Warner Brothers has once again put together a battery of classic animation and released it all over a very short period of time. In the last month or so, they’ve released the Peanuts 1970s Collection Volume 2, Tom & Jerry: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition and The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. All of these DVDs are chock full of old material, repackaged in a way that they can be “previously unreleased.”
Only the Tom & Jerry collection is truly indispensable if you’re trying to put together your kid’s library. It’s the disc you’d want to have if you didn’t care all that much about the cat-and-mouse game that Tom & Jerry have been putting on for something like fifty years, as it’s the old classic shorts as opposed to the newer ones–and it’s a 2-disc, 30-episode compilation of shorts that contains almost all of the specials you would have watched and loved as a kid with a bare minimum of extra, random crap. With a premise as redundant as Tom & Jerry’s, and with quality being so scattershot over the years, having a package like this is really nice because it allows you to enjoy the best of their stuff all in one place, as opposed to carrying around four volumes of “Tom & Jerry’s Greatest Chases,” which are pretty much the same material except that they feel obliged to leave a mediocre one–usually one of the newer episodes–on those discs to fill them out so that these 30 can stretch to four volumes.
13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo is a Vincent Price-starring, Scrappy-Doo-featuring, 13-episode take on Pandora’s Box as Mystery, Inc. investigates a mysterious chest into which 13 escaped ghosts must be returned. Price is his usual devilish self, and the series isn’t as bad as I expected after a friend remembered it by name simply on the strength of its awfulness–but you can see why the material has been out of mainstream circulation for a while. Let’s face it: Anything with Scrappy is probably not worth buying, but this one could definitely be worth renting at your neighborhood video store.
Lastly we’ve got the newest in a long line of Peanuts collections to come out this year; it is, after all, the 60th anniversary of the first appearance of Charles Schulz’s characters in comic strip form. Warner has been celebrating by reissuing everything that isn’t nailed down, althoguh they still haven’t gotten quite as far as most of the late ’70s, early ’80s specials that I liked so much as a kid. One of them is here, though, in the form of “What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown,” a story in which Snoopy eats a large, bad dinner and proceeds to have a nightmare in which he’s forced to compete in the Iditarod, challenge huge, snarling huskies for scraps of food and generally live every dog’s nightmare.
I had forgotten completely about this story until I saw it on this collection and now I can’t get it out of my head; it was pretty upsetting for me even as a small child to see Snoopy being abused and, later, turning into a mean dog. I look at it by today’s standards and realize that the soft, cushy entertainment we demand for our children means it would never in a million years get made anymore. While these collections are deteriorating in overall quality, making them maybe too much of a good thing, I’m still hoping that by year’s end, we’ll see a decent-quality reissue of Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home. Now, those would really mess with my memories.