Over the years when you talk about classic cartoons the conversation will invariably include a question along the lines of: “Disney or Warner Brothers?” It could take shape in a number of different forms, or even be disguised in a discussion of characters. In whatever directions the conversation goes, the other participant will be able to tell what side of the fence you fall on (much like other either/or conversations involving the likes of PC/Mac and Mets/Yankees). In my case, loyalties have always lay with Warner Brothers. I do love and respect classic Disney, but Warner Brothers is where I am really at. Sure, my depth of knowledge of toon names and directors is weak, but I know what I like. This leads to a surprise; I had never seen an episode of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries until now.
I must say that the series is quite addictive. Once I started watching, I found it hard to turn the disk off. It is much the same case as the even more addictive Golden Collections of the true Warner Brothers classics (which are an absolute must have). As addictive as the show reveals itself to be, the DVD looks equally good. The colors are sharp and vivid, but with the occasional grain. I suspect these could look a bit better, but they look great as is. So, this two-disk, twelve-episode set has a nice one-two punch of quality content and quality presentation. Kind of hard to argue with that.
The show appeared on Saturday morning rosters way back in 1995, well after the Golden Age of the characters, but during a resurgence by both Warner Brothers and Disney in the half-hour cartoon market. This resurgence includes the likes of Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers, and Ducktales. While those other shows easily overshadow the likes of this one, this quartet of characters is not to be ignored.
The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries brings together Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird (of course), along with Hector the Bulldog and Granny. Together, they do a little globetrotting as they solve mysteries. These mysteries include finding the stolen Blarney Stone in Ireland, a missing periscope, and a giant kidnapped tuna! Along the way a string of classic films are spoofed, including The Maltese Falcon in “The Maltese Canary,” complete with Sam Spade and Peter Lorre, and Frank Capra films in “It Happened One Night Before Christmas.”
Each episode finds master sleuth Granny, who is always in high demand, taking on some mystery with the help of her three beloved pets. The problem is that while Tweety is being helpful, Sylvester keeps trying to eat the little bird and Hector has to keep punishing the cat for his acts. The slapstick trio are the focus of each episode while Granny is used to propel the plots, as thin as they are.
The plot of each episode is little more than window dressing on which to hang the animated animal antics. It also allows the creative team to stretch their creativity with accents and wordplay. Fortunately, the classic characters translate well into this new format that is simultaneously old school and self-aware. You have to love moments like Sylvester questioning why he insists on pursuing Tweety; he answers himself with the simple: “It’s tradition.” Not to mention variations on Tweety’s signature phrase: “I tawt a taw a puddy tat.” into the likes of: “I tawt I taw a tug! I did, I did tee a tug!” and “I tawt I taw a clue!” Nice stuff.
Bottomline. The set lacks any extras, but that is all right. The presentation is good, and the episodes are fun. This comic mystery series offers plenty for young and old viewers alike. Definitely worth spending time with.