When news broke that legendary director Steven Spielberg would be going into production on a cinematic version of The Adventures of Tintin, most people I know had a similar reaction: “Who or what is a ‘Tintin?'” This came as quite a shock—apparently I was in the minority as a kid who sat around devouring Tintin as a kid, thanks to the colorful comic books penned by Belgian writer/artist Hergé and a cartoon adaptation from the mid-’90s. Now, instead of spending countless hours scouring YouTube for clips with which to pelt my unlearned acquaintances, Shout! Factory has done me one better, by releasing the first season of the animated adventure series out on DVD.
The set is packed with two DVDs and 13 episodes, all adaptations of Hergé’s original books. That might look like a bare bones collection for special feature aficionados, but the quality episodes more than match the $15 asking price. Recreated using the illustrators original style, the first season of the cartoon series (which originally aired in 1991) splits the classic stories into two-part episodes, including versions of The Black Lotus, The Calculus Affair, The Black Island, Cigars of the Pharaoh and the books used as the basis for Speilberg’s film, The Crab with the Golden Claws, and The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. Each episode is like a mini-Indiana Jones adventure and is lively enough for a youngster to enjoy, while injecting enough mature material to rouse the most jaded adult (Tintin often does battle with drug smugglers and terrorists). Aside from some of the less-than-PC characterizations of international characters drawn from Hergé’s original work, The Adventures of Tintin is one of those rare, action-packed shows that is fitting for any age.
Unfortunately, you won’t find much 2D animation on TV, which makes The Adventures of Tintin a terrific, inexpensive pick-up for the holiday season. Everything in the show is crisp and intact, from the beautifully realized line work to the energized voice over and thrilling score. If you need a reason to be excited for this month’s 3D-ified Tintin adventure, look no further than it’s small screen predecessor.