He just wants a friend - is that so wrong? Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper -- Volume 2 is the second latest offering from Classic Media's Casper holdings (please click here to read my more lengthy review of Casper cartoons as a whole and Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper - Volume 1). Ten more classic Casper theatrical shorts from the 1950s (along with two bonus cartoons), are showcased here in beautiful transfers. Although fans probably already have these from other collections, Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper -- Volume 2 is a nice alternative if you're new to Casper, or if you don't want to get bogged down in collecting everything and anything Casper.
Watching this second batch of Casper cartoons, I was again struck at how sad some of these shorts come off. Even at a very young age, I distinctly remember my mom getting a little concerned when I watched Casper cartoons (as well as those other gut-wrenchers, The Littlest Hobo and those Lassie episodes with Timmy, where he wandered around the farm with nobody to play with). Quite often, Casper is so desperate for love and affection, he's positively joyful at even the slightest hint of incoming attention. Watch his little face whenever he first greets an adult, politely introducing himself. There's such an air of expectation on his face, such a hopeful quality, that it's almost pathetic.
While the brilliance of the Casper cartoons lie in the powerful identification children have with him (what little kid hasn't felt lonely or left out at some point?), the shorts can, at times, get just a little melancholy. Of course, the animators always fixed that by having some fun knock-about gags (the minute that first adult sees Casper and wigs out, kids start laughing), and Casper's gentle, kind lessons at the end of the shorts always found a receptive audience with children who, deep down, want to be good. But even though some parents might be concerned that their kids will feel sad at moments during Casper shorts, they should rejoice that their children are feeling anything while watching these beautifully tempoed, gentle cartoons, as opposed to some of the vile, amoral garbage that passes for kiddie entertainment on televisions today. Trust me; your child feeling sad for a moment or two before he or she learns a lesson of love and kindness is the best thing that could happen to them, as opposed to zoning out in front of the soulless junk they call "kid cartoons" today.
Here are the 10, five to six minute cartoon shorts included in Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper - Volume 2, as described on the DVD cover:
Frightday the 13th (1952)
Casper plays with a black kitten on Friday the 13th.
Hooky Spooky (1957)
Spooky scares animals at the zoo.
Little Boo Peep (1953)
Casper helps Little Bo Peep find her sheep.
North Pal (1953)
Casper plays games with a baby seal in the artic.
Keep Your Grin Up (1955)
Casper cheers up a gloomy circus hyena.
Penguind For Your Thoughts (1956)
Casper delivers a penguin to his parents at the South Pole.
Spook and Span (1957)
Casper tries to keep a pig clean and then saves him from becoming sausage.
Spook No Evil (1953)
Casper befriends a baby monkey on a tropical island.
Spunky Skunky (1952)
Casper befriends a skunk by pretending to only be painted white.
Boo Bop (1957)
Casper visits a music museum and helps Shubert finish his symphony.
The full frame transfers look really quite good here on the Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper - Volume 2 DVD collection. Colors are deeply saturated, and most of the prints are free from major damage. There are one or two older shorts, particularly Spunky Skunky that are a tad contrasty and dark, but overall, these Casper shorts look amazingly good.
The Dolby Digital English mono track accurately reflects the original theatrical and broadcast presentations. There are no subtitles or close-captioning options.
Described as "bonus" cartoons picked by Casper himself, two additional Casper shorts are included:
To Boo or Not To Boo (1951)
Casper tries to fit in at a Halloween Dance.
Spooking With a Brogue (1955)
There's also a nice option of hearing Casper's original classic theme song when you choose the "Play All" option on the menu. For subsequent cartoons, you just hear the abbreviated HarveyToons "Casper" music cue.
A boy mistakes Casper for a leprechaun with gold.
As with Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper - Volume 1, these Casper cartoons have been featured in other Classic Media DVD collections, as well as the HarveyToons: The Complete Collection DVD box set, so there's no need to double-dip if you already have those particular shorts (it's disingenous of Classic Media to put Wendy on the cover, though, when she doesn't appear in any of the cartoons here). However, if you're looking to introduce your child to the adorable, sweet Casper, the Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper - Volume 2 is an excellent way to do so. Cheaply priced, with a manageable number of shorts that should just hold your child's attention for an hour or so, the Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper - Volume 2 offers excellent transfers of these delightful, gentle cartoons. I highly recommend Casper, the Friendly Ghost: Best of Casper - Volume 2.
Paul Mavis is an internationally published film and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.