Hats Off To Dr. Seuss A Mostly Welcome New Set

Courtesy:  Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

Hats Off To Dr. Seuss is one of the year’s best new family and children’s release.  It boasts plenty of positives.  Yet there are some peculiarities that makes one wonder if the price of this set could have been lowered both on DVD and Blu-ray.  This multi-disc set takes all of the classic animated Dr. Seuss stories and combines them all into one multi-disc set for the whole family.  It all starts off with the most classic of Dr. Seuss’ characters, The Cat in The Hat.  This timeless animated tale is so much better than the live action take on the book.  And now that it has been remastered on Blu-ray the already pleasing hand drawn animation looks even better.  Of course, The Cat in the Hat is just one small portion of what makes this new box set an absolute must have.  Disc one also includes the bonus TV specials The Hoober-Bloob Highway and Daisy Head Maizy.  Both of these were previously released on DVD along with another of the Dr. Seuss classics.  So to have them combined in with this set allows those with the DVDs one more reason to replace them with this set.

The deeply charged story, The Lorax is next.  This is not the recent digitally animated story.  This is the original, much darker, yet still hopeful story that warns the world of its misuse of nature.  And for parents that might be concerned about this original take on Dr. Seuss’ tale of environmentalism is too dark for some younger audiences, the bonus feature explaining the importance of trees is kid and family friendly.  A group of activists explain just what makes trees so important to the world and what their favorite trees are.  This can make for a good catalyst for a discussion both in the living room and the classroom.  Looking at how urban sprawl has done so much damage to the world to this day, this is still very much an important piece for audiences of all ages, and a reminder of what can and already is happening.

What is perhaps most intriguing about this set—for all of its positives—some of the bonus features are actually doubled up.  For example, audiences can watch The Butter Battle Book both on the disc containing Horton Hears a Who and on the Blu-ray set’s second disc containing The Lorax.  And it would seem that some of the trailers might be doubled up, too.  At least one of the presentations of The Butter Battle Book could have been replaced with another of the Dr. Seuss stories not included in this set.  There is still one story surprisingly missing from this five-disc set.  That story is The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat.  Had that been included instead of a double presentation of The Butter Battle Book, then this set might have been considered the year’s best family and children’s release.  Perhaps there were rights issues to be worked out or other contractual issues.  But viewers should not be fooled.  Should this set ever be re-issued with that missing story, then perhaps it could be considered complete.  But without it—and with doubled up trailers and a doubled up animated feature—this is not the complte Dr. Seuss box set.  One can’t help but take off points for that.  And for that matter, considering the price of the sets, hopefully if it is re-issued somewhere down the road, the price will match the content.  Right now it doesn’t.

Hats Off to Dr. Seuess is not a perfect box set, as one should be able to tell by now.  For its issues with pricing and with doubling up stories and trailers, the positives are enough to make up for the negatives at least a little bit.  The inclusion of all of D. Seuss’ other famed animated features make the overall presentation of both the DVD and Blu-ray set largely a success.  There is one more positive to this set.  That one remaining positive is the general packaging.  Four of the set’s five discs are placed on either side of two “plates” inside the box.  The final disc containing How The Grinch Stole Christmas is placed in its own spot as well on the back of the box.  This form of packaging is ever increasingly the standard for packaging of multi-disc box sets.  This saves space on DVD/Blu-ray racks.  And because each disc has its own space entirely separate from other discs, it protects each disc, thus preserving them and making them watchable for much longer than sets that are less wisely packaged.  Luckily, it would seem that the number of box sets being packaged in that less wise fashion is becoming less and less each year, and more are moving toward this more “modern” form of packaging.  When taken into consideration of the bigger picture of the whole box set, it’s one more piece of the puzzle that despite the one blaring negative, still makes this a set that any family will want to add to their home library.  Hats Off to Dr. Seuss is available on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at the WB Store at http://www.wbshop.com/product/dr+seuss+hats+off+to+dr+seuss+collectors+edition+bluray+1000271763.do.

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