Although this (along with "Golden Collection Volume 6") represents the end of this series, Warner reportedly DOES plan to release additional Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons on DVD just not in this series or configuration. That said, "Looney Tunes: The Spotlight Collection" is a very good distillation of the essential cartoons from the "Golden Collection" focusing much less on the rare/vintage war time cartoons and more on the mainstream popular releases that played from the 30's thru the 60's. What's nice about this set is that it does include what are called "bonus" cartoons that, while they are not essential, give you a taste of the more rare or unusual cartoons on "Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection 6". While it would have been nice to include some of the commentary tracks that are on the bigger boxed set or a featurette or two, this two disc set does a very good job of highlighting (for the most part)the strengths (and weaknesses) of "Golden Collection 6".
The first disc focuses on cartoon superstars such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Foghorn Leghorn. These include:
"Baby Buggy Bunny" (A Bugs Bunny cartoon) features Bugs matching wits with a robber who looks like a baby (and uses this to hide out with Bugs). It's quite clever and has typical Jones/Maltese touches.
Broom-Stick Bunny-Bugs has a battle of wits with a witch who needs him for her recipe.
"Too Duck...or Not to Duck" A Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd cartoon by Tedd Pierce and Chuck Jones. Daffy is in his goofy incarnation and the relationship here hints at the one that Jones would develop between Bugs and Elmer later.
"Birth of a Notion (one of the rare war time efforts included here from Volume 6--a great one I might add) belongs to the Blue Ribbon group of reissued cartoons which means there are no credits for who wrote and directed it but it clear is a Bob Clampett effort that follows Daffy Duck as he tries to get a home for the winter by "appearing" to save a dog from being poisoned.
"Crowing Pains" features the first appearance of Foghorn Leghorn with Henry Hawk, Sylvester(!) and "Dog" as Henry looks for "dinner" on the chicken farm. A nice commentary track for Foghorn Leghorn fans would have been nice. The actual "star" of this is Henry Hawk but when Warner discovered the appeal of the southern Leghorn, Director Robert McKimson did others focusing much more on the rivalry between Leghorn and the Dog.
"Raw! Raw! Rooster" -Another Foghorn Leghorn cartoon directed by McKimson features Foggy's "friend" from college that he can't stand showing up on the chicken farm. Needless to say, he doesn't warm to his friend showing up.
"My Favorite Duck"-One of the first pairings of Jones and Maltese also puts together Porky Pig and Daffy Duck as the latter tries to prevent Porky from camping out. Porky wears what looks like a baby nipple on his head. It's a chuckle.
"Jumpin' Jupiter" -A Chuck Jones featuring Sylvester and Porky Pig where the duo are whisked off to space by an alien looking for "specimens"
"Satan's Waiting" - A hilarious Friz Freleng effort involving Sylvester and Tweety in which Sylvester goes to Hell after using all of his nine lives). This one along with the one involving Porky, Sylvester and the haunted house show that this comedic team certainly had some potential.
"Hook, Line and Stinker"-a later Road Runner cartoon from Chuck Jones lacks some of the bite of some of the earlier ones.
"A Ham in a Role"-Features the Goofy Gofers one of McKimson's characters that are a more polite knock-off of Chip and Dale who match wits with a dog sick of being a "low comedy" star in the Looney Tunes cartoons.
"Heaven Scent" A Peppy Le Pew cartoon--my least favorite character and one that I just never figured out the appeal of appears in a Jones written/directed effort that finds the amorous skunk once again going after the female cat in a case of mistaken identity.
"Often an Orphan" features a Chuck Jones character Charlie a dog abandoned by his owner who believes he has found the perfect owner in the form of reluctant master Porky Pig..
"Dog Gone South"-Once again features Charlie the dog that no one wants because he is obnoxious this time matching wits with a southern plantation owner.
"By Word of Mouse"-Closes out disc 1 with the pairing Hans a mouse from "the old world" who recounts his trip to America. It's a primer on capitalism directed by Friz Freleng and written by Warren Foster.
Disc Two is entitled "One- Hit Wonders" and includes one-off cartoons with characters that didn't reappear in any other cartoons. Many of these cartoons are terrific it's just that the the directors really couldn't find any other cartoons to use them in or they just didn't appeal as much to theatergoers/theater owners (who gave the Blue Ribbon Award that often are seen at the beginning of some of these cartoons for what they perceived as the most popular cartoons). These include:
"Rocket-Bye Baby" is a Michael Maltese-Chuck Jones science fiction classic where babies are delivered to the wrong planet. As with all of the Jones-Maltese collaborations its innovative, funny and shows the unique chemistry of these two who did some of their best work along with designer Maurice Noble.
"Fresh Airedale" is one of the Blue Ribbon cartoons. These reissues often left off the credits as to who created the cartoon. The frustrating thing about the Blue Ribbon cartoons is they would often leave off the credits. Chuck Jones directed this effort.
"It's a Hummer Time" is a Warren Foster-Robert McKimson collaboration. McKimson one of the finest draftsmen and animators often was slighted for the cartoons he directed simply because they didn't have the quirky personality of Jones' work or the slapstick insanity of Freleng's. This is a terrific effort from McKimson with wonderfully rich characterizations.
