Review
Walt Disney Treasures Wave 3
© Disney. All Rights Reserved.
Noell Wolfgram Evans · July 6, 2004 | Nearly everyone with an opinion lately has been offering it on the Walt Disney Studios. It's a debate that has intensified and reared up in numerous forms over the past several months; people rage on about whether the company still has "it," whether they've ever had "it" and where they can go from here. Regardless of which side of the debate you come down on, you'll want to do all that you can to get a hold of Disney's latest four installments in the Walt Disney Treasures DVD series: On the Front Lines, Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond, Mickey Mouse in Living Color Part 2 (1939–1995), and The Chronological Donald, Volume 1 (1934–1941).

These DVDs should be welcome, not just by Disney aficionados, but by animation students and history buffs as well. Say what you will about the Disney Studio, but it's hard to argue that they don't have a complete understanding and harnessing of the power of DVD. This is not just apparent in the precise packaging these pieces have gotten, but also in the poor handling of other animation classics, like the Warner Brothers shorts of the 1930s and '40s. Sure, it's great to have some of those on DVD, but does Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection really do the animation the justice it deserves?

So what makes this collection so complete? Start with the cosmetics. Each DVD is a two-disc affair, stored in a clamshell case, which is kept inside a collectible tin. Each set comes with a short, image-heavy booklet and a postcard-size reproduction of some artwork, generally a poster from that series. It's a package that's functional, stylish, graceful and with just a hint of importance.

The Chronological Donald, Vol. 1 (1934–1941)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2004
275 minutes

Mickey Mouse in Living Color Vol. 2 (1939–1995)
345 minutes
Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2004

On the Front Lines
Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2004
210 minutes

Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond
Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2004
240 minutes

Shop for Walt Disney Treasures DVDs:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
AllPosters.com
Another addition to the DVDs is celebrity critic and Walt Disney Treasures series host Leonard Maltin. Mr. Maltin has a love for the material that is clearly evident and he does a pleasant job of introducing key pieces and acting as a guide through the history represented in each set. One of the great parts about Mr. Maltin is his appearance as "the voice of reason." One of the complaints that many people lay on Disney, Warner Brothers and the other cartoon studios is the way that they censor material that is no longer deemed socially acceptable (characters smoking, overly stylized ethnic dialects, etc.) One of the great things about this series is that all of the films play back in their original issue form. When a "questionable" piece is to be shown, Mr. Maltin pops up to offer the viewer some insight and history. It's how sensitive material should be handled: give me the facts and let me decide myself whether I can handle the images or not.

This wave of Disney Treasures has been languishing in a Disney warehouse since before Christmas. The official reason for this was because of "overwhelming consumer demand and retailer orders for Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Walt Disney Treasures Wave 3. ...demand for the four titles in the upcoming wave has exceeded BVHE's ability to manufacture enough units." But of course the Internet has raged with rumors floating from ego (in that Michael Eisner wanted to remove Roy Disney's name from the packaging, but if that's true he missed my set) to the financial (The Walt Disney Company wanted to wait to release the series when it made the best fiscal sense). Regardless of the reason the DVDs are here now and they are exactly as they should be.
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