Warner Archive, $47.99

Massive 5-disc set of chronological Porky Pig cartoons

1935-1943, 99 of ‘em in B&W and two in Piggy color.

In the beginning, there were Looney Tunes and there were Merrie Melodies, producer Leon Schlesinger’s attempt to duplicate Walt Disney’s success with Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies. Leon’s plot went awry for several years because he was unable to draw up a bona fide star for his Looney Tunes series (remember Bosko? Buddy? Ham and Ex? Well, YOU might, but…) until he stumbled upon a stuttering pig in I Haven’t got a Hat (1935). Far from the Porky we’d come to know and love, this was an extremely obese porker who, yes, stuttered, but also spoke like he’d been sucking helium. Mel Blanc came along a few years later and gave the “classic Porky” voice to the redesigned character we all know and lo-lo-lo- adore.

743 minutes, 101 cartoons, bonus commentary on several of ‘em, and at a few cents a cartoon for a set that you’ll enjoy for decades. No down side, right? And yet, there has been some Internet grumbling (gosh, do we hate Internet grumbling) that the cartoons weren’t all immaculately restored and refurbished; a handful of them have music from other Looney Tunes tacked on at the end, or wrong credits, or less than pristine presentation. A handful. To which I recall somebody who told me years ago, describing a picky silent film fan: “If you sent him a boxed set of every silent film ever made and one of the films was missing three seconds, he’d send the set back.” I don’t know what to say to critics like that, except this: ignore them. We’ve been watching this set for several weeks now, 2 to 3 cartoons before most every film we watch, and enjoying every single one of ‘em.

Along with the Laurel & Hardy, Betty Boop, and Our Gang VHS sets of the 1980s and Warners' Popeye, Vitaphone, and Robert Benchley shorts, plus Sony's Three Stooges collection, the Porky Pig 101 set takes its place as one of the collections for the ages that we'll dip into again and again for decades. Thanks, Warners!