Official HTF TV on DVD Review - The Woody Woodpecker (&Fs) Classic Cartoon Col. (Rec)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Sam Posten, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    [​IMG]

    The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection





    TV on DVD Title: The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection
    Rated: Not Rated
    Screen format:1.33:1 Full Screen
    Studio: Universal
    First theatrical release: 1940-1952
    Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Multiple prior DVD collections different from this one
    Director: Walter Lantz (Producer)
    Starring: Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Andy Panda, Buzz Buzzard, Wally Walrus
    Sound Formats: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
    Length: 555 Minutes across 3 disks
    Subtitles: English, Spanish, French




    Plot/Content 4.5/5
    Featuring the first 45 Woody Woodpecker cartoons in chronological order plus a prime choice of 30 more various Swing Symphony, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Andy Panda cartoons, this box set is a treasure trove of classic animation and a good start into creating a comprehensive collection of Woody on DVD. Previously available as hard to find 12 disk/tape collection from Columbia House, Universal has done an amazing job of collecting these shorts together and providing a great deal of historical information about them.

    Disk 1 includes 5 black and white Oswald cartoons, including ‘Confidence’, in which president FDR encourages Americans to suck up the problems of the day in facing the Great Depression. Also included are 6 Cartune Classics, most in B&W but a few in Technicolor, including spoofs of Universal films King Klunk and the “Toyland premier” which features Frankenstein, Santa Claus and Laurel & Hardy. The heart of Disk 1 is the 15 Woody selections starting with Knock Knock, which is actually an Andy Panda cartoon in which Woody is introduced. Classic Woody episodes included here include The Barber of Seville and Chew-Chew Baby.

    Disk 2 includes 15 more Woody shorts, including The Dippy Diplomat (featuring Ammmmmbassador Iiiiiiivan Awwwwfulitch!), Musical Moments from Chopin (featuring Andy Panda) and 13 more. Also included are 5 Andy Panda shorts including the first, “Life Begins for Andy Panda”. Finally disk two has 5 Swing Symphonys including two aimed at US service men, The Greatest Man in Siam and Abou Ben Boogie. I’d never seen Abou before and its an incredible inclusion.

    Disk 3 contains another 15 Woody shorts, including The Woody Woodpecker Polka and one of my favorites, The Scalp Treatment. Also included are 5 Chilly Willy cartoons, including his first. Finally included is 5 more Cartune Classics including the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company ‘B’, which I must have seen a thousand times as a kid.

    Sadly, this set doesn’t contain my two favorite Woody episodes; I’d especially love to have ‘Under the Counter Spy’. Hopefully this set will do well and Universal will follow up with more of these classics until the whole collection is available. If they are done with as much effort and care as this one is, I say bring it on!

    Sound Quality: 3.5/5
    Given the age of these cartoons and the obvious print damage that they exhibit (more on that below) the sound on these disks is absolutely pristine. Sure it is only Dolby Digital Mono, but there is very little pops or scratching anywhere, even on the oldest of them. Especially noteworthy is that I never witnessed any of the tinnyness or brightness that other cartoon collections sometimes exhibit. The sound is clear and appears completely faithful to the original masters, and probably is the better sounding than they ever were in any theater. They certainly sound better than they did on my crusty old analogue TV back in the seventies.

    Visual Quality: 3/5
    While advertised as “Digitally remastered”, very little appears to have been done to clean up the prints here. Constant dust, pops scratches and other elements appear on screen, and while it can be somewhat distracting at times it does reinforce the era of the film stock that underlies these transfers and probably is relatively authentic to how they looked even during the first theatrical run. There is some notable edge enhancement and while I was not distracted by it while watching on my projector, when I displayed these films on a standard CRT they were indeed a bit more obvious. At first I thought these might be matte lines around the foreground elements overlaid on top of the static backgrounds, but I did note a lot of EE in those backgrounds as well.

    Color wise however these are bright, accurate and dead on. Woody has never looked so good! Contrast and detail are similarly very high, even the black and white line drawings are very detailed and slow motion or pausing shows just how much went into each frame.

    Overall I’m very pleased with the results. I suspect that any kind of print cleanup or high def transfer is out of the question at this point, so I’m thankful to have as high a quality as what has been done, and given the effort that has gone into this release I’d bet that this is about as good as we can hope it to get for a long time.

    Extra Features: 4/5
    Besides having 25 cartoons on each disk, each also has a collection of awesome bonus material. Disk 1 has the short feature ‘Walter, Woody and the World of Animation’ where these two take you over the long history of Walter Lantz’s animation though the birth and rise of Woody. “Cartoonland Mysteries” likewise shows the genesis of Oswald. Disk 2 is a real treat, taking a half dozen segments from the Woody Woodpecker Show on TV and presenting them one at a time. One segment talks about how Lantz’s wife was chosen as the voice of Woody and another shows how to draw Woody and Andy! Lantz’s enthusiasm for his work is amazing, and I can’t help but draw parallels to similar segments I’ve seen with Walt Disney. Disk 3’s extra is even better, it includes and entire episode of the Woody Woodpecker TV show, and this one is special because it contains the only Woody Cartoon created exclusively for the show, Spook-a-Nanny, so this brings the total to 76 cartoons and not 75!

    Overall: 4/5 (not an average)
    All told 75+ shorts plus a ton of background details and extras is a tremendous value. Again I can only hope that Woody fans flock to this release and pressure Universal to continue the series, because in my estimation they just got to the point where the Woody Cartoons got good, and even greater episodes lay ahead! That’s not to say these aren’t great, from a historical and completionist perspective this archive is the real deal, but hopefully it’s only the beginning! Going through this set was like an adrenaline rush of childhood memories, and if, like me, you fondly remember hours spent with Woody you will agree, this set is “Recommended.”
     
  2. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but I noticed very little EE on the first disc, but lots of it on disc two.

    Regards,
     
  3. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    The disk I watched on the toob was disk 3.
     
  4. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Actually, you'll be happy to know that the set does indeed contain UNDER THE COUNTER SPY (Woody drinks a super-strength serum, and thwarts "The Bat", a criminal mastermind), albeit in a back-door sort of way; it is one of the cartoons included in that "SPOOK-A-NANNY" episode of THE WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW on Disc 3, as well as an additional "Andy Panda" cartoon, PLAYFUL PELICAN (1948, directed by Dick Lundy). Thus, a total of 78 cartoons, not 76! [​IMG]

    This info isn't listed anywhere on the packaging or on the disc menus, but the cartoons are there, just the same (similar to the way several additional cartoon shorts are featured, though unlisted, in the BUGS BUNNY SUPERSTAR film, included in the "Bonus Features" section of THE GOLDEN AGE OF LOONEY TUNES VOL. 4). I'm sure if Universal follows this collection with a VOL. 2, both cartoons will be properly included in the general mix of cartoon titles.
     
  5. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    AWESOME! Firing that up right now! If Woody had gone straight to the police this would NEVER have happened!
     
  6. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Just watched it, bot that was a nice hit of nostalgia thanks for bringing that to my attention! Now if only I can get Bunco Busters and my Woody faves will be on disk!

    The short thats on after the Andy Panda in spook a nanny looks like its from a different series entirely...
     
  7. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    These are NOT TV shows. Why is this review in the TV Forum?
     
  8. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Um, because it IS a TV show?

    A. This set contains at least one full lenght TV episode "Spook a Nanny"
    B. Despite the film origin for the vast majority of the content, most of us have a LOT more exposure to these shorts as TV content than in the movie theater.
    C. Because they are not feature films, hence don't fit in the other forum either.
     
  9. ChrisPearson

    ChrisPearson Second Unit

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    Douglas, you can talk until you're blue in the face. The culture here is that virtually all cartoons are considered TV, whether they were originally released to theatres or not. It's a position of wilful ignorance of history that undermines any serious discussion of these films here, yet it persists.

    Cue the usual moans of "Why do we always have this argument every time a cartoon collection is discussed"...
     
  10. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    A. A few TV segments out of 9 hours theatrical content does not make it a TV show

    B. I never had any exposure to James Cagney's films other than first seeing them on TV, as did most other people. So, according to your logic James Cagney's films on DVD should be discussed on the TV Forum.

    C. They are motion picture films, regardless as to their length and therefore should be in the HT Software - Film & Documentary Forum.

    Is this so difficult to understand?
     
  11. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Ah, the immortal "straight to the police" line! Too bad the cartoon it appears in, BUNCO BUSTERS (one of the precious few Paul J. Smith-directed Lantz cartoons that are worth anything), isn't in the set, but would certainly be in a potential WOODY VOL. 2 collection.
     
  12. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Yep, I mentioned in my next post that Bunco was the one I'm really waiting for, I consider Bunco and Counter to be the twin crown jewels of the entire Woody body of work, sorry if I confused things =)

    Douglas, obviously this is an issue that you feel very strongly about and one I clearly havent given much thought to, but my answer stands for now. James Cagney movies werent repacked into James Cagney and friends and broadcast to millions of kids for 6 decades running. James Cagney movies didnt start out as feature films and then morph to/embrace a significantly wider, global audience on television. As I noted, this product could very easily have been reviewed in either of the two forums and there are very few other similar products so creating a special forum for it doesn't make sense.

    It really isnt my place to argue about anyway. If you would like to see this thread moved to the other forum for historical purposes, please be my guest and send a PM to Adam Gregorich or Ron Epstein, if they agree with your arguments and decide to move it there will be no protest from me.
     
  13. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    On a completely different subject, does Walter Lantz sound exactly like the guy who plays Steinbrenner on Seinfeld to anyone else?
     

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