Warner Bros. huge animation library from the 1960s gets the spotlight in Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s Volume 1. Since Warner owns Hanna-Barbera, the set features quite a few vintage HB toons, many which have never been released before.
The collection, which may seem like an odd mix, is appropriately named as Saturday Morning Cartoons. All of the cartoons on this set harkens back to an era when Saturday morning was the only time cartoons were on.
I remember planning my cartoon schedule each September, when the new cartoons were revealed. Before TiVo, DVRs, and even VCRs, you had to pick and choose which shows to watch and I wanted to make sure I didnâ€™t miss a minute.
I think thatâ€™s the main reason Iâ€™ve fallen in love with old cartoons on DVD. I love going back and watching the cartoons of my youth (in this case, way before my youth). Warner has done a great job on selecting episodes for this set. Thereâ€™s definitely a little something for everyoneâ€”and there are even a few â€˜toons that I didinâ€™t remember.
One of my favorite things about old HB cartoons were the title cards. Each episode usually had a great title card with an image of the cartoon stars on it. Iâ€™ve included as many of these with this review as there are on the set.
The first disc of this two-disc set features:
Top Cat was not one of my favorite HB stars. Iâ€™m not sure why. Perhaps it was because he was something of a schemer, which is on display in â€œThe Tycoon,â€ where Top Cat tries to sell raffle tickets and keep the money.
Atom Ant: Now this is more like it. A superhero Ant, how cool is that. Back in the day, many of the HB stars share their show with other shorts. For instance, â€œUp & Atom,â€ the episode featured here, is only 7 minutes long. The 30-minute block would be filled with other 7-minute shorts. Along with Atom Ant, youâ€™ll see Precious Pupp in â€œPrecious Jewelsâ€ and the Hillbilly Bears in â€œWoodpecked.â€
The Peter Potamus Show: Some may recognize this purple, safari hat wearing hippo from Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. In his original show, Peter Potamus and his monkey friend So-So exploring the world in their time-travelling balloon/boat. As you might guess, the episode included here, â€œFe Fi Fo Fun,â€ is a spin on Jack and the Beanstalk. I loved â€œAll Riot on the Northern Frontâ€ starring Breezly & Sneezly (Polar Bear and Seal) and their interactions with the Army at the North Pole. Finally, Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey (think the Three Musketeers as dogs), report for training in â€œThe Volunteers.â€
Secret Squirrel and his partner Morocco Mole search for a missing submarine in â€œSub Swiper.â€ This is another favorite. Something about this Don Adams/Get Smart squirrel is perfectly entertaining. The same can be said for Squiddly Diddly, the pink, circus octopus as he gets abducted by aliens in â€œWay Out Squiddly.â€ The last 7-minute toon in this block is Winsome Witch. Winnie the witch is mixed into a few classic fairy tales in â€œPrince of a Pup.â€
The Flintstones are an institution for anyone 25 and older. Younger kids may not recognize the show, as hard as that is to believe, but I guarantee theyâ€™ll be entertained once they watch it. In â€œThe Happy Household,â€ Fredâ€™s stomach once again gets the better of him when Wilma gets a job (gasp!) hosting a TV cooking show.
The Porky Pig Show was years after the classic, Chuck Jones Looney Tunes shorts and theyâ€™re not quite as good. Still, I remember getting a kick out of â€œMice Folliesâ€ as a kid. Not sure why The Honeymooners as mice were so interesting to me. In â€œOften an Orphan,â€ Porky gets cornered by Charlie the dog. Also included is the great Daffy Duck short, â€œThe Super Snooper,â€ which is classic Daffy playing another roleâ€”this time a P.I. on a case.
The Quick Draw McGraw Show is another great collection of HB shorts. Quick Draw squares off against villainous Dynamite Kaboom in â€œDynamite Fright.â€ Also, private eye cat and mouse team Snooper and Blabber are on the case against a Martian in â€œOuter Space Case".â€ The episode ends with Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy in â€œGrowing, Growing Gone.â€
Disc Two features:
The Jetsons, like the The Flintstones, are a classic that most older viewers will know. Unlike the Flintstones episode, the Jetsons episode here, â€œRosey the Robot,â€ isnâ€™t the best one. I would have picked a later episode, rather than the pilot episode.
Marine Boy was a cartoon I was unfamiliar with. Basically, itâ€™s Astro Boy underwater. This Japanese import is a unique toon on this set. The animation is more realistic compared to the other shows, but the â€œBattle to Save the Worldâ€ isnâ€™t as exciting as the shorter episodes of Space Ghost and the Herculoids that follow.
Space Ghost is a classic, Alex Toth designed character that later became a late-night mainstay on Cartoon Networkâ€™s Adult Swim channel. Two Space Ghost shorts are here â€œThe Heat Thingâ€ and â€œZorak.â€ Theyâ€™re both great and feature the action and adventure that made this cartoon an instant classic. Sandwiched between the two SG shorts is a Dino Boy short. Dino Boy is Tod. Along with his caveman friend, Ugh, they face â€œThe Worm People.â€
The Herculoids was one of my favorite cartoons ever. Monsters and superheroes were great, so making monsters that were superheroes was even better. Enjoy two episodes of the Herculoids with â€œThe Raidersâ€ and â€œThe Beaked People.â€ This is a show that needs a complete release of its own.
Frankenstein, Jr. & the Impossibles was an odd combination of sorts. Frankenstein, Jr. was about a giant, Frankenstein looking robot controlled by Buzz Conroy, son to Professor Conroyâ€”who built the robot. The Impossibles are Multi Man, Fluid Man, and Coil Man. These three, musical heroes star in two shorts â€œThe Bubblerâ€ and â€œThe Spinner.â€ In-between, youâ€™ll see Frankenstein, Jr face off against â€œThe Shocking Electrical Monster.â€
The Magilla Gorilla Show finishes up the collection. Another HB animal star, Magilla Gorilla constantly escaped the pet shop where he lived. This time he joins a football team in â€œGridiron Gorilla.â€ Youâ€™ll also see Punkinâ€™ Puss & Mushmouse, the hillbilly cat and mouse, square off in â€œSmall Change.â€ Lastly, the speedster rabbit Ricochet Rabbit captures a train-robber in â€œAtchison, Topeka and Sam Jose.â€
That caps off both discs. Quality on all of these sets varies. The episodes that are taken from full set releases (Flintstones, Jetsons, Space Ghost) are better looking than the shorts, many of which havenâ€™t been seen in some time in the U.S.
There are a few niceâ€”if shortâ€”bonus features on this set that should not be missed. The Saturday Morning Wake Up Call! is a feature on both discs where narrator Gary Owens introduces all the cartoons.
Disc One also features The Good, The Bad, and the El Kabong, a short interview with animators and experts talking about Quick Drawâ€™s significance as the first TV animated character for the studio.
Moving on to Disc Two, Quick Draw is featured again with a bonus episode from his show that also features another Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy cartoons, as well as another Snooper and Blabber.
Also, two more short interview features highlight the best shows in disc two. The Herculoids: First Family of Planet Quasar reveals the insight behind the creation of this monster and family team. The similar Monster Rock: The Adventures of Frankenstein, Jr. & the Impossibles does the same with its referenced shows.
This is a great collection that not only shows off episodes from past Warner/Hanna-Barbera releases, it gives animation fans a chance to watch a few previously unreleased HB cartoons. Hereâ€™s hoping this set generates enough interest for The Herculoids and a few others to the full sets they deserve.