Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960's Volume 2: A Mixed Bag
Matthew Hunter | Austin, TX | 11/04/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"-Review by Matthew Hunter [...]
"Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960's Volume 2" is kind of like that huge "sampler" tin of chocolates your family gets for Christmas every once in a while. There's a lot of variety, plenty for everybody, and the contents range from fantastic to gag-inducing. This set, like the previous volume, collects a wide variety of cartoon series from the 1960's, and attempts to present them as closely to their original TV presentation as possible. It's a great idea on Warner's part, as it brings together material that may not warrant a complete box-set release by itself (or hasn't yet) in an affordable and enjoyable way. The bulk of the material included here is of the Hanna-Barbera variety, and it's interesting to compare earlier, better material like "Quick Draw McGraw" to later efforts like "Atom Ant" and "Wally Gator". Towards the end of the 1960's, Hanna-Barbera had been cloning their "funny animal" formula so often that it grew even more stale with every new attempt. H-B eventually began focusing on "action" cartoons, and unfortunately the examples of these included on this set are among the weakest.
The collection opens with an episode from "The Quick Draw McGraw Show", nicely restored with its original opening theme song and supporting segments, "Snooper and Blabber" and "Augie Doggie". The animation on this show is limited and low-budget, but the writing and humor hold up extremely well, thanks in large part to writer Michael Maltese. Quick Draw is a Wild West hero who just happens to be a horse, Snooper and Blabber are a cat and mouse detective team, and Augie Doggie is a brainy sitcom-style kid living with his fater, Doggie Daddy. This episode, along with a second episode focusing on Quick Draw's famous alter-ego, "El Kabong", really makes me wish Warner had released the Quick Draw show as a standalone series collection.
Next up is a show that should be avoided at all costs. Though an interesting curio, there is absolutely no entertainment value in "The Space Kidettes", a show about a group of annoyingly cute space-age kids in a Jetsons-esque setting who are being stalked by a space pirate named Captain Skyhook. Its supporting segment, "Young Samson", is even worse, about a teenage boy named Samson and his dog, Goliath, who can transform into a superhero and a lion, respectively. How does a dog turn into a lion? That is a mystery I do not want to uncover...because to do it, I would have to watch more episodes! This show sucks, and is largely unheard of for VERY good reason.
"The Bugs Bunny Show" is a nice surprise, including the original "This Is It" title sequence and some long-lost bridging footage. Mac and Tosh, the Goofy Gophers, are the hosts, but end their incessant polite disagreement forces Bugs himself to introduce the cartoons to keep the show going. There is some footage missing, but everything is in color and presented as it would have aired in Saturday Morning reruns. All three cartoons (minus titles and credits, as they originally aired) look fine: "Big House Bunny' and "Canned Feud" are the restored "Golden Collection" versions, "Home Tweet Home" is not, but it's a better transfer than I've seen before.
"The Porky Pig Show" compiles three more Warner Bros. classics with the original opening, closing and several bumper segments from that TV package. An interesting "skit" that probably originated on the "Bugs Bunny Show" has Bugs Bunny playing piano on stage, in animation re-traced from "Rhapsody Rabbit", to introduce the musical short "Baton Bunny". The other two shorts included are "Scaredy Cat" and "Feather Dusted", and all but the third are restored. "Feather Dusted" is at least uncut and is a perfectly acceptable copy.
Next, we get another "lost treasure" from Hanna-Barbera, entitled "The Adventures of Gulliver". A young man named Gulliver and his father go on a sea voyage with a treasure map to a lost island, a creepy stowaway thug knocks them out, steals the map, and Gulliver wakes up shipwrecked with his dog on the island of Lilliput. What follows is little more than a loosely updated knockoff of the old Jonathan Swift tale "Gulliver's Travels". It will probably be of interest only to those who recall seeing it as kids. No flaws in terms of print quality, picture or sound here.
