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"Droopy Complete Theatrical Collection" DVD Makes Me Happy

by on May 14, 2007

The DVD format has spurred companies to release titles they might never have put out on VHS. We’ve seen Warner Home Video take this and run with it, releasing tons of Looney Tunes on DVD, alongside over a dozen Hanna-Barbera TV shows as well. Of late, the entire series of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain have been flying onto shelves (and quickly off, due to demand), and now Tex Avery’s Droopy theatrical shorts are joining the fray as well.

One worry many might have about the releasing of old material on DVD is the historical context. These releases come with disclaimers mentioning that they are intended for adults and not children. Besides the package disclaimers, a small message pops up before the DVD menu loads, stating that there may be some racist or sexist images in these cartoons, but that they have been left intact for historical purposes. While many old cartoons evidence these things, Droopy is more obviously adult in nature than Looney Tunes. It’s not just the way Droopy tries to outwit his enemies; it’s the ladies that are sometimes frequently involved. Even the DVD packaging takes notice of them, with the two-disc fold out digi-pak tray sporting an image of a well-known red head laid out like a Playboy centerfold.

To my surprise, I was already familiar with the cartoons. I had fully expected to have not seen any of them, but instead found myself remembering a lot of them from the late-night blocks Cartoon Network used to show when the network was still new. While I can’t say for sure whether what I saw originally were uncut versions, that is what we get on this release. On top of the uncut presentations, we’re given seven CinemaScope shorts in their original 16×9 aspect ratio. All of the cartoons on this release look gorgeous, except the first few episodes which sport an enormous amount of grain and dirt. The episodes really start to clean up as they go along, though, and by the time we get to the second disc of the set, you could swear the cartoons were newly animated—the clarity is that strong. The audio is a bit muddy sounding, however, but that’s to be expected from the Dolby Digital Mono track. Despite the sound only pumping out of one speaker, it does the job, giving the dialogue and sound effects in the well-timed order that Tex Avery had so immaculately planned out.

You’re going to be buying this set because you’re a collector and not for your kid. While your kid may enjoy it, it’s really easier to enjoy the release as an adult. Just seeing them again years after watching them on Cartoon Network is a treat. No one does character reactions like Tex Avery did them, and the color changing, eye popping, tongue hanging, jaw dropping motions still entertain to this day. Droopy remains as one of Avery’s top creations, and this DVD set is a remarkable representation of his work.

I already talked a bit about the fold out digi-pak packaging above, but I didn’t mention it’s resemblance to the Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain sets. Simple colors are retained in the background with grayed out characters, while the show’s title and the focal point characters on the package are fully colored and embossed. Menus match the package art in color and intensity and are easy to navigate. I mentioned the video and audio on this release above, but it has to be said again: the video on these episodes is remarkable.

On the special features front we get one featurette, detailing Avery’s life and how he came up with the idea for Droopy. We hear from animation historians who all praise Avery’s intention to make more adult cartoons and detail why he did so; they also discuss the risks he took in pushing the envelope this way. It’s a very informative track, being neither too long nor too short, and leaving you with just the right amount of information for this release.

“Doggone Gags” is a clip show of all the hilarious character reactions on this set, from The Wolf, bulldog and Droopy himself. I can’t say for sure if they’re all collected here, but it sure seems like it. Even without the context of the episodes surrounding them, the “Gags” clip show is still hilarious to watch. Also amazing to see is just how much Avery got away with in a few short seconds of animation, with the color changing suits and facial expressions on The Wolf in the western Droopy toon.

Overall this set is a must own for animation historians and animation fans alike. Casual viewers may not find the content as amazing as I do, but those who can appreciate the age of these cartoons and how much time and love was poured into them will smile at the great treatment this set gives them.

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