After releasing two incredible Golden Collection DVD anthologies devoted to classic Looney Tunes shorts, it appears as if Warner Bros. had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for this third go-around. Poised to become the underdog of the series, volume three not only boasts a telling black-sheep-colored cover but a pretty useless introduction-cum-exculpation on every disc by Whoopi Goldberg, who explains that while many shorts in the Looney Tunes canon may have been offensive to women and people of color (like me, who only ever liked Speedy Gonzales when Charo wrote a song about him), they remain products of their time, and as such it would be a betrayal to our collective history to pretend as if they never existed. Fair enough, but who is Whoopi placating here? Given that none of the infamous “Censored 11” shorts are included here and that the more loaded, identity-charged caricatures strewn across the four discs mostly target poor whites (Hillbilly Hare for example), it seems odd that Whoopi makes no apologies to the rednecks in the crowd. But enough about that. The set’s first disc collects 15 underwhelming Bugs Bunny classics notable mostly for the tissue that connects them: Bugs’s perpetual threat to urbanity. The best of the lot are Easter Yeggs, in which Bugs takes over egg-delivery duty for the Easter Bunny, and Wackiki Wabbit—among my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons ever (note to Warner Bros.: Where is A Hound for Trouble?)—in which Bugs torments two “white men” on a deserted island which screwy native talk, an elaborate song-and-dance number, and a chicken on strings; if not Chuck Jones’s most audacious creation, it’s certainly his most audaciously drawn. The 15 “Hollywood Caricatures and Parodies” collected on disc two aren’t as impressive as the time span between the oldest and newest short, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how amazingly Swooner Crooner and The Mouse That Jack Built hold up after umpteenth viewings. Porky and other assorted cartoon pigs—from the cute to the sad-sack—are corralled on disc three, which starts off as a G-rated affair but turns increasingly sinister with classics like Bye, Bye Bluebeard, The Windblown Hare and Claws for Alarm. Last but certainly not least, you can enjoy an “All-Star Cartoon Party” on disc four, which features some of the best shorts in the entire collection—some ripe for (re)discovery—including the classic Falling Hare, the beautifully drawn Steal Wool and the perverse An Itch in Time. For Latino fetishists, don’t miss Gonzales’ Tamales!
Once again, what I said about the first and second volumes of the Golden Collection applies here: "Fully restored and completely remastered. Don’t believe me? Pop in any second-rate bootleg with Looney Tunes shorts on it (say, Front Row Features’s ’Cartoon Explosion’ series) and you’ll see that these Warner Bros. toons never looked and sounded as good as they do here. Well, the audio is still mono, but I don’t ever remember any of these shorts sounding this crystal clear."
Just because Eddie Fitzgerald and John Kricfalusi admit that Wackiki Wabbit did more to inspire their artwork than any other cartoon ever made, I will make an effort to revisit Ren and Stimpy sometime in the near future and see if I like it more than I did back in high school. Other commentators include Martha Sigal, voice artist June Foray, historians Jerry Beck, Michael Barrier and Daniel Goldmark, animators Mark Kausler, Eric Goldberg, Paul Dini, Bill Melendez, Art Leonardi and Milton Gray, and filmmaker Greg Ford. Once again, all commentaries, music-only and music-and-effects-only tracks, and featurettes are accessible in two ways: by clicking on the icons next to the titles of the shorts or through the special features main menu. There’s plenty of treats to savor here, but most delicious are: "Tish Tash: The Animated World of Frank Tashlin," a tribute to the Weehawken-born auteur, the TV pilot for Philbert, the 1991 John Needham documentary Chuck Amuck, and the war-themed vault footage on disc four considering it gives us a glimpse of commercially unavailable Looney Tunes shorts.
Add this black sheep to your Looney Tunes Golden Collection family.