"The Wally Gator Show" is a fondly-remembered 3-cartoon variety show featuring "Wally Gator", "Touche Turtle", and "Lippy Lion and Hardy Har-Har". Unfortunately, it was a hastily-produced and thoroughly lackluster series, aimed squarely at children. Wally Gator longs to roam free in the Everglades, instead he's stuck in a zoo with a nagging zookeeper named Mr. Twiddle. Touche Turtle is a diminutive do-gooder voiced by Bill "Droopy Dog" Thompson, who dresses like a French musketeer and tries to help people (in this case, Captain Ahab) along with his aptly named dog sidekick, Dum Dum. Lippy the Lion and his depressed, sad-sack hyena sidekick Hardy Har Har (brilliantly voiced by Mel Blanc) are easily the best of the bunch, but they, too, seem cookie-cutter and forced. If these cartoons have not aged well content-wise, they have fared even worse physically. Originally mastered on cheap film, they look muddy, scratchy and at times out of focus. For those nostalgia buffs longing to see this stuff beautifully restored, you won't find it here!
A classic "Jetsons" episode entitled "Elroy's Mob" rounds out the first disc. Young Elroy gets mixed up in a crime, and in typical 60's sitcom fashion, hilarity ensues, followed by a happy ending. It looks and sounds great, probably the same version used for the original series DVD set.
Disc Two begins with Quick Draw McGraw again, this time in the guise of "El Kabong", a masked, Zorro-like alter-ego who fights villains by bashing them on the head with a guitar. Once again, this does not disappoint, with razor-sharp humor and charm that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Snooper, Blabber, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy once again hold the supporting segments, and are also worthwhile, "Augie" especially. As with the episode on Disc 1, everything from the opening and closing titles to the cartoon shorts in between look and sound great.
Following Quick Draw, we again descend into the abyss of Hanna-Barbera's decline with one of the strangest cartoon characters ever created: Peter Potamus. Peter is a fat, purple hippo who travels the world in a hot air balloon with his monkey pal, SoSo. In this episode, Peter gets caught in the middle of a fight between cowboys and Indians. The one highlight of this exercise in blandness is the voice work of Daws Butler, Don Messick, and Mel Blanc, but since the endless stream of talk is all there is to it, it gets boring in a hurry. When Peter (not to mention the audience!) has had enough, he dispatches his tormenters with his "Hippo Hurricane Holler". Translation: he screams loud enough that it literally blows everyone away. Supporting segments include "Breezly and Sneezly", a polar bear and a seal who have nothing better to do than annoy the soldiers at a military outpost in the Arctic, and "Yippie, Yappie and Yahooey", three dogs who serve as inept guards to a fussy Medieval king. It's hard to imagine anyone getting excited about any of these goofball critters, and though they have their moments, they pale in comparison to earlier H-B efforts and will probably bore kids and adults alike. The show's original opening and closing are included, and are in pretty rough shape, but the cartoons themselves look fine.
Once Peter and pals get the blandness out of their systems, we get an episode of "The Road Runner Show". I was really looking forward to this, and was very disappointed with the results! The original opening, closing, a rarely-seen animated bumper segments are included, as are the title cards created exclusively for this iconic package of Warner classics. The bumper segments are not to be missed: director Robert McKimson created these after the departure of Chuck Jones from the Warner Bros. animation studio, and while low-budget, they are extremely funny. Where the folks at Warner compiling this DVD collection went wrong, though, is evident in the cartoons themselves. Whereas the "Bugs Bunny" and "Porky Pig" shows mixed the old, worn-out TV bridging footage with nice, clean copies of the actual cartoons, the "Road Runner Show" gets a little TOO "authentic", using copies of the cartoons from the same old TV masters as the bridging animation. The results look terrible, especially the opening short, "Zip N' Snort", which looks so bad that Chuck Jones is probably turning in his grave over it. The other two cartoons included, Sylvester and Tweety in "The Jet Cage" and Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and Speedy Gonzales' race-off "The Wild Chase", look just as awful, and there is absolutely no excuse for that. They are faded, scratchy and blurred. Why would you drink spoiled milk when you have a fresh, unopened carton in the same fridge? Maybe I've been spoiled by the wonderful restorations Warner released on the "Looney Tunes Golden Collection" DVD series, but these cartoons look worse than I've ever seen them, and including them in this manner is disgraceful.
