Cool McCool: The Complete Series
Noell Wolfgram Evans · March 13, 2007 | Cool McCool is back. For the unaware, secret agent Cool McCool was the star of the late-'60s animated spy spoof of the same name which has just been released on DVD by BCI and Hearst Entertainment. This three-disc set presents the complete run of the show, although it was a scant run at just twenty episodes.

Although you may be unacquainted with Cool, when you watch him you'll find yourself with a feeling of déjà vu. That's because Cool draws from many of the spy/secret agent characters and conveniences of his time while predating others. Cool is a mashup of Inspector Clouseau's look, James Bond's suave demeanour and Maxwell Smart's bumbling with a little of Inspector Gadget's gadgets thrown in. (Cool has a mustache radio!) Somehow, against expectations, these pieces came together to create a character who stands on his own and doesn't just feel like a collection of parts. It isn't that surprising when you consider Cool's parents—Al Brodax (producer of Yellow Submarine) and Bob Kane (creator of Batman).

Mr. Kane played a particularly strong role in the series as he seemed to be channelling (or recycling) his earlier (and inarguably greater) creation. For example, where Batman drove the Batmobile and fought the Penguin and the Joker, Cool drove the Coolmobile and fought the Owl and Jack-in-the Box. The comparisons stretched beyond just the "technical" similarities. There is also an aping of tone and humour of the Batman of the late '60s (when the character was influenced mightily by the Adam West Batman program). Were the similarities between Cool and Batman pushed to greater exaggeration they may have provided a larger comic effect, but as presented, unless you know the backstory, you might have a hard time enjoying the ironies and instead feel you're getting something of a knockoff.

Cool McCool: The Complete Series
Animation production by TVC
Distributed by BCI Eclipse, 2007
Originally broadcast in the USA in 1966
360 minutes

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Each episode is broken into three parts: Cool headlines the opening and closing adventures but his father is given the middle in a segment called Pop the Cop. During these segments, Cool takes a moment to look back on how he was inspired to start fighting crime by his father Harry McCool, a member of the Komedy Kops (exactly what you would imagine). Harry spent his time with his partners (Tom and Dick) trying to find criminals but generally just bumbling around in "hilarious" silent-movie–style setups. These stories really drag the show to a halt as the essence of what made those giant chase/daredevil set pieces work in the first place is lost through stiff staging and you end up watching seven minutes of blandness.

Cool had a couple of catchphrases. At least once a show, Cool lets everyone know that "Danger is my business" and he ends each show with the admission that "It'll never happen again, Number One." I suppose hearing them once a week during the show's original airing wasn't so bad, but the repetitiveness that comes from watching episode after episode on DVD renders them a little cloying.

The undisputed star of the series is Chuck McCann, who voiced nearly every character. Mr. McCann's voice should be no stranger to animation fans. He's worked on The Jetsons, Scooby Doo & Scrappy Doo, Pac-Man, G.I. Joe, DuckTales, Animaniacs and The Powerpuff Girls. His range is particularly impressive here and it could be argued that he is the sole reason to watch the show. There are only two voices Mr. McCann doesn't provide: the hero (which was performed by Bob McFadden) and Friday (provided by Carol Corbett).

While this series is by no means a classic, it's been treated as one through the inclusion of an abundance of extras. There's McCann on McCool, an interview with Mr. McCann about the show, and Chatting With Chuck, a look at Mr. McCann's vast career. There are also audio commentaries and introductions for each episode, a music video and a few other "treats."

Cool McCool will be a welcome addition in the homes of those who enjoyed the original series as kids and now want to share it with their own children. Die-hard Chuck McCann fans will also be anxiously snapping up copies. But for everyone else, let's just say your life won't be incomplete if you don't pick this DVD set up.

DVD Features: 4:3 aspect ratio, English audio track; Region 1.

DVD Extras: Audio commentaries by Wally Wingert and Chuck McCann; interviews with Chuck McCann; music video.
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