I had been looking forward to the release of the "Complete Collector's Edition" of Underdog from the time it was announced. And while this set does have quite a lot going for it, there are many aspects that keep it from being the absolute definitive version fans of the show had hoped for.
This set *does* give you every episode of Underdog, Go Go Gophers, and Commander McBragg. You also get 14 episodes of Klondike Kat, 12 of Tooter Turtle, and two featuring the Hunter.
And unlike past Underdog/Total TeleVision Productions DVDs that omitted the original theme songs for the supporting cartoons, this set has them intact.
Unfortunately, this is also where this set suffers from a visual standpoint, as many of the opening sequences were mastered from rather low-quality bootleg video tapes as opposed to the original film elements that the producers were not able to include.
Klondike Kat's two different openings are from a video source, as are the Hunter's and two of Commander McBragg's three. (All three of the Commander McBragg's closing sequences, as well as Tooter Turtle's are from nth generation video tapes as well.)
Obviously, having these things in lesser-quality is better than not having them at all. But, there are a few other issues that made me wonder how much effort was actually spent in trying to obtain the best-quality elements.
For example disc three has a bonus collection of original bumpers and the syndicated closing credits sequence (among other things). One of the clips is of the "in weeks to come" promo that fans of the show are sure to remember.
This clip had previously been released on the old "Ultimate Collection" DVD set in pristine quality, yet on this supposedly improved set, the very same promo was mastered from video - in vastly inferior condition to what fans already have.
My question is *why*? Why the downgrade in quality? I would have thought this set would have been an upgrade over the "Ultimate Collection" in every way. (The Ultimate Collection also has content that is not available on this set at all - like a network Thanksgiving Day promo.)
As for the main video content, the episodes appear to have been compressed too much as artifacts are quite common. Fine lines and small details are often obliterated in shots that have lots of quick action. (Especially noticeable during the Go Go Gopher cartoons.)
The "Complete Collection" does restore most of the title cards and episode recaps that had been omitted from the past DVD collections, but not all of them. "The Phoney Booths" and "Batty Man" still do not have their original title screens/recaps. Eight episodes of Go Go Gophers are missing their original title screens as well. (A few random cartoons even have newly-created, non-original title screens, but just a handful.)
As I was going through the discs, I also noticed many titles were misspelled on the cases, and one entire episode ("Whistler's Father") was completely misidentified (the packaging identifies it as "Guerilla Warfare"). Again, this is minor in itself, but it did make me wonder what kind of quality control was going on when this set was assembled.
Another oversight was made in regards to one of the Hunter cartoons.
The set was supposed to include something called "Statue of Liberty Play", but a disclaimer pops up at its spot on the disc saying that after the packaging had been printed it was discovered the audio for this cartoon could not be located and that a film called "Hula Hoop Havoc" was being substituted. (All well and good, but even the disclaimer misspelled that title too (as "Hula Hoop Havok").)
Granted, much of this review is quite nitpicky. These are just the small details that Amazon's blurbs tend to overlook, but details that many animation fans care about.
All in all, this is not a bad Underdog collection, and it's probably the most thorough one we're going to get at this stage.