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"Goof Troop": Volume 1 DVD Review

Buy Goof Troop: Volume 1 from Amazon.com Goof Troop: Volume 1 (1992)
Show & DVD Details

Supervising Producer: Robert Taylor / Producers: Robert Taylor, Roy Wilson

Animation Directors: Mircea Mantta, Mike Svayko, Bob Zamboni, Mitch Rochon, Woody Yocum, Russell E. Mooney, Terence Harrison

Writers: Mark McCorkle, Robert Schooley, Jan Strnad, Mirith Schilder / Story Editors: Karl Geurs, Bruce Talkington

Voice Cast: Bill Farmer (Goofy), Dana Hill (Max Goof), Jim Cummings (Pete), Rob Paulsen (P.J., Biff Fuddled), Nancy Cartwright (Pistol), Frank Welker (Waffles, Fish Finder 5000, Shark), April Winchell (Peg Pete), Tino Insana (Colonel Carter)

Running Time: 68 Minutes (3 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-Y equivalent)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (English, French)
Subtitles: English (Enhanced for Hearing Impaired); Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
Original Airdates: September 17, 1992 - October 2, 1992
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5); Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
White Keepcase with Side Snaps


Since its very beginning, the Disney studio has, like most profitable businesses, followed up popular creations with similar concoctions. When Mickey Mouse was met with warm reception, Walt naturally greenlighted as many cartoon shorts featuring the likable rodent as possible. When moviegoers made Walt's debut feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a sensation, one gathered it was only a matter of time before more fairy tales would be tapped for full-length animation. People liked Disneyland, so Walt and company began plans for another theme park.

While Walt's life ended nearly twenty years before the studio bearing his name would enter into the world of television cartoons, this basic principle had not been forgotten. So it makes perfect sense that, when "DuckTales" became its most successful series to date, Disney's Television Animation Department would consider factors contributing to the show's appeal when developing new series. Sure enough, giving old characters new life would become a recurring theme to the cartoon programs that Disney would put on the air. Some shows, like "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin", would simply follow the everyday trials of fairly recent characters, as an extension to their theatrical success. Others, like "Darkwing Duck",
would be bold enough to rely upon original personalities. But many would adhere to the "DuckTales" formula, by reawakening vintage characters not largely associated with any one film, updating them to reflect modern sensibilities, and proceeding to entertain with tales involving their families and/or hometowns.

"Goof Troop" fits that description to a T, and as you can guess from the title alone, the enduring figure it gave a new chance to star was Goofy, the anthropomorphic dog who made his first appearances in Mickey Mouse shorts of the 1930s. Goofy quickly progressed from a fringe character to one-third of the Mickey/Donald/Goofy superstar slapstick team. While Mickey was being faded out in the 1940s, Goofy was finding his niche as the solo (or countlessly cloned) star of narrated "how to" cartoons. Though the early 1950s brought a surge in Goofy cartoons, they also soon dealt, more or less, a death to the Disney animated short. The handful of subsequent appearances the Goof would make were all noteworthy in their own right: 1961's "Aquamania" earned an Oscar nomination and his pair of automotive-oriented 1965 shorts have remained mainstays of Driver's Ed classes. But, in the world of film, at least, Goofy would, along with Mickey and Donald, remain unseen for many years. The trio (and other long-absent Disney personas) would resurface for the Oscar-nominated "Mickey's Christmas Carol" in 1983, with Goofy memorably depicting the clumsy ghost of Jacob Marley. Goofy would also headline 1987's anomaly, "Sport Goofy in Soccermania", though this seemed more a setup for "DuckTales" than anything else.

Father and son appear in the "Goof Troop" title logo. Their trials are the basis for the series.

