Blu-ray Review: A Town Called Panic (The Collection)

Not sure how it was for your childhood, but a visit to my Nana’s house involved digging deep into a toy box that was filled with wooden blocks and an odd collection of plastic figures that ranged from cowboys, army men and farm animals. It was a mish mosh that made no sense which delighted us. In the time between having to run off to another relative’s house, we’d play away with characters that weren’t licensed from major motion pictures or TV series. It was all fun until we’d use Lincoln Logs to launch an offensive and an adult would swear we’d break an antiquity. A Town Called Panic captures those glorious afternoons with strange and twisted tales from the toybox with a stop motion world filled with plastic figures. Cowboy and Indian are the troublemaking twosome who have to be carefully watched by a cautious Horse. Unlike the figures accumulated at Nana’s house, these Panic figures can move their arms without snapping off. A Town Called Panic: The Collection gathers together two specials and 20 five-minute shorts that ran on Nicktoons.

Christmas Panic! has Cowboy and Indian so impatient for Christmas that they sneak up to the North Pole and attempt to heist their presents straight from Santa’s workshop. It’s a great Christmas special that brings together the sensibilities of Rankin-Bass and Adult Swim. There’s a lot of slapstick involving the duo and Jolly Saint Nick. Back to School Panic! derails the vacation plans for Cowboy and Indian when Horse informs them that summer is over. They have to report to school. They get excited when there’s a class competition with the prize being a trip to the moon. All they have to do is determine the distance between the Earth to the Moon. The duo fear they’re going to lose to a pig. They go beyond just looking up the length in a NASA book and take the long way to uncover the number. Can they get away with their scheme? What sort of student waiver do parents have to sign to send their kid to the moon during school hours? The shorts are pure weirdness and slapstick adventures from the trio in their neighborhood. There’s also a new short called “The Noise of the Grey.”

It’s easy to get lost in the fun and watch everything at once. Just hit play all with the shorts and enjoy the night. Cowboy and Indian are addictive in their ability to just pick the strangest road to accomplish a simple goal. The talking animals are a hoot especially when Horse is doing his best to restore order and sensibility to his life. Wisely the producers cast Alexander Armstong, the host of Pointless to voice the horse. The show was produced in Belgium so don’t be too confused during close ups when book pages and signs are in French. But the action is more Chuck Jones than European in sensibilities. A Town Called Panic: The Collection has all the fun found in Nana’s toy box without any of the clean up hassles.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic 1080p for the specials and the new short. The older shorts are 1.33:1 full frame 480i since they are a bit older. They still look fine although not quite as sharp. The stop motion animation doesn’t suffer. The audio is DTS-HD 5.1 for both the English and original French versions. The shorts are 2.0 Dolby Digital. It’s not mixed to be immersive so there’s not much missing. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

The Shorts are considered a bonus feature.

Shout! Factory and GKIDS present A Town Called Panic: The Collection. Starring: Alexander Armstrong, David Holt, Lucy Montgomery & Alan Marriott. Boxset Contents 23 episodes on 1 Blu-ray disc. Blu-ray Release: December 19, 2017.

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