The Dogfather / Misterjaw Blu-ray Reviews: More from the DePatie / Freleng Collection

Fans of both these cartoons will be happy to view them in high-definition along with the informative extras that are included.
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Kino Lorber Animation continues to release titles from DePatie/Freleng Enterprises with the latest pair inspired by two films that weren't just the great successes of the 1970s but of the entire medium.

The Dogfather is a series of seventeen theatrical shorts, the final ones from DePatie/Freleng. As the title suggests, anthropomorphic dogs are gangsters. However, other than the titular character (voiced by Bob Holt) being a soft-spoken mumbler similar to Marlon Brando's performance as Vito Corleone, there's very little to connect it with Francis Ford Coppola's film. Instead, some characters have voices based actors from Warner Brothers' gangster pictures from the '30s and '40s like James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson.

Not only will the voices seem familiar so might many of the stories as at least ten have been remade from Looney Tunes cartoons Freleng directed. None of the original writers are credited, which is unfortunate. The “Chips off the Old Blockbusters” featurette reveals six of them, using “inspired by”. Others include the first short “The Dogfather,” a remake of the Sylvester cartoon “Tree For Two”, and “Saltwater Tuffy” and “Devilled Yeggs”, remakes of the Tweety & Sylvester cartoons “Tugboat Granny” and “Satan's Waitin'”.

The Dogfather cartoons are mildly amusing but don't do much with the premise of dogs as gangsters since any animal could have been used in these stories. I would only recommend this set for completists. D/F fans will recognize Crazy Legs Crane in “Mother Dogfather”.

Taking a cue from Steven Spielberg's blockbuster, Misterjaw was one of the recurring segments when the Pink Panther TV series was titled The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show. There are 34 cartoons in the collection, which are split evenly across two discs. All were directed by Robert McKimson, who worked alongside Freleng at Warner Brothers.

Misterjaw is a shark with a German accent (provided by Arte Johnson) and a trademark yell “HEEE-Gotcha!” as he pounces on his victims. He has a sidekick named Catfish (voiced by Arnold Stang). Some times, they chase after Harry Halibut (voiced by Bob Ogle) in hopes of eating him, on occasion, they have to avoid shark hunter Fearless Freddy, but mostly, they have ridiculous adventures.

The rules of the Misterjaw universe are predicated on whatever crazy plots and jokes the writers imagined. That's how the fish can breathe on land such as when they head to the fish market in "Shopping Spree" to get something to eat, when they travel to the past with “The Fishy Time Machine”, and when they ride with a biker gang in “Sweat Hog Shark”. This unpredictably leads to a lot of laughs as does Johnson's performance.

Both discs have been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The colors come through in strong hues and blacks are inky. The details in the background drawings are strong. On occasion, hairs, small black and white specks, and other signs of wear appear. They also present audio in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Dialogue is clear, expect for the intentionally muffled Dogfather. The score and effects are adequate in their presentation. Misterjaw is also accompanied by a laugh track. Neither suffer from signs of audio wear or defect.

Both discs offer the Special Features “Chips off the Old Blockbusters” (HD, 23 min), which covers both cartoon series with an array of knowledgeable speakers, and “Tales of Production (and Production Overload)” (HD, 31 min), a good documentary about DePatie/Freleng Enterprises discussed by some of the same speakers. The Dogfather includes seven commentaries: two by filmmaker Greg Ford, two by author Mark Arnold, two by historian Jerry Beck, and one by cartoon writer William Hohauser. On Misterjaw Disc 1, there are eight commentaries, three by Ford, three by Arnold, one by Beck, and one by Hohauser. On Disc 2, there are three commentaries, one by Beck, Ford, and Hohauser,

Kino Lorber is doing great work releasing cartoons from the DePatie/Freleng collection. Although I would only recommend Misterjaw, fans of both will be happy to see them in high-definition along with the informative extras that are included.

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