on 2 February 2014
Space Ghost and Dino Boy were both influential products of the popular cartoonist Alex Toth, who also created and drew other similar characters for the Hanna-Barbera studios, including Birdman and the Galaxy Trio and the Herculoids, amongst many others. One of the most prolific of the Hanna-Barbera superheroes of the late sixties' era, Space Ghost was portrayed as an interstellar police agent in (seemingly) another place and time, patrolling the galaxies and combating evil space villains, such as Brak, Creature King and Zorak, alongside his twin teenage sidekicks Jan an Jace, and their pet monkey Blip. Dino Boy was a young lad who had parachuted out of a disabled plan, only to land in a prehistoric valley filled with co-existing dinosaurs, cavemen and tribal savages. He befriends a caveman named Ugh and a pet brontosaurus named Bronty, and, together, they face various prehistoric troubles.
Originally broadcast on the CBS Channel between 10th September 1966 - 7th September 1968, 'Space Ghost & Dino Boy' ran for two seasons with a total of twenty episodes, each thirty minutes in length (twenty-four minutes without commercials). Voiced by Gary Owens, Space Ghost and his crew heralded an 8-10 minute initial adventure, scouring the cosmos for intergalactic peace; and also ended on another space mission, with Dino Boy, voiced by Johnny Carson, braving prehistoric creatures and feats with Ugh and Bronty (Don Messick of 'Scooby-Doo' fame) within the middle. This resulted in three ten-minute segments being made into a half-hour show, as with a few other HB/Filmation shows of the era, such as 'Birdman & The Galaxy Trio' and 'The New Adventures of Superman' for example.
The series is, undoubtedly, a very simple formula of silver-age comic style action, with Space Ghost bravely faring against his alien foes using various power rays from specially crafted power bands and a highly effective use of 'inviso-power', that he shares with his teen side-kicks, turning the heroes invisible when needed. Suffice to say, 8-10 minutes doesn't necessarily provide the time to get a recurring narrative going, and both Space Ghost's and Dino Boy's adventures are solved fairly quickly, with either Blip or Bronty providing comic-relief to end on. However, a continuity does seem to progress within the two segments, with recurring foes and friends returning in later episodes, especially regarding the two half-hour episodes finishing the season, seeing Space Ghost face up against the Council of Doom when his intergalactic foes decide to get together to finish the hero once and for all. This is definitely the highlight of the series, with various other Hanna-Barbera characters of the time making cameo appearances to help Space Ghost out, including the Herculoids, Moby Dick, Shazzan and the Mighty Mightor.
Distributed by Warner Home Video in 2007 as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection, 'Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series' brings together all twenty episodes of this classic Saturday morning treasure on two double-sided DVDs, encased within a card and plastic fold-out tray with newly drawn artwork and episode titles printed upon. With a total running time of 420 minutes, the series itself is spread across the whole of DVD 1 and Side A of DVD 2 in full-screen format. Unfortunately, the original air-dating is not preserved throughout. However, this, by no means, detracts from the viewing experience, with the series presented in its original three-segment format per half-hour episode, along with nicely preserved picture and sound quality, and optional subtitles for the hard-of-hearing. Regarding special features, Side B of DVD 2 includes trailers for other Warner Home Video cartoon releases, alongside a feature-length profile of cartoonist Alex Toth, creator of Space Ghost, Birdman and many other such characters of the era. Running for approximately an hour and a half, this profile delves deep into the heart of Alex's professional and family life, determining to understand his passion for simplistic drawing and his erratic relationships with contemporary artists and fans.
Although Dino Boy and his friends seem to have been relegated to HB limbo, Space Ghost and his supporting cast would next be seen in the 1980's Hanna-Barbera team-up show, 'Space Stars', which expanded upon later superheroics of popular HB characters (including the Herculoids and the Jettsons' pet-dog, Astro). The Space Ghost franchise would further be revisited with the popular Adult-Swim cartoon comedy talk-show, 'Space Ghost: Coast to Coast', which placed our titular hero as the host of his own talk-show, lasting for a total of ten seasons of surrealistic humour, with original foe Brak even getting his own spin-off show.
With additional appearances in 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold'; teaming up with the Dark Knight alongside Jan, Jace and Blip to combat Creature King, and having adventures in various comic series, including an origin story published by DC Comics with a much more serious and grittier tone, it can be said that the Space Ghost character and franchise has an enduring legacy for each new generation.
This two-DVD box-set of 'Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series' allows audiences of all ages to explore the foundations of this legacy, whilst enjoying a more innocent time of sixties' cartoon heroics, portraying interstellar adventures around the cosmos with one of Hanna-Barbera's most successful superhero creations, alongside prehistoric fun with Dino Boy; allowed to roam free once more from out of the HB vaults.