When I was growing up in the 1970s, Saturday morning cartoons were le plus ultra. Sure, there were re-runs of Flinstones and Banana Splits on UHF all week, but on Saturday mornings the big networks were dedicated to us kids. And on one special Saturday every fall, all the new shows debuted. We’d talk about it for days before, and weeks after.
Well, I woke up this morning like I was eight years old all over again, and scooted on downstairs to watch Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which I finally own on DVD! And Oswald didn’t disappoint.
The first disc on the 2-DVD set from Walt Disney Treasures includes 6 cartoons from 1927, and 7 from 1928. (Plus, some fragments from an additional Oswald cartoon, “Sagebrush Sadie,” which is believed to no longer exist in its full form.) All are cute and amusing, and all should be rewarding viewing for those interested in the early days of cartoons. As Leonard Maltin points out in the introduction, the animation techniques you see in Oswald ultimately influenced not only future Disney works, but the whole genre of American animation, as the Oswald animators later created many other characters and series. The applied principles of cartoon physics are simply fabulous, with certain unusual gags recurring throughout the series. My personal favorite? Oswald’s ability to reverse direction of a means of transportation by simply re-arranging its parts. (Cow galloping in the wrong direction? Just pull its head under its belly, it’ll slide right over to the other end and VOILÁ, you’re running the right way.)
There’s also a sweet, brief documentary, “Oswald Comes Home,” about the loss of Oswald to Universal (geez, just one more reason for us rabid fans to avoid those parks, right?), and the 2006 trade of Al Michaels to bring Oswald back to Disney (along with four rounds of golf and some Olympic highlights).
And it’s not over yet . . . I was so excited about Oswald that I just couldn’t wait to tell y’all, but I haven’t even finished watching the 2-disc set! Disk Two has a documentary about Ub Iwerks (yay!!) plus three of the original Alice comedies (triple yay!!), along with three Mickey Mouse cartoons you’ve seen before (“Plane Crazy,” “Steamboat Willie,” and “Skeleton Dance”).
Dude, I could just stay here on the couch in my pajamas all day. Somebody bring me another bowl of Cap’n Crunch?