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Case Number 16451: Small Claims Court

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Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s, Volume 1

Warner Bros. // 1960 // 308 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // May 26th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Bromley can't wait for Hollywood's multi-million dollar live action adaptation of Breezly and Sneezly.

The Charge

Now, every morning can be Saturday morning.

The Case

Hey, Charlie:

It's your dad here. I know you're not old enough to talk or walk or watch TV yet, but I wanted to share my thoughts about Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s, Volume 1 with you. And because you're totally lacking in independence, you have to sit there and take it. I promise there will be mashed bananas when we're done.

I wasn't alive when these cartoons aired. I know I seem very old to you, baby, but I hadn't been born in the '60s. Still, these cartoons from the 1960s have way more in common with the kind that I grew up with than what's available to you now. When I was a kid, The Flintstones were still in heavy rotation in syndication. Shows like Top Cat and Huckleberry Hound still ran, or could at least be found as part of Bozo's Circus (something else you'll have to grow up without, Charlie. I'm very sorry about that.). Cartoons were a part of every kid's day.

I used to live for Saturday mornings. When the new cartoon season was kicking off each fall, I would stock up on Strawberry Pop-Tarts and use a highlighter to plan out exactly what I was going to watch a week ahead of time in the TV Guide. Later, I found out that your mom used to do the exact same thing. This, I suspect, is why we fell in love and that's how you came to be. You owe your existence to Saturday morning cartoons.

Nowadays, there's really no such thing. Kids shows don't even come on until about 10 a.m. (are kids really sleeping in this late?), and when they eventually appear they're usually the live-action antics of whatever incarnation of Miley Cyrus that is or the Cousin Arthur wanna-be from The Cosby Show (What does it mean to be "so" Raven? Can you be just a little Raven?). Maybe kids just aren't interested in 2-D cel animation anymore. Maybe it's because now there are entire networks devoted to showing cartoons—though many of them are newer, original series. There's not really a place for the kind of cartoons found on Saturday Morning Cartoons anymore (unless you've got the cable network Boomerang). That's why we should be thankful for this DVD, even if not every cartoon found on it is a winner.

These are the cartoons found on Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s, Volume 1:

Disc One
"The Tycoon"—Top Cat
"Up & Atom"—Atom Ant
"Precious Jewels"—Precious Pup
"Woodpecked"—Hillbilly Bears
"Fe Fi Fo Fun"—The Peter Potamus Show
"All Riot on the Northern Front"—Breezly and Sneezly
"The Volunteers"—Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey
"Sub Swiper"—Secret Squirrel
"Way Out Squiddly"—Squiddly Diddly
"Prince of a Pup"—Winsome Witch
"The Happy Household"—The Flintstones
"Often an Orphan/Mice Follies/The Super Snooper"—The Porky Pig Show
"Dynamite Fright"—Quick Draw McGraw
"Outer Space Case"—Snooper and Blabber
"Growing Growing Gone"—Auggie Doggie

Disc Two
"Rosey the Robot"—The Jetsons
"Battle to Save the World"—Marine Boy
"The Heat Thing/Zorak"—Space Ghost
"The Worm People"—Dino Boy
"The Beaked People/The Raiders"—Herculoids
"The Shocking Electric Monster"—Frankenstein Jr.
"The Bubbler/The Spinner"—The Impossibles
"Gridiron Gorilla"—The Magilla Gorilla Show

Here's the thing about nostalgia, Charlie: it's always going to convince you that things were better than they actually were. That's what it's for. I look at cartoons now and get bummed out that they're not like they were when I was growing up in the '80s; in the '80s, the children of the '60 and '70s were critical of those cartoons, saying they were little more than commercials for toy tie-ins. They were right, by the way, but as a kid I didn't really care about that stuff.

What Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s, Volume 1 does is blow a hole in some of that nostalgia because, as it turns out, things weren't always better in the old days. The '60s offered just as much forgettable product as any other decade. Seeing a bunch of these old cartoons back to back makes one pretty painfully aware of the Hanna Barbera formula: take two talking animals—usually one large and one small—give them silly names and a wacky seven-minute adventure. A "Breezly and Sneezly" short is hardly different from a "Snooper and Blabber;" the animals are different, but not much more.

The difference is that even the most forgettable Hanna Barbera cartoons of the '60s are done with energy and enthusiasm. They're bright and fun and seem genuinely interested not in selling you something, Charlie, but in entertaining you. You'll find out soon enough that not much children's entertainment these days would rather make you happy than convince you to ask your mom and me to buy you something—except maybe Pixar, but luckily they've got Disney to sell you stuff.

All of the cartoons on Saturday Morning Cartoons are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio, and look surprisingly good for their age. There are a few that look fairly worn and somewhat damaged (Warner Bros. even offers a disclaimer up front to this effect, saying that they've been compiled from the best available sources), but overall the quality is good. Mostly, the cartoons look bright and well cared for, particularly when compared to something like Warner Bros.' recent release of Tiny Toon Adventures, which is far newer but looks worse on DVD. The mono audio track—and I know you're very concerned with audio presentation, Charlie—is fine and faithful to the source, showing less age than some of the video elements.

Though a few of the cartoons (like The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Top Cat and Magilla Gorilla) are full 22-minute episodes, the majority of the cartoons here are broken up in to seven-minute shorts. You have the option of watching them one at a time or choosing "Play All," which should keep your Saturday morning occupied for over five hours.

Also worth noting is that the second disc is comprised largely of "adventure" cartoons like Space Ghost and Herculoids. The "Play All" function would probably be more appealing if these were spaced out a bit better, but it's nothing that's going to ruin your enjoyment of the disc.

There are a few bonus features included on Saturday Morning Cartoons as well. Each disc has its own "Saturday Morning Wakeup Call," which is like an overview of the cartoons and stories contained on that disc. It might have been better placed at the start of the menu, so you could watch it before diving into the cartoons. Oh well. There are also a few featurettes about the art and styles of specific cartoons: "The Good, the Bad and the El-Kabong" looks at the influence of Quick Draw McGraw; "The Herculoids: First Family of Planet Quasar" examines the art of Alex Toth and the birth of the adventure cartoon in the late '60s; "Monster Rock" covers Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles. A few bonus cartoons from Auggie Doggie and Snooper and Blabber are also included.

I know, Charlie. It's a lot to take in. You're not old enough to even be watching cartoons yet, but when you are I hope you, your mom and I can sit down on Saturday mornings and watch some of this disc. I promise you'll have more fun with Secret Squirrel than with That's So Raven.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Pass the Pop-Tarts.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 82

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Portuguese)
• English (SDH)
• Portuguese
Running Time: 308 Minutes
Release Year: 1960
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Animation
• Classic
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Bonus Cartoons

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