Everybody has their favorite Looney Tunes character and particular cartoon shorts. That’s the largest obstacle facing Warner Brothers in this ambitious project to restore and release these shorts on DVD. The first collection features 56 all time great shorts plus a ton of extras. If your favorites were not included, take heart. This is only the first of many promised releases. All in all it would take a Dickens’ Scrooge not to find something to love about this collection. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 105, these cartoons have been a vital part of growing up for all of us.
Ordinarily I do not list the full contents of episodes here, but the question most asked about this set is: “What’s on it?”
Disc One is all Bugs all the time. BASEBALL BUGS, RABBIT SEASONING, LONG HAIRED HARE, HIGH DIVING HARE, BULLY FOR BUGS, WHAT’S UP DOC?, RABBIT’S KIN, WATER, WATER EVERY HARE (one of my favorites) BIG HOUSE BUNNY, BIG TOP BUNNY, MY BUNNY LIES OVER THE SEA, WABBIT TWOUBLE, BALLOT BOX BUNNY, THE RABBIT OF SEVILLE.
Disc Two switches gears for Daffy Duck with: DUCK AMUCK, DOUGH FOR THE DO-DO , DRIP-ALONG DAFFY, SCAREDY CAT, THE DUCKSTERS , THE SCARLET PUMPERNICKEL YANKEE DOODLE DAFFY, PORKY CHOPS, THE WEARING OF THE GRIN ,DEDUCE YOU SAY ,BOOBS IN THE WOODS , GOLDEN YEGGS, RABBIT FIRE , DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24-1/2th CENTURY (maybe the best looney tunes ever).
Disc Three is an All-Star cast: ELMER’S CANDID CAMERA , BUGS BUNNY AND THE THREE BEARS (a true classic), FAST AND FURRY-OUS , HAIR-RAISING HARE ,THE AWFUL ORPHAN, HAREDEVIL HARE, FOR SCENT-IMENTAL REASONS , FRIGID HARE THE HYPOCHONDRI-CAT ,BATON BUNNY, FEED THE KITTY , DON’T GIVE UP THE SHEEP, BUGS BUNNY GETS THE BOID , TORTOISE WINS BY A HARE.
Disc Four is yet another All-Star group: CANARY ROW, BUNKER HILL BUNNY, KIT FOR CAT, PUTTY TAT TWOUBLE (another classic), BUGS AND THUGS, CANNED FEUD LUMBER JERKS, SPEEDY GONZALES, TWEETY’S S.O.S., THE FOGHORN LEGHORN, DAFFY DUCK HUNT, EARLY TO BET, A BROKEN LEGHORN, DEVIL MAY HARE.
Most of these shorts are 50 and 60 years old. The Dolby Digital Mono sound is probably the best possible under those circumstances. The sound is pretty darn clear. Stalling’s music pieces are quite outstanding.
Each short is presented in a slightly larger than full frame 1.37:1 format. Again one simply must consider the age of the original prints. Warner did what can only be described as an outstanding job on these transfers. Yes, there are plenty of specks and grain size marks throughout all of these shorts, but I’m sure that the masters appear in far worse condition. Colors are what amaze me here. They are fresh and at times brilliant. Each short delivers an image far superior to the syndicated cable prints most of us are used to. If Warner continues to pay this much respect and attention it will be worth the wait for the merely 60 or so promised for each year.
If ever a set delivered such a treasure chest of goodies I’ve not seen it. Certainly there are some great collections out there. What amazes me is the fact of all the history offered here. Many of the shorts feature commentaries most by film historian Michael Barrier who offers many audio samples of his interviews with the principles of the Loony Tunes. The commentaries are informative if at times spotty. Once again I’ll approach it disc by disc:
- ”Greeting From Chuck Jones” No single man is more associated with these Warner shorts than Chuck Jones. This is a wonderful little bit to include.
- Three “Behind the Tunes” features that are more like character profiles for Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, and Elmer Fudd. Most interesting here is the number of people who believed Sam was director Freeling’s alter-ego.
- “The Boys from Termite Terrace Part 1” is the first segment in a old studio 3 special with many of the early Loony Tunes contributors. The piece is quite old and shows it. Still most of these people are gone now, and it’s the best look we’re ever going to get. The title refers to the first Loony Tunes workshop, a shack on the Warner lot believed inhabited by termites.
- “The Bugs Bunny Show” gives us the added segments to one of the syndicated programs that featured Loony Tunes shorts surrounded by new interactions with the characters. Remember “On with the show, this is it”?
- “Bugs Bloopers” are a bit tame and contrived. Add stills and trailers, and that’s just the first disc.
- More “Behind the Tunes” this time profiles of Daffy Duck and Porky Pig.
- ”Boys from Termite Terrace Part 2” is a continuation of the wonderful program begun on disc one.
- Yet more “Behind the Tunes” look at the characters of Speedy Gonzales and that lovable duo Tweety and Puddy Tat.
- “Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons” This is a great 45 minute look at Loony Tunes pieces used in TV commercials, skits, and part of films. You’ll find out why some shorts are called Loony Tunes while others are called Merry Melodies.
- More stills and storyboard stuff to look through.
- “Irreverent Imagination: The Golden Age Of Looney Tunes” a piece narrated by Stan Freberg. This is an almost 1 hour look at the staffs and productions of the various Warner Cartoons. It plays like a wonderful historic timeline that will amaze you.
- Finally even more stills and production notes from the Warner Vaults.
If that’s not enough stuff, you’re just too greedy.
It’s all there in a spacejam packed four disc set. Remember that Warner Brothers is a biz like any other. If too many people pass on this set because they feel slighted that one of their favorites was MIA, the odds of another set go way down. The historic material alone is worth the price of the set. So stop chasing that elusive roadrunner and go to your nearest ACME store and get this set before it gets away. “That’s All Folks”