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Animation fans have been waiting patiently (or in some cases not so patiently) for Warner Home Video to release their library of classic cartoons on DVD, and with this set, Warners does a lot of catching up fast -- Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection collects 56 vintage animated shorts along with a sizable bounty of extras. The cartoons have been transferred to disc in their original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the transfers are uniformly excellent, sharp enough to reveal the paint strokes on the animation cels, and overflowing with gloriously bright Technicolor. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and these results are equally impressive, with the musical scores of Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn sounding just as well detailed as they deserve. Along with the original English-language soundtracks, alternate dubbed versions in French are included, as well as optional subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Each of the four discs in this package has been stuffed with extras. Twenty-six of the cartoons feature commentary tracks, mostly from film historians Michael Barrier and Greg Ford, though Stan Freberg, who did voice work for the Warners animation studio, also contributes. Additionally, several of Barrier's commentaries are enhanced with audio clips from interviews with Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng, who directed many of the cartoons included. A dozen cartoons also feature optional music-only audio tracks for those who wish to study Carl Stalling's work more closely. Each disc features several "Behind the Tunes" featurettes, entertaining short tributes to particular characters or members of the Looney Tunes creative team. Two longer documentaries are also included -- The Boys From Termite Terrace, a 1975 television special which looks back at the Warners animation department and includes interviews with many of the major creative figures involved, and Irreverent Imaginations: The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, a new documentary that offers more polish and some rare footage, but lacks the first-person perspective of Termite Terrace. Another bonus featurette, Toon Heads: The Lost Cartoons, is a Cartoon Network special which features rare and little-seen productions from the Warners animation department (though, sadly, most are shown in edited form).
Still more odds and ends fill out the package: a new cartoon which serves as a mock blooper reel for a Looney Tunes reunion; clips from the bridging sequences created for the television series The Bugs Bunny Show; animated numbers featuring Bugs Bunny from two Warner Bros. musicals, My Dream Is Yours and Two Guys From Texas; audio clips from voice artist Mel Blanc's recording sessions; pencil tests and schematic artwork for three titles; galleries of rare lobby cards, character sheets, and background artwork; trailers for feature-length collections of classic cartoons; and one of the earliest Warner Bros. cartoons, Bosco, The Talk-Ink Kid. If this set has a flaw, it's what's not here rather than what is. A number of classic titles discussed at length in The Boys From Termite Terrace and Irreverent Imaginations don't appear here, most notably What's Opera, Doc? and One Froggy Evening; at the same time, Chuck Jones' Road Runner cartoons, arguably among his finest work, are represented by a single cartoon while Bugs Bunny thoroughly dominates the proceedings. But what is included is generally quite strong, and there's no arguing with the quality of the presentation; Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection certainly gets Warner Bros. series of classic cartoon releases on DVD off to a rousing start. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide