Audio commentary - Storyboard and Sketch Commentaries
Storyboards - with commentary
Interactive game - 4 Smoochies
Happy Tree Friends - Volume 1 - First Blood
SBS/Village Roadshow .
R4 . COLOR . 140 mins .
MA15+ . PAL
The Happy Tree Friends are cute, cuddly animals whose daily adventures always end up going horribly wrong. No matter how innocently their day begins, it always ends in mayhem.
The ensemble cast includes Cuddles, the cutest darn rabbit you'll ever meet, and Petunia, a sweet girl skunk always mindful to wear air freshener. Travelling through picturesque settings and speaking in a kooky language all their own, the Happy Tree Friends never know what chaos lingers just around the bend.
If that sounds like just the kind of cartoon you want to buy the kids for the school holidays you couldn’t be more wrong. Despite the cutesy theme music, saccharine character names like ‘Cuddles’, ‘Giggles’ and ‘Sniffy’, together with colourful, cheerful art, Happy Tree Friends is not Happy or Friendly, it’s evil incarnate and it’s great!
Nothing on the packaging, character names, episode synopsis or even titles gives away the true nature of Happy Tree Friends and this is all part of the charm. That nature is of course the ruthless murder and dismemberment of cute fluffy animals at the hands of other cute fluffy animals, each in new and unique ways, sometimes completely unintentionally.
It’s probably not a good idea to go into graphic detail on a family website so I can’t even begin to describe the horrendous ways the poor cute animals meet their demise. Needless to say, Happy Tree Friends provides you with some valuable life lessons, for example: don’t shake the vending machine if it eats your money.Trust me on this one.
Happy Tree Friends - Volume 1 - First Blood has the following regular episodes, not including special or exclusive content: Spin Fun, House Warming, Helping Helps, Crazy Antics, Havin' A Ball, Water You Wading For, Nuttin' Wrong with Candy, Wheelin' and Dealin', Pitchin' Impossible, Stayin' Alive, Treasure These Idol Moments, Chip Off the Ole Block, Nuttin' But the Tooth, and Hide and Seek.
Wacky and cute characters, say hi to Nutty kids.
Each episode runs at around 90 seconds including the beginning titles which are unique to each episode and introduce the characters and ending titles which are pretty much the same for all. The beginning and ending titles can take up to 30 seconds, leaving only about 60 seconds of actual content for each episode. At 14 episodes for the whole DVD you’re really only getting 14 minutes of carnage on this disc. Take away half that for the set up scene and the murder quotient goes down to 7 minutes, not including the extras.
They sure do squeeze a lot of blood and guts (and brains, eyeballs etc) into those 7 minutes.
"After the rain comes a rainbow"
Happy Tree Friends was originally created as a web based product (and still is). Limitations of the original format means that most episodes run at 8 frames per second (24 or so being the usual fps). This doesn’t actually make a whole lot of difference and unless you’re told. You won't notice, it doesn't actually make a huge difference anyway.
Family time with the cub.
The entire content of the disc is presented in the original theatrical (ha ha, get it, theatrical!) aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The general look of the episodes exhibit a clean and solid animation style, the characters and backgrounds are simple but convincing and the menu system has some quirky animations, worth sitting through just to see each different one.
Prepare yourself for humming or singing the theme tune to yourself for at least a few days after viewing all the episodes.
The soundtrack is stored in PCM 2.0 so the noise on this disc isn’t going to knock your socks off but given the content a stereo track is just fine. Final gasps, screams, blood splatters, eyeballs popping out, all clear and distinct.
While all the episodes on this disc are available on the internet on the Happy Tree Friends website and currently being broadcast Thursday nights on SBS, incentive to buy the disc is provided by the extras presented and of course, the opportunity to watch the mayhem without promotional spots on your (relatively) large TV.
A lot of effort has gone into producing the extras for this first volume, we have:
4 Interactive Smoochies!
Desribed as “Mindnumbingly Interactive”, a smoochie is the Happy Tree Friends equivalent of a Tamagochi. We are given the opportunity to nurture, feed and care for Cuddles, Toothy, Giggles and Nutty, of course in fine HTF fashion each smoochie doesn’t end as well as it could.
Special Pop-Corn Video Episode
In somewhat of a parody of video clips we see the first episode Spin fun knowin’ ya with a series of popup facts and figures about the characters and episode.
Meet the Characters
This is a static biographical presentation of each key character including vital statistics.
Storyboard to Episode Comparisons - Commentary
Featuring Directory Rhode Montijo, Animation Director Kenn Navarro, Idea guy Aubry Ankrum, Writer Warren Graff, Animator Jason Saddler, Voice actor Lippy and Sound Engineer Jim Lively.
Running for 23 odd minutes this commentary runs the entire length of all 14 episodes in parallel with the original story boards for each.
Happy Happy, Joy Joy..oops, wrong cartoon.
The creators obviously had a ball creating the series and it is really reflected in this commentary. Far from the usual dry and technical director’s commentaries we have become used to, the guys discuss each episode concentrating on the voice acting, style and inspiration behind them, all the while cracking jokes and having a great old time.
This commentary alone is worth buying the disc for.
Original Sketches & Character Designs - Commentary
This is another funny commentary, this time only featuring Aubry, Rhode, Kenn and Jim. Running for 36 minutes the video content is simply static sketches showing early examples of the HTF characters as well as some that didn’t make the cut or made it into future episodes (in Volume 2 and 3). This commentary is just as much fun as the last and well worth a listen.
Bonus! Never Before Seen Episodes...
Including the original pilot episode Banjo Frenzy and Who’s Line is it anyway starring a special mystery guest.
Close your eyes kids!
I’m not sure if there’s a lot of value in owning this DVD, while the novelty of watching a badger have its head torn off is funny once … or twice, maybe three times. It doesn’t have the makings of something you’ll watch over and over, except for the acorn head replacement or the bear cub having its brains splattered by flying glass or a squirrel being impaled by a vending machine..... oh never mind.
This whole series does have that “you have to see this” feel so you’ll want to give it a spin when friends are around just for the instant giggles it gives, despite the morbid subject matter (maybe it’s just me).
Happy Tree Friends - Volume 1 - First Blood is the first distribution in Region 4 (even though a region free PAL version is available from the HTF website). With 2 other volumes available in the U.S. we can look forward to more murder and mayhem in the near future.