This is hands down my favorite cartoon from when I was growing up. It's unfortunate that it didn't last longer and have a proper conclusion.
The whole series is released in the UK as a boxed set. I was tired of waiting for a US release (I am starting to doubt one is ever coming), and when I heard a set existed already in the UK I got pretty upset. Honestly, how long does it take to release these episodes in some form on DVD. I mean an english language version set already exists. Just release that. I decided to make my DVD player region free and import, and I don't regret it. I wish I had the foresight to tape all these episodes on VHS. Since I've purchases the UK DVD and watched the whole set I feel like I can give a good review of the quality of the UK boxed set.
The whole series is included. Unfortunately all the episodes have the first seasons opening attached to them (just like the versions jetix is showing). Nothing too special was done to clean up the episodes. The visuals look fine, but you can noticed some distortions to the audio due to age at some points(maybe I'm just too sensitive in these regards). There are some great extras including concept art, character profiles, the script for the final episode, an interview with Michael Reaves (writer) and commentary tracks. The commentary tracks were fan commentary. Three UK fans watched the episode and comment on them. The commentary is a mix of the fans reminiscing about the show, debating theories on the unexplained bit of overarching plot, and giving us background information about the episode. Nothing too special, but it was interesting enough to listen to a couple of the better episodes with the commentary on while I was doing other stuff. Is this the best presentation they could possibly muster for the series? No, it is a rough around the edges boxed set, but I'm very happy that it was released none the less. Considering this is the only way to buy the episodes, I was pleased with the boxed set.
As for the series itself, it is simply brilliant. With a premise like this the characters could easily fall into one dimensional roles, but all the kids in the series feel like fully realised individuals. For example, as the series goes on you notice that Eric isn't just a spoiled rich coward. He sometimes gives us short hints as to how his life was before they fell into the realm included some of the causes of his insecurity issues. Also when Eric really needs to, he can be the brave knight that his clothing suggests. Especially when his friends are in danger. What Eric says and what Eric thinks are two completely different things. He gives the others a hard time, but its clear he loves the other children. Another example would be that Hank isn't as reliable and infallible as the beginning of the series portrays him. Though he is the most decisive of the children and the only one who is willing to take on the responsibility of leadership, he makes many mistakes over the course of the series. Hank can sometimes let his emotions cloud his judgement, and this will often spur an arguement between him and the more realistic Eric. Eric is obviously the most pessimistic character in the series, but he is also sometimes the voice of reason. The episodes written by Micheal Reeves really stand out as the best in the series. The best episode of the series, Dragon's Graveyard, is a very compelling episode and parts of it still give me goosebumps because it is just so moving. The animation isn't on par with the current standards but the series is almost 20 years old at this point so some slack needs to be given.
If you are a longtime fan and you want to own the series I would recommend importing this set. If you haven't seen the series yet, then check your channel guide. It's still being shown on jetix, and you are missing out because this is really one of the most underappreciated gems of 80s popculture.