May 16, 2023 posted by Thad Komorowski

Thad K Reviews “Looney Tunes Collectors Choice” Vol. 1

Positive buzz for Looney Tunes Collector’s Choice Vol. 1 from Warner Archive was natural. A selection of twenty cartoons new-to-Blu-Ray (and often new to home video), covering some of the very best Warner animation from the 1940s and 1950s! It’s incredible many of these classics were missed, but it just illustrates how vast and rich the Warner cartoon library really is. To be honest, when the contents list was shared, I swore my mind was read. It’s literally almost everything I would’ve prioritized verbatim myself – am I the collector in question?

Cartoon offerings in the Blu-ray Tunes era have not been generous. We had three Platinum Collections in 2011-2014 that prioritized the “A” classics, the bizarre Mouse Chronicles that showcased the full run of Sniffles the Mouse and Hubie & Bertie, and 2020’s Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection which, similar to Collector’s Choice, emphasized Bugs cartoons never available on home video. Overall, barely over 200, or 20 percent, of the vast Warner cartoon library from 1930-1969 is available in high-definition on physical media. (I’m not counting what’s turned up as extras on various classic movie discs.)

Paltry, yes. The world has changed since the glory days of the Golden Collections in the aughts, when we got 60 restored cartoons a year with relatively few defects. The physical media market just does not exist any more with the studios turning to streaming.

As a lifelong Looney Tunes fan, I can say it’s markedly better in the present as far as the actual characters and posterity are concerned. The original cartoons were not in the public eye for nearly the entirety of the 2000s and 2010s—a whole generation, really. No TV broadcast and isolated to high-priced collector sets. Bugs and Daffy were inching closer to Woody Woodpecker and Mighty Mouse status by the day. Fortunately, the cartoons are currently a flagship of at least two streaming services (HBO Max and Boomerang) and have run daily on MeTV (a channel anyone with a TV, ‘rabbit ears’ or not, can get for free) for close to three years now. With the general public now re-familiarized with these classics of American film, that makes things easier for us die-hards who wanna have it all, and it’s now, miraculously, a reality Warner Archive is allowed to handle this evergreen property.

On the whole, this Collector’s Choice Vol. 1 delivers perfectly fine versions of these films. But… one point that was stressed in the press was these would not be the same restorations seen on HBO Max and MeTV—they would be new, superior transfers. Unfortunately, a quick comparison confirms that’s not the case. With the exception of Beanstalk Bunny and Catch as Cats Can… these are the same earlier transfers. Our Fearless Leader Jerry Beck will explain what happened in due course, but some context is in order. What’s the issue?

With the launch of HBO Max in 2020, many, many Warner cartoons debuted in newly restored transfers on the service. It was a monkey’s paw situation. While it did mean they restored a large percentage of the library in 4K for streaming (and a then pending deal with MeTV), these were farmed out and not done by the same teams responsible for the various Warner DVDs and Blu-Rays. As they stand, it’s quite flabbergasting to see things on HBO Max and MeTV like the ‘30s Merrie Melodies with such clarity and color. Most of the continuing character series were rounded out to completion, too. But, while ostensibly excellent looking, serious issues still plague them.

The bane of this crop of masters, in the hundreds, are what fans have termed the “Photoshop titles”. Actually, they employ a lot of programs in the Adobe Suite, using all sorts of clumsy modern tools that artificially extend the titles by some 25 to 30 percent with bad paint-bucket and cloning. Cross dissolves and fades are redone digitally. Sometimes the special effects, from ripple glass to pans, were recreated, poorly. It remains a bizarre, pointless choice that actually created more work for the post-house than just using the filmed titles as is. To the Warner Archive team’s credit, the worst of these digital horrors were cropped out for this release. (Not quite though, as remnants are obvious on His Bitter Half, A Mouse Divided, and Hip Hip-Hurry!)

To illustrate what exactly is going on with the “Photoshop titles”, here’s an example from A Street Cat Named Sylvester (which is NOT on this disc). Someone was extra sloppy with their work and accidentally proved on the final copy how much they are artificially extending the titles.

Notice the main title (up above) is completely uncropped, showing even the rounded corners on the left side (!!), while the director credit shows the whole of the image filled in with cloning and paint bucket tools.

