STUDIO: Walt Disney Home Video
MSRP: $19.99 each
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 60 minutes each

The Pitch

"You know those great cartoon shorts that comprised the recent Disney collector’s tins? Let’s split them up and release them individually at $20 a pop! I’m lovably evil!"

The Humans

A wide cast of voices for Mickeys, pigs, grasshoppers, and tortoises. Most notably, and oft-recurring: Pinto Colvig (immediately familiar as Goofy or Bluto).

The Nutshell

Disney has a grand history of revising familiar tales for younger audiences while preserving the cautionary point or moral of the original. Spread across these two discs are classic Aesop fables, Grimm folk tales, and Mark Twain’s political satire, "The Prince and the Pauper," all done in the classic Disney style.

"After a hard day spent seceding from the British, I like to have a birthday.
And do you know what I like for birthday dinner?"

The Package

The packaging is the only negative aspect of this collection. The problem is that these stories were all recently released on the Disney collector’s DVD tins (the "Treasures" series). These redundant releases are probably aimed at the casual shopper, then, the Wal-Mart checkstand impulse-buyer. There’s nothing to speak of in the way of special features, and all the cartoons are presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Each box also comes packaged with a palm-sized picture book of either "The Prince and the Pauper" or "The Wind in the Willows," depending on the set.

Each disc gets approximately one hour of running time, which is a bit irksome; it wouldn’t have been hard to squeeze the content of both volumes onto a single disc.

The Lowdown

Beautifully-preserved nuggets from my childhood? Sign me up! These animated shorts are a joy to watch if you had any experience with the originals in your youth. Partly, it’s nice to know that you weren’t exposed forgettable schlock, but to the work of talented animators, musicians, and voice artists. But then, you always were a discerning cineaste, weren’t you?

The longer entries in each volume are adaptations of novels, "The Wind in the Willows" and "The Prince and the Pauper." Both are fairly straight adaptations, plot-wise, with the latter deviating a bit more in terms of characterization and dialogue. Both retain the engrossing stories of the originals, though heavy cuts had to be made in order to shrink them down to their roughly thirty minute running times. The shorter bits that pad out the discs are Silly Symphonies which, even if you don’t buy into their moral-preaching, ought to give you a simple thrill from the synchronicity with the classical music on the soundtrack.

I learned that cheweing tobacco is both magical and musical.
I learned that cheweing tobacco is both magical and musical.

For those deprived folks who did not grow up with these bits from animated glory days (who also were raised by the Stone People of the Northwest Territories), these discs don’t offer much more than a bit of archival history, and if you wanted to expand your library, the tin collector’s edition is probably a better way to go.

Because of lack of bonus features and the dreadful evidence of double-dipping, I’m knocking a bit off the score, but the content alone is a pleasure.

Overall: 6 out of 10