While "Goof Troop" would definitively blaze new trails for the clumsy, relatable canine, its premise would recall two facts from the studio's past. Firstly, in a series of shorts in the early 1950s, Goofy struggled as a father to a boy. Sure, the boy was just a few years old, had red hair, and answered to the name "George", but this relationship undoubtedly laid the foundation for the series' central dynamic of Goofy and his son, now a dark-haired adolescent named Max. The mother of the family -- who in yesteryear's shorts would disappear, leaving Goofy to fumble -- was now entirely out of the equation, not an entirely unbelievable scenario as single-parent families rose in the 1990s. The second fact that "Goof Troop" creators remembered from Disney's past was that Pete (aliases Black Pete and Pegleg Pete) was one bad cat (or is it "dog"?). As animation's longest-running villain, Pete had terrorized all of the studio's short subject protagonists at some point, from Alice to Mickey and eventually, the Goof. For "Goof Troop", Pete avoided pure villainy in favor of a shortness of scrupulosity, as Goofy's oft self-serving next-door neighbor, who, of course, shadily sells used cars for a living. Throw into the mix Pete's son P.J., who happens to be Max's best friend, and you've got all you need for episodic antics to ensue.

In "Goof Troop", the ordinary, adventurous youth Max figures as largely as (if not more than) Goofy, serving as the type of protagonist that kids watching the Disney Afternoon could relate to, much like they could to Huey, Dewey, and Louie before. Unlike the mystery/adventure motifs of "DuckTales" and its kin, "Goof Troop" primarily dabbled in comedy, often broad and frequently stemming from situations that were hardly unusual. If the disc's episodes are indicative of the series as a whole (and as it was mass-aired, that's probably a safe bet), then one can deduce that Max and P.J. typically have more control and composure over events than their flawed father figures, and this juxtaposition yields a funny animated sitcom from a commonplace suburban family setting. Supporting characters include Pete's more noble wife Peg and their inexplicably muttonchopped daughter Pistol. Also showing up for an occasional laugh are the Goof Family's pet cat Waffles and the Petes' dog Chainsaw (unseen on this DVD), who unlike the rest of the human-esque animal cast, are both restricted to the unmistakable whimpers of "voice acting god" Frank Welker.

Launched in Disney's eighth season of animating for television, "Goof Troop" took to the air in September of 1992. Though not many remember the series as fondly as say, "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers", "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", or "TaleSpin", a greater volume of "Goof Troop" was created than any of those earlier shows. In all, 78 half-hour episodes of "Goof Troop" were made: sixty-five for The Disney Afternoon, a much-celebrated syndicated two-hour weekday block then in its third year of existence, and thirteen for ABC's Saturday morning lineup. All 78 episodes had aired at least once by the first weekend of December, a weekend which saw the primetime debut of something which can be considered a seventy-ninth episode. Named "Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas", this holiday special aired along with a pair of vintage shorts under the collective title "A Goof Troop Christmas." Having been entirely unleashed in just under three months ensured the series' legacy would be left via reruns, which it would do until the fall of 1993 on ABC and in three subsequent seasons of the Disney Afternoon. Never being one to let a popular franchise disappear, Disney worked the show's world into the 1995 big screen outing A Goofy Movie, the 2000 direct-to-video follow-up An Extremely Goofy Movie, and segments of holiday DTV Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas and its CGI spawn Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas.

Max with his best friend, P.J. (Pete Junior). Goofy and Pete aren't as friendly, but they get by.

The news that "Goof Troop" would be heading to DVD as a Volume 1 episode collection inspired applause from Disney fans. Why wouldn't it? Just two weeks before word spread of the show's forthcoming format debut, Disney had treated "DuckTales" and "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" to 3-disc, 27-episode "Volume 1" box sets. Despite lacking video/audio, a complete void of bonus features and zero promotion, these modestly-priced sets were lapped up by those with vivid memories of the innovative animated storytelling of the two Disney Afternoon staples. Using common logic, one would expect the same treatment for "Goof Troop." But as anyone who has followed Disney DVDs enough to discover this site should know, logic often falls apart when charting the studio's home video activity. Both "Goof Troop" and similarly-designed, subsequent Disney Afternoon creation "Quack Pack" would be treated to Volume 1 discs holding just three random episodes.

