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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Children > Shorts > The Little Rascals – The Complete Collection (Genius/RHI)

The Little Rascals – The Complete Collection (Genius/RHI)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Shorts: B+



After some choppy DVD sets and a terrible feature film revival that rightly bombed, the Our Gang characters are finally on DVD in a set that does legitimate justice to their adventures that does not seem choppy or lacking.  The Little Rascals – The Complete Collection does collect for the first time all of the sound shorts the evolving cast of characters made from 1929 to 1938.  It is an amazing run and The Hal Roach Studios (who also put Laurel & Hardy on the map) co-produced these with MGM, though MGM made 52 more after they split from Roach.


Like so many great Hollywood products from the Classical period, these shorts found a new life on TV and in the 1970s, their syndication caused a boom of interest that included a later send-up by an up-and-coming Eddie Murphy and even a terrific action figure line from the now-defunct Mego Toy Company (under the Our Gang name as licensed to the company from MGM) that did not do as well as it should have, but is now a highly collectible line. 


Set during the years of The Great Depression and just before WWII arrived, it becomes a portrait of idealized childhood with some edge to it and the fact that these child characters are more likable and realistic than the precocious brat types we have seen since the 1980s leading to the airheaded ‘tween cycle we suffer through now gives all these shorts a new sense of value and that this has true comic genius in it speaks volumes on how great the series really was.


One of my favorite aspects of the series was always how the gang had almost no money, yet could put on plays, build soap box racers and do so much more like nothing we would see again until Fat Albert.  But the best thing that can be said about these shorts is that they took the child audience seriously as intelligent and respected them, to the point that adults could always enjoy their hijinks as well.  Once those aspects are rediscovered, this should be a popular box set.



The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on the first seven DVDs can vary and for a box that claims this is all from “original masters” has some shorts that need some work and others that definitely are second generation materials.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is consistent enough, can show its age and has not been overly tampered with.  The combination can be impressive, but in more than a few cases, more work will need to be done before a similar Blu-ray set could be issued.


Extras across the first seven discs include brief intros by fans, historians and surviving actors plus select audio commentaries, while DVD 8 adds three silent shorts (Dog Heaven, Spook Spoofing, Barnum & Ringling, Inc.) reminding us that those classics deserve their own set, Catching Up With The Rascals featuring extended interviews with five surviving cast members and two featurettes: The Story of Hal Roach & Our Gang and Racism & The Our Gang Comedies.  The foldout packaging is nice and an informative booklet with the listing of all 80 shorts is included, though I wondered if there could have been more and if MGM’s ownership of the Our Gang name and some materials might be a reason we don’t get more.


Fans will be happy with this set and even with its political incorrectness, remains a very entertaining series.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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