The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2
TV on DVD Title: The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2
Rated: Not Rated
Screen format:1.33:1 Full Screen
First theatrical release: (Varies) 1932-1964
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Multiple prior DVD collections different from this one, this is the first with this collection of shorts
Director: Walter Lantz (Producer)
Starring: Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Andy Panda, Buzz Buzzard, Wally Walrus, Knothead and Splinter, Space Mouse
Sound Formats: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Length: 8 hours, 27 minutes across 3 disks
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Universal follows through on their promise to bring more Woody Woodpecker and friends to the DVD world, and this second round is a bigger success than the first! Featuring Woody Woodpecker cartoon episodes 46-90 in chronological order plus a delicious collection of Universal animated treasures, volume #2 is a dynamite continuation of the historical and hysterical ground that volume #1 started. As I noted in the first review, most of these Woody episodes were previously available only as hard to find 12 disk/tape collection from Columbia House, and were not put in any particular order. Universal has done an amazing job of collecting these shorts together and providing a great deal of historical information about them, as well as complementing the Woody ‘meat’ with a whole lot of other interesting side dishes that viewers might not be expecting but which serious collectors will treasure.
Disk 1 includes 5 more Oswald cartoons, Wax Works which spoofs the classic Universal Monster Movies and Springtime Serenade, which is in full technicolor. Also included are 6 Cartune Classics, most in B&W but a few in Technicolor, including Jolly Little Elves which was both animated for an Oscar and Universals first full length color short. The heart of Disk 1 is the 15 Woody selections including my second all time favorite (Under the Counter Spy, which was in the extras on Volume 1), a fantastic Buzz Buzzard/Woody battle called Buccaneer Woodpecker, and fan favorite Operation Sawdust, which has Woody at a lumberjack camp.
Disk 2 includes 15 more Woody shorts, including my all time favorite Bunco Busters (If Woody had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened!) and introduces Knothead and Splinter in the short Get Lost. There’s also 5 more Andy Pandas, and 5 Musical Favorites including The Overture to William Tell, which was also a big hit for me as a kid.
Disk 3 contains 15 more Woody shorts, including those that introduce Woody’s new voice, that of Grace Stafford (who also happens to be Mrs. Walter Lantz), tho these were probably the weakest of the collection and I didn’t find as many that I had longed to revisit on this disk. Also included are 5 Chilly Willy cartoons, tho these do not seem to be in any kind of order. Finally there are 5 more ‘Cartune Co-Stars’ none of which I had seen before, all featuring new characters that didn’t take off as big as Woody, Chilly and crew.
As noted, this set contains my two favorite Woody episodes ever, and for that alone it is top rated. There are over 8 hours more shorts here if one chooses to go through them all in order, not even mentioning the length of the extra features. Keep em coming Uni, this is great stuff and it’s well organized and obviously put together with care!
Sound Quality: 3.5/5
(Identical sound quality to volume 1, so I’m repeating what I said there): 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 tinny-ness 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: 3.5/5
Volume one contained 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. I didn’t view this set on a CRT but on both my projector and a 37” LCD they seemed much cleaner as far as EE goes. Your mileage may vary, I am pretty hard to get riled up over where EE is concerned, but I genuinely think this volume has toned that problem down a bit.
(Otherwise, there was nearly identical video quality to volume 1, so I’m repeating what I said there): 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 their first theatrical runs.
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: 3.5/5
Besides having 25 cartoons on each disk, each also has a collection of awesome bonus material. Disks 1&2 have segments collectively called ‘Behind the scenes with Walter Lantz’ which expands upon the groundwork laid in volume 1 describing just how the animation got created. Disk 2 also presents two TV pilot episodes completely uncut! Disk 3’s extra mirrors the one on Volume 1, it is a whole entire episode of the Woody Woodpecker TV show (#47).
Overall: 4/5 (not an average)
All told 75+ shorts plus a ton of background details and extras is a tremendous value. Just like volume 1, I can only hope that Woody fans realize the amazing value here in this release and keep encouraging Universal to continue the series, because there are sure to be a lot more episodes in the vault ready to go! Again, from a historical and fan perspective this archive is the real deal, but hopefully it finds enough of an audience to keep going! Together with volume 1 these sets are an adrenaline rush of childhood memories, and if, like me, you fondly remember hours spent with Woody you will agree, this set is “Recommended.”
Note: Despite the fact that many of us have most of our experience with Woody from TV, all of these shorts began life as film shorts, so this review is correctly placed in this forum and not the TV one!