The Gerald McBoing Boing cartoons are colorful divertissements for kids, though adults may tune out a bit more easily. The series, produced by United Productions of America and distributed by Columbia Pictures, spanned four short subjects and spawned two TV series, one in 1956 and an update that premiered on the Cartoon Network in 2005. The Academy Award-winning short that started it all actually springs from a short story by Dr. Seuss (originally read by The Great Gildersleeve on a a 1940s record album).
"Gerald McBoing Boing" (1950) (6:56) As adapted by Bill Scott (better known as the voice of Bullwinkle, and one of the famous moose's writers) and Phil Eastman, "Gerald McBoing Boing" tells the tale of a curious boy who emits sound effects instead of words. At first ostracized at home and at school, Gerald finds a way to win friends and influence people with his special quality of expression. Rhyming narration and highly-stylized disproportionate designs distinguished the theatrical cartoon (top-billed animator is Bill Melendez, who went on to produce, direct, and star in the Charlie Brown TV cartoons). As in the subsequent installments, Marvin Miller does the vocal duties, and Robert Cannon directs.
"Gerald McBoing Boing's Symphony" (1953) (7:03) relocates Gerald's vocal stylings to a recording booth. When the anticipated talent doesn't show up, a producer (fearing the dreaded "dead air") enlists Gerald to be a one-boy-band, cause for more ironic juxtapositions of sight and sound. T. Hee takes sole story credit, and Melendez again crops up in the credits as animator.
"How Now Boing Boing" (1954) (7:21) is probably the wittiest of all four installments. Treating Gerald as a developmental problem, "How Now Boing Boing" finds Gerald shuttled by his parents to a linguistic professor. Making like Henry Higgins, the increasingly frustrated professor gives Gerald elocution lessons until a satisfactory (surprise) resolution can be reached.
"Gerald McBoing! Boing! On Planet Moo" (1956) ((7:09) puts a weird spin on the original story. The puckishly named T. Hee ("T" is for Thornton) and Bobe Cannon (the director, by any other name) devised the original story, which uses Gerald's distinctive communication as a complication for interstellar diplomacy. The widescreen sequel has the cute tone of a "Fractured Fairy Tale."
The Gerald McBoing Boing cartoons clean up nice in the high-def remastering on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's new disc. Color and detail are excellent, as is the Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack. Considering the cartoons' age, the results are especially impressive. Each cartoon is presented in its original aspect ratio (1.33:1 Full Screen, except for "Gerald McBoing! Boing! On Planet Moo," which unfolds in 2.35:1 widescreen). Unfortunately, Sony hasn't provided any significant extras, but kids won't mind, and the disc is accordingly bargain-priced.
The package for Cartoon Adventures Starring Gerald McBoing Boing, Sony oddly touts "Quick Start," suggesting that the disc "starts automatically!" However, the disc spins up to a Sony Pictures Home Entertainment logo, followed by previews for Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild and the Family Fun Collection (JayJay the Jet Plane, The Bersenstain Bears, Dragon Tales, Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, and Harold and the Purple CrayonAre We There Yet? and Daddy Day Care).
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