This is a lot of bang for the buck, with the collected shorts coming in at a running time in excess of 18 hours. This show occurred well into the autumn of the Stooges careers, with both Howard and Fine in their 60s. The physical comedy that was always the Stooges’ hallmark was scaled way back as a result. Even so, the live-action bits are among the most entertaining of the entire series. Long in the tooth as they were getting, they were consummate pros and did their best with the material. The cartoons are aimed at very young viewers. As such, they’re most likely to appeal primarily to those who originally watched the series on TV or hardcore collectors of all things Stooge-related.
The slapstick violence of the original Stooge live-action classics is toned down to almost nothing. While this was clearly a creative choice made due to the young target audience, I imagine it would’ve been insanely challenging (impossible, really) to accurately animate the traditional Stooges’ antics. This is a low-budget affair with animation that is typical of the TV cartoons of the era (i.e. quite primitive). Titles like “Goldibear and the 3 Stooges,” “Three Wizards of Odds,” and “Three Jacks and a Beanstalk” offer a good indication of the gently parodical nature the series.
Image Madacy is to be commended for issuing such a comprehensive package. The collection is packaged in sturdy box, with a thick cardboard fold-out tray housing the discs. What’s not so hot is the state of the cartoons themselves. The source materials were obviously unrestored and as such are accompanied by near-constant scratches and specs of debris. The audio presentation is certainly not pretty, but it’s quite adequate. Consider yourself warned if you were expecting cleaned up, sharp images.
The fifth disc is an audio CD that contains two vintage Stooges music albums. The first dozen tracks are from Sing-a-Long with the Three Stooges and the second eleven are from Christmas Time with the Three Stooges. I’m not sure about the origins of these albums or if these are the original track lists. But as a bonus, it’s a nice addition—especially the Christmas tunes, considering we’re heading into the holiday season.