Offering just over an hour of content at a suggested retail price of $14.99 may not sound too bad to some. Over the past year, Disney has regularly done the same with an hour (or slightly less) of animated shorts from the format's heyday featuring the marketable mugs of Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and so on. Collectors may consider those releases pointless, but sales numbers have vouched for their usefulness as a low-priced alternative to the Treasures apt for families and casual fans. Unfortunately, the same design is much less satisfying when employed for "Goof Troop", a series seemingly selected for DVD (along with "Quack Pack") on the recognizability of its star. For one thing, episodes of "Goof Troop" were mass produced for daily television broadcast; they are not 50-plus-year-old shorts that went to theaters and are now viewed as something of a legacy. For another, in order for this sampling to be an alternative, Disney would have to make complete, chronological box sets available for the series. To date, that has not happened, nor does it appear likely now that there is a DVD (and an underwhelming one, at that) on the market with the title "Goof Troop: Volume 1."

Basically, this is a gigantic step back for Disney. When Complete Season sets are regularly released for shows with comparable or lesser fan followings -- and let us not forget that six months ago, Disney saw the short-lived, forgettable mid-'90s "Fantastic Four" cartoon fit for a Complete Series set -- it makes little sense for Disney to throw a measly offering of three episodes to customers if their satisfaction is at all a concern. Even if Disney felt uncertain enough to not go all-out with a "Goof Troop" box set, the studio could have much more effectively tested the waters of the market by putting the show's first nine episodes on this disc. They've shown that they can fit that much TV animation on an otherwise-barren disc, so why not here? Instead, factoring in pre-release discounts, the customer stands to pay precisely four times as much per episode of "Goof Troop" as they did for "DuckTales" and "Rescue Rangers." And they can throw out any hope of owning the complete collection this way, as it would take 26 volumes of this type (with the Christmas special left over) to own the entire run.

Pete scolds Goofy for telling P.J. a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man outfit was a good idea. What Goofy thinks is a good deed is really Pete's set-up for a submission to "The World's Most Painful Home Videos." When the third party in question is ukelele-wielding Goofy, P.J. and Max think that three's a crowd.

Here's a look at the light menu this Volume 1 DVD offers:

1. "Slightly Dinghy" (22:46) (Originally aired September 17, 1992)
Hoping to earn some video game money, Max and P.J. plot to go fishing (for Nearbeard's long lost treasure) at Scarrier Reef with Pete. But Goofy joins them for the trip, and you can be sure that nautical mayhem ensues. While Pete and Goofy compete to see who's the better fisher, the boys wander off in search of buried gold and try to keep their fathers distracted.

2. "Wrecks, Lies & Videotape" (22:42) (Originally aired September 25, 1992)
Max sees his dad's clumsy ways as a potential escape from summer doldrums to a free Hawaiian vacation care of "The World's Most Painful Home Videos." When Pete gets involved, though, the stakes are raised and Goofy must endure some severe beatings.

3. "Shake, Rattle & Goof" (22:41) (Originally aired October 2, 1992)
Inspired by their joint fondness for Subliminal Messengers, Max and P.J. decide to form a rock band. While they'd rather not have the ukulele accompaniment that Goofy offers, they do go along with Pete's idea to make a music video. Pete thinks he's setting them up for heartbreak and failure, but shyster Suave Records executive Colonel Carter sees an opportunity for profit and hits the road with The Goof Troop (that is, the pair of young rockers) and their dads.

Gawrsh! Is Goofy reprising his role as the ghost of Jacob Marley? The Ghost of Christmas Future seems frightened. Suave Records exec Colonel Carter calls the shots in "Shake, Rattle & Goof."

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Goof Troop", presented in its original 1.33:1 broadcast aspect ratio, obviously hasn't enjoyed extensive restoration efforts, but it doesn't look too bad nonetheless. The transfer never leads you to think you're watching anything but 13-year-old television animation, but aside from the shortcomings inherent to last decade's budget-conscious, mass-produced TV cartoons, the picture quality does not reveal an excess of flaws. Colors are a bit spotty: Goofy's shirt in "Slightly Dinghy" wavers from fuchsia to magenta and blacks sometimes look more like dark brown, but it's entirely possible such anomalies are true to the episodes as they originally aired. The element is mildly marred by the infrequent artifact or other blemish, but more evident is the motion blur and pixelation resulting from visuals that are definitely not cinema-ready.

