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Animation Round-Up

Best of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Vol. 2 DVD Jungle Book DVD cover art Legion of Super-Heroes, Vol. 1 DVD cover art

First up we’ve got The Best of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Vol. 2, from Classic Media. Breaking off from full season boxed sets (the third season was released in 2005), we now get three-for single discs, this one containing three full adventures from the fourth and fifth seasons. Unfortunately, the cartoon was meant to be broken up into chapters with in-between bits in place–these interstitials are AWOL. As a result, you run into a problem that I’ve had with this and also Danger Mouse–I’m seeing a rehash of a plot that I just left, so I don’t need the rehash in the first place. As I’ve suggested elsewhere, there needs to be a way to play them without recaps. Of course, the best thing to do would be to just release the full seasons. Let’s hope that’s still on the horizon. No special features. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Next: the classic Jungle Book from Disney, in their latest Platinum Edition. To answer the obvious question: yes, there’s a commentary. Why Disney doesn’t promote these on the back of the packaging, I have no idea. But Bruce Reitherman (voice of Mowgli), composer Richard Sherman, and Chazzie award winner Andreas Deja are on board. You also get a bit on a lost character to have been voiced by Frank Fontaine, a slew of deleted song demos, a decently-long making-of docu, a comparison of the film through its stages to the original Kipling novel, along with a bunch of stuff that might entertain your kids for five to six minutes total. Most importantly, though, you get the film–which features Baloo, one of the coolest animated bears around, along with Shere Khan, who’s just a great (and sometimes overlooked) Disney villain. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Then, let’s talk Legion of Super-Heroes. Volume One of the new animated series is now out from Warner Brothers, featuring four episodes. Now let’s the obligatory “Why are they releasing this four episodes at a time instead of doing season boxed sets?” question out of the way. Done. The Legion has to be one of the most abused titles in the history of comics. That’s how it seems from where I’m sitting. How many times have they been rebooted, semi-rebooted, deconstructed, and lots of other past tense verbs? Nobody seems to know what the hell to do with them in the comics. How about in animation? Well, while the setup might be a winner for kids–young Superman allied with a bunch of young super-heroes flying about in the future–that’s all well and good, but my God, the character designs make my spleen ache. Timber Wolf? I just want to use the top of his flat skull as a coaster. Braniac Five? He probably gives Whitley Streiber cringing nightmares. And Bouncing Boy manages to look even goofier here than in the comics. Go figure. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Robot Chicken Season 2 DVD cover art Samurai Jack Season 4 DVD cover art Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection, Vol. 3 DVD cover art

Okay, it’s time for Robot Season Season Two Uncensored from Warner Brothers and the whackos at Adult Swim. I still remember the first time I stumbled across this show: I was greeted with a stop motion bit, about four seconds in length, comprised entirely of toys, which featured an old woman in a tank, riding through a town and crying out in triumph. I barely had time to process this before they had moved onto something else. So, in other words, it’s like The Fast Show but done entirely in stop motion and jacked up with so many pop culture references that it makes Family Guy look like nothing (which these days Family Guy needs no help with). Anyway, you’ve got twenty episodes across two discs here, with plenty of deleted scenes and animatics, the Christmas Special, a making-of featurette, behind the scenes footage and commentaries on every episode. Worth owning if you’re sick in the head, like us. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Next, Samurai Jack: Season 4, the final season of Jack, from Warner Brothers and Cartoon Network. And Tartakovsky makes it clear that it ain’t over yet–in fact, he went into the season knowing he didn’t want to bring it to a close, and he still wants to do a film or something to end Jack’s story. Maybe if enough fans snag these DVDs, he’ll get his wish. In the meantime, you can try to make do with these thirteen final episodes where Jack does battle with a ninja, a slew of bounty hunters, his own memory and Aku himself. No commentaries, but you do get the “Genndy’s Roundtable” and “Genndy’s New Projects” featurettes, a deleted scene and promos. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

And last but definitely not least, we’ve got the third Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection, with thirty-five shorts (fifteen in widescreen), which completes the run of Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts. Or…well, not really. Two shorts have been omitted because, admittedly, they feature racial stereotypes–but yet the back of the box clearly says that the collection is “Intended for the Adult Collector and May Not Be Suitable for Children.” This is not only a bit inconsistent, it also makes a lot of words proper nouns that simply don’t need to be. Beyond that, you get a half-hour docu on the history of Tom and Jerry, plus a short from 2005 which was Joseph Barbera’s last. Collectors, assuming they’re adult enough, will want to add this to their collection. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)