There’s also another issue with the HD transfers of Looney Tunes, one that’s persisted since the Golden Collection days: recycled sound. For how loud people are regarding picture quality, tin ears prevail on the audio, since the pre-1948 cartoons usually reuse the tracks Turner prepared back in 1995 for their “Dubbed Versions”. Even many post-1948 cartoons are obviously sourced from older transfers. It’s a rather lackluster sonic experience on modern entertainment systems. Warner Archive has righted this wrong with the new soundtrack scans heard on the Famous Popeye and most of the MGM Tex Avery discs, but Looney Tunes historically don’t have that benefit. The HBO Max copies, and thus Collector’s Choice, are unfortunately not an exception.

With those issues still present, this disc, as-is, is unavoidably a notch or two below the high standards set by the Popeye, Avery, and Hanna-Barbera discs put out by Warner Archive. Even so, it’s hardly a miss at all, because as I said, they still look pretty spectacular and are better than any version you currently may have (be it VHS, laserdisc, DVD, or streaming rip). They’re just not to the standard we’re used to. (Though they are significantly better than a crop of Warner restorations produced in the early 2010s that graded color without using scopes, wherein everything just looks too dark and obliterates detail.)

On Collector’s Choice Vol. 1, color grading is usually fine, noise reduction is agreeable (if a tad more than we’d like to see, but look at the current Fleischer/Famous Superman disc for it truly done poorly), and errant automatic clean-up (when the restoration software mistakes animation and background pans for film dirt/damage and erases the artwork, still erroneously called DVNR everywhere online even though that process by name has been dead since 2007) is not noticeably present. The healthy encoding bit rate (Warner Archive has always been generous) makes these far more pleasant than they are on streaming or broadcast. Indeed, I don’t think most of the pre-48 cartoons would look much better if they were completely done over, although the post-48s tend to look a bit duller than they should. (How’s that for a historical switcheroo?)

So with the cartoons themselves wholly intact, body and soul-wise, you still have a truly funny assortment of Warner classics in high-definition, even if it isn’t the restoration promised. It’s still the best deal on the limited market. Disney gives you half the number of cartoons (and a quarter the laughs) at the same price looking substantially worse than anything seen here. Offering ten cartoons a pop over three discs, Disney still double dips! No consideration! (In the mouse’s defense though, things are looking up if the incredible 4K restoration job on Cinderella is any indication. Fingers crossed, prayers being said for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…)

The sturm und drang now out of the way, here’s what’s in store for this disc. Again, this is more or less what I would have prioritized if I had to program a disc of Warner cartoons never available before. Yes, there has been some fan outrage online that it doesn’t include a single Tex Avery or Bob Clampett cartoon. But we just got 60 of Avery’s MGM cartoons on Blu-Ray, and most of the best Clampett cartoons have been available on the Platinum Collections (it would be a slam-dunk if Warner Archive could reissue those, as they now command obscene prices online). You can’t get everything in the first try, and considering there are quite a few of the very best cartoons by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob McKimson, and the neglected Frank Tashlin and Art Davis, there’s zero to complain about as far as selection.

(To answer a question that has plagued many comment threads: if a cartoon has circulated forever as a Blue Ribbon reissue, it’s still a Blue Ribbon reissue here.)

Beanstalk Bunny (1955, Chuck Jones)
The lone straggler from the period in the ‘50s when Chuck Jones was arguably the best shorts director in America that hasn’t shown up on home video in modern times. Supposedly there’s a horror story on the condition of the surviving materials which is why it took so long to get here. It looks better than I’ve ever seen it. Bugs and Daffy invade giant Elmer Fudd’s turf in what’s essentially the cartoon that actually makes the beloved Jones-Mike Maltese series a “Hunting Quartet”. You know it, you love it, enough said. “He’s Jack.”

Catch as Cats Can (1947, Art Davis)
“Ah, there’s nothin’ like vitamins.” Art Davis closes the recurring Warners theme of casting Bing Cosby as a pure asshole (those cartoonists really did have great insight), this time as a parrot who enlists Sylvester, who’s inexplicably lost his lisp and most of his intelligence, to do in a Sinatra canary. Freleng clearly was impressed by the blackout gag staging, and it no doubt made him eager to snatch up his old friend Davis as an animator on his own cat-and-canary cartoons once the Davis unit was shut down shortly after this film’s release. A personal favorite.

