The Woody Woodpecker and Friends: Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2 – DVD Review

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During the 1950s, cartoon characters were forced to change their lifestyles. No longer would they be allowed to be swinging singles living in the urban jungle or rural farmlands. They moved to the suburbs, bought single-unit houses and babysat nephews and nieces. It happened to Popeye, Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny. The Woody Woodpecker and Friends: Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2 documents the domestic transformation of the nutty bird. Over the course of this second installment of 45 animated shorts, Woody Woodpecker buys into the American Dream and appeals to the TV kiddie audience.

“Termites from Mars” still has Woody living in an apartment complex in the woods. He hasn’t gone ‘burb. He has bought a TV set. This leads to him discovering the invasion of rockets from Mars. The alien life turns out to be termites. A Woodpecker doesn’t like competition for his precious logs so he must fight to save the Earth. His battle with a raygun wielding termite gets surreal as he turns into a contour line drawing. “Under the Counter Spy” has Woody get involved in Cold War espionage. The Bat hides a top secret formula in Woody’s house. You never know where those pesky foreign agents will pop up.

“The Unbearable Salesman” represents Woody’s makeover. He sits in his den with his nephew Knothead and niece Splinter sitting on the arm of his comfy chair. They want to know how Uncle Woody got the bearskin rug. Turns out Woody was working as a traveling salesman. He knocked on the hibernating bear’s door. Woody has the annoying attitude to be working out of his suitcase. Knothead and Splinter are kept to a minimum in this short, but you can smell that they won’t be satisfied with mere cameos.

Woody isn’t the only character in the box set. Andy Panda, Chilly Willy and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit each have five cartoons. If the last name sounds familiar, it’s the first animated star created by Walt Disney. When Walt lost control of Oswald, Walter Lantz was given the project. Like Mickey Mouse, the rabbit wears a pair of shorts with giant buttons in the front. In “Carnival Capers,” he battles a villain with a peg leg. Oswald seems like a knock off of Mickey even though the Mouse came last. Chilly Willy is a penguin that doesn’t like living in the Antarctic. “Hold that Rock” is my favorite of his on the box set. “100 Pygmies and Andy Panda” has the bear magically battle a Witch Doctor. This is one of those cartoons that will upset the faint-hearted academics. There’s also 15 shorts that spoof musical pieces and films. It’s a swell mix of non-Woody Lantz cartoons.

While Woody is a fun character, his cartoons don’t have the texture or zip of Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, or early Popeye shorts. The joke on the screen is all that is there. Walter Lantz wasn’t layering the humor like Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones or Tex Avery. Since these are in chronological order, you can witness how the rise of television altered the animation style. “The Woody Woodpecker Show” hit the airwaves in 1957 (about midway through the third DVD). Lantz kept producing shorts for the theaters, but the budgets shrunk. The character movements take on the stiffness of Hanna-Barbera’s televised work.

The Woody Woodpecker and Friends: Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2 keeps up the good work of releasing Walter Lantz’s animated legacy. Even with Woody shifting to the suburbs, the early shorts on this box set give us Woody at his lunatic best. The bird doesn’t get completely weighed down mowing his lawn and entertaining his relatives. There’s enough lunacy to drive the neighbors nuts.

The Shorts

Disc One
Woody Woodpecker: “Termites from Mars” (12/8/52), “What’s Sweepin'” (1/5/53), “Buccaneer Woodpecker” (4/20/53), “Operation Sawdust” (6/15/53), “Wrestling Wrecks” (7/20/53), “Belle Boys” (9/14/53), “Hypnotic Hick” (9/26/53), “Hot Noon” (10/12/53), “Socko in Morocco” (1/18/54), “Alley to Bali” (3/15/54), “Under the Counter Spy” (5/10/54), “Hot Rod Huckster” (7/5/54), “Real Gone Woody” (9/20/54), “A Fine Feathered Frenzy” (10/25/54) & “Convict Concerto” (11/20/54).
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: “Carnival Capers” (10/10/32), “Five and Dime” (9/18/33), “Wax Works” (6/25/34), “Springtime Serenade” (5/27/35) & “Puppet Show” (11/11/36).
Cartune Classics: “She Done Him Right” (10/9/33), “Jolly Little Elves” (10/1/34), “Candyland” (4/22/35), “A Haunting We Will Go” (9/4/39) & “Fair Today” (2/24/41).

