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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/27/02

Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Goofy
1939-1961 (2002) - Disney (Buena Vista)

review by Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits

Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Goofy Program Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/B-

Specs and Features

Disc One: 1939-1948
Approx. 154 mins (22 shorts at 7 mins each), NR, full-frame (1.33:1), Amaray dual disc keep case packaging in limited edition tin, 8-page booklet, The Olympic Champ poster lithograph, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), video introductions by film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, The Essential Goof featurette, Pinto Colvig: The Man Behind the Goof featurette, animated program-themed menu screens with sound, languages: English (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Disc Two: 1949-1961
Approx. 168 mins (24 shorts at approx. 7 mins each), NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), video introductions by Leonard Maltin, A Conversation with Goofy's Voice: Bill Farmer featurette, poster gallery, memorabilia gallery, Goofy Through the Years gallery, animated program-themed menu screens with sound, languages: English (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

By the time I was about 8 or 9, my interest in the Disney shorts had waned and my allegiance had switched over to Bugs, Daffy and the rest of the Warner Bros. crew. I still loved the Disney features, but the Looney Tunes cartoons were simply funnier than anything Disney turned out. However, there were two Disney characters I could always make time for: Donald Duck and Goofy. If nothing else, Donald at least had an attitude and that went a long way. And then there was Goofy, the good-natured half-dog, half-man simpleton, whose How-To cartoons could be just as hilarious as anything from the Looney Tunes crew.

The Complete Goofy, part of the second wave of Walt Disney Treasures releases, compiles every single short Goofy starred in, from his solo debut in 1939's Goofy and Wilbur to his water-skiing misadventure in 1961's Aquamania. The titles included on this set include:

Disc One

Goofy and Wilbur, Goofy's Glider, Baggage Buster, The Art of Skiing, The Art of Self Defense, How to Play Baseball, The Olympic Champ, How to Swim, How to Fish, Victory Vehicles, How to Be a Sailor, How to Play Golf, How to Play Football, Tiger Trouble, African Diary, Californy'er Bust, Hockey Homicide, Knight For a Day, Double Dribble, Foul Hunting, They're Off, The Big Wash

Disc Two

Tennis Racquet, Goofy Gymnastics, Motor Mania, Hold That Pose, Lion Down, Home Made Home, Cold War, Tomorrow We Diet, Get Rich Quick, Fathers Are People, No Smoking, Father's Lion, Hello, Aloha, Man's Best Friend, Two-Gun Goofy, Teachers Are People, Two Weeks Vacation, How to Be a Detective, Father's Day Off, For Whom the Bulls Toil, Father's Week End, How to Dance, How to Sleep, Aquamania

Watching the Goofy cartoons in chronological order, you're able to witness one of the more unique and startling evolutions of any animated character. Starting as a supporting character in such classic shorts as Lonesome Ghosts, Goofy's main personality traits were an unflagging optimism and loyal spirit. These carry over to early cartoons like Goofy and Wilbur and Baggage Buster. But the departure of original voice Pinto Colvig forced the Disney team to rethink the character and place him in primarily silent vehicles. Thus, the classic How-To series was born, with Goofy learning the basics of nearly every sport under the sun. These are some of Disney's funniest cartoons, perfectly blending Goofy's slapstick humor with the verbal wit of the narrator (one of my favorite lines, from How to Play Golf: "Contrary to popular belief, golf is not a waste of time.")

Gradually, the strict how-to aspect of the cartoons was phased out as Goofy entered the realm of team sports. In these cartoons, entire teams of Goofys play each other in a stadium of Goofy spectators. But the device of the narrator remained a hilarious constant. There are only a few Goofy cartoons (The Big Wash and Two-Gun Goofy among them) that do not have a narrator or announcer of some kind.

By the 1950's, the character had transformed into the Goof in the gray flannel suit, a harried everyman named George Geef, dealing with such mundane problems as raising his son, fighting a cold, battling traffic, and losing his enthusiasm for life in a dead-end job. While not as consistently funny as some of the how-to cartoons, these are often very amusing. But, like most cartoons, the magic had dissipated by the '60's and the last few cartoons on the set are disappointing.

