Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray $69.99
15 hrs. 32 min. / color / SDH

Here’s a brief run-down of our favorite films in the collection.

The Jetsons meet the Flintstones is the highlight, as well it should be. Thanks to Elroy Jetson’s time machine Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty end up in the far future while George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy have to deal with the prehistoric past. The humorous plot brings back original voices George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Janet Waldo, Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, as well as Henry Corden, who’d taken over as the voice of Fred Flintstone when Alan Reed passed away. Not since Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man has a crossover worked so well; it’s too bad Hanna-Barbera never did an Astro/Scooby- Doo meeting to figure out which dog owned that “ruh-OH!” voice. There is a Judy Jetson spinoff movie included, though, called Rockin’ with Judy Jetson.

The Good, The Bad, and Huckleberry Hound manages to parody everything from High Noon to Destry Rides Again while shoe-horning in as many classic H-B characters as you can manage in 90 minutes, including Quick Draw McGraw & Baba Looey, Yogi & Boo Boo Bear, Augie Doggy & Doggy Daddy, Peter Potamus, Hokey Wolf (What, no Ding-a-Ling?), Snagglepuss, Peter Potamus, Magilla Gorilla, and probably some we’re forgetting. If they had a Soaky, they’re in here, and I certainly hope some of you know all these characters (and had your own Soakys) so we don’t have to further explain.

Yogi’s Great Escape gives us Yogi, Boo Boo, and three orphaned bear cubs looking for a new home when Jellystone Park is shut down in a budgetary squeeze; interestingly, the attempts to “update” the film for the 1980s (there’s a “modern” gang of kids on bikes) makes this the most dated of all the films in the set. On the other hand, it DOES have a guest appearance by fan favorite Wally Gator, so there’s that. Yogi is featured in two other films in the set, Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose and Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears.

Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats is adapted from scripts from the original TV series, which is okay by us – other than the sci-fi themed Jonny Quest, Top Cat was our favorite of the H-B primetime programs. The plot involves helping a rich old lady find her missing heir, but they could’ve read the phone book, we would’ve been delighted just to enjoy the return of Arnold Stang as T.C. and Marvin Kaplan as Choo-Choo. Maurice Gosfield (Benny) and Allen Jenkins (Office Dibble), both long gone, are sorely missed, though.

And that brings us to the three Scooby-Doo films in the set; they’re rather notorious for the lack of Daphne, Fred, or Velma and the use of “real” ghosts and monsters in place of the school janitor trying to frighten the kids away (purportedly, the writers had run out of fake scare ideas). Scooby-Doo meets the Boo Brothers has Scooby, Scrappy, and Shaggy investigating the haunted estate they’ve inherited; Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School gives us Shaggy as a gym teacher(!) in a school for the daughters of famous monsters of filmland; and finally Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf: when the original Wolf Man decides it’s time to retire, Count Dracula goes looking for a replacement and decides Shaggy would be perfect for the job. Well, of course he would.

We’ll let someone who appreciates the Scooby-Doo franchise more than we do fill you in more on these three offerings.

The Wrap-up

All ten films look impeccable although the last two, which we're warned were shot directly on video rather than film and look noticably less impressive. The DTS-HD 2.0 sound is sharp and clear and subtitles are a nice addition; let’s face it, the intended audience for these is probably grandparents who enjoyed the characters back then watching with their grandkids now to introduce them to old favorites, and this is a terrific value, although at 90+ min. each, the films (originally tailored to fit into a 2-hour TV slot, and we could really use some sugary breakfast cereals and Slinky commercials) require patience to enjoy in one sitting.

Bonus material consists of a pair of much earlier H-B TV specials. Yogi’s Ark Lark (1973) gifts us with even more H-B favorites, including Atom Ant, Frankenstein Jr., Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har, and Pixie & Dixie, off to save the environment; Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood (1979) is a musical(!) that parodies hit TV shows and movies of the era, and is arguably the most entertaining of all the Scooby-Doo films in this set.

Like finding old friends, hearing once again the classic cartoon voices of the legendary Daws Butler, Don Messick, and the others plus the genuinely funny gags and the sheer nostalgia of revisiting the colorful cartoon characters that once paraded through the box in our living room on a daily basis makes this set a sheer delight for my generation, and the high quality of the films will be sure to entertain the younger set, too.

We don’t have the bandwidth to cover the entire career of William Hanna and Joe Barbera, but we’ll recap the highlights; they’d been making Tom & Jerry theatrical cartoons for MGM for many years, but when that studio shut down its animation department in the mid-1950s, Bill & Joe opened their own cartoon workshop and created a new cat-and-mouse duo directly for television, Ruff & Reddy, a childhood favorite, in 1957. Its success led to Huckleberry Hound in 1958 – the first TV cartoon to win an Emmy® Award. Numerous other hit cartoon characters followed, notably a Huck Hound spinoff, The Yogi Bear Show, before the studio hit a goldmine in Bedrock: The Flintstones debuted in 1960 and ran for six glorious primetime years on the ABC-TV network.

The hits kept coming, including primetime shows Top Cat and Jonny Quest, and not long after The Flintstones ended its run along came Scooby-Doo, and at this point we had personally outgrown cartoon shows (if it’s not an anthropomorphic smart-alec animal with a collar, tie, often a hat, but no pants, we weren’t interested) so let’s skip ahead to 1985, when the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera debuted and ran for ten seasons in syndication with a block of live-action antics, classic cartoons, and new material including in 1987-88 a series of ten new feature-length movies bringing back some of their most popular characters. Warner Archive has gathered all ten films together in a superb 10-disc Blu-ray collection that will entertain those who remember the original shows and those just joining the fan club.