It's frightening, unsettling, and often gut-churning. No, I'm not referring
to the Halloween season and all its sugar-saturated selections; but, rather, the
Cartoon Network lineup that's prominently featured on this new DVD. While it's
intended to be a showcase of features that celebrate our favorite Haunted
Holiday—a terrific idea, by the way—this Cartoon Network
Halloween—9 Creepy Cartoon Capers barely manages to drop a couple of
honest-to-goodness treats in our trick-or-treat sack. The balance is made up of
indifferent offerings that can easily be likened to those unwelcome black or
orange waxed paper-wrapped nougats that have always elicited a beggar's
Calling upon its cavalcade of cartoon characters, this new disc is something
of a mixed bowlful of the following handouts, each of which is quickly
synopsized, assessed, and judged by this court's exclusive
"Treat-O-Meter"™ candy-characterization judgment:
• The Grim Adventures of Billy &
Mandy—"Billy & Mandy's Jacked-Up Halloween"
Imbecilic Billy borrows Grim's scythe for a night of trick-or-treating, but
accidentally loses it. To make a long story short, the minions of the
Netherworld are unleashed upon the unsuspecting Earth. Grim and Mandy must
intervene to save the world. This is a fun caper with some genuine laughs.
Thankfully, this first cartoon is among the best on the disc, with a sparkling
sweet transfer image and robust audio.
Treat-O-Meter™ Rating: $100
• Johnny Bravo—"Bravo Dooby-Doo"
guessed it—the self-proclaimed King of Cool enlists the help of Scooby and
the gang from Mystery, Inc. to thwart a ghostly gardener and find his beloved
Aunt Jebbidissa. Naturally, he's also putting the moves on that hot mama Daphne.
Perhaps the most clever cartoon on the disc, JB fans will definitely enjoy this
one. This is another terrific-looking feature with decent audio (including the
wacky pop-tune, "Happy Sunshine Haunted House," perfectly reminiscent
of Scooby's Season Two).
Treat-O-Meter™ Rating: Good &
• Ed, Edd, and Eddy—"Dawn of the Eds"
While planning to sneak into a screening of the R-rated Robot Rebel
Ranch, the three inane Eds take an unintentional detour to the local scrap
yard. Our mentally-challenged dimwits believe they've been transported to an
alien land and, as "space outlaws," the imaginative idiots must
traverse the foreign landscape in search of a way back to Earth. Not much
Halloween-ing going on here, so this one is the first disappointment on this
supposedly seasonal disc. The image suffers from excessive edge enhancement, but
the audio holds up. Still, this one seems to have been chosen for inclusion
based solely on its lift of George A. Romero's 1978 zombie flick.
Treat-O-Meter™ Rating: Airheads Raspberry Taffy
• The Powerpuff Girls—"Boogie Frights"
Genetically-engineered Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup unwittingly rile the
elements of childhood horrors. They unleash the minions of creatures of the
dark, those that reside under the girls' bed, led by the nefarious Boogie Man
(yuk-yuk). When the creepy creeps plunge Townville into perpetual darkness,
Boogie and his beastly boys terrorize the 'burb from their new horrible
headquarters, the Nightmare Nightclub. Only our half-sized heroines can save the
day. This one's alright, and follows a rather tight pace to deliver the ghoulish
goings-on. The image here is pretty clean and the audio stays on par with the
Treat-O-Meter™ Rating: Chiclets
• Courage the Cowardly Dog—"The Demon in the
Fed up with their tattered bedroll, Muriel and Eustus seek
out a mattress that promises to "change their lives…forever."
Little do they realize they've just brought home a bedeviled box-spring combo
that has possessive powers. The malevolent mattress infiltrates Muriel's body
with head-spinning, chunk-blowing vigor. Only the perplexed pup, Courage, can
expose the devilish doings and save Muriel's very soul. This is an Exorcist
homage, that's for sure; and it's done reasonably well. Still, it's somewhat
dubious material for a kid's cartoon. The image is striking, if a bit color
saturated. The audio is aggressive and works well.
Rating: Chunky Bar
• Dexter's Laboratory—"Picture Day"
It's that time of year again, and kid-scientist Dexter is dreading having his
school picture taken. Why? Well, while sister Dee-Dee has the brightest
baby-blues to flash in front of the camera, Dexter is all too aware of his
physical…er…shortcomings. But, with a mere snap of his superior
synapses, Dexter converts his visage into that of a beefcakey Hollywood hunk.
But he made a slight miscalculation—can he control his new chiseled
countenance? Unfortunately, this particular animated escapade has nothing
to do with Halloween, and has no place here. The image is likewise out of place,
far too soft looking. The audio is fine, however.
Rating: Any unwanted "healthy" piece of fruit
• Cow and Chicken—"Cow with Four Eyes"
Chicken has become quite the brainiac, and is attracting loads of attention,
thanks to a new pair of glasses. Sibling Cow is grievously jealous and decides
to don his own spectacles, but winds up only making a spectacle of himself.
Again, here's another entry that has no Halloween theme—so why has it been
included in this package? The image looks pretty good and the audio holds up,
but that's about it. Use your DVD remote to skip past this one.
Treat-O-Meter™ Rating: Milk Duds
• Courage the Cowardly Dog—"Courage Meets
Just about anything happens in the town of Nowhere, which
this time serves as host to the likes of Bigfoot. When the Nowhere Museum offers
a staggering $25 reward for the capture of the missing link himself, Eustus
scurries to trap the feral freak. Courage, of course, tags along to ensure the
safety of his feeble-minded master. This one barely clings to the Halloween
mood…but then every episode of Courage deals with paranormal
hijinks. Another clean image and reasonable audio help this one along.
Treat-O-Meter™ Rating: Raisinettes
• I Am Weasel—"I Am Vampire"
Finally returning to the Halloween theme, this episode sees the manic
marsupial, I.M. Weasel, and his bare-bottomed sidekick I.R. Baboon, as
blood-lusting vampires ready to descend upon the unsuspecting villagers of
Buttsylvania (yeah, that's what I said). The villagers, about to be duped by the
crafty undead duo, are saved when Dr. Van Smellsing barges in to expose the
bloodsuckers' identities. This one's downright goofy and is rather hard to
swallow—but hey, at least it gets the disc back on track. The image is
crisp and the audio is consistent with the features that have gone before it.
Treat-O-Meter™ Rating: Chick-O-Stix
Each episode is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame format. The
extras are real stale treats, though: three useless promos for upcoming Cartoon
Network DVDs. Normally, such silly infractions would be quickly dismissed. But
clocking in at a mere 107 minutes while lugging a retail price tag of $17.99,
this disc attempts to slip a rehash of previous years' goodies into our
Halloween shopping baskets.
Warner Home Video is hereby fined, ordered to reimburse all unsuspecting
consumers, and sharply reprimanded for not delivering the goods. We'll be
watching the Cartoon Network Christmas release with a skeptical eye.