Warner Archive releases the first in a proposed series of collections of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts.
The Production: 4/5
3D Rating: NA
The shorts in Looney Tunes Collector’s Choice Volume 1 appear in their original 1.37:1 screen aspect ratio with the AVC codec. Thankfully, the post-1953 shorts in this collection have not had the animation cropped to fill your modern television screen, as they were to disastrous effect in some of the Looney Tunes Super Stars DVDs.
Credit also goes to the studio for ceasing its window-boxing of titles and credits at the beginnings of the shorts to compensate for overscan on televisions made before 2007.
Color grading and brightness are also very well done on these transfers, unlike some of the shorts on DVD from 10 or 15 years ago which had brightness turned down excessively low, and the colors were tweaked to create hues that have never existed in technicolor. (See again some of the Looney Tunes Super Stars DVDs for examples of this.)
Film grain is evident, but not excessive, for the most part. Digital removal of grain must be used sparingly lest detail and texture is also scrubbed away to disappear in the process. Some may see it differently, but these shorts do show an appropriate amount of film grain in this collection. If anyone believes that there is too little grain on these shorts, I encourage you to review Beanstalk Bunny from the 1:59 time count, for approximately 10 seconds, to the 2:09 mark. Go ahead and look, and then come back…
The English audio on Looney Tunes Collector’s Choice Volume 1 is in Dolby Digital 2.0. Overall, the audio is adequate but not exceptional. Some film professionals have opined that the audio on many of the shorts in this collection is simply recycled from transfers done 30 years ago when Ted Turner owned the pre-1948 shorts. I do not know if there is much to be done to improve that audio, but old audio tracks are easier for me to overlook than, say, clumsy grain removal that also removes detail and texture from the video presentation.
Special Features: 0/5
No special features. Suggestion for Volume 2 – how about giving us a few episodes of The Bugs Bunny Show with original interstitial animation and commercials? Even the Looney Tunes Golden Collections from years back made at least a minimal effort in this direction. (But seriously, an 80th Anniversary Edition for Bugs Bunny was released on Blu-ray without a single episode of The Bugs Bunny Show? For shame, doc, for shame!)
Looney Tunes Collector’s Choice Volume 1 on Blu-ray is a mixed bag. I will summarize this collection as I would most of the other collections of these shorts. It is good, but also disappointing, because in 2023 if you want to see all of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, you are out of luck. You cannot fault the content of this collection: you get 20 great cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester and Tweety, Coyote and Road Runner, Foghorn Leghorn, and even a number of one-shot characters and caricatures of famous personalities. We can now see animation errors like those in Daffy Doodles that were imperceptible in standard resolution but become obvious at 1080p on Blu-ray. I still hope for the opportunity in my lifetime to view these chronologically so that I can study and appreciate the evolution of the stories, characters, and animation styles, and I am not the only one who wants this. I am pleased that this collection includes shorts that have been unreleased since the days of laserdisc more than 30 years ago, rather than giving us the same shorts that have been included in every other release on videotape, DVD, and Blu-ray. This is at least a small step in the right direction. I hope the studio considers these constructive comments to do it a little better in the future.
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