Next comes "Atom Ant", another Hanna-Barbera series about a little ant with super powers. The title character is a snooze, but the supporting segments, "Precious Pupp" and "Hillbilly Bears", prove more entertaining. "Precious" isn't particularly funny, but he is an ancestor of one of H-B's most memorable and entertaining creations, Muttley. Precious shares Muttley's mumbling voice and wheezy laugh, but instead of Muttley's villainous master, Dastardly, Precious' companion is a sweet little old lady. The segment is not particularly clever or funny, but it's a nice try. "Hillbilly Bears" is easily the best segment, and should have received top billing over Atom. It's about a family of (what else? Hillbilly bears!) voiced by Henry Corden (Paw) Jean Vander Pyl (Maw, Flora) and Don Messick (Shag). Corden's mumbling, grumbling, almost unintelligible voice for Paw is absolutely hilarious. Irreverent, politically incorrect and violent (Paw has an itchy trigger finger to match his big black-powder gun), it's a miracle that a cartoon this funny managed to spring up out of the bland mire of this later H-B material. Skip Atom and Precious and watch the Bears! In terms of physical quality, everything looks and sounds fine here.
"The Tom and Jerry Show" is interesting only for some linking segments animated by Chuck Jones, which have not been seen in years. They're not in very good shape, but they're fun to see for the first time. The rest of the show is classic MGM cartoons: Tom and Jerry in "Salt Water Tabby", Droopy in "Mutts About Racing" and Tom, Jerry and Little Quacker in "Just Ducky". These are nothing new if you already own the Tom and Jerry "Spotlight" sets and the "Tex Avery's Droopy" DVD, the only difference is that the MGM Lion openings and credits are replaced with made-for-TV title cards.
The set comes to a close with "Magilla Gorilla". Some fans of this series complained that the stand-alone series DVD set didn't include the theme song, and it has been included here. Magilla Gorilla is fondly remembered, but really doesn't have a whole lot going for him except a catchy theme song and a likeable personality. A bonus documentary pretty much agrees with me. As with "Atom Ant", the supporting segments are more entertaining, but not by much. "Punkin Puss and Mushmouse" are a sort of talkative, Ozark hillbilly Tom and Jerry, and probably never caught on with audiences due to their derivative premise. There are only so many variations that can be done on the "cat vs. mouse" cartoon, and by the time these guys came along, they were one variation too many. "Ricochet Rabbit", a segment sometimes seen on "Peter Potamus" as well, is a lot of fun. A rabbit sheriff named Ricochet (Don Messick) and his deputy, Droop-Along Coyote (Mel Blanc), try to keep law and order in the Wild West. It's got some wit to it, and the characters are instantly likeable, but the influence of earlier Western plots in "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw" is painfully clear.
In summary, this DVD is a fun way to spend a lazy day off, and nostalgia hounds will get a kick out of it. Unfortunately, it's a mixed bag in terms of content and image quality. It does offer a lot of material for not a lot of money, so it's well worth checking out as long as you're not expecting perfection. And doooon't you forget it!
Like a Trip Back in Time -- Only Better!
Joseph Torcivia | Westbury, NY USA | 11/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 2
(Released October 27, 2009 by Warner Home Video) Another Looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia
Once upon a time, theatrical cartoons came to the infant medium of television. They were so successful that made-for-TV cartoons soon followed, with producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera leading the way. Most often, they populated afternoon (and sometimes early evening) timeslots.
Then, someone discovered that kids would flock to cartoons run on SATURDAY MORNING, perhaps to celebrate completing a hard week of school! (I know *I* did!) This movement reached its height in the 1960s (...when Saturday morning cartoons would run until as late as 2 PM!) - and so is the premise for Warner Home Video's release Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 2.