(Sidebar: Comments on earlier posts make mention of the original ending that was cut, hence the abrupt fadeout. We were supposed to see the Crosby parrot’s tombstone with the epitaph, “Came in before his horse.” Since the information originated from me, I’ll elaborate: production documents indicate that was how it was supposed to end, but no print with it actually survives and it was obviously cut before release. Adding to the mystery, the final shot as seen on the disc differs slightly from every other print I’ve seen, too.)

The Unruly Hare (1945, Frank Tashlin)
Bob Clampett got kicked off Bugs for a year, allowing Frank Tashlin a shot at the rabbit. He nailed him and his rivalry with Fudd on the first try, with Bugs sabotaging railroad designer Elmer’s attempts to get a little track laid. The new remaster highlights just how off-kilter the assistant and camera work really could be in the wartime Tashlin unit.

His Bitter Half (1950, Friz Freleng)
A story of greed, and one of the unsung Friz Freleng masterpieces (we forget that the few Daffys Friz did are almost always great). Daffy gets married for the easy life, but finds himself at the mercy of a battleax and her demented son Wentworth. The scene at the shooting gallery (animated by Gerry Chiniquy) is a crowning achievement in Freleng’s legendary timing repertoire, and also responsible for the loudest and longest laughter I’ve ever experienced at a public cartoon screening.

Daffy Doodles (1946, Robert McKimson)
Bob McKimson’s first theatrical cartoon as a director (his first was The Return of Mr. Hook for the Navy), with Daffy as the Moustache Maniac evading Officer Porky. While a timeless classic, the clarity of this remaster emphasizes just how ugly and sloppy Dick Thomas’ backgrounds for McKimson could really be.

Cracked Quack (1952, Freleng)
Does the description “Daffy pretends to be a stuffed duck while Porky does his income tax” sound the furthest away from funny possible? Well, Freleng and Warner Foster sure deliver with one zinger after another. “Oh, Rover, there’s a dog here to see ya.”

Little Orphan Airedale (1947, Jones)
Jones remakes Clampett’s Porky’s Pooch, and it’s the only time he ever succeeded in making a wilder cartoon than his rival with the creation of Charlie Dog, who seeks Porky Pig as his master. Was it bawdy Clampett influence that resulted in the male pregnancy joke?

Hip Hip-Hurry! (1958, Jones)
A rather economical entry in the Road Runner series, with Capitol Library stock music cut together for the track during a Warner musician strike. One of six Warner cartoons affected, it (and the other Road Runner with John Seely music, Hook, Line and Stinker) actually feels like Jones went in himself to find cues that fit the action, some of them cut to mere seconds (mishaps with an explosive slingshot and a boulder work particularly well).

Hot-Rod and Reel! (1959, Jones)
A uniquely unmemorable Road Runner entry, perhaps the weakest cartoon on the disc. Compare the belabored bomb chute gag here with the one in the earlier Zoom and Bored (which may be the best gag in the entire series) and you’ll see Jones was slipping even when writer Mike Maltese was still with him.

Greedy for Tweety (1957, Freleng)
This disc kind of unintentionally illustrates that Sylvester was better without his most famous costar, but this is a fine later entry regardless (and one of Friz’s own personal favorites) with Nurse Granny looking after the incapacitated Tweety, Sly, and bulldog. Laughs include a beating seen from Sylvester’s sleeping pill-laden point of view.

Stooge for a Mouse (1950, Freleng)
Freleng was without a writer for this while he was politicking to get Warren Foster (and hand Tedd Pierce off to McKimson), so this self-written classic shows him at his purest in handling Sylvester, the studio’s resident utility player, gaslit by a mouse and pummeled by his former buddy Mike the bulldog. “I don’t know how ya’s done it, but I know ya’s done it!” The final shot, with the cracking “Home Sweet Home” frame landing in on the carnage just as it irises out, is what separates great direction from really great direction.

A Mouse Divided (1953, Freleng)
Did they really not put this one out before? The drunken stork (in his first appearance) erroneously delivers a baby mouse to Mr. and Mrs. Sylvester. Endlessly funny and genuinely touching, it’s one of the true tour de forces of Warner character animation. “I’ve become the father of a breakfast!”

