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Image Entertainment presents
Roger Ramjet: Man of Adventure (1965)

Narrator: And now, this word from the arch-criminal Noodles Romanoff about the new Roger Ramjet show:Noodles: Blegh!Narrator: Thank you.
- David Ketchum

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: March 11, 2002

Stars: Gary Owens, Bob Arbogast, Dick Beals, Joanie Gerber
Other Stars: Dave Ketchum, Gene Moss, Paul Shively
Director: Fred Crippen

Manufacturer: Ritek Digital Media
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:21m:49s
Release Date: February 26, 2002
UPC: 014381125528
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B+C+C- B-

DVD Review

Flag-waving became the "thing to do" in the U.S. after September 11th; anyone not gung-ho, pro-military, "USA A-OK" was instantly labeled insensitive and unpatriotic. The fervor has begun to wear off a little bit (heck, we're allowed to make fun of the president again), perhaps because people have begun to realize how stupid it is to blue, red and whitewash the complex issues that the government (and everyday citizens) deal with every day. The creators of Roger Ramjet, which aired in the mid-1960s, post HUAC and the Cuban Missile Crisis, but smack dab in the middle of the Cold War, certainly understood this fact. Few shows have so effectively skewered feverish patriotism and been so darn funny at the same time. And kids will laugh at it, too!Roger Ramjet is a square-jawed American hero, always ready to aid his government in protecting the nation from fiends like Noodles Romanoff, head of N.A.S.T.Y. (The National Association of Spies, Traitors, and Yahoos). Of course, to save the day, he requires the help of his trusty American Eagle Squadron (names: Yank, Doodle, Dan, and Dee) and, occasionally, a Proton Pill (giving him the power of 20 proton bombs for 20 seconds).Inattentive viewers taking it at face value might see the show as simple US propaganda made palatable for the kiddies, but, like Rocky and Bullwinkle, Roger Ramjet is clearly much more than a simple children's program. The patriotism is taken to absurd levels—nearly every time Roger is introduced, he's greeted with a fanfare of eagles, stars, or a flag—and it is no mistake that America's greatest hero is a bumbling buffoon. That's not to say it is anti-American (after all, Roger always wins), but the writers have no qualms at poking fun at blind patriotism. Of course, it is enjoyable for other reasons as well. Gags of all sorts, from puns, to non-sequiturs, to pop culture references, fly by so fast that even cultured adults will miss a few here and there. Though the animation is simplistic, with characters barely moving at times and blocky, bland backgrounds, the writing is razor sharp. Some of the best episodes deal with Roger dueling for the affection of his sweetheart Lotta Love with his chief rival Lance Crossfire (a Burt Lancaster parody); the two compete in feats of one-upmanship to the point of injury while Lotta runs off with someone else. Other amusing gags include the frequent use of intertitles, especially during fight scenes. The Biff! Whack! Ouch! Think!'s of Ramjet predate those in the old Batman show by quite a few years.Roger Ramjet never gained the attention it deserved, perhaps because of its irregular scheduling. Episodes run a scant five minutes, and while they were regularly shown four at a time, many stations would run one or two whenever they had a gap in the schedule. It certainly deserves to be rediscovered, anyway, as it is full of great fun, humor, and writing (and great voice over work, particular from Gary Owens, the voice of Roger himself). This volume contains the following 15 episodes:MonkeyOrbitWerewolfFlying SaucersSkateboardsLong Joan SilverComicsJet BootsHollywoodTreasure in Sierra's MattressCoffeeTime MachinePoolAncestorsSurf Nuts

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: For a show nearly 40 years old, Roger Ramjet doesn't look too bad. The show has the same rather dull look as many of the cartoons of the era, with a very simple palate, and while I wouldn't call them eye-popping, colors are fairly bright. I noticed no artifacting or line jitter, but there is an odd ringing effect that looks like edge enhancement, though it is only distracting here and there. The biggest problem is the varying quality of the source material—some episodes show lots of dirt, lines, and scratches. Also, it may just be the way the show was produced, but sometimes when writing appears on the screen, it seems to be framed incorrectly, with letters trailing off screen.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The audio is presented in mono only, and the results are somewhat mixed. Dialogue is always well mixed with the music and effects, but overall fidelity is rather poor, and the theme song especially sounds pretty harsh. There's some crackle and hiss evident on the track, but it doesn't distract and isn't too audible at normal listening levels. What really hurts the grade, however, are some lip synch problems on several of the episodes, with dialogue lagging seconds behind the mouth movements.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Gary Owens, the voice of Roger Ramjet
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. 5 Roger Ramjet Bumpers
Extras Review: Note: this exact extras package also appears on the other Roger Ramjet disc, Hero of Our Nation.The biggest selling point here is commentary from the voice of Roger himself, Gary Owens. His comments don't run for the entire program; rather, he only speaks over a 10-minute montage of scenes from the disc. It's more of an audio memoir, with Owens telling a few anecdotes about his work on the show, discussing its origins, and telling us about the people he worked with. He's very interesting to listen to, and he tells some great stories (I especially enjoyed one about Tom Sellack on a plane). He's also quite funny! Choice quotes from Mr. Owens: A: Siss boom bah. Q: What kind of sound does an exploding sheep make? Memories are a wonderful thing; they tend to varnish reality. It's a well known fact among me that Roger Ramjet is one of the hippest cartoons ever made. If nothing else, Owens is certainly one of the hippest voice-over artists.Quite amusing are five quick 30-second bumpers that ran between episodes. Each features a quick joke, most of them dealing with why people should stay tuned to the show. The jokes are in the same sly vein as the rest of the program, and all worth watching.Also particularly welcome is the option to watch the entire program without the credits running between each episode. This cuts about 20 minutes of the running time, but is sure to calm the nerves of anyone who happens to be in the room while you are watching. Listen up for some choice comments from Roger if you select to watch sans credits. "What? You don't want to memorize those credits? You don't want to watch them 15 or 30 times? What kind of person are you?" A third viewing option is also offered—if you choose the "select episode" option, you can choose to view each with a brief, humorous audio intro from Owens.Finally, the disc includes a few cute easter eggs. Hidden on the extras page (just highlight the "Gary Owens Remembers" icon and click left) are eight minutes of audio outtakes from the Gary Owens commentary recording. Worth it, if only to hear Owens telling slightly dirty jokes, and then asking, "Can I say that? These are adults watching this, right?" On the episode selection menu, highlight "back" and press left for three minutes of audio clips of Gary Owens recording answering machine messages for the DVD production team.Rounding out the extras package is a booklet with descriptions for each of the 15 episodes.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Amazingly, Roger Ramjet is nearly as funny, and holds up nearly as well, as the legendary Rocky and Bullwinkle. I'm sure this disc will really appeal to adults who grew up watching the show, but anyone who enjoys quick-witted, pun-laced, pop culture referencing humor should have a great time. Image has done a very nice job with the DVD, from the extras to the great, nostalgia-laden menu designs, all for only $15. Roger may always cease to amaze you, but the disc does a pretty good job.

 


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