Judge Bryan Byun wants his hasenpfeffer... and a better collection of classic Looney Tunes.
That's right, go ahead and laugh at them.
Following last year's releases of remastered classic Looney Tunes shorts, The Golden Collection and its truncated companion, The Premiere Collection, 2004 brings us round two, with a second volume of The Golden Collection on four discs, and an accompanying two-disc Spotlight Collection. The Spotlight Collection is essentially discs 3 and 4 of The Golden Collection, Volume 2, sans nearly all of the extras, and contains the following cartoons:
Disc One (Tweety and Sylvester)
"Bad Ol' Putty Tat" (1949)
Disc Two (Looney Tunes All Stars on Stage and Screen
"Back Alley Op-Roar" (1948)
In keeping with the spirit of these two-disc "lite" releases, in lieu of an actual review I'm tempted to simply copy and paste half of DVD Verdict's Golden Collection review. That's about as much thought and effort as Warner Home Video has put into this compilation.
In theory, it's not a bad idea to offer a cheaper, slimmed-down edition of the massive four-disc set for the casual fan who may not be interested in all the features and rarities offered in the larger collection. One imagines that such a set would pluck the most popular cartoons from each disc and assemble them into a "best of the best" compilation. But the Spotlight Collection, like the Premiere Collection before it, merely takes two discs, seemingly at random, from the larger set, and then goes the extra mile backward in omitting the bonus features. In other words, you're paying half the price of the Golden Collection for much less than half the content.
On the plus side, the content in question is classic Looney Tunes, so it's hard to feel completely ripped off by any DVD collection that features remastered versions of "One Froggy Evening" and "What's Opera, Doc?"—both of which look and sound gorgeous here in their full, unedited glory. There are also some terrific less-familiar entries here, including "I Love to Singa" (a Tex Averyñdirected homage to The Jazz Singer, starring "Owl" Jolson) and "Hollywood Steps Out," which features caricatures of famous 1940s movie stars, like Jimmy Stewart and Greta Garbo, and should be a treat for any fan of classic Hollywood cinema.
But even a cursory glance at the Spotlight Collection's bigger sibling reveals the glaring flaw in this set. Since the Golden Collection discs are compiled by theme (Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Tweety, and so on), this so-called "spotlight" collection lacks any appearance by Wile E. Coyote and provides a mere smattering of Bugs Bunny cartoons. I'm not sure who it is that Warner is trying to appeal to with this lazily assembled set, but kids and casual viewers will most likely be bored with some of the older, more dated entries, while no diehard Looney Tunes fan would come within shooting distance of this collection.
On the brighter side, the audio and video quality of these cartoons is all that one could hope for, given the age and wear of the source material. As with last year's releases, the colors are vivid, the images mostly clear and sharp. The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is remarkably clean, a definite plus on the musically themed disc. But again, the set falls flat on its face when it comes to bonus materials. All we get on these discs is a collection of "Learn How They Draw" featurettes, which sounds interesting enough until you discover that they're merely over-the-shoulder shots of animators pencil-sketching a scene in fast motion. Compared to the amazing collection of commentaries, documentaries, and rarely seen cartoons on the Golden Collection, the offerings in this set are disappointing to say the least.
As much as it kills me to pan any DVD collection that features such clean and lovely versions of some of my all-time favorite Looney Tunes cartoons, there's no way that I can recommend the Spotlight Collection to any viewer. Yes, it's cheaper than the Golden Collection, but not by enough to make up for the woeful lack of extras and the virtual absence of thought and effort that went into compiling the shorts. Anyone considering purchasing this set would be well advised to spend the extra bucks to pick up the vastly superior Golden Collection.
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• "Learn How They Draw" Featurettes on Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam, Tweety and Sylvester, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, and Michigan J. Frog
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