If you’re curious about the upcoming “Adventures of Tintin” film and you haven’t read the comics, this animated series from 1991 isn’t a bad place to start. I was only vaguely familiar with Herge’s popular comics when I watched these season one episodes with my kids, but I’ve read that they’re largely faithful to the source material, save some attempts to tone down the violence and Captain Haddock’s drinking.
However, that doesn’t mean the comics were turned into “The Adventures of Tintin the Care Bear.” In fact, the first episode, part one of “The Crab with the Golden Claws,” opens with someone being killed, beginning a Tintin adventure that includes drug smuggling and plenty of Haddock’s alcoholism. While the series offers plenty of kid-friendly elements, such as Thomson and Thompson’s pratfalls, it’s also a cartoon that adults can appreciate too, especially those who are fans of the comics.
The back of the DVD packaging notes that elements from two of these stories, “The Secret of the Unicorn” and “Red Rackham’s Treasure,” were used in the film, but of course there’s no way to know how extensive such usage was until it is released in December. However, both stories were smart choices: the former involves the theft of a model ship that has clues to the location of a buried treasure, and the latter picks up the search for said treasure, which is in a sunken ship. They’re good examples of the use of both everyday locations and more exotic locales for Tintin’s adventures.
Unfortunately, this two-disc set has no bonus features, which is a bummer. While I realize it wouldn’t have been possible for Shout! to include any teaser material for the upcoming film, a featurette or two about the comics’ history, Herge’s life, and how this TV series came to be would have been welcome. Even if it wasn’t feasible for those involved with the TV series to show up for interviews, I’m sure there are plenty of Tintin experts who would have loved to chat on camera. Throw in some photos of Herge and a few shots of the comic book pages and you’re in business.