|HarveyToons: The Complete Collection (2006)
Starring: Casper the Friendly Ghost, Herman and Katnip, Little Audrey
Apparently there was much speculation as to just what this four-disc box set was going to contain when it was finally released. Hardcore fans of Harvey Toons were hoping for the full run of 300-plus cartoons. They’d be forgiven for speculating such a thing, since this is indeed subtitled “The Complete Collection.” Of course, one look at the back of the box and its bold statement of containing 19 hours of cartoons will squash that theory. No, this collection is not a “complete” collection by far, nor is it even “complete” in what it actually is. So what is it, exactly?
It’s a compilation of “The HarveyToons Show,” which was originally produced for the Fox Kids network back in the late ‘90s. It was a 30-minute show that compiled various Harvey Toons while of course “reformatting” a bunch of them at the same time. These new changes often included dropping opening and closing credits, and sometimes just coming into the middle of a cartoon and offering a “teaser” of it before concluding. Of course, this show was aimed at kids who had never heard of Harvey and their line of comics and characters, and a lot of these cartoons hadn’t seen the light of day on TV in quite a while. But the purists will scoff, and rightly so. After all, the “Looney Tunes Golden Collection” box sets are wonderful and contain fully re-mastered cartoons in their complete versions with tons of great extras to enjoy as well.
Blame it on the studios that put out these things. Sony Wonder has had a pretty shaky batting average when it’s come to the quality of their DVD reissues. This set is no different. Sure, you get a nice box that stores the four discs with cool Harvey Comics backgrounds printed under the inner trays, but that’s all you get. No booklet to explain what you have in your hands, no annotation for any of the episodes or cartoons, and no bonus features on any of the discs. Having not really seen any of these cartoons before, either individually or in “The HarveyToons Show” format, that was a pretty big disappointment. But again, maybe Sony Wonder is thinking that only little kids are going to want this set and won’t care about any of the history behind it all. Too bad.
As far as the cartoons themselves go, they fare all right. My son likes this set a whole lot more than I do, probably because when comparing them to the Looney Tunes sets, there is no comparison. The Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons get old really fast. How many times can we run the whole people-are-scared-of-Casper-but-he-just-wants-a-friend scenario into the ground? And explain this to me: why the hell can Casper pick up objects and use them, but in two episodes where there is a flood and he tries to plug a hole with his finger, it doesn’t work?! The guy can farm all day long and play but the same hands he’s using to pick up pails and apples with can’t plug a hole?
Then there’s Herman and Katnip, an even more boring take on “Tom and Jerry” than the actual Tom and Jerry. There’s also a slew of Little Audrey and Baby Herman cartoons as well. None of these are half as good as the Warner Bros. tunes. And that’s not just the adult in me saying that. Even a kid can tell quality after a fashion, and even though the Looney Tunes shorts had a lot of repetitive story lines and such, it all came down to the quality of the jokes and the animators and the whole crew that worked on those cartoons. Of course, those shorts were not just aimed at a young audience to begin with, so perhaps that has something to do with it as well.So taking that bit out of the equation, the Harvey Toons are decent distractions for the younger set. The adult fans of the show will probably find things they like as well, but will ultimately be disappointed in the bare-bones format of the overall product. Eventually, these cartoons will probably get the full reissue treatment they deserve, but until then, we’re stuck with this product. It’s not terrible, but it’s not the best example of a box set by far.