A set this diverse in content and approach, by definition, can never be "perfect". Personal preferences and differences of opinion will always see to that... but it IS a great set and is, in many ways, improved over its predecessor - Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 1.
Disc One in order of Appearance: Quick Draw McGraw, Space Kiddettes, Young Samson and Goliath, The Bugs Bunny Show, The Porky Pig Show, Adventures of Young Gulliver, The Wally Gator Show, and The Jetsons.
Disc Two in order of Appearance: A SECOND Quick Draw McGraw Show (Yes!), Peter Potamus, The Road Runner Show, Atom Ant, The Tom and Jerry Show, and Magilla Gorilla. Pure sixties ecstasy!
As is our custom in these reviews, we'll break it into CONS and PROS.
Content Notes: Just as with Volume One, there is NO CONTENT LISTING anywhere inside the package! One disc is on a "hinged holder" and the other disc rests on the inside back wall of the packaging! But, beyond that, there is no list of titles, no order, and no indication of what disc they are on. Ditto for the extra features. I may be second to none in my admiration of the groundbreaking animated product of the 1960s... BUT, are these shows such classics that we're already SUPPOSED TO KNOW what they are before viewing?! Especially with a set THIS diverse in content, you MUST list the titles somewhere on or inside the packaging!
Print Quality: In some instances, the set has its faults with lesser print quality. Specific examples include The Bugs Bunny Show, The Road Runner Show, the Wally Gator and Touché Turtle cartoons. But, a disclaimer is offered to mitigate that, so at least they're playing fair with us. Offsetting that are surprisingly good prints of Quick Draw McGraw and Lippy the Lion - and the print of Magilla Gorilla is much improved over that in Volume One.
The Extra Features: Or should I say "Extra FEATURE"! WHV products continue to get SKIMPIER AND SKIMPIER! Be it lack of content notes, fewer episodes per set, and (most notably) fewer Extra Features per set - if any at all!
Here we have just ONE short background piece devoted to Magilla Gorilla. Featured are animation figures including Mark Evanier, Earl Kress, Scott Jeralds, Jerry Beck, Jerry Eisenberg, and a posthumous contribution by Magilla's voice actor the great and vastly underappreciated Allan Melvin. Much is what is presented here, however, is redundant with the Extra Features content of the Magilla Gorilla Show DVD set of 2006.
Each disc has a short preview feature titled "Saturday Morning Wakeup Call", a guided tour of the contents of the disc, narrated by Gary Owens. It's nice, but not much of an Extra Feature - and, unlike Volume One, it is not even designated as such here.
Too Much Funny?: Some online forum contributors have lamented an overall lack of super hero / adventure series for this set. Everyone's mileage will vary in this matter, but I tend to agree. The sixties were where (Fleischer's Superman excepted) the adventure cartoon was born - and came to dominate the field. At the same time, I love all the "funny" series included, so I won't squawk too loudly. This can always be adjusted in future volumes.
The Very Idea: First and foremost, for someone like me who watched nearly every cartoon the three networks could offer from the early sixties onward, it would be the very existence of such a package!
The Shows Contained Herein: With the possible exception of a show from Jay Ward (Bullwinkle, Hoppity Hooper, or George of the Jungle) or Total Television (King Leonardo, Tennessee Tuxedo, or Underdog) - which are not owned by Warner Bros. - Saturday morning in the sixties pretty much WAS Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros.
Filmation also became a player from 1966-on but, with the exception of the (as of yet unseen on DVD) 1968 Filmation BATMAN series, most other Filmation product that Warners has the rights to include would be double-dipping.
Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 2 offers a superb mix of the FAMILIAR (Bugs Bunny, Quick Draw Mc Graw, Road Runner, Magilla Gorilla, Tom and Jerry) and the OBSCURE (Space Kiddettes, Young Samson and Goliath, Young Gulliver, and Touché Turtle)!
