatible with a MAC. If you end up liking it, the demo can be unlocked to the complete game, probably for a price.

- More art galleries, you can find a PDF file with all of the artwork as part of the DVD-ROM features. Yes, you can even print them up. This feature should also work on a MAC.

- "The Series Bible" is included. There is good news and bad news, depending on who you are and how you take it. The good news is that it is included with this DVD. The bad news? It is a DVD-ROM feature. The file is in PDF format, so it should work for both PC and MAC.


This is a 3-DVD set with two clear plastic slim-cases (2 discs in one and 1 disc on its own), all placed into a single cardboard case.


The Show: A- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A Overall: A


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