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The Looney Tunes Golden Collection

The four-disc Looney Tunes Golden Collection is a gorgeous starter set of beautifully restored cartoons from the golden era of Warner Bros. Animation. The 56 shorts are presented on discs devoted to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, and "Looney Tunes All-Stars" — a catch-all phrase that includes Foghorn Leghorn, Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester and Tweety, and the Road Runner. The colors on these new transfers are intensely vivid and, though they certainly aren't presented without any specks or scratches (let's face it, some of these cartoons are over 60 years old and weren't stored under optimum conditions) they're wonderfully clean and framed better — all in their original 1.37:1 aspect ratio — than the versions on either the LD sets or on broadcast television, and you're getting them unedited. The monaural Dolby audio has been cleaned up to crystal clarity, with no notable pops or hisses, and with the phenomenal music tracks sounding better than ever. Twenty-six of the cartoons offer commentary tracks by animation historians Michael Barrier and Jerry Beck, filmmaker Greg Ford or actor Stan Freberg. Twelve shorts are available with a music-only option, offering the opportunity to marvel at the genius of composer Carl Stalling. The new, 60-minute featurette "Irreverent Imagination: The Golden Age of Looney Tunes" offers sound-bites from Termite Terrace animators and family members, plus lots of clips from cartoons and photos from the era. It's a nice overview of the period, if a little shallow. Much better is the two-part, 1975 documentary "The Boys from Termite Terrace", originally produced for CBS' Camera Three series. Also on board is a 46-minute Cartoon Network featurette, "Toon Heads: The Lost Cartoons," 12 new featurettes are offered under the heading "Behind the Tunes," the eight-minute "Blooper Bunny: Bugs Bunny 50th Anniversary Special" from 1991; an introduction by Chuck Jones, plus still galleries, pencil tests, cartoon schematics, a 10-minute segment from The Bugs Bunny Show, and clips of animated segments from two 1949 Jack Carson films.
—Dawn Taylor

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