DVD Review: Danny Phantom (Season 1)

Why do teens refuse to stay out of places they don’t belong? They’re always trying to borrow the car, pick the lock on the liquor cabinet or sneak into R-rated films. They never listen when you demand they keep out. Danny Fenton’s parents created a ghost portal, but thought it was busted. Danny wandered into the dangerous device, flipped a switch and paid a price. He wishes he’d only received a jolt of house current. Instead his human DNA bonded with ectoplasm. He became half ghost and half teenage boy. This could be a cool status if it wasn’t for the fact that his parents are ghost busters. The kid can’t expose his mixed orientation to them. Danny Phantom: Season 1 contains the first 20 episodes about a teen trapped between the living and the dead.

“Mystery Meat” starts the series a few days after Danny was trapped in the ghost portal and put through the transition. He hasn’t a clue about all the powers he’s gained. He can pass through walls and see ghosts, but there’s more. While his parents are supposed to be ghost experts, they are clueless about their child’s true nature. His super-macho dad and eagerly pleasing mom don’t even suspect the truth when their ghost detector outs Danny. His normally annoying teen sister think the folks’ device is screwed up like everything in their house. The folks aren’t really good at ghost hunting. The only people who know Danny’s secret are semi-hip Tucker and goth girl Sam. They join him when he uses his new mysterious power to capture the ghosts that are haunting Amity Park. Danny has a crush on Sam, but can’t go through with saying much to her since he doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or make Tucker feel like a third wheel. For his first real test of being a teenage exorcist, Danny must rid his school of a haunting lunch lady that’s furious the menu has been changed to vegan selection. Patricia Heaton (The Middle) gets to show her anger from behind the microphone.

The most intriguing element of the series is the numerous famous voices that haunt Danny’s world. Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) speaks for Mr. Lancer in several episodes. Twilight fans will clear their ears to hear the young Taylor Lautner as Youngblood. Team Jacob will not be pleased. Peter MacNicol (Grey’s Anatomy) is the ghost of a nerd who had been shoved into too many lockers before losing his life in “Splitting Images.” Peri Gilipin (Frasier) comes out of a bottle in “What You Want.” Somewhat superstar couple Chynna Phillips (of Wilson Phillips) and William Baldwin (one of those Baldwins) empower the creepy couple of Kitty and Johnny 13 in “13.” Turns out Johnny wants to use Danny’s sister as a host body. Michael Dorn, the greatest Klingon thespian, provides the deep tones of the Fright Knight in “Fright Night.” Laraine Newman (Original Saturday Night Live) does a dual role. Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) runs a Goth circus in “Control Freaks.” Sam wants to go because she doesn’t know the horrible truth of what will happen under the big top. Danny gets so good at being a ghost hunter that he acquires an archenemy. Vlad (Martin Mull) plots to destroy the teenager in numerous episodes.

Danny Phantom was created by Butch Hartman. If the character design looks familiar, it’s because Hartman also created Fairly Odd Parents for Nickelodeon. Danny is a step up since the show appeals to an older age range. Little kids who get laugh out of fairy magic might be semi-traumatized when a ghost turns a set of stoves into fire breathing attack dogs. Danny has more action and louder music than Fairly Odd Parents.

The comedic element of the show comes from the ghosts haunting places like the school cafeteria. That’s a place that should be avoided by the living, the undead and the teenage.

The Episodes
“Mystery Meat,” “Parental Bonding,” “One of a Kind,” “Attack of the Killer Garage Sale,” “Splitting Images,” “What You Want,” “Bitter Reunions,” “Prisoners of Love,” “My Brother’s Keeper,” “Shades of Gray,” “Fanning the Flames,” “Teacher of the Year,” “13,” “Public Enemies,” “Fright Night,” “Maternal Instinct,” “Lucky in Love,” “Life Lessons,” “The Million Dollar Ghost” and “Control Freaks.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers look fine with the green tinted universe reserved for the ghosts popping on the screen. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The levels pop especially when the music kicks into a scene.

There are no bonus features.

Danny Phantom: Season 1 explores the life of a teen that’s human and ghost. He’s trapped in a body that straddles two worlds. Even with such a change inside him, he still has to deal with normal teen issues like school, girls and puberty. There’s plenty of creative ways he finds ghosts around his little city. It’s a fun show on a Ghostbusters level.

Shout! Factory presents Danny Phantom: Season 1. Starring: David Kaufman, Ron Perlman and Taylor Lautner. Boxset Content: 20 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: September 13, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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