Warner Home Video: for shame!

Warner Home Video has recently released the Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection: The Premiere Volume two-disc DVD. There have been some questions about which versions of these cartoon shorts are available on the DVD set (edited vs. uncut). The Spotlight Collection contains a variety of original animated shorts produced between 1943-1956, including uncut versions of some early cartoons that were first shown in theaters, along with some versions edited for television. The DVD packaging correctly refers to the cartoon shorts as "remastered"; it does not state that all the shorts are uncut. -- Warner online DVD chat
As I write this blog post, Warner Home Video have announced, via a web-based chat, that contrary to previous statements, they have no plans to re-author the disc in last year's Tom and Jerry: Spotlight Collection release.

The scandal arose as a result of advertisements prior to release which stated that the Spotlight Collection would feature these beloved cartoon classics uncut for the first time. (Click here for a scan of one such advertisement.) Cartoon fans the world over rejoiced and began salivating at the prospect of finally getting their hands on good quality uncut versions of cartoons that in some cases had not been seen in their original glory since the 1960s. Then, disaster struck. The set was released, and customers were quick to discover that three of the cartoons were still shorn of gags that had been deemed racially sensitive. Jerry Beck, animation historian and general expert on all things cartoony, who provided commentaries for the DVD, was quick to respond, stating that Warner was aware of the situation and that the cut cartoons had been included in error, and that a replacement programme would soon be established, allowing customers to mail in the disc in question (the three cut cartoons were all contained on a single disc) and receive an uncut version for free.

Months passed, and no fresh information was forthcoming. Then, not long ago, in an online chat, of all places, it was casually mentioned that no, Warner had no plans to re-release the set uncut, stating that the packaging did not mention anywhere that the cartoons were uncut. This is, quite simply, ridiculous. Do Warner seriously want us to accept that we cannot expect an uncut release unless the cover explicitly labels it as such? So much for their blatant advertisement of the cartoons in this collection as being, and I quote, "in their original, uncut form". So much for the trust cartoon fans put in them. None of that seems to matter in Warner's eyes: simply put, they feel that, legally, they have done nothing wrong, and therefore the situation, as it stands, is perfectly fine. I'm sorry, but this is quite blatantly unacceptable.

Personally, I feel that I have been used - not, of course, to the same extent as Jerry Beck, whose reputation for honesty and reliability has been abused - but I am concerned that my own review will have led to copies being sold of a product that did not deserve to sell. Indeed, on more than one occasion, I received personal correspondences from readers inquiring about the disc replacement programme, to which I foolishly encouraged them to go ahead and buy the set. I now feel that I owe these readers a personal apology. Make no mistake, though: the ones that should be doing some serious grovelling are Warner.

This, then, is my personal request to Warner: recall all copies of the Spotlight Collection that are still on store shelves and re-issue them with the offending shots intact. Set up the replacement programme you promised. Issue an apology, to Jerry Beck and everyone else who was duped. And finally, most importantly of all, ensure that all future releases in the Spotlight Collection, and any other release of classic cartoons, are uncut. Until then, I urge all customers to exercise extreme caution when buying DVDs from Warner Home Video - regardless of whether they are animated or live action. They clearly do not respect the wealth of wonderful materials they own the rights to, so why should we have any respect for them?

Click here to review an updated and corrected version of my original review.

Last updated: 14/07/2018 08:36:35

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