Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mini-DVD Review: Popeye The Sailor - 1938-40, Volume 2 (June 17)

Welcome to another edition of mini-DVD reviews. This week we take a look at Warner Home Video's Popeye The Sailor: 1938-40, Volume 2. Popeye is of course the classic TV sailor who eats his spinach and gets energy to save Olive Oyl from Bluto! See my mini-DVD review of Popeye The Sailor: 1938-40, Volume 2:

Popeye The Sailor: 1938-40, Volume 2 (Warner, $34.98) brings 31 more classic unedited Popeye cartoons along with more bonus features to DVD on a classic 2-disc set! The first 60 theatrical shorts (1933-38) were on the volume one set on four-discs, now we get the next 31 Fleischer Popeye cartoons (1938-1940) on a two-disc set. It is strange why they didn't just do a four-disc set with 1938-1942 and finish off the Fleischer cartoons. Oh well...at least we get some anyway. After the Fleischer cartoons, Popeye continued on with more cartoons from Famous Studios (1942-1957), so we should start getting those soon, too.
Each short on this set is in black & white and runs anywhere between 5-8 minutes. Most are in the 6-7 minute range. However, one episodes is in full color and runs 21:15. This is the Technicolor Two-Reeler episode, titled "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp." This is the third two-reeler ever, as the first two were on the first volume DVD. There are no chapter stops again, which is acceptable here because the episodes are very short. The video is remastered once again and it looks great! No editing of the episodes because of ethic reasons either...it is from the original masters. Well, blow me down! The audio is decent, nothing too bad about it.
Packaging has a nice brown-tan outer box this time with Popeye and Olive Oyl turning a wheel on the front cover...the back cover has information on the set and has some screen shots of the shorts along with a big photo of Popeye showing his muscle with a tank. There is also a section detailing the special features, but it is more detailed inside the case. Inside the box is a digipak case, as we had on the last set. The front of the digipak has Popeye with something that looks like a spear or something. Opening the case once, we get a very nice disc by disc breakdown for disc one on the left side, which has lots of screen shots and a photo of Popeye about to punch Bluto. We also get the episode number, title, if it has commentary and by who, and the list of special features per disc. The two discs are on the right side, overlapping each other unfortunately. The discs are all in that brown-tan color, matching the color scheme of the set. Disc one's artwork has Popeye with a kiss mark on his forehead and disc two has Olive Oyl holding a flower. When we take out both discs, you can see more photos in the packaging itself. The back of the digipak case has the disc two breakdown and a photo of 'lil Swee'pea and Eugene the Jeep the dog.
The menu screen has Play, Episodes, Special Features, and Languages. But before the main menu screen comes, we get auto trailers on both discs...hmm no ethic message saying that these shorts were never intended to stereo-type, blah blah, like we saw on the volume one DVD. The main menu has the theme playing in the background (and it loops), with the same color and artwork as the box cover. Languages section has us in English only and subtitles can be added for English only as well. Special Features are on both discs, and are listed in a list form on the menu. Episodes is where we can choose the classic shorts. If it has commentary or a Popeye Popumentary, we can also select that from here, but we can also do that in the special features section.
Moving on to those special features. As I mentioned, they are evenly placed on both discs. So, here we go, we have a lot once again: Disc one has a retrospective documentary titled, "Out of the Inkwell: The Fleischer Story" that runs 47:20. Then we have 3 Popeye Popumentaries: "Eugene the Jeep: A Breed of His Own" (3:16) talking about the puppy himself, "Poopdeck Pappy: The Masty Old Man and the Sea" (5:08) as this talks about the old Pappy, and "O-Re-Mi: Mae Questel and The Voices of Olive Oyl" (8:38) as this is a very interesting Olive Oyl featurette with lots of details on her voices. Finally 10 of the 15 episodes have audio commentaries on this disc, they include commentaries from Historians: Glenn Mitchell, Michael Barrier, and Jerry Beck; Writer: Paul Dini; Animators: Gordon Sheehan, Dave Tendlar, Mark Kausler, and Arnold Gillespie; Filmmaker: Greg Ford; and Director: Eric Goldberg.
Moving on to disc two, it has items from the vault such as 2 Fleischer shorts: Paramount Presents Popular Science from 1938 (6:31) and The Mechanical Monsters from 1941 (11:01). The latter has Superman even in it. Then we have an Early Max Fleischer Art Gallery with 19 sketches that runs 3:05. Then we have a short pencil test, Females is Fickle that runs 30 seconds. We also have a storyboard reel titled Stealin Ain't Honest that runs 6:11. Finally, we get two audio clips from the vault: I'm Popeye the Sailor Man Vintage Recordings that runs 2:25 and Animator Michael Sporn Interviews Voice of Popeye, Jack Mercer that runs 6:10. Classic stuff! Then we have a Popeye Popumentary on this disc as well! Men of Spinach and Steel is the title and it runs 6:20. This popumentary debates who was America's first super hero...Fleischer's Popeye or Fleischer's Superman? Interesting! Then finally, 3 of the 16 episodes have audio commentaries on this disc, they include commentaries from Historian: Daniel Goldmark; Filmmaker: Greg Ford; Animator: Shaumus Culhane and Director: Bob Jaques.
I highly do recommend any fan of classic cartoons and Popeye to pick-up this set. If you have the first volume, then you have to get this to continue the classic collection. If you haven't gotten that, get that and this volume. It is well worth it! Let's hope we get a volume three very soon and it is packed with special features just like these last two sets. We should be done with the Fleischer cartoons soon, and then we will move on the Famous Studios cartoons that lasted 15 years. Warner Home Video is also releasing The All-New Popeye Hour on DVD on the same day titled Popeye & Friends: Volume 1. That series was from 1978 on CBS's Saturday morning block. Warner will release eight shorts on a one-disc set. They should release more since that show lasted 1978-1981..various other incarnations were done through 1988. We should have a review on that set soon, as soon as we get the set...so stay tuned! Warner did a very nice job once again with the Fleischer cartoons and let's hope they continue to do so! Oh, boy! As Popeye and Olive Oyl are on a quest for hidden gold, you should be on a quest to buy this set! So toot-toot your way in buying it!
-- Reviewed by Pavan
(5/5 stars)

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