A Fractured Leghorn (1950, McKimson)
McKimson’s cartoons were by and large the talkiest, but it’s not a problem when it’s Foghorn Leghorn (and Mel Blanc) at his most bombastic, this time fighting with a cat over a worm. “Mah pa used to tell me shut up and I’d shut up!”

Plop Goes the Weasel (1953, McKimson)
Foggy and Barnyard Dawg both evade a chicken-obsessed weasel whose addiction issues obviously go well past poultry. McKimson has more or less tied down his animators at this point, but Rod Scribner refused to be completely tamed.

Tale of Two Mice (1945, Tashlin)
Blanc and Tedd Pierce reprise their roles as Abbott and Costello caricatures, this time as mice trying to raid a refrigerator and evade a cat. Maybe it gets lost since it’s in the shadow of the legendary A Tale of Two Kitties that gave the world Tweety, maybe because the story itself is nothing remarkable. But it’s all about execution. It’s a slight remake of a cartoon Tashlin wrote (and Art Davis, who was also the main animator on this, directed) at Screen Gems, The Great Cheese Mystery, so it was obviously material he felt worth revisiting. And it’s riotously funny and exciting, with an incredibly satisfying ending. Arguably the most underrated Warner cartoon of the mid-1940s, perhaps the whole decade. (Animation director Bob Jaques and I dissected this one on our old podcast Cartoon Logic).

The Foxy Duckling (1947, Davis)
Maybe tied with Hot-Rod and Reel! as the weakest on the disc. Most un-Warner-like, with an insomniac fox trying to stuff his pillow with fresh duck down. The violence is particularly savage and unsettling, an easy observation to make since the rest of the cartoons here do it so well so often.

Two Gophers from Texas (1948, Davis)
“Egad, what a book!” My favorite of all of Davis’ cartoons, with the too-polite Goofy Gophers pursued by a psychotic, contemptuous dog. A last hurrah for the kind of animation (particularly that of Emery Hawkins) the theatrical cartoon would no longer be able to sustain with declining budgets and the films coming back to “earth” after the energy of wartime. (Again, Bob Jaques and I broke this one down in a Cartoon Logic episode that you can listen to here).

Doggone Cats (1947, Davis)
Davis’ other Sylvester cartoon, with him and a fellow alley cat tormenting their tormenter Wellington the dog as he tries to make a delivery to Uncle Louie. The first Warner cartoon ever written by Warner cartoon fans, the young Bill Scott and Lloyd Turner, and another delight for those who love the work of Emery Hawkins. (And, yes, this cartoon, the only one here with any racial gags, is indeed uncensored.)

What’s Brewin’ Bruin? (1948, Jones)
The first in Jones’ Three Bears series after a four-year absence following their debut in Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears. This one gets a little lost given the high octane of the latter three entries in the series, yet Papa Bear’s struggle to hibernate in spite of domestic issues remains a hidden gem. A substantial upgrade in transfer, as it looked absolutely poor on the old laserdisc.

The Bee-Deviled Bruin (1949, Jones)
Closing the collection is maybe the most sickeningly comic cartoon Jones directed, with Papa Bear trying to raid a beehive for honey, [dis]ably assisted by Junyer. Proof that dead bees are funny.

While it is irritating this disc is not all-new transfers as advertised and just mostly preexisting ones with slight modifications, there’s still really no reason to pass on this—beyond misguided principle and stubbornness. The new restorations of the long-neglected Beanstalk Bunny and Catch as Cats Can being finally available makes it worth the price of admission alone. With physical media dead and so many labels not putting any effort or interest into making their classic film libraries available, why would you not pick up a disc of the world’s funniest cartoons that still is an upgrade over anything that’s been available before? I think all collectors will agree, given the choice.


  • What a surprise. Oh, how I missed Thad’s articles here.

