Saber Rider rides again!
cyberfox29 | Toronto, Canada | 11/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The packaging here consists of a standard black dvd case with a hinged flip-page to hold the second disc. The cover has reflective foil printing. Clipped inside the case is a folded two-page insert listing the volume's episodes with brief synopses. Both dvds (lazily) recycle the same silvery image for their disc labels: 8 episodes on the first disc, 9 on the other.
The dvds have animated menus sporting a mechanical theme -- sliding panels, rotating gears, HUD cockpit graphics, and a silhouetted robotic armature which highlights any menu selections. The series' intro song plays over the main menu, while unrelated commercial music is used for other parts of the discs, such as during the gallery bonus feature -- electronica pop, presumably in keeping with the robotic theme, advertised as "I, Computer" by a band called RadioRadio who are seemingly hoping to be confused with "OK Computer" by Radiohead.
The contained extras are spread over both discs:
1a. An extensive image gallery presenting character and vehicle design sheets for the entire series, including a large assortment of incidental characters like generic cowboy villains and New Frontier townsfolk.
1b. A few commercials for a 1987 "Saber Rider sweepstakes" mail-in contest (from which the original contest mailing info has been blanked out).
2. Character profiles (heroes and Ramrod only) with descriptive text, each played to their particular leitmotif music from the soundtrack CD (which mostly motivates me to go purchase the CD since these sample tracks sound absolutely great). Strangely, the profile included for Saber Rider is the only one written in past tense, making it read like an obituary: "He was a young man..." rather than more correctly reading, "Although a young man, he is referred to as 'legendary' due to..." etc.; even his horse is referenced in bygone tense -- RIP to both, I suppose. :p
Dolby stereo sound, excluding episodes 1-4 and 11, which are mono. English only. No subtitle option available. Image quality appears okay at a quick inspection, with a tiny printed notice on the back sleeve indicating the presence of digital restoration work, but it varies somewhat, showing the beginnings of aging in places.
Quality-control problems: Episode 11, "Oh Boy! Dinosaurs!", seems to have escaped any remastering attention, with its aforementioned monaural audio and a noticably inferior picture throughout, showing washed-out color and poor contrast compared to all other disc content; it's also missing its superimposed title card. Episode 3, "Jessie's Revenge" is likewise missing its title, and the opening line of recap narration is barely audible. [For any curious fans, "Oh Boy! Dinosaurs!" is scripted by Marc Handler & Susan Myers, while "Jessie's Revenge" is by Marc Handler.]
The episode bumper segments have all been edited out, unfortunately. They were always just the same brief bit of footage with Saber on his mecha-horse swinging his sword down over the show logo, but the accompanying voiceovers were often tailored to each episode, such as referencing the story events immediately preceding the commercial breaks, or being delivered by minor characters particular to that episode (eg., Gattler, Jessie, Trista, King Jaray, Snowcone) which often added to the entertainment value by catching the viewer off guard; or humourously 'breaking the fourth wall' with mangled variations, like a gruff-voiced villain asserting, "Now back to the Desperadoes and the Sheriffs!"
Another minor complaint is that the episodes are split into wholly packaged units, meaning the Prev/Next button on your remote won't let you hop over the opening sequence, navigate through episodes by acts, or skip ahead directly to the closing credits -- you're forced to fast forward.
I haven't watched through all the episodes yet, already very familiar with the show from my old VHS recordings. This series animates gritty explosions with flying debris like nobody's business, and Dale Schacker's outstanding music score still sounds very contemporary. The scripting nicely balances action scenes with romance and wry touches of humour, even throwing in bits of philosophy for genuine character development. The middle episodes play mostly as stand-alone pieces, whereas the latter half of the series adopts more multi-part storytelling in strongly sequential episodes.
Some of WEP's blatant kid-softening of tone for the Western translation is funny: everything blown up is claimed in dialogue to be abandoned or piloted robotically, reassuring viewers that no one was hurt even when the visuals suggest otherwise. Or dialogue straining to mollify more sinister motives, like readily apparent theft -- the nervously detouring truckers in "Brawlin' Is My Callin'" instead claiming to "take a shortcut" -- or the lethal consequences of gunshots instead reduced to "stun gun" victims who have supposedly merely fallen unconscious. It would be nice if the bonus features could include some sample clips from the original Japanese "Star Musketeer Bismarck" anime for comparison.
