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I am – Hercules!!

I can’t speak for the new Charlize Theron movie, but I have more than a little to say about the hilarious and otherwise breathtaking Aeon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection, which contains every cartoon adventure of Peter Chung’s future-dwelling half-naked Monican secret agent.

Collectively, it’s a masterpiece. Dense with pervy sexuality and deadpan wit, it revels in speed and invention, saturated to its literal gills in Chung’s seemingly boundless engineer’s imagination. Every installment turns out to be even better than I remembered (and I remembered them all with enormous affection).

And they actually probably are better than I remembered, as demonstrated by this note included in the DVD packaging:

Production note from Peter Chung:

This special edition DVD of Aeon Flux contains the entire collection of animated episodes produced from MTV. The original camera negatives were retrieved from the vaults and, in some cases, from my personal archive of materials. The negatives were cleaned and digitally remastered. The original 4x3 aspect ratio was carefully preserved, improving the cropping of the earlier transfer to minimize loss of visual information at the edges of the frame. Viewers will notice a marked improvement in line detail and color fidelity over the previous video release. Each scene was then color-corrected with my supervision. In every episode, enhancements such as highlights, shadows, blurs or glows were added to achieve a range of moods and atmospheres not seen in the earlier editions. Trevor’s vibrating harness, the Demiurge’s blue light, and Aeon’s gun bursts are among the effects that have been digitally enhanced using tools not available at the time of the original production. Animation and timing errors were corrected, where possible. In a few cases, alternate takes were found and included. The picture has been edited to match the video masters at their original running times, which, in most cases, are longer than the broadcast versions.

Four of the full-length episodes – “Utopia or Deuteranopia?” “The Demiurge,” “Reraizure” and “End Sinister” – have had selected dialogue rewritten to bring characterization into better continuity with the series as a whole. Denise Poirier and John Lee returned to the studio to record Aeon and Trevor’s new lines, while the character of Clavius, the ex-leader of Bregna, has been recast and re-recorded (by a special guest performer). The original audio elements have been remixed for 5.1 surround sound.

Some rarely seen animation clips, such as the “Loaded” MTV promo, the 15-second Aeon Flux CD-Rom commercial produced at Madhouse studios, and pencil test reels of two Liquid TV shorts, “War” and “Mirror,” have also been remastered and are included in this definitive collector’s edition.

The first disc contains all five half-hour episodes directed by “Aeon” creator Peter Chung, a “Rugrats” vet who would go on to direct straight-to-video projects like “The Animatrix” and “The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury.”

The second disc contains all five half-hour episodes directed by Howard Baker, a veteran of “Rugrats” and “Ren & Stimpy.”

Chung appears on commentaries for seven of the 10 half-hours. Producer/writer Japhet Asher appears on six of those. Baker appears on three. Story editor/writer Peter Gaffney on three. A thoroughly obnoxious (and possibly drunk) writer named Mark Mars, who apparently never learned to use his “indoor voice,” appears on three. Voice director Jack Fletcher offers commentary on one. Actress Denise Poirier, who provides Aeon’s voice, offers commentary on one.

The third disc contains:

* The 12-minute 1991 “Aeon Flux” pilot (which MTV chopped up into six two-minute shorts for MTV’s “Liquid Television”). Drew Newman, a chatty fellow who provided music and sound for all the early dialogue-free shorts, offers commentary alongside Chung.

* The five longer post-pilot “Liquid Television” shorts, all of which feature a klutzier Aeon dying in the best Kenny McCormick tradition. Chung and Newman offer commentaries on all of these as well. Discover that in “War” (5:26), Aeon is actually a minor character who dies in the episode’s first seconds. “Gravity” (3:16) depicts a very disappointed Aeon falling from an airplane and plummeting for three minutes to what she assumes will be her death. “Leisure” (3:04) finds Aeon tussling with sentient extraterrestrials who apparently lay very tasty eggs. “Mirror” (4:11) sees the heroine distracted from her mission by a faulty VCR and spilt coffee. “Tide” (4:23) sees Aeon betrayed by a fellow agent as she tries to deal with a massive drain-stopper.