    • I have this disc on pre order and am highly looking forward to it.
      My nit pick has to do with the assumption tha “we” all have had the privilege of seeing all the remastered Looney Tunes-.or for that matter, any vintage remastered toons on tv. Those of us in Canada have not had access to any of the classic Warners or Hanna-Barbera catalogs on Television. This is despite us having our share of cartoon channels. With the exception of a couple of Canadian produced programs(Like the Raccoons) there is nothing pre 1990 animation wise on TV in Canada for almost 15 years. It’s been great to hear what’s been going on out there but it would truly be nice to actually see some of it. HBO/MAX Despite Warners having its own entertainment branch in Canada, doesn’t exist up here. It licenses some of its movies and TV shows to a Canadian streaming service but can’t see fit to license the classic animation here. It’s the reason I push so hard for more Blu Ray content. We HAVE no other option to get the classics. Hell, I’d love to be able to turn on a tv and watch my favourite cartoons or PVR them like most people do, but I feel like a second class citizen not even having the option. I have a friend in Thialabd when tells me he can watch the remastered Looney Tunes-.but in Canada I can’t??!!, Something is wrong here.

      • I take for granted that I’m writing from the experience of living in the cartoons’ country of origin. (And as another counterpoint, someone else reminded me that Woody Woodpecker, and the Lantz cartoons, remain inescapable in Brazil.) Canada has always been notoriously slim pickings with the Warner cartoons – but then again, so has the rest of the world, lately anyway. Tom and Jerry, for one, absolutely DWARF any LT presence worldwide.

  • I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. Cannot wait to sit through this, regardless of the issues. Let’s hope it spawns a whole new series of classic Looney Tunes and Merrie melodies that have never been released elsewhere!

  • After Thad’s review of Porky Pig 101, this time around Jerry has grabbed the bull by its horns.

    Not so sure that was the right move – I would have thought Jerry would have preferred to address the “But” reversal before the critics.

  • Do any of the Blue Ribbons have their original titles restored? I have a copy of Tale OF Two Mice with original titles from a private collector. It’s a 2n generation print, so I am hoping to see it in mint condition as such.
    What about the deleted ending to Catch as Cats Can?

    • Both of these questions are answered in the piece. There are no restored original titles or lost footage on the set.

    • The restoration done by the HBO Max team does not have original titles so most likely the restoration on Blu-ray doesn’t either

    • Please re-read Thad’s article.

      • Somehow I missed it the first time. But I DID reread it even before you said too. But if TALE OF TWO MICE does exist with original titles(like the copy I got), why would Jerry Beck say they can’t use them? That doesn’t make sense.

        • The original titles exist – on 16mm prints created during the 40s for non-theatrical and military use. Warner Bros. Has a policy of not using 16mm film elements to restore its 35mm masters or digital HD. The difference in film quality when it cut from 16mm to 35mm would be more jarring than the photoshop issues some eagle eyed fans are having a problem with.

          That said, the scanning technology is getting so good these days – those 16mm prints could have archival value in the long run… let’s see what happens.

          • It makes sense, if 16mm isn’t good enough quality to use for restoration, why Warner isn’t reinstating original titles with it.

            It might make a cool bonus feature for a future volume in this series to have an “original titles gallery” explaining this. Put together a video of the title sequences by themselves in whatever rough shape they’re in, just so people can see them!

          • How come they won’t even include the 16mm original titles as extras? Not wanting to encourage home brew restorations?

          • I have been considering doing such an original titles bonus feature for a few years now. The only problem is that the budgets for these DVD/blu-ray sets simply don’t allow us to. The good news about such a delay is that new original titles are being found all the time. I hope I get a chance to do it soon.

    • The easiest way to tell that someone did not read the article….

    • Regardless as to whether blue ribbon titles exist or not, I know I’m going to enjoy this disk. It is going to be one of the main discs of the year. As stated above, I hope this series continues as a series for far more volumes than I expect. there are restorations that have been shown on HBO Max that I am dying to have in my collection, stuff like the original titles to quote when I YooHoo“, just because I really enjoy the Warner Bros. output throughout the 1930s. someone on YouTube even found the original titles to the MGM Tom and Jerry cartoon, “fine feathered friend“. That is extremely exciting to me! Here’s to progress, and here’s to physical media.

  • Well, this is an unexpected twist.

    I just want to take a moment first to say a deep, heartfelt Thank You to Mr. Komorowski for penning this review, and to Mr. Beck for hosting it here.

    This is what I wish we always had when it comes to releases such as this: straight, honest information about what we are about to receive that dispells any rumors or misinformation and makes the best recommendation possible based on practical knowledge and experience.

    I held off on pre-ordering the Superman Blu-Ray and based on what I’ve read about that set elsewhere I feel I made the right decision. However, I did pre-order the Collector’s Choice set back when it was first officially announced and I’m going to let that order stand. Yes, I’m disappointed there were no miraculous discoveries of lost endings or reinstatements of original title sequences (and the discussion of soundtracks is something I’m going to pay more attention to in the future) however it’s clear there’s still more than enough right about this release to stand by my initial show of support.

    I’ll happily accept my copy and continue to dream of the day when the studios finally get wise to themselves and put people like Mr. Beck, Mr. Komorowski, David Gerstein, Steve Stanchfield, etc., in charge of a top-to-bottom, beginning-to-end restoration of the full Warner theatrical animation legacy. Maybe, if the fates allow, I could even find a way to participate in such restorations some day.

    In the meantime, thank you again to all involved for this article. It was bittersweet, but it did make my evening to read it.

    • Stanchfield would be good. I could even see a studio being prepared to work with him, and he could still access the knowledge of those a studio would want to keep well away. That guy handles people so well he could have been a diplomat.

  • Rather surprised Thad came back to do the review. And he even did an unnecessary jab at Disney’s light humor.

    • Some people believe a cartoon’s worth is determined by how funny it is.-
      He must hate “The Old Mill”.

      • Or… if it’s entertaining by another criteria, which the prime ’30s Disney stuff certainly is. If the Disney discs were stuffed with those looking as good as these WB cartoons, I’d be all over them, but the remastering is the real deal breaker (double dipping when there’s only ten cartoons a pop does not help, either). Let’s hope the shorts are getting the reprieves the features seem to be slowly getting.

        • Sadly, sometimes you almost get the impression that Disney is about ready to give up on all but a small handful of their classic shorts. It is really sad seeing how much studios have to be pushed into making their older films of any genre available to the public, especially animated shorts.

          • The modern Walt Disney Company (late Eisner era on) detests the Walt era animated theatrical shorts with a passion, for political correctness reasons and also presumably because the quality of the animation makes Disney’s television animation look laughable and amateurish by comparison, so I wouldn’t ever expect to see any releases of substance where the Disney shorts are concerned.

          • I think Norm is over-exaggerating quite a bit there. While I do feel like there are some concerns about some of politically incorrect stuff in a bunch of shorts (and I feel like they been over-reacting a bit in the last few years), I feel like content warring text disclaimer would be good enough to solve the problem.

  • Best of all would be making the entire library of Warner cartoons available on an a la carte basis. It would be more expensive, of course, but more economical in the long run to have a collection of personal favorites rather than someone else’s idea of “best of.”

    • Yeah, there are several factors on why that can’t happen (The “Censored Eleven” for example).

  • What a curse to have such keen eyes and ears! Or is it a blessing? Thanks for the detailed run-down, pal!

  • In 1961,, Daffy Doodles was remade as a Paramount Cartoons Noveltoon titled The Phantom Moustacher. In that version, instead of a duck, the titles role is an elderly Englishman.
    Way too similar to be a coincidence. Even the endings the same!
    Just watch

    • Famous was known to copy ideas from other studios. I recall at least three Little Audrey shorts “borrowed” ideas from earlier Disney shorts.

  • No wonder people from my generation that grew up watching this as a kid are killing themselves. I remember an episode with Papa Bear and he is fed up with his kid and tries to jump off a cliff to kill himself only for his kid to slide a bucket of water in his path lol.

  • Great review Thad. it is reassuring that Beanstalk Bunny and Catch as Cats Can Don’t have any Photoshop title issues (especially since those were the cartoons I wanted the most). I’ve seen some people complain saying that this is another “Tex Avery Screwball classics Volume 2 scenario” even though the Max transfers for the WB cartoons are much better than the MGM cartoons.

    • Hey, I watch YOUR YouTube videos!

  • Great rundown, Thad. Yes, this one’s a no-brainer.

    What have we learned here? Same thing I’ve learned over a few decades: get ’em while you can.

    Yeah, I’ve got Porky Pig 101. Yeah, the production treatment is terrible. And yeah, I’m glad* to have such a collection at all.

    *Note I didn’t say “grateful” – ha!

    Market conditions are currently horrible, for a dozen different reasons. Obviously I join everyone who hopes for further restoration and distribution developments for this glorious catalog.

    But I will have croaked well before completion. So I’m grabbing them all now.

  • I appreciate this breakdown but would have bought this set anyway no matter what the issues. Much as I’m going to purchase the Superman set. I understand those who feel that doing so is supporting bad release behavior by the company, but I’m financially able to do so and want to support the Blu-ray release of classic cartoons no matter what the issues.
    As Jerry Beck has told us multiple times, the only way we’ll get additional releases is if the current releases sell and make money. Discovery Warner, the latest in a line of owners of these classics, only care what the accountants say, not us fans.
    Again I completely understand the reasons people choose not to support a release that they see as bad, but if I’m able to help ensure physical media continues to have a future I want to do so.

  • Great review of what sounds like a great set. I’m glad I pre-ordered this and not “Superman”.

    While physical media market may be “dead”, blu ray is still the best way to go if you actually want to “collect” anything. HBO Max recently proved that by unceremoniously removing half of its Looney Tunes offerings (including some of the titles on this disc).

    I’m interested to see these in true HD (and some, like “Catch as Cats Can” and “Beanstalk Bunny” in decent picture quality, period.

  • I too was surprised that these titles haven’t been restored already, considering how much they were in rotation on television (ABC, CN), and on home video in the 90s. I think of this collection as “essentials that we couldn’t get to.”

    I’m glad someone else has noticed the reuse of the lackluster soundtracks from the Turner era. Some titles really sound awful and had much cleaner sound on the old Golden Age If Looney Tunes laserdiscs. Hopefully this will be rectified down the line.

    I too was hoping to see more unreleased Avery, but this overall is a great selection. The selling point for me are the Art Davis cartoons (and DAFFY DOODLES). I can see a single Bluray disc collection as a possibility (considering his small filmography), but that would probably be an esoteric release.

    Thad, it’s always a pleasure to read your insights on everything related to golden age animation.

  • Glad to see Thad back here. Terrific review, detailed as I love them.

  • “Art Davis closes the recurring Warners theme of casting Bing Cosby as a pure asshole (those cartoonists really did have great insight)”

    I laughed way harder at this comment than I probably should have.

    “The Foxy Duckling” I actually sometimes forget even *is* a WB short. I sometimes misremember it as being a Columbia short. Somehow it just has a Columbia feel.

  • Thanks for a remarkably thorough review Thad. I am eagerly anticipating my copy to arrive so that I may enjoy it at home. Having grown up with these animated gems I am always impressed with how they look on my 75” screen. Especially when I think back to how I watched them on a 19” snowy screen via Boston area UHF channels, that were way too far away from my home to have a decent picture!

    All I can say is keep theses volumes coming!!

  • Despite not being what I (or in a broader sense, we) expected, I’m still all for buying this set 🙂 This is still a great selection of cartoons that haven’t been put out on DVD/Blu-Ray, and I want to see more volumes of other cartoons not yet restored. (“A-Lad in his Lamp”, “Ain’t That Ducky”, and “Brother Brat”, anyone?)

  • While film restoration will always be a hot button topic for classic cartoon and film buffs, the digital restoration done here is still miles ahead of earlier efforts done in the mid to late 2000s. I still own the 2007 Droopy DVD release, but boy is it ugly compared to the newer Tex Avery Blu-rays on my shelf. Streaming is obviously king financially and it is generally more convenient, but I think physical media while always have a small niche. People still collect records and preorder ‘collectors edition’ video games after all.

  • Sounds good to me! Can’t wait for the end of May!

  • Why was the Clampett unit barred from producing Bugs cartoons for a year?

    • He was taken off of Bugs because of what went down with Hare Ribbon

  • Really happy about this release. And a great detailed review by Thad. Will pick this up today.

  • This was a great read. Thanks for posting here!

  • “The physical market just does not exist anymore, and studios are moving to streaming.”