Favorite episodes found on this volume: "Four Leaf Clover", "Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away", "What Did You Do On Your Summer Vacation", "Star Sheriff Round-up"; sharply animated action sequences are also seen in "Iguana Get To Know You" and "Jessie Blue". Best episodes in the forthcoming second volume, in my opinion: "All-Galaxy Grand Prix", "Snow Blind", "Sharpshooter", and "Gattler's Last Stand". Volume three should feature the coolest episode in the series, "Jessie's Girl" (he's so cruel!), plus the slickest angularly stylized Japanese animation belonging to the penultimate episode, "Who Is Nemesis?""
"Saber Rider & Star Sheriffs ... Collectors Edition Vol. 1 .
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 11/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"VCI Entertainment presents "SABER RIDER & THE STAR SHERIFFS:COLLECTORS EDITON VOL. 1" (14 September 1987) (391 mins/Color/B&W) (Dolby digitally remastered) --- This is the long awaited classic Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs was an animated TV series, aired from 1986 to 1989 --- During it's 52 episodes, it introduced us to another possible future for mankind --- Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs explore the new frontier, the wide-open ranges of outerspace, where the legendary honor and virtue of the Wild West combine with vibrant extraterrestrial adventure --- Saber Rider is the dashing leader of the Star Sheriffs --- Their mission is to establish peace and unity against the Outriders, mysterious vapor beings led by the powerful Nemisis --- Joined by assorted rustlers and desperados, the Outriders challenge the Star Sheriffs to action-packed attacks --- Independently, the Star Sheriffs' efforts to maintain justice are admirable -- but when united, they are invincible.
In the late 21st Century (or early 22nd Century), humankind has reached the stars --- Many outposts and settlements have been made for several planets, and the modern space-age has merged with the legacy of Old West --- There are villans, outlaws, bounty hunters...and sheriffs --- The Star Sheriffs are the special operatives of Cavalry Command, Earth's law enforcement and defense patrol out in space, and along the New Frontier --- They are also ambassadors of good will to other planets in space --- But the main assignment of the Star Sheriffs is to protect the Galaxy from the growing threat of the Outriders.
The cast of characters include Saber Rider, Colt, Fireball, Jesse Blue, April, Nemesis, Vanquo, Gattler, Commander Eagle, General Whitehawk, Steed, Nova, Outriders, Outrider Spies, Cavalry Command Troop.
Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs line up with USA No., JAPANESE No., Episode & Original USA Air Date:
01. 01. "Star Sheriff Round Up" [September 14, 1987]
02. -- "Cavalry Command" (no Japanese version) [September 15, 1987]
03. -- "Jesse's Revenge" (no Japanese version) [September 16, 1987]
04. 02. "Iguana Get To Know You" [September 17, 1987]
05. 14. "Little Hombre" [September 18, 1987]
06. 21. "Greatest Show On The New Frontier" [September 21, 1987]
07. 03. "Little Pardner" [September 22, 1987]
08. 04. "Brawling Is My Calling" [September 23, 1987]
09. 08. "Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away" [September 24, 1987]
10. 16. "The Castle Of The Mountain Haze" [September 25, 1987]
11. 41. "Oh Boy! Dinosaurs!" [September 28, 1987]
12. 24. "Four Leaf Clover" [September 29, 1987]
13. -- "The Highlanders" (no Japanese version) [September 30, 1987]
14. 29. "What Did You Do On Your Summer Vacation?" [October 1, 1987]
15. 31. "Jesse Blue" [October 2, 1987]
16. 05. "Show Down At Cimarron Pass" [October 5, 1987]
17. -- "The Saber And The Tomahawk" (no Japanese version) [October 6, 1987]
SPECIAL BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:
1. Episode Selection
2. Image Gallery
3. Saber Rider Commercials
Hats off and thanks to Robert Blair and his staff at VCI Entertainment --- VCI was named in Variety and Hollywood Reporter as the first company to produce and release motion pictures directly to the home marketplace --- order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch releases --- VCI are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector -- looking forward to more Nostalgic Collections.
Total Time: 391 mins on DVD ~ VCI Entertainment ~ (11/18/2008)"