Back in April I was at the K-Mart with my wife and mother-in-law, and I was given a choice. I could either get a giant 4 pound Wittman’s Sampler or this DVD. Although I love the Wittman’s Sampler, this was still the right decision. 100 cartoons taken from animated TV Shows, over 40 hours of entertainment. Plus the DVD’s (10 of them) come in a nice little can that zippers shut, with sleeves for the disk, but since the sleeves are double sided there is room for 10 more DVD’s in the box. Very convenient. With some of the recent moving I’ve had to do I did exactly that, put extra DVD’s in the box. I started watching this box set the day I got it, and I didn’t finish it until the middle of July, and then right after I finished it, I started watching it again, and as of this post I’m up to the 10th disk (I would have finished it to if it didn’t start watching some other stuff). I’ll try to keep the review of this box set brief, but there is a lot here to get through, so please bear with me.
Busytown Mysteries – the first DVD is “Busytown Mysteries” which is computer enhanced animation. Not full CGI but using drawing from an original source and sharpening them. The result is the ability to make animation cheap and quick while still keeping some of the charm of traditional animation. Later episodes of Sealab 2021 relied on this method heavily, and unlike pure CGI I don’t have much of a problem watching it. This show is really cute, especially the way that Huckle cat’s mouth moves when he’s talking. The “mysteries” are usually easy to solve, and very benign, like “when did the milk get spoiled” or “where did the mayor loose the key to the city” and so on.
The Busy World of Richard Scarry – this is one of the two or three cartoons in the box set that made up the reason for getting it. I didn’t really remember anything about the show, but I did remember the theme song (almost word for word) and I also remembered (vaguely) the books. I’ve been meaning to reread one of the Busytown books but I haven’t gotten around to it yet, I don’t think I own any. There is one episode in this set where Huckle sees a CD player that he really wants and with his mother and Lowly’s help he is able to do a paper route and save up enough money to get it. However [spoiler alert] at the last minute he decides not to get it an instead gets his mother a bouquet of flowers and an apple pie for Lowly as thanks for helping him. You don’t see stuff like that too often in this “Me First” generation.
Johnny Test – at the onset, I had no intention of watching this show. I vaguely remember it being on Cartoon Network at a time when I wasn’t religiously watching the channel accept for Adult Swim. At the time I was turned off to it because of the name, thinking, what is it a remake of Jonny Quest, and also a general non-appreciation for the then current lineup of other shows. That aside, Mill Creek did not disappoint with this show either. There was some body humor that I didn’t find particularly funny, but aside from that the stories were pretty funny, with a colorful cast of characters. I also enjoyed the Green Day influenced theme song.
Horseland – this show is about a group of friends learning how to ride horses at the titular horse ranch. All and all this is probably the worst show on the DVD, and it’s also the only one I skipped when rewatching the box set. That aside, it’s not all that bad, worth watching at least one time through. My biggest problem is that the show was a little too juvenile for my tastes and not whimsical enough to counteract this. Also there is an episode on the DVD where one of the main character’s pet dies, at least I think that’s what happens, I didn’t actually watch the episode when I realized what it was likely about.
The Littles – I never heard of this show when I was a kid. It is for a younger audience, and some of the reoccurring jokes get a little hard to take. That being said, this is probably my favorite show in the box. The premise is about little anthropomorphic mice men that live in the walls of people’s houses. The animation is prim example of 80’s toons, it took a lot of work to make these shows and it shows. My favorite episode from the series and the whole box is called “Dinkies Doomsday Pizza” which as far as I’m concerned is one of the best titles I’ve ever come across. So much so that I may be borrowing and modifying the title for an upcoming project, but more about that later. another minor problem with this DVD, most of the DVD’s will play the title screen for about a minute and then automatically start the show, however this appears to be the only DVD where this doesn’t happen, instead it keeps the title screen on until you select play all or a specific episode. This would be a good place to mention that one of the things I do like about this box set is that when you select an episode, once that episode is over, it will immediately go to the next one as though it were a chapter in a movie. This is an advantage because if you switch DVD players in the middle of watching a DVD you don’t have to select each episode individually in order to watch the rest of the DVD, nor do you have to start from the beginning and fast forward through each one to get to where you were. It’s a little thing, but I like it.
Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego – I of course knew of the Carman Sandiego Franchise, and remember the gameshow from… must have been 1992-93ish. I also remember playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Deluxe for Mac at a friend’s house, around the same time, and I even downloaded it from an abandonware site back in 2011 and played it fairly extensively for a few months. The game had a cell phone with video chat which was connected to a primitive tablet computer, the game was considerably ahead of its time. But back to the show at hand, I don’t specifically remember this show, though it’s likely that I had caught an episode of it back when I was younger, it looks like a typical Saturday morning fair but from a channel I didn’t watch very often, probably CBS. The show is pretty good but suffers from two fatal flaws. First it uses a small amount of CG elements in the animation, not a major drawback considering this was stat of the art animation at the time, but again I have a slight problem with that technology in general. The other problem is that one of the main characters is named Zach, need I say more.
Archie’s Weird Mysteries – I was not familiar with this show at all though the character looked vaguely familiar. Going into the show I realized that this Archie was a comic book character, plus: Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and Mr. Weatherby were all mentioned in the Seinfeld episode “The Wink” referring to: Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George Respectively. The show is bizarre, it’s another computer added animation and the things that happen in the town are pretty fantastic, and then ill-explained at the end of each episode, which leads the viewer to question the reactions of the townsfolk to the various monsters that come upon them. Perhaps if I had read the comics I would either understand better or care less about this detail, but as it is, believe it or not, I’m not much of a comic book guy.
Postcards From Buster – this is a spinoff of the show “Arthur” which I am a little familiar with, this show however I was not. Its geared toured a younger audience again, and it’s about the titular character going around and videotaping everything he sees, he learns about a lot of different cultures. The thing that makes this interesting, and perhaps unique for an animated show, is that it is 90% unanimated, most of the show is seen through busters camera as he videotapes live action people, I actually learned a surprising amount about various cultures from watching this show and found it enjoyable. There are two problems here; first there is the exclusion of a controversial episode called “Sugartime” in which buster visits a lesbian couple. The other problem is kind of aesthetic thing with me, they put one episode from this series as a bonus episode on the Horseland DVD, and they then put an episode of Nanoboy as a bonus on this DVD, now why not just put all the buster episodes on 1 DVD then put the Nanoboy episode on the Horseland DVD? Duh. Well it’s not really enough to get upset over, just a strange peculiarity.
Heathcliff – this cartoon along with the Busy World of Richard Scarry are the two that I remember best and also 80% of the reason why I got the DVD. I would say 100% accept I had (and continue to have) confidence in Mill Creek to keep me entertained with things I am unfamiliar with. Out of any show on the DVD this has, and by far, the best them song. I remembered the theme song, almost word for word and I remember the opening montage with the cats in the junk yard with the house that turns into a car that turns into a boat. I didn’t remember the show at all though; I didn’t remember that Heathcliff was a house cat and that the junkyard gang (The Cadillac Cats) were almost unrelated. Great cartoon though, I’d probably put this as the #2 best show in the box.
Wimzie’s House – from here on out the cartoons are shorter, just one or a handful of episodes. I know this review is getting long, but if you’ll please bear with me there is a lot to cover. We’re almost done though, I wasn’t paying as much attention to the shows at this point. Wimzie’s House is not actually a cartoon but a puppet show, like Eureka’s Castle, though I’m pretty sure this has nothing to do with R. L. Stine (did you know that about R. L. Stine btw?). The plot line made me kind of sad but more annoyed. It was about a bunch of “kids” playing a variety of games in which limited people could play, which meant that someone was always excluded, and the kids were constantly fighting. It’s made for a very young audience, but on the plus side there is only one episode, as a bonus episode on the first DVD along which had the Busytown Mystries.
Simon in the Land of Chalk – I don’t remember where this bonus episode was, but by process of elimination I think it must have been on the Busy World of Richard Scarry DVD. The show reminds me heavily of the children’s book “The Chalk Box Kid” by Clyde Robert Bulla. The animation is interesting because it is minimalist and meant to look like chalk on a black board, the episode however makes me a little sad because nobody wants to play with the snake.
