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Kevin Krock, editor

DVD Reviews

Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto, Vol. 1
(2004) | Approx. 4 hrs 26 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video***
Goodies***Interface**
Value*****
Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse Club
(2004) | Approx. 5 hrs 12 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video***
Goodies***Interface**
Value*****
Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Vol. 2
(2004) | Approx. 5 hrs 34 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video***
Goodies***Interface**
Value*****

The Collections

Since the very first Walt Disney Treasures wave a few years ago, I have been hooked. This fascinating series of DVDs has compiled some of the best material the Disney vaults have to offer, from a sampling of the classic Disneyland TV show broadcasts to the Davy Crockett TV series to Disney animation from World War II. If you are a collector of Disneyana or a fan of animation or Disney history, you probably have at least one or two of these sets already, and if you are like me, you look forward to every new wave of sets. With Wave 4 of the wonderful Walt Disney Treasures series, we are treated to three more two–disc sets covering Pluto, the Mouseketeers, and more Mickey.


Promotional image © Disney.

The Complete Pluto, Volume One

Throughout the Walt Disney Treasures waves, we have been treated to complete collections of animated shorts from Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and now Pluto. Mickey's best pal has been a staple of the Disney character stable since 1930, and although his design has changed a bit since his first appearance, he has always been the quintessential dog: Loving, obedient, faithful, and curious. He is also one of the more entertaining Disney characters to watch, as he has to be more visually expressive than many of the other characters because of his lack of a speaking ability. It is great stuff, and this first volume of Pluto animated shorts covers from 1930 to the late 1940s.

DISC ONE

  • 1930: “The Chain Gang”
  • 1935: “On Ice”
  • 1937: “Pluto's Quin-Puplets”
  • 1939: “Beach Picnic”
  • 1940: “Bone Trouble”
  • 1941: “Pluto's Playmate,” “Canine Caddy,” “Lend A Paw” (Academy Award–winner, Best Short Subject, 1941)
  • 1942: “Pluto, Junior,” “The Army Mascot, ”“The Sleepwalker,” “T–Bone For Two,” “Pluto At The Zoo”

DISC TWO

  • 1943: “Pluto And The Armadillo,” “Private Pluto”
  • 1944: “Springtime For Pluto,” “First Aiders”
  • 1945: “Dog Watch,” “Canine Casanova,” “The Legend Of Coyote Rock,” “Canine Patrol”
  • 1946: “Pluto's Kid Brother,” “In Dutch,” “Squatter's Rights,” “The Purloined Pup”
  • 1947: “Pluto's Housewarming”
  • FROM THE VAULT: Leonard Maltin From The Vault introduction, “Pantry Pirate” (1940), “Gentleman's Gentlemen” (1941)


Promotional image © Disney.

The Mickey Mouse Club, Week One

The Mickey Mouse Club set takes you back to the very first week of the Mickey Mouse Club. Each disc has contextual introductions by Leonard Maltin, which nicely set the tone for the episodes, and each of the five episodes presents a strong dose of nostalgia. While I only saw the original Mickey Mouse Club in reruns, years after they originally aired, I still have fond memories of watching them in the afternoons after school. Quite simply, they were good, fun entertainment, and even today, their capacity to keep young children entertained seems to overcome the stigma that young children associate with black–and–white TV shows. They may not be able to hold children's attention for a five–episode marathon, but they do make great family entertainment in moderation.

DISC ONE

  • Leonard Maltin introduction (2 min)
  • “Fun With Music Day” (Monday)
  • “Guest Star Day” (Tuesday)
  • “Anything Can Happen Day” (Wednesday)

DISC TWO

  • Leonard Maltin introduction” (2 min)
  • “Circus Day” (Thursday)
  • “Talent Round-Up Day” (Friday)


Promotional image © Disney.

Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Volume Two

Finally, Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Volume Two is, obviously, the second installment of black–and–white Mickey shorts. This set covers the remainder of Mickey's color–free classics from 1928 to 1935, including a number of rarely seen shorts from the Disney vaults. For some casual viewers, these classics may be of passing interest just because they are old, but for those of you looking for funny Mickey cartoons and great examples of animation history, you cannot get much better than this set.

It is fascinating to see the progression of Disney's animation capabilities and story development from the late 1920s to the mid–1930s. Early on, both the animation and stories were very simple, yet in a few short years, you can see how the Disney animators refined their craft while continuing to keep storytelling as the primary goal.

To top the set off, you get 10 animated Mickey shorts kept in the vaults for decades due to their potentially offensive stereotypical characterizations. The shorts are skillfully prefaced by Maltin to provide the proper context with which they should be watched. On the whole, the shorts are still entertaining, but it is clear why some of these will make for good family discussion material.

DISC ONE

  • Leonard Maltin Introduction
  • 1928: “The Barn Dance”
  • 1929: “The Opry House,” “When the Cat's Away,” “The Barnyard Battle,” “The Plow Boy,” “Mickey's Choo-Choo,” “The Jazz Fool,” “Jungle Rhythm,” “Wild Waves”
  • 1930: “Just Mickey,” “The Barnyard Concert,” “The Cactus Kid,” “The Shindig,” “The Picnic”
  • 1931:“ Traffic Troubles,” “The Castaway,” “Fishin' Around,” “The Barnyard Broadcast,” “The Beach Party
  • 1932: “The Mad Dog,” “Barnyard Olympics”

DISC TWO

  • Leonard Maltin introduction
  • 1932: “Musical Farmer,” “Trader Mickey,” “The Wayward Canary”
  • 1933: “Mickey's Pal Pluto,” “Mickey's Mechanical Man”
  • 1934: “Playful Pluto,” “Mickey's Steam Roller,” “Mickey Plays Papa”
  • 1935: “Mickey's Kangaroo”
  • FROM THE VAULT
    • Leonard Maltin introduction
    • “The Haunted House” (1929)
    • “The Moose Hunt” (1931)
    • “The Delivery Boy” (1931)
    • “The Grocery Boy” (1932)
    • “Mickey in Arabia” (1932)
    • “Mickey's Good Deed” (1932)
    • “Mickey's Mellerdrammer” (1933)
    • “The Steeplechase” (1933)
    • “Shanghaied” (1934)
    • “Mickey's Man Friday” (1935)

The Video, Audio, and Interface

As with previous Walt Disney Treasures sets, the audio and video transfers have been digitally remastered, and given the age of the various source materials, all three of these sets are very nicely presented. The video does occasionally exhibit some source wear and color variations, but some of that is inherent and expected. The audio is also well suited for its intended purpose, and the remastered mono tracks are clear and well balanced. As for the user interface, it is very similar to those of previous waves, and it consists of not much more than static screens with some background audio cues. It is functional and utilitarian, but you will be spending more time watching the content than using the menus.

The Goodies

While most of the capacity of these sets is dedicated to the main content, like the animated shorts or TV episodes, Disney always seems to be able to squeeze a number of goodies on each disc that are well worth watching.

On the Pluto set, there are several cool things to check out, including a Pluto drawing lesson by Disney animator Andreas Deja, a summary of Pluto's career, and an excerpt from the Disneyland TV show A Story of Dogs. Of particular interest is the featurette, “The Life And Times Of Pluto,” which features interviews with legendary Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, as well as Andreas Deja and film historian John Canemaker. It also contains some rare film footage of Walt Disney and his staff in story meetings. One other interesting item was a retrospective look at Pluto's original animator Norm Ferguson and the legacy he left in Pluto. These goodies perfectly complement the main content, and they round out this set very nicely.


Promotional image © Disney.

