Picks and Pans Review: Defenders of the Earth: the Story Begins
There is at least one saving grace for adults in this compilation of five episodes from a new animated TV series. The main characters are all familiar faces: Flash Gordon, the Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Lothar (Mandrake's assistant) and Ming the Merciless, the old villain who is so unredeemably rotten he makes Darth Vader seem like a Boy Scout leader. While all these old-timers still appear ageless, a variety of young characters have been added. Flash, for example, is now married—to Dale Arden, one presumes, though it's not specified—and has a son who seems about 16. The Phantom has a daughter, and Lothar, a son of apparently similar age; Mandrake doesn't have any evident progeny, but then he never seemed like the family type. The show's writers take advantage of the variety of characters to provide more than the incessant zap-zap-zap of most action cartoon programs. In one episode there's even sibling rivalry, which flares when the Phantom confronts his long-lost brother, who became a bad guy after he was passed over in the Ghost Who Walks competition. Ming's assistant fiends are mostly robots these days. One yearns for those old favorites—the Clay People or the Shark People—to make an appearance, but the robots can be pulverized with impunity, a touchier proposition with more human types. This is a nice compromise for those parents who don't want to ban adventure tapes for their children altogether yet prefer to have the onscreen carnage kept to a minimum. (International Video, $24.95)
On Newsstands Now
- Angelina: Inside Her Brave Choice
- New Details on the Ohio Three
- Prince Harry Takes America!
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine