LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN
Thatís not all folks! The Looney Tunes just keep a cominí to DVD! Now, considering the number of theatrical animated shorts produced by Warner Bros. and the fact that only sixty a year are being released on DVD, itís beginning to look as if the DVD format may become obsolete before Warner exhausts the treasures that are contained in their vault. But then again, the hi-def disc format war may generate so much consumer confusion and apathy towards the new formats that the DVD format may still be around by the time the final cartoon is release from the Warner vaults.
As a kid, I couldnít get enough of the Warner Bros. brand of cartoons. Sure, the Disney shorts were real nice to look at and were tastefully amusing, but I wanted to laugh out loud, and thatís what the Warner Bros. cartoons allowed me to do on a consistent basis. I will give also give MGM the nod for their Tex Avery shorts, but for me, there is nothing quite as good as the animated shorts produced at Termite Terrace. Just about every single day of my misspent youth, the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies were being aired in syndication on a local New York television station and I tuned in religiously. Having seen these cartoons more times than I can count, there was a time I could quote these cartoons chapter and verse. Watching some of these cartoons for the first time in decades, I am surprised how much of the dialogue and individual music cues that I still remember.
Just like the previous four years, Warner Home Video has presented this die-hard Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies fans with an early Christmas present of newly remastered cartoon gems from the Warner Bros. vault. 2007's gift to fans is the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION: VOLUME FIVE ($65), which offers up an additional sixty cartoon shorts to tickle the fancy of classic animation buffs.
Disc one is Bugs Bunny And Daffy Duck and features the following animated shorts: 14 Carrot Rabbit, Ali Baba Bunny, Buccaneer Bunny, Bugsí Bonnets, A Star Is Bored, A Pest In The House, Transylvania 6-5000, Oily Hare, Stupor Duck, The Stupor Salesman, The Abominable Snow Rabbit, The Super Snooper, The Upstanding Sitter, Hollywood Daffy and You Were Never Duckier.
Disc two is Fun Filled Fairy Tales and features the following animated shorts: Bewitched Bunny, Paying The Piper, The Bearís Tale, Foney Fables, Goldimouse And The Three Cats, Holiday For Shoestrings, Little Red Rodent Hood, Little Red Walking Hood, Red Riding Hoodwinked, The Trial Of Mr. Wolf, The Turn-Tale Wolf, Tom Thumb In Trouble, Tweety And The Beanstalk, A Gander A Mother Goose and SeŮorella And The Glass Huarache.
Disc three is Putting A Bob Clampett On It and features the following animated shorts: Bacall To Arms, Buckaroo Bugs, Crazy Cruise, Farm Frolics, Hare Ribbiní, Patient Porky, Prehistoric Porky, The Bashful Buzzard, The Old Grey Hare, The Wacky Wabbit, The Wise Quacking Duck, Wagon Heels, The Daffy Doc, A Tale Of Two Kitties and Porkyís Pooch.
Disc four is Early Daze and features the following animated shorts: Alpine Antics, Eatiní On The Cuff Or The Moth Who Came To Dinner, Milk And Money, Iíve Got To Sing A Torch Song, Porky At The Crocadero, Polar Pals, Scrap Happy Daffy, Porkyís Double Trouble, Golddiggers Of Ď49, Pilgrim Porky, Wise Quacks, Porkyís Preview, Porkyís Poppa, Wholly Smoke and What Price Porky.
Warner Home Video continues to do a marvelous job with theses classic animated shorts LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION: VOLUME FIVE, transcribing all sixty theatrical cartoons in their proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratios. Once again, these cartoons look great. Certainly not perfect, but they look great nonetheless. Like the preceding sets, these presentations of the cartoons easily bests all previous broadcast and home entertainment incarnations. In each short, the level of image sharpness and detail is far better than it has appeared in the past. Additionally, the color shorts all seem more vibrant, while the black and whites shorts have improved grayscale. Some signs of age remain on the shorts, although none of the cartoons display excessive blemishes. A noticeable grain structure is present much of the time to remind one that many of these cartoons are over six decades old and originated on motion picture film stocks that were inherently grainy. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.
The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks usually sound pretty nice for their age. Sonically, there are some variations between the individual shorts. However, all of the cartoons have been cleaned up, with most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies having been scrubbed away during the mastering process. As expected, fidelity is limited by the recording technologies of the eras that the animated shorts were produced. However, the zany music and sound effects come across in a respectable manner. Dialogue is always easy to understand, plus the wonderful vocal characterizations of Mel Blanc (amongst others) sound just fine. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English subtitles are provided.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the a nice array of supplemental features, which pertain to individual cartoons, as well as those being relative to the Warner Bros. cartoons as a whole. There are audio commentaries provided for twenty-two of the various cartoons spread across the set, as well nine cartoons that feature either isolated musical tracks, music and effects tracks or voice only tracks.
The larger supplemental programs include Chuck Jones: Extremes And In-Betweens, A Life In Animation a ninety-minute PBS documentary that has been broken up across discs one & two. From The Bugs Bunny Show one will find Bad Time Story Bridging Sequences, Whatís Up Dog? Audio Recording Sessions and The Bugs Bunny Show Commercials. Behind The Tunes includes a number of separate programs spread throughout the set: Once Upon A Looney Tune (the Termite Terrace take on fairly tales), Drawn to Life: The Art of Robert McKimson (profile), Wacky Warner One-Shots (cartoons unto themselves), Real American Zero: The Adventures Of Private SNAFU (character profile). Other programs include A Chuck Jones Tutorial: Tricks Of The Cartoon Trade (cartoon how to), Unsung Maestros: A Director's Tribute (lesser know directors), The Bashful Buzzard Storyboard Reel (self explanatory) and The Bashful Buzzard Original Opening Music Cue (self explanatory). The collection also features the following Looney Tunes TV Specials: Bugs And Daffy's Carnival Of The Animals, Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales and Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over. A selection of Private SNAFU and Mr. Hook cartoons close out the supplements.
As animated shorts go, one cannot top the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION: VOLUME FIVE is another great release, although, I canít see how they can dedicate a disc to the work of the great Bob Clampett and yet omit such animated films as Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs and Tin Pan Alley Cats. Hopefully they will appear at sometime in the future, along with the rest of The Censored 11. Of course, LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION: VOLUME FIVE is absolutely recommended.
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