Scooby Doo returns with more zany mysteries, young Toons learn everything they can about their lives at Acme Looniversity, and Freakazoid saves the day!
When I reviewed volume one of Scooby Doo: Where Are You! I gave it a very generous 9 out of 10 score. I was enthusiastic because of the nostalgia of the great cartoon. However, as I review this second volume I find myself annoyed. The cartoons are still great and I loved every minute of the DVD but the problem is once again there are only four episodes available. At $15 for four episodes, it seems the studio is just bleeding fans for their money. For $50 you can get the entire first and second seasons of the show. As a result of that, I consider this a waste of money and a giant rip off.
On volume two, the gang encounters an Indian ghost, the blue-faced ghost from the opening credits, an ape-man, and a funhouse robot. As bonus trivia, What the Hex is Going On is the episode with the haunted mansion from the opening credits. While this is a waste of money because it only includes four episodes, I am still very happy thanks to the nostalgia effect. This is still a cartoon I will be happy to watch with my son.
While I complained about the length of entertainment on the Scooby Doo set, I have no complaints about the Tiny Toons DVDs. This set is called Season 1, Volume 2 but it is split over four discs and includes 30 cartoons. I was never as interested in Tiny Toons as I was its counterpart, The Animaniacs, based more on my age when it was released (20). However, I can’t discount the fun, brilliance of the cartoon.
Tiny Toons tells the story of young Loony Toons students at the Acme Looniversity. The major characters include Babs and Buster Bunny (“No Relation”), Plucky Duck and Hamton J. Pig. There are also a number of cameos by elder Toons, including Bugs and Daffy. The first episode on this set demonstrates the creative aspects of the show as Plucky goes to his animation class and is taught, along with the viewers, how cartoons are animated. What makes the show so unique, and so great, is it is just as much as show about being a cartoon as it is a cartoon. The young Toons are taught the ins and outs of being an animated character from the Toons that came before. It is quite brilliant.
Now, I mentioned I was more a fan of The Animaniacs than of Tiny Toons at their heyday, and that is based solely on my age at the time. For someone who will be introducing a son into the world in the next two months, I am looking back at the old cartoons, both those I watched as a child (Scooby Doo) as well as those I skipped over later in life (Tiny Toons). Watching this DVD set, I realize that I missed a really good show. Sure, in my twenties I was too old and cool to be watching a cartoon like this but, now that I am older and set in my way, I look at it and can appreciate it for the greatness it holds.
The transfer of the show onto DVD leaves a bit to be desired as the colors are very muted and dull at points, but that is a minor complaint. This is a huge, great set of cartoons that anyone with a kid, or even someone who still possesses some youth in their heart, can appreciate.
I started with a cartoon that I loved in my childhood and then moved onto one that I had knowledge of but purposively skipped. It is only natural that I finish this review with a cartoon I had no knowledge of whatsoever, as I was well into college when Freakazoid! hit the networks. While the show was originally created by Bruce Timm of DC Animated to be a straight superhero, producer Steven Spielberg asked it to made into a straight comedy. This is the second, and final, season of the cartoon.
It makes sense that that the show I had never heard of turns out to be my favorite of the bunch. Freakazoid! failed to find an audience and was cancelled after two reasons. The first was it was moved around, changing times, so that the creators themselves claimed they couldn’t find it. The second problem, and the reason I love it so much, is the humor is not on the level of the young children the show was aimed for. The second episode is an example as the opening sequence is a parody of The Godfather, something most young children have no knowledge of. There was a great moment in the episode when Freakazoid is asked if he is wacko and Wacko from The Animanaics shows up proclaiming that he is Wacko and The Animaniacs is Steven Spielberg’s favorite show. Of course Brain, from Pinky and the Brain, had something to say about that. The three finally went to Spielberg himself to find out his favorite, only to have him ask who they were. It is great, self referential humor that probably flew right over the head of its target audience.
The show includes references to Gilligan’s Island, Hello Dolly, Seinfeld, Lost in Space and Mission Impossible among others. While the idea of pop culture references has been done to death in animated cartoons over the years it is used to great affect here, not so much to move the story but to add random jokes. The show is one of the best written cartoons I have seen in a long time.
Just as with volume one of Scooby Doo: Where Are You!, there is an added episode in the special features. Same as the first volume, this is an episode from Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! and is an embarrassment to the Scooby Doo franchise. While there are so many more episodes on Tiny Toons, it fails in the area of special features as well as the picture quality. However, no special feature is better than the new Scooby Doo episodes.
On the other hand, Freakazoid! is not only my favorite cartoon of the three but this DVD has the best feature of all three choices. A Full Season’s Worth of Commentaries (In Five Minutes or Less) is just what it claims. The creators talk about their favorite moments from the season. The first is for the Hello Dolly number from “Dexter’s Date”. Next up is the Romeo and Juliet monologue from “The Freakazoid”. “Heroboy” is the episode that won an Emmy and they talk about the blooper scene. The sections they discuss all have pretty funny comments from the creators. It is short – under five minutes – but contains the humor of the show itself.
A second feature is called Richard Stone – Original Bonjour Lobey Demo Tape. It’s the audio demo for the song from “Dexter’s Date’s” Hello Dolly number. It’s strange. The second disc includes a featurette called Liebeslied fur Normadeus concerning the second season and details the end of the series and the final episode, “Normadeus”. Much is discussed about convincing Norm Abrams to take part in the finale. The feature is played for comedy but, as the creators remiss, you can tell how much the show meant to them. HUGBEES!!!