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Warner Home Video presents
The Huckleberry Hound Show Volume 1 (1958-1959)

"Just remember, wiseguys, that mices beating up cat stuff happens only in cartoons."
- Mr. Jinks (Daws Butler)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 20, 2005

Stars: Daws Butler, Don Messick
Director: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (cartoon violence, mild ethnic stereotyping)
Run Time: 09h:23m:57s
Release Date: November 15, 2005
UPC: 014764273020
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BAB+ C+

DVD Review

Those who were kids in the late baby boom years will almost always respond positively if you remind them of The Huckleberry Hound Show, and one likely will get a response of the classic line of cartoon cat Mr. Jinks, "I hate meeses to pieces!". This four-disc set collects the first season's worth of shows, as the program and its constituent cartoons were finding their particular themes and working their way into the hearts and memories of children across America.

Each episode consisted of a Yogi Bear cartoon, one featuring mice Pixie and Dixie and their constant misadventures with Mr. Jinks (a somewhat watered-down and talky version of their classic Tom and Jerry cartoons) and one featuring the star of the show, Huckleberry Hound, an inexplicably blue hound dog with a laconic Southern drawl and a fondness for the song, My Darling Clementine. The cartoons are presented here without the surrounding materials, such as the credits, intros and bumpers, although the first six episodes can be viewed in complete form in the bonus materials. That's just as well, since that extraneous material gets a bit repetitive and much of it apparently only survives in black-and-white kinescopes.

The animation is very cheaply done, with only limited movement much of the time. But the animation nonetheless gets a lot of life thanks to the voice artistry genius of Daws Butler, who voices Huck, Yogi, Mr. Jinks and Dixie, and thus regularly holding conversations with himself. Yogi's sidekick Boo-Boo Bear and Pixie and other incidental characters are voiced by Don Messick, who was no slouch himself, best known for doing the character Scooby-Doo later on. Between the two of them the characters are vividly portrayed and distinctive (though oddly enough, the two hardest to distinguish, Pixie and Dixie, were actually voiced each by one of the men).

Many of these cartoons feel like works in progress. Yogi Bear is still in formative stages, before he was spun off to his own program. Although there are numerous rangers who make an appearance, there's no sign of the familiar Ranger Smith (though what would eventually be his voice does put in an appearance). Not until fairly well along does Yogi develop an obsession with 'pic-a-nic baskets.' Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks pick up where Tom and Jerry left off, but they also display some of the friendly tendencies that would ruin the later incarnations of Tom and Jerry. Although Jinks' famous quote shows up quite a lot in the bumpers and interstitial material, he doesn't actually say it much during these programs (for that matter, Yogi frequently says "Smarter than the average..." but only a couple times does he finish it as in the famous line "Smarter than the average bear."). Finally, there's Huckleberry Hound, who takes on a different persona every week, variously serving with the police and the Mounties, or as a knight or an astronaut or big game hunter or lion tamer, among many others. It's no wonder he was popular with boys; his professions were a veritable wish list for little boys. His totally unflappable character in the face of any sort of strangeness is pretty comforting too.

The violence level is pretty low, although there are a few Tex Avery moments such as Huckleberry being shot through the head with the bullet leaving a circular hole (though of course he's unharmed). Huck actually gets shot quite a few times in the series, with no lasting effect, but the lack of other extreme cartoon violence makes these moments stand out as being a little jarring. The humor is a little thin, but the cartoons still hold up pretty well, thanks mostly to the voice work.

These discs covering the first season make up 22 or 26 episodes, depending on how you count them. That's because the cartoons in the first four episodes were used to fill spots as needed later on in the series. They're duplicated here to provide an approximation of the content of each show (though without the framing materials, as noted above). So discounting the duplication, there are different 22 cartoons featuring Yogi, Mr. Jinks and Huck. The total series only ran 57 episodes over four years, so this is a healthy sampling of the series.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The cartoons are presented in original full frame color. They look gorgeous, with vibrant and vivid color and sharp, clean black lines. There are a few speckles here and there but the films seem to be in excellent shape. I saw little evidence of digital noise reduction, which often is highly destructive to animation. Even though almost no one had a color television in 1958, Hanna and Barbera had the foresight to film their shows in full color, which certainly helps their marketability today.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono audio sounds fine as well, with only nominal hiss or noise. Dialogue is quite clear and crisp. The music is a little bright but there's nothing wrong with it.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 78 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Reconstructed episodes
  2. Additional bumpers and bridges
  3. Music video
Extras Review: Purists will be interested in the reconstructions of the first six episodes. The opening and closing credits (which are an extended ad for Kellogg's cereals) appear to exist only as kinescopes, as do many of the intros, bumpers and bridges. Unfortunately, Huck's memorably catchy theme song appears only in the credits. The first episode is hidden at the end, on the second side of disc four, and it also includes the animated ads for various Kellogg's cereals featuring Huck, making it quite complete. Episodes 2-6 omit these ads, and they can be found on disc 1. The first side of disc 4 also includes additional bridging materials, some of which are kinescopes and some are in full color, depending on what sources survive.

There are two featurettes included. One running 5m:30s is a silly piece on the linguistic importance of Huckspeak, with a phony professor holding forth on such terms as "if'n", "thar", "dadburned" and "nohow". More substantial is a 12m:41s piece devoted to Daws Butler, with numerous voice artists and others in the cartoon industry paying tribute to Butler's talents. At one point it veers off into a discussion of voice acting generally, but it should provide a good general appreciation to those not familiar with Butler. Finally, there's a 2m:20s assemblage of Huck's quotes set to a hiphop beat.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Nostalgia fans will definitely appreciate this collection of about the first half of Huck's show, and they're still plenty entertaining for kids of today.

 


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