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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 155 minutes
• Bonus Cartoons
The rabbit gets his material repackaged.
Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Eden Sher and Atticus Shaffer
Bugs Bunny is an American icon. Warner Brothers understands this and has found no less than a million ways to repackage his animated output over the years. Whether it’s VHS, Laserdisc DVD or Blu-Ray…you can count on the Bunny appearing in your home theater.
Recently, Warner Brothers announced that they were discontinuing the Golden Collection line in favor of lower priced specialty that focused on individual characters. Any serious releases for classic animation would come out of the studio’s DVD-R based Warner Archive. This pissed me off quite a bit, as I’m not the biggest fan of the DVD On-Demand services that have taken off with the studios over the last year. The quality is usually sub-par and the prices are damn near MSRP. When I started this first Essential Warner Brothers animated release, I wasn’t quite ready to accept this new line.
The Essential Bugs Bunny would be a great release at any other studio, but Warner Brother has raised the bar so high that they have trouble continually meeting the demands. Over 60% of the material featured on this two-disc set has appeared in the Golden Collection, which is going to bother quite a few animated fans. But, if they don’t cover the bigger animated shorts…you can’t sell it to casual buyers. The second disc is where the fans can revel, as we’re getting shorts from the modern era that are appearing unedited for the first time. Then, there’s the collection of Bugs Bunny appearances via various television specials from the 1970s and 1980s.
The inclusion of Bugs Bunny’s animated musical number from My Dreams is Yours harkens back to the days of classic MGM and Doris Day. It’s an awkward piece, that manages to push back its technical limitations to become something truly eye-catching. The audio is scant, but it stays true to the original sources of these shorts. Anything predating 1977 is shown in a barely there mono track, but you should still hear dialogue unless you’re going deaf. The only time I noticed any substantial trouble was on the live segments of How Bugs Bunny Won the West, but that’s because the film hadn’t been restored.
Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett and Tex Avery get their moments to shine on the disc, but it’s their highlight reel. There’s no room for experimentation and everyone plays it safe with their style. If you’re looking for any substantial artistic endeavors, I’d recommend checking out the Golden Collections and other releases spotlighting these individuals. There’s a wealthy of Bob Clampett material out there that Warner Brother has yet to effectively mine. That’s the kind of situation that bothers the hell out of me when I see the studio doing releases like this.
There’s absolutely no reason to buy this release, if you already own the Golden Collections. The uncut material from the second disc can easily be found via Youtube or Google Video. It’s nothing that you really want to own, as I’m hard pressed to find any soul that truly adores the theatrical shorts that WB produced in the 90s and 00s. In the end, the set suffers from Greatest Hits syndrome among a fanbase that has bought every major release thus far. You can’t keep selling ice to an Eskimo, so where does that leave WB? They need to restart the Golden Collections and take a slight hit. The material left to cover isn’t the biggest cash grab, but it’s material that a dedicated consumer base will buy.
What really kills me about this release is how you can’t find anything on the disc. You would think that a guide to the contents would be found inside the case, but that’s not true. You have to open the case, remove the first DVD and look inside of the plastic case. The listing of the shorts and animated special has printed inside of the front paper cover. That’s not where it ends, that would just be too easy. The paper is black on a black case. So, you have to slip out the paper sleeve to actually read where material can be found across the two DVDs.
I want to love you, Warner Brothers. You made me your bitch for the last few years, but I put up with you. Those horrible snapper cases in the first Stanley Kubrick Collection, HD-DVD, the lack of TrueHD audio on the first couple of Blu-Ray releases and your push to discontinue any specialty lines is quite a history of terrible feats. But, I stood by you guys. This is getting to be ridiculous. Shape up, WB. While you do hold the beloved Looney Tunes hostage, that doesn’t mean have to put up with lackluster DVDs.
a few featurettes that repackage old clips to create more talking heads praising America’s favorite rabbit. The bonus shorts were theatrical releases from 1992 through 2004. It’s soft material, but the Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers short is being presented uncut for the first time since its theatrical bow before Space Jam. The A/V Quality is strong enough, but it’s pretty apparent that no one has cleaned up the transfers since their initial DVD bow. While this release would be more readily available than the Golden Collection releases, I’d recommend only picking up this release if you don’t care for the substantial material in the Golden Collections. Not everyone is a fan of classic American animation, so you can use this to entertain the kids on a rainy day.