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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Shorts > Comedy > The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection – Volume Two (Universal DVD)

The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection – Volume Two (Universal DVD)

 

Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Episodes: B

 

 

If Volume One of The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection got you excited and filled that Woody void in your life (no dirty thoughts please), then Volume Two will deliver much of the same; whether that is good or bad has yet to be said.  Just like Volume One, Volume Two offers fans 75 more ‘uncut and digitally remastered’ (not restored) hilarious theatrical cartoons from creator Walter Lantz.  It is undeniable that the cartoons are classics; even for a person who had been annoyed for years by that Woodpecker’s laugh, the animated shorts bring to the surface such a cascade of nostalgia that it is overwhelming.  Just like Walt Disney had Mickey Mouse, Walter Lantz had Woody Woodpecker and Friends and they collectively are nothing short of solid Americana.

 

As previously stated the 3-disc set features 75 animated theatrical shorts.  The shorts are organized on each disc by the main character that stars in that particular short.  Disc One contains 15 Woody Woodpecker shorts, 5 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shorts (ironically originally a Disney character), and 5 other various Cartune Classics.  Between the next two discs there are 30 more Woody Woodpecker shorts, 6 Andy Panda shorts, 5 Chilly Willy shorts (this reviewer’s favorite), 6 Musical Favorites, and 5 Cartune Co-Stars.  The shorts are all well organized by character and year of appearance, mainly ranging from the 1930s – 1950s, giving the viewer a good sense of the characters’ development as the years passed.  The collection has an overwhelming number of shorts to view and not a single one is boring, each having a level of charm that is unique to the individual character.

 

This reviewer found all 75 shorts (that is right every one) entertaining and found it insanely interesting to search the parallels between Lantz’s artistic style and Disney, but more than anything it was amazing how different they were.  Anyone who says that cartoons are all the same, they are dead wrong.  The heart and soul that obviously went into each short is stunning and it is good to throwback to a time when everything was not so P.C. or taboo.  The cartoons are far from outrageous or vulgar, but there is definitely less restraint in the art and topics than is seen today.  Walter Lantz’s cartoons have been amazing people for years and now with this new DVD release it shows that the animated theatrical shorts still have not lost their ability to wow audiences across the board.

 

The technical features on this 3-disc Woody Woodpecker set are all over the place in terms of quality.  The picture like on Volume One is presented in a monotonous 1.33 X 1 full screen image that looks like it was thrown on DVD in whatever quality they were found.  Though the back of the box spouts of the shorts being ‘uncut and digitally remastered,’ apparently like many terms that are used in the entertainment business ‘digitally remastered’ has little regulation as to what it means.  The shorts sometimes look good and other times look flat-out awful, there is good degree of debris or grain to be found throughout the shorts as well as an excess of other poor picture quality issues. 

 

The picture is often times shows contrast issues, a degree of softness, a faded nature, and colors that do not look at all like they should.  The studio truly needs to take a step back and Remaster these shorts in the correct way.  The sound is not anywhere near as bad as the picture quality in its Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono format, but at best is just a basic sound track with no frills.  The extras are nice featuring a Behind the Scenes with Walter Lantz, a full length Woody Woodpecker Show episode, and look at a few rare Walter Lantz pilots that feature such characters as Space Mouse and Sam ‘n’ Simian.  The extras are nice, but once again leave much to be desired from such a classic cartoon series.  Knock on wood that the technical features get better in future volumes.

 

For true hardcore Woody Woodpecker fans this is obviously a must own, but for casual fans this reviewer would say hold off until the transfers are drastically overhauled.  I would leave with a classic Woody laughs here…but technical features are no laughing matter.

 

 

-   Michael P Dougherty II


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