The Speed Racer Show
1993 Directed by Various.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 29, 1993
“Go, Speed, Go.” That refrain, whether in the theme song or in the script, were usually the best thing about this TV show. Created in Japan by comic-book artist Tatsuo Yoshia in 1967, it was imported to American TV later that year. In its limited animation style and its saturated colors, Speed Racer was a series of episodes telling the ongoing story of lead race guy Speed and his support team/family. There's his girlfriend Trixie; his father, Pops Racer, Speed's chief mechanic and inventor of his race car, the Mach 5; Speed's best pal Sparky; Speed's little brother Spridle and his pet chimp Chim Chim who are always helping Speed get in and out of trouble; and the mysterious daredevil, Racer X, whom only the audience knows to be Speed's big brother. (Gosh, it's fun to keep saying Speed, Speed, Speed.) In all, only 52 original episodes of Speed Racer were filmed but some newly shot Japanese-made episodes as well as syndications of some of the old ones are currently airing on American TV -- so I guess that's where the idea for this theatrical compilation film was born. This Speed Racer Show includes three original episodes: “The Car Hater” and the two-part “Race Against the Mammoth Car.” It also includes an episode of Colonel Bleep (1956) titled “The Treacherous Pirate.” Colonel Bleep was the first cartoon produced for television in color and was produced in Miami by Soundac Productions and directed by Jack Schleh. To my eyes, all this animation is too limited and extremely dull, especially when looked at through current blinders. Neither is it buffeted by clever humor or entertainingly dumb actions. It's actually quite violent and rotten when you get right down to it (though the image of a dad literally horse-whipping his racecar driving daughter and her vehicle is an astonishing bracer). Two Nice Girls recorded a version of the Speed Racer theme song (essentially “Go, Speed Racer, Go”) a few years back, as did a few other bands. And though it does seem that Speed Racer is currently undergoing a renaissance in this country, I must admit that I haven't the foggiest idea why. I don't like it. I don't get it. But maybe the cartoon historians might feel differently. Trust your own instincts in these matters. (And, anyway, it sure is fun to keep saying Speed, Speed, Speed.)