Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mini-DVD Review: Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection; Solomon's Weekly Rant: TV Land Confidential

Welcome to another edition of mini-DVD reviews. After a two week summer hiatus, we're back! This week we take a look at Universal Home Video's The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection. Woody Woodpecker is of course the classic TV woodpecker that made his mark in the 40s-70s in feature films! Not only do we get Woody cartoons, we also get classic theatrical cartoons of Oswald the Luck Rabbit, Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, some Cartune Classics, and some Swing Symphonies. See my mini-DVD review of The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection:

The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection (Universal, $39.98) brings 45 classic unedited Woody Woodpecker cartoons and 30 other unedited classic cartoons from the legendary Walter Lantz to DVD on a classic 3-disc set for the first time ever! 8 of these shorts were nominated for Academy Awards. The set also goes to the vault for classic documentaries, including Walter, Woody, and the World of Animation documentary.
On this set we not only get Woody Woodpecker cartoons, but also Oswald the Luck Rabbit, Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, some Cartune Classics, and some Swing Symphonies. Each shorts runs approx. 7 minutes. There are a few around 6 and a few just a bit over 8 minutes. There are no chapter stops, which is acceptable here because the episodes are very short. There are 75 total shorts, but 45 of them are Woody Woodpecker (15 on each disc), 10 Classic Cartunes, 5 Swing Symphonies, 5 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, 5 Andy Panda and 5 Chilly Willy shorts. The video is remastered and it looks great! You see some dust and debris here and there, but these are from the '40s, and some cases like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, from the '30s! The audio is decent, nothing too bad about it. Packaging has a nice brown outer box (like a tree, so Woody can peck it) with Woody in the middle with Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, & Wally Wallrus on the front cover...the back cover has information on the set and has some screenshots of the shorts along with a big photo of Woody. A box titled Rare Vintage Bonus Features is also listed on the back of the box. Inside the box is a digipak. The front of the digipak has Woody in the middle surrounded by screenshots but they are just in the background. The phrase Woody is known for, "Guess Who?!!" is also mentioned on the front. The back of the digipak has a nice long story on the great Walter Lantz. There is a photo of him as well, with Woody on his arm. Opening the case once, we get a very nice disc by disc breakdown, which is very colorful and has lots of pictures. Opening the case one last time, we get to the discs. We have four panels. The first panel, all the way to the far left, has a history of the episodes found on each disc for Woody Woodpecker. The next three panels hold each disc. Woody is on the cover of each disc. He is along one disc one, joined by Andy Panda on disc two and Chilly Willy on disc three.
The menu screen has Play All, Cartoon Selection, Bonus, and Languages. The main menu has Woody pecking to start and then we hear Woody's famous laugh. Languages section has us in English only, but subtitles can be added for English, Espanol, and Francais. Bonus Features are on each disc, so they are spread out evenly. Cartoon Selection is where we can choose the classic shorts.
Moving on to the extras. As I mentioned, they are evenly placed on each disc. The extras are all from the vaults and are not new material. Since this is a classic collection, might as well dig stuff up from the archives. Disc one has two classic documentaries: Walter, Woody and the World of Animation (13:46) and Cartoonland Mysteries (10:49). Obviously, if you're buying this set, you're fascinated by classic cartoons, so you will love these. Disc two has behind the scenes bits from Walter Lantz. Six short segments running between 2-5 minutes or so. We have Origin of Woody Woodpecker (Episode 1), Drawing Woody & Andy (Episode 5), Creating the Stories (Episode 6), Animating Woody (Episode 8), Development of Woody (Episode 9), and Directing Animated Cartoons (Episode 10). On the last disc we have a full episode of The Woody Woodpecker Show. It runs 22:51 and is the Halloween episode. It is from 1957-58 I believe when it aired on ABC. It was later revived in 1970 by NBC with more episodes. And in the 80s it was packed together for syndication we saw different themes and stuff in syndication. I remember this one the best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5zwBBFJ63c (I hope we get that on a future set as an extra). I always remember the episodes had a Woody episode, then a Chilly Willy episode, then another Woody episode. WNYW in my area aired the show weekday afternoons in the late 80s/early 90s. I loved it! Anyway, this Halloween episode has b&w bits with Walter Lantz and the episodes are in color of course. The episode sponsor is presented by Kellogs, is intact! The episode also has the only original episode created for this series, titled "Spook-a-Nanny."
I highly do recommend any fan of classic cartoons and Woody Woodpecker to pick-up this set. If you remember the show from local syndication in the late 80s/early 90s, you'll be fascinated by this because these shorts were made for theatrical cartoons and not television. This set covers Wood from 1940-1952. So we still have way more Woody cartoons to cover. Woody changed a bit in appearance from the 40s to the 70s, he looked smaller by the 60s and 70s (he seemed to have looked much younger). Those are the ones I remember the most. So we will see that change in appearance if we get another set. Let's hope we do and we get all of the Woody shorts released. I want all of the Chilly Willy shorts too. Anyway, heh-heh-heh-HEH-heh yourself to clicking and buying this set below, because you'll never 'guess who' will be pecking your way on to your TV screen!
-- Reviewed by Pavan
(5/5 stars)

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Solomon's Weekly Rant
Saturday, July 21, 2007
"TV Land Confidential is Sloppy"
By Solomon Davis

TV Land still manages to entertain viewers in a sloppy way when introducing new original programming. TV Land's original programming has always been a good idea but the way it's organized takes the fun out of watching the show. TV Land Confidential which had its second season premiere on July 11 (I also watched the second episode of the season on July 18) looked to be a complete and total rush job. It was so obvious from watching the show that it was just thrown together very quickly. What was the big rush in putting the TV Land Confidential together? It would have been more entertaining if TV Land took the time out to focus on certain shows and not several shows at once.
The TV Land Confidential season premiere that featured Oddball TV Characters all of a sudden went from TV show to TV show in a span of 5 minutes. The show never gave viewers a chance to focus on one set of oddball characters because you knew another discussion was starting before you could go to the refrigerator. It reminded me of a 10 cent version of I Love the '70s from VH1 only TV Land's version was a bad imitation. At least VH1 focused on a certain topic, TV Land tried to discuss the history of television in 30 minutes. It would have made more sense to discuss just certain oddball characters like the Sweathogs, Lenny & Squiggy, and Mork from Ork. It would have been a better fit for the 30 minute time frame instead of a mention of every oddball character since a TV set was invented.
It was the same thing on July 18 when viewing TV Land Confidential that focused on TV Finales. Instead of choosing three finales that could have been discussed in full detail, TV Land discussed a TV Finale every 20 seconds. This unorganized mess made my eyes feel like they were on an express TV train speeding to its next destination called 10:30pm (which in this case was the premiere of Back to the Grind...which I have not viewed yet). It's a shame TV Land has the right ideas but just lack the ability to neatly present those us to viewers. Wouldn't it have made more sense for TV Land to EXPAND the length of TV Land Confidential to 60 minutes so that more shows could be mentioned in detail (like Balki) rather than a rush job? Or they could have split them into parts, like Oddball Characters Part 1 and Part 2. There is not one person in the TV Land programming department that can think outside the box. I wonder what year that's going to change? 2014??

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DISCLAIMER: Remember, Solomon is not the voice of SitcomsOnline. He is just stating his opinions and does not reflect what SitcomsOnline says or thinks. It is just his 'View' but it is always quite entertaining.


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  • Josh Charles (Sports Night) - Watch Josh on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
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