New to DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment’s Cookie Jar line are two DIC series that debuted in the late ’90s, Archie’s Weird Mysteries
and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, both collected in their entirety, at 40 episodes on four discs and 26 on three, respectively. Although not that old, they already look incredibly dated, simply by virtue of animation’s leaps and bounds ever since. Children weaned purely on Pixar product are spoiled.
Archie’s Weird Mysteries plays like a junior X-Files in the Riverdale High School universe of Archie Comics, with its namesake and his pals — notably Jughead, Betty and Veronica — discovering and uncovering a variety of aliens, ghosts, monsters, creatures, and incidents of weird science and paranormal activity, all for the Riverdale High Reporter.
In 22-minute slices apiece, the characters have close encounters with everything from evil potatoes that want to rule the earth to a gelatinous, Blob-like thing made of pudding. Occasionally, our heroes are the freaks, such as the episode in which Archie turns invisible. (He does not do what I would do, however, which would be to hide in the shower of Betty and/or Veronica.)
Even with the “spooky” concept that strays from the sunny shenanigans of the comics, the show manages to work in all the regulars, including second-stringers like Pop (he of the Choklit Shoppe, readers) and Principal Weatherby.
Speaking of familiar characters in an unfamiliar setting, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century is an even more future-thinking update than the BBC’s recent live-action take. I don’t necessarily been for the better, however, as it transplants Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic cast to a sci-fi setting that looks like a Blade Runner playset.
After a Reichenbach Falls prologue set back in Doyle’s Victorian times, the show sets up its sure-to-infuriate-purists template of reviving Holmes’ body in a spaced-out London. Dr. Watson is now a robot (more or less), and Lestrade is not the inspector, but his female ginger descendant. Still, she’s a crimefighter, and still, the plot lines are based directly on Doyle’s canon … or as much as can packed into such short running times.
Both shows are more than competently produced, especially for cheaper-than-network productions, but it’ll take an already ingrained interest in the characters to hook the interest of today’s kiddos. Available for nearly next to nothing, the budget sets come packed with bonus episodes of other DIC shows I had no knowledge of, from Mona the Vampire to Stargate: Infinity. —Rod Lott