By Chaz Lipp
Article first published as DVD Review: Sky Commanders – The Complete Animated Series on Blogcritics.
Let’s face it, Warner Archive’s reissue of Hanna-Barbera’s animated series Sky Commanders is targeted at those who were under 12 during the summer of 1987 when the cartoon originally aired. The title has been issued as a MOD (“Manufactured on Demand”) DVD-R release. Don’t credit Warner with resurrecting a lost classic, by any means. The show didn’t last long (its 13 episodes are included on two discs) but still managed to inspire its own Kenner action figure line. Or was the show merely intended to help sell more toys?
Either way, Sky Commanders is a pretty typical show of its era. The premise is actually kind of interesting. A new continent has sprouted up in the South Pacific. This continent, which holds a new radioactive element known as Phata 7, serves as the show’s setting. General Lucas Plague is public enemy number one, a madman bent on world domination. His goal is to gain control of the powerful Phata 7 element. General Plague and his band of evildoers, The Raiders, constantly clash with the Sky Commanders, an international team of mountaineers who are trained to handle the rough, mountainous terrain.
The Sky Commanders primarily navigate the unstable landscape via laser cables. Basically, the team glides among the peaks and valleys on zip-lines that are generated on demand. Apparently the laser cable technology has some sort of anti-gravity property as well, as they can ascend just as easily as descend. General Mike Summit is the Commanders’ leader. He has been tasked with securing control of Phata 7 before the Raiders can. Both sides have access to an impressive arsenal of sci-fi weapons and vehicles. The episodes, approximately 21 minutes each, basically consist of one long, action-heavy sequence with the Commanders pitted against the Raiders.
The cast is made up of a bunch of veteran voice actors. Their work here is pretty standard issue. Tristan Rogers, who portrayed Robert Scorpio on General Hospital for 12 years (1980-92), voices one of the side characters, Spider Reilly. Dick Gautier, Hymie the Robot on Get Smart, voices a character called Mordax. Many of the voice actors heard in Sky Commanders have moved into voicing video game characters, with Paul Eiding (who voices Raider Rath here) perhaps having the longest list of such credits. The show’s musical director was the late Hoyt Curtin, longtime Hanna-Barbera composer.
Don’t expect anything fancy from Warner Archive’s treatment of Sky Commanders – The Complete Animated Series. The episodes look pretty decent, but are a little rough around the edges. There are no special features, just a simple menu page for each disc, listing the episodes by name. All together the 13 episodes run 273 minutes.