The Mickey Mouse Club set also features a good selection of bonus material, especially for those of you who are wondering whatever happened to many of the Mouseketeers. First of all, there is a nice tribute to Jimmie Dodd, the leader of the Mouseketeers, and it contains interviews with other Mouseketeers as well as several clips of Jimmie in action. There is also an interesting reconstruction of the Mouseketeer's debut at the Disneyland opening. What makes it particularly cool is that the original black–and–white television broadcast is edited together with color film footage taken during the rehearsal.

Another item that fans will not want to miss is the “Mouseke-Memories” featurette, a round–table discussion hosted by Leonard Maltin and featuring Bobby Burgess, Doreen Tracey, Lonnie Burr, Sharon Baird, Carl “Cubby” O'Brien, and Karen Pendleton. Topics they cover include how each of them got involved with the Mickey Mouse Club, how they handled learning new material all the time, and many other memories of their time on and off set. At only about 14 minutes, it is a bit short to go into each person's stories in depth, but it does a great job of answering many of the basic questions everyone has about the first Mouseketeers.


Promotional image © Disney.

Last up is the Mickey Mouse in Black in White, Vol. 2 set, which also contains a couple of notable goodies. There is an interesting featurette on Mickey Mouse merchandise collecting, which covers the incredible range of items that Mickey's image appeared on over the decades. Maltin hosts this tour of “Mickeyologist” Bernie Shine's home, which contains hundreds of Mickey pieces. The two discuss a wide variety of merchandising topics. There is also a short but poignant featurette on John Hench, Mickey's “official portrait artist,” where Hench and Maltin discuss Mickey's design and Hench's wonderful portraits.

Also in the set is a unique presentation of several of Mickey's Sunday newspaper comic strips. You can view them as static strips, or you can watch a video version of the comic strip, which moves the camera around the comic page while period music plays in the background. It is nothing earth–shattering, but it is a fun way to punch up the comics.

The Final Evaluation

Overall, and quite simply, each of these sets do a great job of presenting their material, and they are definite must have sets for Disney fans, especially if you are already collecting these Walt Disney Treasures sets. The audio and video transfers are the best available for this classic material, and the bonus material perfectly compliments the main content. I am still hooked by this series, and I can't wait for Wave 5, whatever that ends up being. Personally, I am hoping for some of those classic educational titles, like “Donald in Mathmagicland,” or maybe more Disneyland TV shows or the Real-Life Adventures. Regardless, the Disney vaults are deep, and I am pretty certain that Leonard Maltin and friends will continue to put together memorable and very worthwhile collections.

Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites,
Volumes 1 - 4

(2005) | Approx. 1 hr each| Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video***
GoodiesInterface**
Value**

The Discs

If compendial collections, like the Walt Disney Treasures, are not quite your bag or in your budget, then you may be interested in these small compilations of classic animated shorts. A sort of budget best–of collection, the Walt Disney Classic Cartoon Favorites discs include seven to nine animated shorts from many of your favorite Disney characters, including Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Chip and Dale. Each disc runs about an hour and includes the following shorts:

Volume 1 - Mickey Mouse

  • “Mickey's Circus”
  • “Mickey's Garden”
  • “The Little Whirlwind”
  • “On Ice”
  • “Hawaiian Holiday”
  • “Moving Day”
  • “Orphan's Picnic”

Volume 2 - Donald Duck

  • “Inferior Decorator”
  • “Don Donald”
  • “Golden Eggs”
  • “Bee At The Beach”
  • “Donald's Dog Laundry”
  • “Donald's Vacation”
  • “Old MacDonald Duck”
  • “Chef Donald”

Volume 3 – Goofy

  • “The Art of Skiing”
  • “How To Fish”
  • “How To Swim”
  • “Baggage Buster”
  • “How To Dance”
  • “Lion Down”
  • “The Big Wash”
  • “Hold That Pose”
  • “Father's Day Off”

Volume 4 - Chip and Dale

  • “Chicken In The Rough”
  • “Chip 'n' Dale”
  • “Out Of Scale”
  • “Two Chips And A Miss”
  • “Food For Feudin'”
  • “Working For Peanuts”
  • “Out On A Limb”
  • “Three For Breakfast”
  • “Dragon Around”


Promotional image © Disney.