* “Investigation: The History of Aeon Flux” (17:37) is a featurette on the character’s evolution. It’s explained that MTV was seeking out an identity beyond music videos about the time Chung was growing frustrated as an animator on Nickelodeon’s much more visually static “Rugrats” series. Asher, it turns out, approached Chung about doing something modeled on Mad Magazine’s Spy Vs. Spy series. (We’re reminded that MTV was also airing animated series like “The Maxx” and “The Head” during this era.) It even touches on Chung’s 2005 restoration and enhancement of the original material.

* “The Deviant Devices of Aeon Flux” (6:07) appears to be a new animated short (repurposing loads of existing footage), narrated by Aeon herself. At breakneck pace, she discusses the attributes of her various tools, weapons, vehicles, implements of torture and chastity belt. She also speculates on the materials employed by her enemies.

* “Production Art” includes sketches, model sheets, storyboards, color stills, and two sets of pencil tests integrated with final footage, for “War” (5:18) and “Mirror” (4:03).

* “Other Works By Peter Chung” include a non-“Flux” (yet indisputably “Flux”-y) MTV “Loaded” promo (:33), an “Aeon Flux” CD-ROM commercial (:21), and a Spanish commercial for the Honda Coupe EX (:32).

* A collection of (comparatively crude and tedious) non-“Flux” “Liquid Television” shorts (12:46) – including “The Adventures of Thomas and Nardo,” “The Art School Girls of Doom,” “Invisible Hands” and “Brad Dharma: Psychedelic Detective” – are included to lend a bit of context.

* “Previews” (5:08) offers commercials for looming “Jackass,” “Viva La Bam” and “Wildboyz” DVD sets.

Now who can tell us the identity of the “special guest performer” who revoiced Clavius? Could his name rhyme with “Moose Silis”?

The two best TV sitcoms aired in the 1960s were “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” and I’m not just saying that because a guy named John Whedon (1905-1991) wrote for both. The great seasons for Mayberry were one through five, because those were the ones that featured comedy supergenius Don Knotts in his five-time Emmy-winning performance as deputy sheriff Barney Fife. In Season four, Barney refuses to admit he’s afraid of a haunted house, Andy gives Ernest T. Bass one of Barney’s uniforms, Barney comes to believe $7 million in gold will pass through Mayberry on its way from the Denver Mint to Fort Knox (Whedon wrote that one), Barney is kicked out of his room for unauthorized cooking, Gomer tries to place Barney under citizen’s arrest, Barney is seduced by a female prisoner, everyone fears for the town’s safety when Otis the town drunk buys a car, Barney poses as a mannequin to catch a thief, Barney gets on the wrong side of some mountain people, Thelma Lou flirts with Gomer to teach Barney a lesson, Barney gets lost in the mountains, and Barney upsets the whole town with his new police motorcycle. Oh, and Gomer joins the Marines in the season finale.

The two “Seinfeld” seasons that street today are both components of the show’s Larry David era. In season five George joins the Yankees, Kramer pitches a coffee table book on coffee tables, Jerry’s girlfriend refuses Elaine toilet paper, Jerry learns that Elaine was faking all her orgasms when they were a couple, and a “close-talker” takes an unnatural interest in Jerry’s parents. It also contains perhaps the funniest “Seinfeld” moment of all time, as George, believing the building has caught fire, flees a child’s birthday party.

In season six, Jerry discovers his girlfriend once dated Newman, Jerry and Elaine see a man with a cape, George is caught eating out of a garbage bin, Jerry has to buy Kenny Bania a meal, Jerry races an old rival as girlfriend Lois looks on, George gets a toupee, Kramer begins standing in police lineups and invents “the manssiere,” Elaine is put on a “blacklist” for Chinese food delivery, everyone learns Kramer’s first name and Elaine starts working for J. Peterman and dating David Puddy.

If you want seasons five and six, and want to spend $13 more for a puffy-shirt collectable and a reproduction of a script handwritten by Seinfeld himself, you may want to look into The Puffy Shirt Re-Gift Set, which also has all the same documentaries, bloopers, commentaries, deleted scenes and other extras the two non-puffy sets have.

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