Well, it’s been a long time coming, but Ralph and the red jammies have finally gotten the deluxe treatment! Every episode from its three-season run have made it into this little black box, complete with a replica of the instruction book for the suit’s powers, a full-length cape, and the pilot episode for the Greatest American Heroine!
This show had a great little message – It’s important to keep trying, even if we don’t always know what we’re doing.
And what better way to illustrate this than a high-school teacher who gets a suit with special powers from a group of intergalactic green guys? Nothing else even comes close!
Now I will admit, I wasn’t expecting a lot from the instruction manual – much like on the tv show, there are no actual instructions. We get a page with “Instructions” on it, and on the next page there is a hologram cover that flips from English to the “alien language”. The last part of the instruction book has the 6 paneled lights on it, and the book lights up with a flip of a switch on the back that illuminates the inner page, the tabs and the spine, which is pretty nifty. The packagers even put the batteries in the book for us – mighty nice of them! I would have preferred a replica of the instruction book from the second season, but that would skyrocket the price of this box set another $50.00 at least.
The cape is really for cosmetic admiring because the material is very thin…but it’s a nice little extra.
As for the iron-on transfer, it’s the exact same size as the emblem on the black box, roughly the size of your palm…not a big emblem which we were all hoping for.
One other feature that hasn’t been mentioned is the marking ribbon inside the box. While it’s not a huge extra, it can keep your place while watching each disc set – for the unorganized or forgetful watchers, this will help to keep track of which episode you’re on.
The individual sleeves for the discs are slender, much like the box sets for Charlie’s Angels or 7th Heaven – so if you were to break up the box and put these sleeves on a shelf, it’s a space saver’s dream.
Now on to the episodes themselves. Let’s face the facts, like most of the tv shows of the 1980′s, there is a lot of stock and reused footage from earlier shows that get spliced into other episodes – one of them had Ralph’s schoolkids playing a concert clearly spliced over with footage from Woodstock. But does that stop me from watching these episodes over and over again? Absolutely not, it adds to the nostalgia!
However, there are a few glaring issues in a few episodes that haven’t been brought up yet:
(1) Not all of the music from the original episodes was brought over into the DVD transfer. For example, during the episode “Operation Spoilsport”, Ralph was sitting in a car and the aliens make a “special dedication” to Ralph over the radio – the song was “Eve of Destruction”.
At the end of the episode, the aliens send another special song, “It’s a Beautiful Morning”. However, in the DVD treatment of this episode, other songs are used instead.
Also, in the episode “The Shock Will Kill You”, when Ralph was magnetized and setting off Bill’s car horn, he originally honked out the tune “Shave and a Haircut” – but the sound was removed altogether and it ruined the humor of that scene.
(2) The use of the name “Hinkley” from the first season was not put back into the first season episodes. It’s common knowledge that this show debuted a mere 12 days before the assassination attempt on Former President Ronald Reagan, and as a result, Ralph’s last name was either dubbed out, dubbed over, or changed completely (In one episode they call him Mr. Hanley). I would have expected these to be put back in, but probably for posterity’s sake they were left as is.
Now for the last episode on the first season of the boxed set:
The Greatest American Heroine.
It was a cute idea, to have the powers of the suit transferred to a female character. Keep in mind, this was more of a reunion episode/pilot pitch for a new series; set 3 years after the last episode aired in 1983.
Out of every episode in the series, this is the hardest episode to watch because it is simply not entertaining. I’m positive that upon seeing this episode, no network wanted to pick up “The Greatest American Heroine”, and the pilot never saw the light of day until now.
So what’s the final verdict?
For any fan of the 1980′s, this box set is worth the price…even with the shortcomings that have been mentioned.
Now a whole new generation of kids and adults can watch the antics of Bill Maxwell trying to keep Ralph from ruining yet another government issued vehicle with their trial-and-error experiments using the red jammies!
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The cape is very nice, but much skinnier than the one in the show. The iron on decal is very small, about 3 inches. The DVD transfer was not enhanced at all. The quality of the DVD recordings is about what you would expect from a top of the line VHS tape. It is in the 4:3 TV format with 2 channel stereo sound. The alien instruction manual was a nice idea, but you probably could not sell it for 50 cents at a yard sale. Is the collectors set worth getting, yes. If you liked the show, this will really give you the feeling of sitting in front of the old TV like you did 25 years ago.
UPDATE Feb 4, 2011 – I’ve discovered that this set is incomplete. Season 3, Episode 14 – The Greatest American Heroine, is missing from the set. This was a pilot that wasn’t picked up but was released as the final episode of the Greatest American Hero Series. So you’ll watch this whole set and miss the final episode. So I’m knocking off another star. If I knew it wasn’t the complete series, as it claims, I would probably have still bought it for fifteen bucks. I’ll get that much entertainment value of of it. But it’s frustrating to watch a series and not get the final episode. So know what you’re getting, enjoy it, and just realize you’ll have to watch the final episode somewhere else.
While this video series is on Hulu (as of today, at least), it doesn’t have the final episode either.
On the plus side, I loved this show as a kid and this set was cheap. On the negative side, the packaging reflects the cheap price. The discs are in black paper sleeves, packed in a single, hokey plastic case. The plastic outer cover on my DVD box is ripped. So I’ll need to glue it back down. One of the plastic “clips” that is supposed to hold the paper sleeves was broken when I opened it. No discs were damaged. But now there’s only one clip to hold the cheesy sleeves in the cheesy plastic box with broken fastener system.
0 for the packaging, 5 for the show results in 3 stars rating.
I’d have paid $5 more for decent packaging.
It’s not possible, from what I can tell, to get a disc out of the paper sleeve without touching the back of the disc.