These discs represent a relatively decent selection of shorts, and they all seem to keep the attention of my two young TV watchers. In fact, being unfamiliar with many of these cartoons, the two of them protested watching the Chip and Dale disc altogether for a while, but after watching it with me, that disc has become one of the more popular discs with them for now. These shorts may not be the most memorable or the most famous, but they are fun to watch nonetheless.

The Video, Audio, and Interface

There is not much to say beyond the video, audio, and interface all do their job quite acceptably. It seems that Disney has taken the results of their Walt Disney Treasures remastering work and repackaged some of those shorts on discs targeted at a more general audience. Therefore, the video and audio transfers are pretty good for the age of the source material. The interface is simple and nothing to shout about, but it works. Even my remote–wielding 4–year–old can make his way around to either play all of the shorts or pick his favorites, albeit sometimes with a little unwanted “supportive encouragement” from the 6–and–a–half–year–old.


Promotional image © Disney.

The Goodies

These discs seem primarily intended for children and folks who are not looking for extensive collections or bonus material. As such, there are no bonus items beyond the usual “sneak peeks,” if you can even call those goodies. Is the lack of goodies a problem or significant shortcoming? Not if you are in the aforementioned target audience. For those looking for goodies, you probably already have all of the Walt Disney Treasures sets, on which most if not all of these shorts are present.


Promotional image © Disney.

The Final Evaluation

If you are looking for a disc or two of your favorite characters that you can just pop in the DVD player and occupy yourself or your children for an hour or so, then these are a good place to start. These decent selections of classic cartoons are nicely presented, and there are just enough of them to keep children's attention. However, if you are looking for a more comprehensive selection of animated shorts and/or bonus material, then you would be better served buying the Walt Disney Treasures collections.



Pluto Vol. 1
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

DISC ONE
  • Leonard Maltin introduction
  • "The Life And Times Of Pluto” featurette (9 min)
  • "Pluto 101” – how–to–draw–Pluto featurette with Andreas Deja (12 min)
DISC TWO
  • Leonard Maltin introduction
  • “Pluto's Picture Book” excerpt from Disneyland TV Show “A Story Of Dogs” (29 min)
  • “Pluto's Pal Fergy” featurette on animator Norm Ferguson (10 min)
  • Still Frame Galleries – Pluto On Paper, Pluto's Posters, Background Paintings, Animation Drawing

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full-screen – 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Closed-captioned
Mickey Mouse Club
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

DISC ONE
  • “The Leader Of The Club” (The Jimmie Dodd Tribute)(9 min)
  • Still Frame Galleries
DISC TWO
  • Leonard Maltin Introduction (2 min)
  • “Mouske-Memories” (14 min)
  • “The Mouseketeers Debut At Disneyland” (3 min)
  • Opening Sequence in Color (3 min)

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full-screen – 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Closed-captioned
Mickey Mouse B&W Vol. 2
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

DISC ONE
  • Leonard Maltin Introduction (2 min)
  • “Mickey Mania: Collecting Mickey Merchandise” (13 min)
  • Mickey's Portrait Artist John Hench (5 min)
DISC TWO
  • Leonard Maltin introduction (2 min)
  • “Mickey's Sunday Funnies: A Still Frame Comic Strip & Video Comic Strip” (15 min)
  • Still Frame Galleries: Background Paintings, Mickey's Poster Archive,
  • “Mickey Mouse Fully Covered”

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full-screen – 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Closed-captioned
Classic Cartoon Favorites
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • None

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full-screen – 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Closed-captioned

 

 

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Kevin “Doc” Krock is been a long-time animation buff and home theater fan. He's been following the rise of the DVD format in the home market since its introduction, and he hopes to help you make the most of your family's home theater viewing time and video collections.

You can contact Kevin here.

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