"Galaxy Rangers: Collection 2" Saddles Up Successfully and Rides Into The Sunset
The second, and concluding, volume of The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers finally makes its way to DVD, and provides more of the same kind of entertaining episodes and informative extras that the first volume had.
“Consolidation” is a theme in the series’ second half, which introduces far fewer new characters and concepts. Instead, it generally sticks to older characters, though often giving them a new spin. Indeed, for the first few episodes, many of these characters are featured at the expense of one or more of the Galaxy Rangers themselves. Episodes featuring the entire cast (of only the four Rangers) are sometimes few and far between, with the odd episode featuring none at all, which reminds us how refreshingly non-formulaic the series was compared to its toy-based contemporaries, which by necessity sometimes featured huge numbers of characters in a single episode.
The only aspect of this collection that will raise eyebrows is a cluster half-a-dozen silly and/or surreal episodes that open the set. Every series has its share of such episodes, but for some reason, there were quite a few grouped together at this point. Still, when they’re surreal, they’re really surreal. A perfect example would be “Mothmoose”, which features a creature that is indeed a blend of the two animals suggested by the title. There is also “Marshmallow Trees”, another title that perfectly sums up the plot of the episode. Yet even in this story, the series continues to surprise, as it does depict a pretty realistic science-fiction example of an invasive species.
The series becomes more balanced shortly afterwards, yielding yet more excellently written episodes such as “Supertroopers”, featuring the surprising history of Shane Gooseman, and its follow-up “Galaxy Stranger”, which also appropriately manages to be an affectionate pastiche of westerns like Pale Rider. The only true letdown is that it only once more briefly touches upon the plight of Galaxy Ranger commander Zachary Foxx’s captured wife, Eliza, ultimately leaving this compelling plot thread unresolved. The final episode doesn’t really conclude too many of the series’ other ongoing plots either, but it does at least feature a large battle with the Queen of the Crown’s armada, as well as the return of the series’ most memorable villain.
In terms of storytelling style, the series continues to have a refreshingly mature attitude on more than one occasion, most notably in a two-part story towards the end of the series, which features a child character trying to avenge the murder of his parents (one of whom actually dies on-screen). This is comparatively strong stuff when put beside its contemporaries, which usually erred on the safe side when it came to self-censorship. In stark contrast, however, are the aforementioned “silly” episodes, which can sometimes be a little tiresome, even when they’re not failing by trying too hard. Some of the Wild West stereotypes can be a little overdone as well, but the general storytelling standard of most episodes is quite high, with the occasional brilliant episode that puts similar series to shame. The same can be said for the animation, which is full of the detailed designs seen with most outsourced Japanese animation from the time, with intermittent moments of excellence that one expects from TMS. As with the first set of episodes, the best animation is usually reserved for the best-written episodes.
Considering the age of the source material, there are no major problems with the picture and sound on the DVDs. In fact, the colors this time around seem more consistent from episode to episode than on the first volume, even if the contrast is a little on the high side. As for the sound, it is worth mentioning the new ending theme song, which marked one of the few times a U.S. animated action series had different songs on the opening and ending credits.
Like the first volume, this second boxset is also pleasingly packed with extras, including interviews with creator Robert Mandell and writers Dan Fiorella and John Rawlins, as well as commentaries on select episodes, although on my copy the last of these commentaries went wildly out of sync with the picture. As before, Mandell in particular is refreshingly candid about the difficulties the series faced in the crowded 80s syndication marketplace, specifically with regard to the problems in securing a toy tie-in deal. There is also another booklet, this time highlighting the futuristic technology seen in the series, such as spaceships and spacesuits, as well as an impressive fanart gallery on the one of the DVDs. Most impressively of all, the set also includes complete tracks of some of the series’ background music, a feature often requested and rarely supplied on other 1980s series DVD sets. The episodes are one again presented in “correct continuity order”, which is in reality simply their original production order. For the most part, this order makes sense, although somebody obviously didn’t notice that the episodes “Promised Land” and “Horsepower” should have switched places to maintain continuity.
Koch once again delivers an excellent set packed with episodes and extras, and proves that there is still a market for 1980s animated action-based series outside of the “big guns” such as Masters of the Universe and Transformers. There’s certainly one or two lesser-known 1980s series I’d still like to see on DVD, and if they’re treated even half as well as Koch has treated Galaxy Rangers, I’d be more than satisfied. The true masterstroke of both volumes was the heavy involvement of series creator Robert Mandell, and his continued enthusiasm and support for the series still shines through all his contributions. Hopefully, Mr. Mandell’s first foray into animation, ITC Entertainment’s Thunderbirds 2086, will also eventually make it to DVD as a nice companion piece to this series.
But for the moment, with the complete series now on DVD, The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers comes as a highly recommended 65-episode series that is full of imagination and fun, and my only regret in watching the show is that I never saw it sooner.