Sabrina’s Secret Life – I vaguely remember this cartoon coming out shortly after the end of the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” series, which I used to love as a kid. The cartoon falls a little short of that show though I’m afraid, at least judging by this episode. In it Sabrina can’t get her hair wet otherwise it will have a bad reaction to the potion she put on it to make it beautiful. This was a bonus episode on the Archie’s Weird Mysteries DVD.
Nano Boy – as I already mentioned this was a bonus episode on the Postcards From Buster DVD. It’s a somewhat interesting premise but the animation is a little too modern for me to get into too much. The overview is that this human kid has some way to shrink down to the Nano world and there is a superhero.
Get Along Gang – starting here the shows/episodes all appeared on the tenth and final DVD, Get along Gang had 4 ten minute episodes. It’s a show meant for younger kids but it was rather cute and enjoyable. It reminded me of Rocky and Bullwinkle, but that’s probably only because the main character was a moose.
Pole Position – there were 3 half hour episodes on the DVD of this show. In contrast to the previous show, it’s meant for an older audience and has the sharp Japanese style animation of Transformers, Speedracer, etc. it’s about a secret spy organization that drives around in heavily modified sports cars and solve mysteries. That seems to be a frequent theme in this box set.
The Legend of White Fang – I liked this show/episode because it took place in northern Canada, I didn’t like it because the story focused on dog fights. This “White Fang” is some sort of spiritual guardian of wolves turned into wolf form (like the “Jesus of Wolves” you could say). It’s not very clear what the origins of the cartoon are, and this episode doesn’t explain the backstory to well. I’ll probably skip it when re-watching the DVD.
Jayce and the Wheeled Wariors – admittedly by this point I had other things on my mind and I wasn’t paying very much attention but this show looked very intriguing. It’s a Space-Fantasy show taking place on a planet that has been taken over by evil plants originally created genetically as a way to end world hunger. That’s quite a background story, and when it comes up again on the rewatch I will be paying more attention.
C.O.P.S – this cartoon is based in the future, with an advanced police force that relies heavily on robotic technology. The story in the episode deals with a robbery on a blimp docked above the city, and one of the cops overcoming his fear of heights.
Gadget Boy’s Adventures in History – I actually have one other episode of this show on a DVD somewhere in my collection. I believe it is a different episode but I’m not a 100% sure at the moment. That DVD has an episode of the parent show (Inspector Gadget) on it as well and I got it from some box of cereal which I at specifically for the DVD, and this was when I was in my late 20’s. I don’t have a problem with that at all because I love the parent show, unfortunately the same cannot be said for the spinoff of Gadget Junior. It’s funny when an adult thinks he knows everything and keeps messing up, it’s less funny and more annoying when a kids doing the same thing. Also the storylines are not quite as heavy or complex as the original show, also Gadget Boy uses the same voice as Inspector Gadget which just sounds bizarre coming from a kid.
Sherlock Holms in the 22nd Century – so in this universe, Sherlock Holms was real, and 200 years later is brought back to life through DNA cloning (I think). The story looked alright, but I’m not a huge Sherlock Holms fan at this point, so I didn’t get to into the show.
Paddington Bear – finally we get to the last show in the box. This as well as the previous show were considered Bonus Episodes, on what was already more or less a bonus DVD, strange I know, but not a huge deal. I do remember this show at least by name and somewhat by image. It’s a stop motion show with a stuffed bear as the main character. I have a soft spot for stuffed animals (no pun intended) and I found that this bear that ends up in England by himself to again be kind of sad.
I guess this review got kind of negative toured the end, when reviewing the bonus episodes, but that doesn’t really matter, there is plenty of material in her that is well worth the price paid. Like extra credit on a test, if the bonus material is not up to snuff with the rest of the DVD it’s a push if anything. And despite being lesser quality or somewhat sad (at least in my obscure opinion), they are all still worth watching at least once, and most of the DVD is worth watching multiple times. So go out and get it, what are you waiting for.