Double-Dipping: Volume One had at least FOUR double-dips and, depending on your precise definition, had many as six. Here, only THE JETSONS is a "true" double-dip - as I don't count properties presented as FULL SHOWS with credits and interstitials as "D-D's" compared with previous instances where they were presented as individual, stand-alone cartoons. I'd prefer a new obscure cartoon, as long at it fit the "Sat AM `60s Profile" over a more familiar duplication any day!
Menu Navigation: Volume Two allows you to view the shows as a WHOLE and also as individual cartoons. Volume One, in most cases, returned you to the menu each time a cartoon ended - rather than allow you to watch the complete show without having to work your remote. Thanks to WHV for recognizing that problem!
Credits and Interstitials: Most of the shows have original sixties opening and closing credits AND INTERSTITALS! Over time, the cartoons represented here have been "sliced-and-diced" through various syndicated broadcast and cable network incarnations. Even when shows were left relatively intact, interstitials were the first to go, in favor of additional commercial time.
But, here - as it SHOULD BE, per the intentions of such a set - shows are reconstituted into their sixties Sat AM network versions.
All those great theme songs we thought were gone forever: "On with the show, this is it!", "Rooooad Runner, the Coyote's after youuuu!", "The high-fallutin-est, fastest-shootin-est, cowboy you ever saaaaaw... That's Quick Draw McGraaaawww!" and "We've GOT a GORILLA for sale..."! Wonderful stuff!
This set is simply "INTERSTITIAL HEAVEN!" So many lost or forgotten little bits of different shows turn up here!
The interstitials for BOTH Quick Draw McGraw Shows - where Quick Draw introduces Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy and Snooper and Blabber - were missing... BUT the full credits to each of the three cartoons (with the writing credits for Michael Maltese and other animation credits - excised from Boomerang showings) were there. So, it's a trade off.
They also have the FULL original Kellogg's opening and closing, which were trimmed from the shows on Volume One. This makes for much additional animation!
"The Bugs Bunny Show" restoration is a noble effort, even if some of the Goofy Gopher interstitials were missing! They used to exist after every cartoon. I'm guessing they presented whatever was preserved. Incomplete, perhaps... but still very worthwhile!
The Post-Theme-Song opening line "Presenting that Oscar-winning Rabbit... Bugs Bunny!" was (awkwardly) excised from the opening! Could that be because "Oscar" is now copyrighted - like "Super Bowl" - and perhaps you can no longer use the term freely?
The end credits for "The Bugs Bunny Show" are the proper ones, as you can glimpse the titles of the cartoons (nearly microscopically) at the lower left at one point in the end credits. The original "Bugs Bunny Show" also had teaser previews and "next week scenes", but I don't believe those ever survived prime time to make it into the Sat AM version of the show - so we can appreciate the "authenticity of the Sat AM experience", if not the completeness.
"The Porky Pig Show" has many of the same interstitials as did Volume One - but there is a different one of Porky and Daffy (existing footage from a Bob McKimson cartoon) and what appears to be one that might have been originally produced for "The Bugs Bunny Show" (of Bugs playing a piano - on the "stage background" for "The Bugs Bunny Show") that sets up the cartoon "Baton Bunny"!
"The Road Runner Show" has many (about five) Road Runner and Wyle E. Coyote interstitials that bookend all of the commercial breaks. They appear to have been done by Rudy Larriva, who WAS doing the Road Runner theatrical cartoons at the time, and have Bill Lava music as did the contemporary cartoons. Most folks don't exactly care for Larriva and Lava vs. Chuck Jones and Carl Stalling, but these are interesting "lost" bits - and have value in that alone!
Atom Ant, surprisingly, has two interstitials - one for Atom Ant and one for Precious Pupp!
And, best for last, Tom and Jerry has the original sixties opening and closings! The opening is mostly stock clips from the Hanna and Barbera days - with an ending gag produced by the Chuck Jones Unit, which was making the current theatricals. There are also a few Jones Unit interstitials throughout the show! So, here's your chance to see some lost Jones (or Levittow/Noble) animation!
