Heathcliff & The
Catillac Cats (Animated)
Sound: C+ Extras: C Episodes: B
For having arrived back in 1973, Heathcliff remains an
enduring and beloved comic strip character who has gone through a few changes
in appearance over the years. His most
familiar look occurred in the early-to-mid 1980s when he had his own marketing
boom. That was also caused by his
animated 1984-5 TV series; one of the only enduring such shows of all the
1980s, now available here in Shout! Factory’s new 4 DVD set Heathcliff &
The Catillac Cats. The Cats had
their own segments and this is the first time these shorts have ever been
One great coup was that the producers at D.I.C. (the
animation company) managed to sign the late, legendary Mel Blanc to do the
orange cat’s voice. A great fit, the
genius that Blanc was knew exactly how to make the character even more finicky,
naughty and amused than just about any other voice could have. This set has all 24 episodes, one show per
character, so there are 48 adventures in all.
The stories are funny, sometimes unintentionally, but it is a show that
respected the intelligence of its audience, even when Heathcliff was on a
tear. The Catillacs stories are also
amusing with a family of streetwise characters (Riff Raff, Mungo, Woodsworth
and Hector, with few shades of Top Cat) that very believably exist in
the same world as Heathcliff and could make a comeback at any time. One of the best highlights are the tips
Heathcliff himself gives to talking care of pets!
The image quality varies from episodes to episode. At its worse, the 1.33 X 1 image is soft and
the colors are dulled, while the best copies have a great use of color. The animation is not that great made at a
time when animation was done with few frames, but the artwork and solidness of
the color more than make up for that.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is not bad throughout either, though the
awful theme song (overly happy bubblegum would-be hit record) and the very bad
imitation of New Wave electronic music and beats are the only thing that dates
the sound besides it obvious fidelity.
The voices sometimes sound forward, but that is better than dull or
poor, especially considering Blanc is here.
Extras include a section of stills with an artwork for
each year to 2005 Heathcliff has been in print on DVD 2, three promos with
music that one could had voiceovers to on DVD 3 and on DVD 1, a nearly 10
minutes featurette in which current artist/writer Peter Gallagher explains the
history of the character and much more.
He is the nephew of creator George Gately. All this makes Heathcliff & The Catillac Cats one of
the best-animated children’s TV on DVD box set titles to date.
- Nicholas Sheffo