    I own nothing and I am happy. Very happy. Oh, and before anyone says anything, there is no such thing as non-physical media. Hard drives are VERY physical. And very volatile. All media is physical. The only questions are “how long it lasts?” and “who owns the copy?”

    • Data is not physical, although it requires physical apparatuses to store, transmit and decode it when streamed via the internet. A DVD is “physical media” insofar as the data is physically present/embodied in a tangible way to the consumer which is not true of “non-physical” media (broadcasting and internet streaming).

  • Nice review. I disagree with Hot Rod and Reel being unremarkable, but maybe because it was the first RR/WEV I’ve ever watched, and made me a fan.

    The Three Bear shorts, the two Foghorn Leghorns, Daffy Doodles and His Bitter Half are the biggest selling points for me. I struggled to understand how they were missing from Golden Collections. Crime, really. And I like Mouse Divided too, lots of charm. Ordered, and waiting.

  • And as a Foghorn fan, please release Henhouse Henery and Of Rice and Hen for the next set. Two great underrated shorts.

  • This is still a welcome addition to anyone’s Looney Tunes collection. I really don’t care if these are not upgraded versions because photoshopped titles aside (what made them in any way think that altering the opening titles was a good idea!?), the restorations on HBO Max and MeTV do look outstanding. And hey, we’re getting two cartoons that have never been restored before.

  • Thad:
    There’s another supposed ending to Catch as Cats Can. After the now “Crosby-Ized” Sylvester says “Oh there’s nothing like vitamins”, the pipe explodes, leaving him in blackface to do a “My, oh my!” Rochester type impression. Maybe it was cut ,because it had been done way too many times already.
    This potential lost ending sounds more plausible than the other one. I don’t see how there could ever be a Crosby tombstone, because the cat ate him ALIVE! So feel free to tell me what you think.

  • Thanks a LOT, Mr. Beck and Mr. Komorowski !

  • Great to see you back here, Thad, and excellent review! Even despite this set’s flaws, I’m still glad I decided to pick it up! (no thanks to HBO Max gutting a huge portion of its classic cartoon library…)

  • I’m also excited about this release! I think anyone describing the selection of shorts on this release as “B list” misses the point entirely. I’ll disagree with Thad and others who described Wile E Coyote Road Runners shorts as either “unremarkable”, or “interchangeable” Blasphemy! With regard to the Superman collection, I think the harsh criticism is unfair. Reasonable people can disagree regarding audio/visual quality. Constant complaining, ansd nitpicking runs the risk of undermining our cause (Think: Tom and Jerry Golden Collection Volume 2 Bluray circa 2013)

    • I think you misunderstand me: I only consider Hot-Rod and Reel! unremarkable itself, not the entire series. Most of the Road Runner and Coyote pictures remain some of my very favorite cartoons ever.

  • If Warners wants to use
    The HBO restorations,
    For Volume 2, pick shorts
    That didn’t get this restoration.
    In this way,
    Perhaps they’ll all get done,
    At least until
    A set’s cancellation.

  • Excellent review, Thad.

    I’m a little bummed out that we won’t be seeing any original titles on this set, and I do wonder if we’ll get an explanation on why we didn’t get “new superior transfers” as promised…but this will not prevent my enjoyment of the set. I’m glad I’m finally around for a new Looney Tunes home video collection.

    I am, however, EXTREMELY INTRIGUED by how you said that the final shot of CATCH AS CATS CAN “differs slightly from every other print.” Perhaps the currently circulating Turner print fades a little earlier than thought?

    I do hope that, if this set is a success, we will truly get some “superior transfers” from the Max/MeTV/what-have-you copies (which already look pretty good, strange titles aside) for future volumes, and I always like to keep my fingers crossed in the event of some newly discovered original titles showing up restored. I guess we’ll just have to see what develops…

  • One other thing I have to give a credit to Thad is how cleverly he picked the snapshots of the cartoons here. In more than half of them I have the exact same flash memory when I think about the said cartoon.

  • Somebody please put Brother Brat somewhere.

  • This was a very balanced and informed review. Nice to see something approaching actual journalism these days.

    I am quite excited to get this disc. After decades of collecting LT on VHS, LD, DVD, and BD, I am thrilled and grateful to get less-collected cartoons in such good quality, even if things aren’t perfect.

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