"Much Ado About Nothing" comes from the Merrie Melodies line and again is a Jones-Maltese collaboration. Jones and his animators were always able to elicit laughs out of the slightest movement of a facial muscle and this one is no exception involving a chipmunk who believes he has hit the motherlode when he discovers a peanut vendor.
"Goo Goo Goliath" catches the perfect team of Warren Foster and Fritz Freleng with expert animation by Art Davis among others. Focusing on a drunk stork who delivers the son of the Giant who lives at the top of a bean stock to a normal sized family.
"The Draft Horse" a classic Jones-Tedd Pierce war time effort was a turning point for Jones who had previously focused on cute Disney like efforts. This is one of the first where the director discovered his true quirky style.
"Lights Fantastic" is one of Freleng's war time efforts giving us a view of Times Square in New York in the mid-40's, focusing on the creative use of signs. It's got a number of clever bits in it but just come together.
"Rookie Revue" is another war time short from Freleng giving us an imagery day in the army.
"The Weakly Reporter" a Jones/Maltese collaboration as with many of these one-off's is related to the World War II. It's a humorous look at how the average person has been effected by the war. It's got a number of clever gags.
"Wild Wife" is another McKimson/Foster effort from the 50's focusing on a woman's typical day when her husband scoffs at the fact that she doesn't have enough time to do all the chores.
"The Hole Idea" is another McKimson collaborating with Sid Marcus from the 50's focusing on Professor Calculus inventor extraordinaire who createa a portable hole (a full decade BEFORE The Beatles discovered The Sea of Holes in "Yellow Submarine")
"Page Miss Glory" is a very early effort with designs that firmly puts it in either the late 30's or early 40's before Warner developed the rambunctious style that would become a hallmark of the studio.
"Now Hear This" is a 60's cartoon directed by Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble which uses a minimalist animation style, thicker lines that resulted from the use of copy machines and designs. It's clever but not one that you would probably watch more than once.
"Norman Normal" fits in with 1967 and lacks any of the distinctive design or look of classic WB cartoons. Directed by Alex Lovy this 60's cartoon hasn't played much and wasn't in circulation for a long time so its inclusion will be great for fans that saw it initially either during it's theatrical run or it's brief tenure on the "Bugs Bunny" show on TV.
"A Cartoonist's Nightmare" dates from 1935 and is an early black and white Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Jack King.
Warner has done a terrific job of cleaning up these shorts. A few of them haven't been seen often since World War II but the bulk of them were trimmed and shoehorned into "The Bugs Bunny Show" in the early 60's. These are the uncut versions of the cartoons although in some cases we get the re-release opening titles (such as the Blue Ribbon cartoons) which often don't have titles. Nevertheless, they look marvelous with nice, bold colors and sharp image quality. On some of the older ones you'll see occasional bits of dust that were on the actual animation cels themselves. Warner chose to keep this in rather than over process the images.
The mono soundtrack sounds quite good with the unique music that accompanied many of these cartoons sounding clear and robust in the mono mix.
The last set had a featurette that was a nice additional extra. It's a pity that Warner didn't just port over some of the commentary tracks for those that have them on "Golden Collection Volume 6" because fans that pick up this set may have an interest in the creation of the cartoons. I have to give Warner credit though in that with this set they included a healthy selection of strong cartoons as well as a couple of lesser known ones.
Disc one comes with these bonus cartoons;
"Heir Conditioned"-A Freleng cartoon featuring Sylvester who inherits a fortune (Elmer is his lawyer) and the good-for-nothing cats that try and take advantage of Sylvester.
"Rabbit Rampage" - Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese revisit "Duck Amuck" putting Bugs on the animation cel at the mercy of a nasty animator. It's not quite as funny or ground breaking as "Duck Amuck" but it is amusing.
"Sniffles Takes a Trip" - One of Chuck Jones Sniffles cartoons where he was under the influence of Disney cartoons focusing on cute and cuddly at the expense of fast and furious.
"Yankee Dood It"-Features Elmer as King of the Elves who wants the Shoemaker to give all of the Elves up. It's another primer in capitalism. Sylvester also appears and takes great interest in the Elves hoping that through the use of a magic word to turn them all into mice.
Disc Two has the following bonus cartoons:
"Bartholomew Versus the Wheel" another mid-60's effort by McKimson lacks the distinctive draftsmanship that was a hallmark of his cartoons aping the "look" of what a ten year old might draw.
"Punch Truck" finds Jones and Maltese working together again about a tiny elephant that stows away on a ship and comes into the U.S. It's a cute cartoon.
"Sleep Time Possum" a McKimson/Pierce collaboration gives us the daily life of Mr. and Mrs. Possum and their lazy son "Junior" who spents all his time sleeping.
"Wild Wild World" is a McKimson/Ted Pierce cartoon that parodies TV programs and focuses on early man's development hinting at the Flintstones with some of its design elements.
We also get a variety of trailers for Charlie Brown cartoon specials.
This latest "Spotlight Collection" has a stronger selection of classic cartoons and characters than some of the previous ones and although it isn't the best, it is one of the better "Spotlight Collections". Including some of the bonus cartoons is a nice plus but why also port over any commentary tracks/music only tracks as well to make them truly "special features". Image quality is top notch but if you are a big Warner fan I'd go for the "Golden Collection Volume 6" since everything here is included there.
Disc one-4 stars while disc two-3 1/2 stars--extras: 3 stars. I'd give the total effort 3 1/2