I recall more than one opening credit sequence... distinctly one that ended with Jerry flying a "rocket-powered cream pie" (!) into Tom's face with the "Tom and Jerry" logo appearing over that! So, there are more such goodies that can appear in future volumes.
If there is one area in which this set ABSOLUTELY EXCELS, it is in the preservation and restoration of title and credit sequences and interstitials. Many of which have not been seen since their original sixties broadcasts! Well done!
OVERALL: Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 2 is a great success, often surpassing Volume One. It is highly recommended for those who were there - and for those who WISH THEY WERE! "
Another trip to '60s Saturday Morning
Paul J. Mular | San Carlos, CA USA | 10/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"**NOTE: Amazon's description has the wrong titles**
From the Warner press release (which has the correct titles):
Disc 1 Quick Draw McGraw: Mine Your Manners/Vacation Tripped/Person To Prison Space Kidettes/Young Samson & Goliath: Show # 5 - Space Heroes / The SSX-19 Bugs Bunny Show: #23 - Big House Bunny/Canned Feud/Home Tweet Home The Porky Pig Show: #3 - Scaredy Cat/Baton Bunny/Feather Dusted Adventures of Young Gulliver: Dangerous Journey The Wally Gator Show (with Lippy the Lion and Touche Turtle): Droopy Dragon/Whale of a Tale/Sea-Saw The Jetsons: Elroy's Mob Disc 2 Quick Draw McGraw: The Mark of El Kabong/Party Pooper Pop/Chily Chiller Peter Potamus Show (with Breezly and Sneezly and Yippie, Yappie, Yahooey): Wagon Train Strain / Missle Fizzle / Black Bart The Road Runner Show: #1 - Zip and Snort/The Jet Cage/The Wild Chase Atom Ant Show (with Precious Pupp and Hillbilly Bears): Atom Ant Meets Karate Ant / Bowling Pinned / Picnic Panicked Tom & Jerry Show (MGM-TV): Saltwater Tabby/Mutts About Racing/Just Ducky Magilla Gorilla / Punkin Puss / Ricochet Rabbit: Show #3 - Private Magilla / Army Nervy Game / TV Show
I must admit that I am disappointed not to get any more Herculoids or Impossibles super-hero cartoons, which is why I give it only four stars. The inclusion of two more Quick Draw McGraw cartoon shows is most likely to make up for the cancellation of his complete series DVD box set last year. Magilla Gorilla & The Jetsons are a double dip here but the rest is mostly new to DVD.
A highlight for Looney Tunes fans is the inclusion of three different shows that feature some new-to-DVD Warner Brothers cartoons (not all are new). Again this is making up for the cancellation of the Golden collections of DVDs."
THE SPACE KIDETTES!!!
KAB | 01/12/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was interested in buying this particular set not just because I appreciated Warners efforts with the first couple of volumes but for the long forgotten gem of an HB 'toon listed above. It was great to see this cartoon again (having seen it last in reruns on the USA Cartoon Express when I was about 4 in 1988) and with the originial opening intact (the "Boomerang" opening that I have discovered on Youtube has new music and omitted diaglogue, leaving the characters' lips moving for no apparent reason). Anyway, obviously, a cartoon like "The Space Kidettes" did not withstand the test of time and the opening and closing title credits made for pure nostalgia (the "Young Samson" episode showed more promise as far as entertainment value went).
I applaud Warner Brothers for gathering together this collection of cartoons, some of which have seen DVD releases, others that are anxiously awaiting individual releases, and a few which really have no business having individual releases but are a joy to revisit anyway. Many of these toons could be revisited on Cartoon Network back in its heyday of airing DECENT, classic cartoons and, if not for these discs, would now be reserved for the much smaller audience with access to "Boomerang." Keep future volumes coming with a continued attention the details of finding quality archival footage!"
Great collection! Highly recommend!!
Corgi Kid | Florida, USA | 11/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a cool blast from the past (1960's) that will be enjoyed by anyone who loves the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I just wish it had a collector's booklet or episode guide so you read more about the cartoons and summaries. I hope Warner will release more in this series."