Judge Patrick Bromley gets his TV toons to go from his local TV toon deli.
10 discs. 110 cartoons. Over 40 hours of "fun."
The new TV Toons to Go collection packages together 110 episodes of 14 different cartoons over 10 discs, all from Cookie Jar Entertainment. Some of the shows are still in rotation on Saturday morning TV (or what's left of it). Some haven't been on the air in 30 years. There's not real rhyme or reason to what's been included, either—no overarching theme of concept. It's just whatever the studio had the rights to and could put on disc for pretty cheap.
In the collection you'll find:
Disc One: Busytown Mysteries
There's nothing particularly objectionable about the cartoons contained in TV Toons to Go, which range everywhere from the decent to the nostalgic to the utterly generic. There's nothing all that remarkable about them, either. Young kids without a concept of Archie and the Riverdale gang probably aren't going to care that they've been turned into Scooby-Doo-esque mystery solvers, while the fuzzy look and outdated animation of The Littles will have a tough time maintaining their interest. Heathcliff felt a little out of time when it was airing in the early '80s, and time hasn't necessarily been kind to it. Postcards from Buster is gentle and sweet, though, and Busytown Mysteries is already a favorite of my four-year old son. Though I was unfamiliar with it at first, Johnny Test is a good deal of fun and actually feels pretty contemporary. There are enough options in the collection—and the price point is low enough—that not everything has to be a home run. Kids can try out new shows and, if they don't like them, there are at least a dozen more to explore.
All 10 discs are housed in a small, round tin that closes with a zipper; it's a nightmare for anyone looking for packaging consistency on his or her DVD shelf, but the kids for whom it's designed probably won't care at all. The majority of the shows are presented in their original aspect ratio, meaning most are in the 1.33:1 full frame format, while a few newer shows like Busytown Mysteries and Johnny Test receive a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. The sticking point is the second disc, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, which is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen even though it's clearly intended to be full frame. The results look stretched and distorted—not so much so that your kids are likely to complain, but it's an odd choice nonetheless. Most of the shows look fine, with decent color and brightness, though the video quality does appear to be compromised somewhat by compression. Not surprisingly, it's the newer shows that look best, while the oldest (The Littles, The Get Along Gang) fare worst. The audio option on everything is a standard stereo track, which gets the job done. The only bonus feature in the collection is a couple of bonus episodes of several shows (there are 10 bonus cartoons in all), but it's hard to tell sometimes where the regular program ends and the bonus content begins. Each disc also comes with an optional "Play All" function, which is nice.
The difficulty with a set like TV Toons to Go is that it seems designed to be a babysitter of sorts. Because there isn't a surefire success in the bunch, and because there are just so damn many cartoons here, it feels like a set that was put together just to give kids something to watch instead of presenting them with something they should watch. That's not to say that none of the cartoons have any value; both Richard Scarry-themed efforts offer good lessons, and, if nothing else, Horseland offers young equine enthusiasts the chance to watch a whole lot of animated horses. TV Toons to Go isn't really a set I can recommend, but I guess you could do worse.
Only for undiscriminating kids.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
• Bonus Cartoons
• IMDb: Busytown Mysteries
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