TOP CAT: THE COMPLETE SERIES
When I was a kid, TOP CAT was one of the syndicated cartoons that were rerun on television ever afternoon just as I was getting out of school. OK, I’ll admit that TOP CAT wasn’t the most original cartoon that I watched during my youth, but it was still a whole lot of fun. Just as THE FLINTSTONES owes a huge debt of gratitude to THE HONEYMOONERS for its creative foundation, TOP CAT is another animated Hanna Barbera series that owes a huge debt of gratitude to THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW (aka SGT. BILKO) for its inspiration. Transplanting the basic premise of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW to the cartoon world, TOP CAT revolves around the title feline, a conniving schemer, who always seemed to have a plan in motion that usually got him and his gang of fellow alley cat cronies into trouble with Officer Dibble- the cop on the beat patrolling the alley that Top Cat inhabits. TOP CAT featured the vocal talents of Arnold Stang, Marvin Kaplan, Paul Frees, Leo De Lyon, Maurice Gosfield and John Stephenson.
TOP CAT: THE COMPLETE SERIES ($65) comes to DVD in a four disc boxed set that features the following thirty episodes: Hawaii, Here We Come, The Maharajah Of Pookajee, All That Jazz, The $1,000,000 Derby, The Violin Player, The Missing Heir, Top Cat Falls In Love, A Visit From Mother, Naked Town, Sergeant Top Cat, Choo Choo's Romance, The Unscratchables, Rafeefleas, The Tycoon, The Long Hot Winter, The Case Of The Absent Anteater, T.C. Minds The Baby, Farwell, Mr. Dibble, The Grand Tour, The Golden Fleecing, Space Monkey, The Late T.C., Dibble's Birthday, Choo Choo Goes Ga-Ga, King For A Day, The Con Men, Dibble Breaks The Record, Dibble Sings Again, Griswald and Dibble's Double.
Warner Home Video has made all the episodes that comprise TOP CAT: THE COMPLETE SERIES available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Considering that these episodes are over four decades old, they look pretty darn good in this collection. The image appears as sharp and well defined as possible for this type of 2D cell animation. Colors can be a little muted, but never appear faded. Blacks are reasonably accurate and whites are crisp. The film elements used for the transfers are in good shape for their age, displaying few blemishes. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed.
The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks are quite respectable for their age, and are free from any significant flaws. Most of the background hiss and surface noise have been scrubbed away in the mastering process. Dialogue is always completely understandable. The musical component is free of substantial distortions, although fidelity has its expected limitations. English, French, and Spanish language soundtracks have also been provided on the DVD, as have English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few very nice supplements. Audio commentaries for three episodes are provided by animation historians Jerry Beck, Earl Kress and Mark Evanier, as well as voice actor Leo De Lyon. Back To Hoagy’s Alley: The Making Of Top Cat is a seventeen-minute look back on the series, while Cool Cats In Interview Alley provides approximately a half hour of interviews with some of the vocal talent, as well a member or the writing staff. A Top Cat Sing-a-Long for the show’s theme song is also included, as is a Storyboard sequence and some of the animated TV commercials featuring the TOP CAT characters.
As someone who grew up watching TOP CAT everyday in syndication, this DVD is good nostalgic fun. As for the DVDs themselves, Warner delivers solid presentations, as well as an excellent set of extras. If you are feeling nostalgic or a TOP CAT fan, you’ll want to check out TOP CAT: THE COMPLETE SERIES.
reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied
or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.