As usual, Leonard Maltin serves as your guide through this set and his enthusiasm for the character is apparent. He provides some history on the character and pops up in front of a few individual cartoons to put them in their proper context to disarm any controversy. For instance, Californy'er Bust is a Western-themed cartoon with cowboys battling a tribe of literally red-skinned Goofy Injuns. Not very P.C. And Teachers Are People concludes with the now taboo image of a school exploding and the responsible schoolboy punished by writing, "I will not bomb the school again" 100 times on the blackboard. Disney should be highly commended for not editing these or any other potentially touchy subjects or images from these cartoons. The shorts are complete and uncensored, as they should be.

Besides being presented in their original form, the cartoons look terrific. They're bright and colorful and have been given a virtually flawless digital transfer. The mono sound doesn't fare quite as well, with uneven levels and some unfortunate audio noise accompanying narration at times. For the most part, the sound is acceptable and is never so bad that it's impossible to hear what's being said. But it's a far cry from the most impressive mono sound I've heard.

The most valuable extra in this package is The Essential Goof, a recreation of a lecture given by Disney veteran Art Babbitt to his team of animators on the character's fine points. You never really think about it while you're watching the shorts but character consistency must be one of the hardest aspects of creating a series of animated cartoons. The Essential Goof gives rare insight into just how that consistency was accomplished. Also included are two featurettes on the men who gave Goofy his voice, Pinto Colvig and current Goof Bill Farmer. The Farmer interview is considerably longer than the Colvig bio, which is understandable but unfortunate. Much of Farmer's interview is devoted to his pre-Disney career, which isn't all that different from the career of any other voice-over actor and certainly nowhere near as interesting as Colvig's outside work. Farmer does provide some insight and brings Goofy's character up-to-date, touching on his major motion picture debut, A Goofy Movie. But much of the Farmer interview is just unnecessary.

Three still galleries round out the package. The poster gallery is pretty self-explanatory, filled with theatrical posters from the Goof's various shorts. Goofy Through the Years is jam-packed with pencil drawings and fully painted backgrounds. The content of both of these galleries is terrific but a fatal flaw undermines them: an "audio commentary" by Goofy himself. It's a cute idea but poorly executed, with a handful of phrases repeated over and over throughout the galleries. It's like a voice-over by a talking doll that's only been programmed with six phrases. I don't know about you but I can only take hearing Goofy say "Gawrsh" so many times before I'm ready to throw in the towel. The memorabilia gallery is better, with Leonard Maltin doing the voice-over on an assortment of comic book covers, record albums, and little Golden books.

Besides the Goofy commentary in the galleries, there are a couple of other disappointments here. Most problematic is the lack of a "Play All" feature. The shorts are listed both alphabetically and chronologically, which is nice, but you have to select another cartoon after each one. If you're a parent who wants to plunk your kids down in front of the set for an hour or two (or an impatient DVD critic trying to make it through both discs), the lack of a "Play All" feature will be frustrating. Maltin briefly mentions some educational films featuring Goofy that were made in the 1960's and it would have been nice to see them here as a bonus. And as long as I'm picking nits, the art on disc one is from For Whom the Bulls Toil, which is on disc two, while the art on disc two is from The Art of Skiing, found on disc one. A little consistency would be nice.

Caveats aside, The Complete Goofy is a fine addition to the Walt Disney Treasures line. I really hope that Warner Bros. is paying close attention to these releases, so that they will adopt the best features (complete and uncensored cartoons, sterling video quality, handsome packaging) and make some small tweaks to correct the minor problems (adding a "Play All" option, not asking Tweety Bird to provide an audio commentary) when they get around to releasing Looney Tunes on DVD. Until then, Disney is leading the way in the presentation of animated shorts on disc.

Adam Jahnke
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