Judge Daryl Loomis knows the big, soulful eyes routine gets 'em every time.
Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies, the cartoons produced by Warner Brothers between 1930 and 1969, have been popular for generations because of their combination of lovable stock characters, frenetic music, wild animations, and jokes that appeal to the young and old alike. Like many growing up, I sat around for as many hours as I could watching the likes of Bugs and Porky smash each other, to the delight of my parents unlike other interests in smashing I might have had at the time. It always was and still remains my favorite series of animation of all time.
Warner has always done great work with their full-scale Golden Collection and their less expensive Spotlight Collection compilation sets. Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection, Volume 6 is the final entry in the series and, while they don't quite finish off with a bang of the very best that Warner had to offer, this is a fine collection of hilarity from Volumes 2 and 6 of the Golden Collection. The 30 shorts over two discs are separated into distinct types.
The first disc, which will undoubtedly be the more popular of the two, is subtitled "Cartoon Superstars" and features all the favorites: Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, they're all here. We even have the dreaded squirrels, the Scrappy Doo of the Looney Toons world. Highlights include:
Baby Buggy Bunny: A tiny bank robber posing as a baby runs afoul of Bugs's questionable parenting skills.
Satan's Waitin': Sylvester catches Tweety but dies in the process. In hell, he realizes that he has eight more lives and is sent back. Unfortunately when he returns, he hilariously squanders this gift.
Hook, Line, and Stinker: The roadrunner is just minding his own business when Wile E. Coyote attacks…and fails, but he doesn't quit. You know the drill.
The second disc, called "One-Hit Wonders," on the other hand, is full of one-off shorts that will appeal mostly to big fans and completists. They range from the great to the dull to the bizarre and clearly show that Warner Bros cartoons were more than their stock characters. Highlights of this disc include:
The Hole Idea: An inventor comes up with a portable hole that's cheap and easy to use. Before he can do much good with it, the hole is stolen for nefarious purposes (this is one of my very favorite of their one-shots; it also appeared as an extra on Pete Kelly's Blues).
Norman Normal: There is no doubt why this character, the Debbie Downer of the Warner world, didn't survive more than one short. This 1968 cartoon is of neither Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies and begins with a psychedelic theme and gets weirder from there. Co-written by N. Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul, and Mary.
Lights Fantastic: A celebration of city lights and advertising, this is a delightful and bizarre short in which inanimate objects come to life. This is one that would have scared the footy pajamas off of me as a child.
Warner Bros. has released most of their A-material on previous collections and, because the majority of these shorts appear on the latest Golden Collection, there aren't many of the all-time favorites here, but the material is still great. The music, mostly by the great Carl Stalling but sometimes by the still-pretty-good Milt Franklyn, is amazing no matter the quality of the particular cartoon and is the main reason I've kept coming back to Looney Tunes my whole life.
On a technical level, both discs are very good; on par with the rest of the collections. The shorts are full frame and look crisp with great colors. They look much better than when they ever aired on television. The mono sound is clear with a good range to fully feature the music. Eight bonus shorts are included as extras. There is no reason not to include these with the feature product, but all it really amounts to is an extra menu screen and isn't really a big deal. It's a shame that this will be the last of these compilations released, but Warner should be commended for how much of this material they have released over the years.
Not guilty. That's all folks!
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