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Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction

Warner Bros. // G // October 28, 2003
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted October 30, 2003 | E-mail the Author

The Program

(Parts of this review reprint several passages from my review for the Looney Toons: Reality Check DVD, so any deja vu you might experience is far, far from a glitch in the matrix. Rest assured that this seemingly lazy-minded review actually deviates slightly from the aforementioned review in a rather significant manner. As is, the Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction DVD is a major cut above that other disc. To get to the heart of that matter, skip directly to the Where Stranger Differs section. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy my rather self-indulgent nostalgia on why the grand and glorious existence of Looney Tunes in our lives is a pretty strong argument against agnosticism.)

Man oh man oh Manischewitz, I have to give Warner Brothers a lot of credit.

For years -- years, I tell you -- DVD enthusiasts have been clamoring for the release of the golden age, universally beloved, and generally well-regarded "classics" of Warner Brothers animated shorts. To rattle off the names of these adored characters would be redundant to the point of proclaiming that Liberace, on retrospect, was an odd bird of an extrovert... but that won't stop this intrepid review from doing so anyhow. Witness the Cosmic Quintessence of Cartoon Caesars: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner, Sylvester, Tweety, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Tasmanian Devil, Pepe le Pew, Marvin the Martian... Sweet Gobs of Gumption! Just rattling off that list felt far more spiritually fulfilling than my last fourteen attempts at organized religion. Whew... I need a moment...

(*Uber-Geek Moment Passes*)

Ah now, that's better. Where were we?

Oh yes.

Looney Tunes.

Talk about pan-generational! Our beloved characters have been around decades upon decades, entertaining our grandparents and parents by providing the comedic fodder as short films, proudly played at movie theaters alongside newsreels and other entertainment before the main feature film began. Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers marveled at these shorts when they were repackaged into half-hour, hour, and at one point hour-and-a-half weekday afternoon and Saturday mornings. CBS enraptured wide-eyed young (and old) viewers for ninety minutes for twenty-six classic installments of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, the cream of the crop when it came to experiencing Looney Tooniness on television. I mean, I dare you to find a single person between the ages of, say, 28 and 50, who hasn't committed the following to memory:

Overture, curtain, lights!
This is it. The night of nights.
No more rehearsing or nursing a part.
We know every part by heart!
Overture, curtain, lights!
This is it. We'll hit the heights!
And oh, what heights we'll hit!
On with the show, this is it!

 Man! Such a rush of memories! Wow, that brought me back. Like me, did anyone get up and start marching in a chorus line while singing that memorable ditty aloud? Anyone? No? Oh.

How embarrassing.

So yes, as I stated at the top of this review, I have to give credit to Warner Brothers for finally making the classic Looney Toons shorts available and affordable to the public. There's such a clamor, a sea of pleas and cries from the fans that they have finally relinquished and presented their classic Looney Toons material on DVD. There's nothing like a classic Looney Toons short!

Where Stranger Differs

Created a series of newly devised "webtoons" for the Warner Brothers Animation web site, the shorts on the Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction are pretty much expected to be mediocre, especially after witnessing the disastrously awful cartoons that are included on the companion Looney Tunes: Reality Check DVD. Make no mistake, not a single one of the shorts included on this DVD compare even remotely with the classic, golden age Looney Tunes of yesteryear.

But you know what? These shorts were still pretty gosh-darn funny in their own right. In fact, they were surprisingly entertaining. Liberated from the crassness and the unnecessarily sadistic tone of that other release, Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction succeeds in presenting our classic, beloved characters in updated, contemporary settings while keeping each and every one of their personalities intact.

Many of the Stranger Than Fiction shorts are centered on an Unsolved Mysteries/X-Files/Creature Feature theme, and they come across as generally quirky and solidly humorous. While some shorts succeed more than others, there wasn't really a flat one in the bunch. If I could complain about anything - and I will - I would only complain about the jerky, "Flash"-style animation. These toons were produced for Internet browsers, and it shows. Nonetheless, the quality of these shorts is evident throughout the disc. While this is not classic Looney Tunes material, Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction remains enjoyable throughout.

The following shorts are included on this disc (with a total running time of slightly over one hour):

  • Sufferin' Sasquatch
  • Who Wants to be a Martian-Aire?
  • Loch Ness Mess
  • Cropsy Curvy
  • The Bermuda Short
  • The Taming of the Screwball
  • El Chupacabra!
  • Twick or Tweety
  • Gone in 30 Minutes
  • Window Pains
  • Cube Wars
  • Daffy's Meet Market
  • Island of Dr. Moron
  • Hogs & Kisses
  • Tech Suppork
  • Satellite Sam
  • Planet of the Taz
  • Beneath the Planet of the Taz
  • Enough with the Planet of the Taz



The presentation of these cartoons is probably the best aspect of this DVD. The transfer is presented in its original full-frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio. For the most part, the video presentation is phenomenally good. The colors on this disc simply pop off the screen, with an astonishing vibrancy and lushness. Image detail is sharp, but, like many of the second-tier animation DVDs I have experienced from Warner Brothers, sharpness levels are extremely overbearing, resulting in a picture that rings with shimmering, jagged edges, and moiré effects. The transfer is blissfully clean, with no noticeable noise, debris, or other artifacts. The video looks excellent for the most part, but incorrect sharpness levels keep it short of greatness.


The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but the soundtrack is mostly delivered in a monaural manner. While the soundtrack does open up on occasion, and there is a solid amount of LFE activity, your center channel will get the strongest workout. Occasional and discernable separation in the front gives the soundfield slightly greater depth, and dialog levels display acceptable levels of brightness and clarity.


All-New Toon Spots features two four highlight segments: "Mysterious Phenomena of the Unexplained", "Royal Mallard", "Twick or Tweety", and "Planet of the Taz." The lot collectively runs for two minutes, and are, in light of the actual cartoons included on this disc, basically redundant.

For the hardcore gamers is A Sneak Peek at the Looney Tunes: Back in Action Video Game, which is a two-minute preview of the upcoming video game based on the upcoming Warner Brothers film. You can also place the disc in your DVD-ROM drive and play a Whack-An-Alien game as well.

Family Favorites are trailers for other Warner Animation product, including Tom and Jerry Favorites, Mucha Lucha, and Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico. Finally, Credits lists the DVD's production credits.

Final Thoughts

After the thoroughly awful Reality Check disc, I was fully prepared to loathe Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction. And yet, I must admit that I really got into this DVD. It was everything Reality wasn't: clever, amusing, recognizable, and... dare I say... funny? Perish the thought! The presentation of the source material was pretty solid throughout, although someone needs to tell the authoring crew to tone down the sharpness levels on their animation product (I've seen evidence of this flaw in many of their discs, and this one is no exception.) If you are a Looney Tunes fan, you still have to place Warner's Premiere or Golden Looney Tunes DVD collections higher on your priority list, but if you have a few bucks to blow you definitely might want to lend Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction your time.

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