You may notice that the animation in the third episode, "Shake, Rattle & Goof", looks slightly more polished, or at least different from the other two. That is because, unlike the first two that were produced by Disney Television Animation in Australia, it was realized by Kim Jung Gon and the artists of Sunwoo Animation. There's a little-known fact you can wow your friends with. If they don't believe you, tell them to check the end credits. It's all there, man.

In the audio department, "Goof Troop" offers two-channel Dolby Stereo in your choice of English or French. While that's one more channel of unique sound than offered on the slightly-older "DuckTales" and "Chip 'n Dale", the effect is pretty much the same. The soundtrack feels fairly limited in a lot of ways, due in part to its origins and perhaps somewhat due to the minimal effort that went into producing this compilation disc. No matter, the dialogue is always intelligible, the oft-present music plays its role dutifully, and assorted sound effects complement gags. The bouncy theme song is probably the most active component of the soundtrack and it fares well.

Pete is all too eager to help P.J. and Max get a free vacation. The elaborate "Goof Troop": Volume 1 DVD Main Menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, and DESIGN

Like the Classic Cartoon Favorites DVDs that this disc seems to be in the mold of, the only bonus feature the disc can tout is "Disney's FastPlay" which makes remote control use optional. The obligatory Buena Vista previews open the disc, promoting Lady and the Tramp: "Special" Edition, Pixar's Cars (in 2.35:1 anamorphic, of course), and Chicken Little. The Sneak Peeks menu holds additional promos
(I guess these make up the "Magic & More" of Disney DVD's slogan "Music, Magic & More") for The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition, Dumbo: Special Edition, and upcoming direct-to-video sequels Brother Bear 2 and The Fox and the Hound 2.

The 4x3 menus offer old school clip art and thematic music. An instrumental of the theme accompanies the basic Main Menu, while two different tunes play ad nauseam on the remaining menus. Gladly, the opening and closing credits remain intact on all three episodes (unlike the technique employed for "The New Adventures of", I mean, "Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh" DVDs). You have the choice to play any of the three episodes individually or to "Play All" (if you can handle 68 minutes of content in one sitting, that is!). As each is encoded as a title of its own, the individual playback route does not jump to the next episode afterwards. Though chapter stops are fortunately served up at commercial breaks, there's no way to access a particular episode portion from the menu, only within the episode with the "Skip" button. Outside of the inability to skip the opening credits (something I very rarely make use of anyway), these stops are at logical places.

The standard white keepcase ensures that, if purchased, these three randomly-selected episodes will take up as much shelf space as "Gargoyles" Season 1 and almost as much as the 10x-as-much-content Volume 1 box sets of "DuckTales" and "Rescue Rangers." A double-sided insert provides no information (or artwork) that's not already on the front or back covers; its back promotes other 1-hour, no-frills compilations in the Timeless Tales and Classic Cartoon Favorites lines.

The Petes and Goofs gather together to watch their debut DVD. Their smiles will soon turn to frowns when they realize only 3 out of 79 episodes have been included. Keep on rockin', Goof Troop!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Fans of "Goof Troop" are bound to be conflicted by the Volume 1 DVD release of this fun animated series. The most ardent will likely want to own their treasured show on DVD, no matter how sparse the offerings are. But does buying this disc send the message that "Goof Troop" on DVD is good and season sets would be much better? Or does it laud Disney for their considerately skimpy 3-episode platter and pave the way for more releases of "Goof Troop" and other animated series in this lackluster fashion? More casual fans with no desire at all to own the show's complete run may be content with this as the only legal way to view the show in its best available form, but even they will likely be turned off by the paucity of content versus price. In short, while the featured cartoon series merits a recommendation, this customer-unfriendly disc definitely does not, but some may see it worth settling for.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

UltimateDisney.com | DVD Reviews Index | Complete Guide to Disney Television Shows on DVD

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Reviewed February 1, 2006.