Disc Two
Woody Woodpecker: “Helter Shelter” (1/17/55), “Witch Crafty” (3/14/55), “Private Eye Pooch” (5/9/55), “Bedtime Bedlam” (7/4/55), “Square Shootin’ Square” (9/1/55), “Bunco Busters” (11/21/55), “The Tree Medic” (12/9/55), “After the Ball” (2/13/56), “Get Lost” (3/12/56), “Chief Charlie Horse” (5/7/56), “Woodpecker from Mars” (7/2/56), “Calling All Cuckoos” (9/24/56), “Niagara Fools” (10/22/56), “Arts and Flowers” (11/19/56) & “Woody Meets Davy Crewcut” (12/17/56).
Andy Panda: “100 Pygmies and Andy Panda” (4/22/40), “The Painter and the Pointer” (12/18/44), “The Poet and Peasant” (3/18/46), “Mousie Come Home” (4/15/46) & “Dog Tax Dodgers” (11/26/48).
Musical Favorites: “Three Hams That Couldn’t Be Cured” (3/4/42), “Juke Box Jamboree” (7/27/42), “Boogie Woogie Man” (9/27/43), “The Overture to William Tell” (6/16/47) & “Pixie Picnic” (5/1/48).

Disc Three
Woody Woodpecker: “Red Riding Hoodlum” (2/11/57), “Box Car Bandit” (4/8/57), “The Unbearable Salesman” (6/3/57), “International Woodpecker” (7/1/57), “To Catch a Woodpecker” (7/29/57), “Round Trip to Mars” (9/23/57), “Dopey Dick the Pink Whale” (11/1/57), “Fodder and Son” (11/4/57), “Misguided Missile” (1/27/58), “Watch the Birdie” (2/24/58), “Half Empty Saddles” (4/21/58), “His Better Elf” (7/14/58), “Everglade Raid” (8/11/58), “Tree’s a Crowd” (9/8/58) & “Jittery Jester” (11/3/58).
Chilly Willy: “Hold That Rock” (7/30/56), “Operation Cold Feet” (5/6/57), “Clash and Carry” (4/26/61), “Deep Freeze Squeeze” (3/1/64) & “Half Baked Alaska” (4/1/65).
Cartune Co-Stars: “Maw and Paw” (8/10/53), “A Horse’s Tale” (2/15/54), “Dig That Dog” (4/12/54), “The Ostrich Egg and I” (4/9/56) & “Salmon Yeggs” (3/24/58).

The cartoons are presented in 1.33 full frame. The transfers look exceptional with bright colors and few scratches on the image. The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. The audio tracks are clear without any detectable flutter. There’s no problem hearing Woody’s “Ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!” The subtitles are in English, French and Spanish.

Behind the Scenes with Walter Lantz (23:57) are segments from the original TV shows that packaged the cartoons. Lantz gives the kids tips on “Creating Woody Woodpecker,” “Timing a Cartoon,” “Character Movement,” “Photographing Animation Cels,” “The Animator’s Job” and “Using Backgrounds.” It’s a fun introduction to animation for kids.

Behind the Scenes with Walter Lantz (22:11) is more segments from the TV shows. This time Walter gives quick demonstrations dealing with “The Inking Department,” “The Painting Department,” “Drawing with Walter Lantz,” “Sound Effects in Cartoons,” “Storyboarding Woody Woodpecker” and “Creating New Characters.”

Walter Lantz TV Pilots (12:06) feature the forgotten characters of Space Mouse and Sam ‘n’ Simian. They look good, but lack any real bite. It’s easy to see why the networks passed on them.

The Woody Woodpecker Show #47 (26:59) is a complete episode of the TV package with all titles included. This is how your parents watched Woody back when Children’s TV wasn’t all about educational junk.

Woody Woodpecker and his friends should keep young kids entertained with their antics.

Universal Home Video presents The Woody Woodpecker and Friends: Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2. Produced by Walter Lantz. Seventy Five cartoons on three DVDs. Running Time: 507 minutes. Released on DVD: April 15, 2008. Available at