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The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan on DVD

The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan poster

Written by : published Thursday 19th July 2012

There is a character from the old serials known as Charlie Chan, The Amazing Chan. In 1972, Hanna Barbera transitioned Charlie to their animated realm in the one season, sixteen episode series The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan. Together with his ten children, whom Mr. Chan is raising as a single father, the Chan Clan solves mysteries.

The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan will definitely be compared to Scooby-Doo. After all, there are kids in a van, with a dog, solving mysteries. Some of the music used in this series is a play off of Scooby-Doo music. Scooby himself even makes a cameo in the first episode, likely as a homage to the show's roots.

On the other hand, there are also a number of differences. For one, including Mr. Chan produces a different dynamic. Mr. Chan, a very patient and loving father, usually knows who the culprit is early on in the episode, and the kids, trying to help, trip him up and get in his way, before finally helping solve the case. Because of Chan's knowledge, there is more of a focus on the how of the crime and the method of catching the criminal, rather than the identity of the villain. The Chan kids play in a band in each episode, adding a musical element. Also, the dog looks like a cat, and the van can magically transform into other vehicles.

The van's appearance changes are "explained" away by the "science" of the smart member of the family, who supposedly built the thing. But there is a flash, and the hunk of metal is drastically altered, so there really is no real explanation here.

Like Scooby-Doo, chase scenes, schemes, and costume changes defy any sense of reality. But the point of The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan is not to present a realistic look at a family of crime solvers; it's to entertain children. In that, it does a fine job, giving enough characters for any kid to relate to, as well as being genuinely amusing, in a juvenile sensibility. "Wham-bam, we're in a jam!" may be corny for adults to hear over and over, but surely the younger viewers will repeat it incessantly. It is a show I wouldn't mind letting my future children watch, and expect they would enjoy it quite a bit.

Since I mentioned the multitude of characters, it must be said that The Amazing Chan and Chan Clan does a fantastic job of balancing all of the various family members. Each has a clearly defined personality trait, whether it is being a leader, master of disguise, feminist tomboy, overeager youngster, or genius. In this way, by picking one trait to latch onto for each kid, they all get to participate, and become handy from time to time. Often, the show splits the kids into groups, making them easier to keep track of. Combined with simple plots and no real danger, it works.

Does one wish The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan were a little more original? Of course. Plenty of kids shows can also be innovate and fresh, and this one isn't, not even in its own time. But that doesn't necessarily make it terrible, and if you're a fan who has grown tired of Scooby-Doo, this may be just enough twist to hook you in.

The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan deserves some credit for its treatment of race. Keye Luke (Gremlins, Kung Fu), who was one of Chan's sons in some live action versions, is the first Asian-American person to play the Chinese-American character. And while many of the kids' voices were re-dubbed when their accents proved too thick, they are kids growing up in an environment where they would lose, or begin to lose, their accents, so it feels natural. And there really aren't too many racist stereotypes and jokes, showing a very positive view of people who look a little different than most of the cartoon characters at the time.

Besides Luke, the voice cast includes Oscar Winner Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs, Contact), Lennie Weinrib (Voltron), Brian Tochi (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Janet Waldon (The Jetsons), Lisa Gerritsen (Phyllis), Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.), and Don Messick (Tiny Toon Adventures, Scooby-Doo), among others. So it is a talented bunch of people.

Check out The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan The Complete Series, on sale now.

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About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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