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Raven (1992 - 1993) TV Series - DVD Review

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Raven TV Series - Review

3 stars

If ever there was a case for a decent show that landed just a few years too late, it is this CBS actioner from the early 90s. Raven, starring Jeffrey Meek and the six million dollar man himself, (Lee Majors) took a blazing stab into the market with this Japanese flavoured, Hawaiian set martial arts actioner.

In premise, this comes out of gate strong. Meek plays Jonathan Raven, a former CIA operative with a bloody and lethal history. Raven had been raised in Japan and, much like Batman, witnessed the death of loved ones, care of the arcing villains of the series: the Black Dragon clan. Raven trained to be one them and when he finally became a Black Dragon himself, unleashed bloody vengeance upon them. But in the process, Raven lost the love of his life and unbeknownst to him an infant son. Skip a few years ahead, and it is the search for this son, now believed to be alive, that brings Raven to Hawaii where the series begins.

Meek is a very likeable leading man. An accomplished martial artist in real life, he applied his talents to the production and brings a believability instantly to this character. He is bright and friendly in personality but effortlessly switches to the pathos of a tortured soul at odds with the violence that surrounds his life… of which he is VERY good at.

There is a visceral, effortless quality to Meek’s fighting that is natural and thrilling to watch. It was him, and him alone that made this show work for a time. But far too often this show fell on old, well played out formula, and it quickly cheapened it. Clichés like the one dimensional comic relief buddy (an unappreciated and under-used Lee Majors), a friendly barman, hot chicks with big hair, and maniacal villains had worked and worked well in shows like Magnum, pi; MacGyver and many more in the decade before, but the 90’s had arrived and many elements just felt old hat. Had this show been made five years earlier, it probably would have run longer.

Meek has said in interviews after the fact that the show suffered from the old ‘too many cooks’ syndrome, with many behind the scenes players attempting to steer the tone of the series in different directions. It shows quite clearly when, in this day and age, one can binge watch it in a couple of sittings.

There is something indelibly likeable about Raven as a character, and some of the episodes are damn good television and are still fun to watch. But the inconsistent tone, the lack of complexity in all other elements that were set up and not paid off, greatly diminishes what started in premise as a solid foundation.

A short-lived series but still has a well-deserved cult following. Was fun to revisit, and a welcome choice in the buy on demand library.

Raven TV Series - Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated
Runtime:
46 mins/episode; 948 mins total
Creator
: Frank Lupo
Cast:
Jeffrey Meek, Lee Majors, Andy Bumatai
Genre
: Action | Adventure
Tagline:

Memorable Movie Quote: "See how easy life can be?"
Distributor:
Columbia Pictures Television
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 1992
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 5, 2016
Synopsis: The adventures of Jonathan Raven, a ninja and ex-Special Forces soldier.

Raven TV Series - Review

DVD

DVD Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 5, 2016
Screen Formats: 4:3
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English
Discs: 4 discs
Region Encoding: Region free playback

Clean transfers on all four discs, colours are consistent and sound is solid. Aspect ratio is era correct at 4:3.

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