Walt Disney Television Animation (September 9-30, 1989, February 13, 1999), Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (January 5, 2010), single disc, 50 mins plus supplements, 1.33:1 original aspect ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0, Not Rated, Retail: $29.99
First released on VHS in 2000, a new Special Edition of Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine For You is being released for the 1999 holiday special. Along with the title special are two other episodes from the show’s second season – Un-Valentine’s Day and Three Little Piglets.
The Sweatbox Review:
Out of the four official Winnie the Pooh television specials dedicated to American holidays, Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine For You is probably the least known. That is partially due to the fact that it was the last holiday special to be created, but also because Valentine is somewhat of a lesser holiday. After all, no one gets time off for Valentine’s Day. However, children love Valentine’s Day. There are cards, candy, and nearly everybody seems to be in a good mood. Valentine’s Day for children is less about love and more about friendship. Kids give one another valentines almost as a way to guarantee that they themselves will get one in return. After all, no one wants to be left out of any ritual. Well, there’s that and candy.
Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine For You was a 1999 television special that premiered on February 13, 1999. In this special, Pooh is walking along the Hundred Acre Woods with his friends when he spies Christopher Robin writing a valentine for someone else. Rabbit warns Pooh that the “Smitten”, a love bug, has infected him. Together with his friends, Pooh then goes out to find the smitten to cure Christopher from his love sickness. This leads to some funny moments as the friends go deep into the woods looking for the bug (they end up chasing a firefly instead). However, when Pooh finally gets his chance to cure Christopher Robin, he makes an unselfish decision that surprises even his best friends. Overall, it is a cute special with a heartwarming message of love, unselfishness, and friendship that still resonates today. One notable thing about this special is that this was the last television special featuring Paul Winchell as the voice of Tigger.
The second story included in this release is actually from a 1989 episode of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’s second season. In Un-Valentine’s Day, Rabbit gets his neighbors together to discuss that year’s Valentine’s Day. He wants to cancel Valentine’s Day for that year because in the previous year, people were sending too many Valentines. Apparently, the number of cards Pooh sent in the previous year filled a whole wardrobe in Rabbit’s house (apparently, he is sentimental enough to save all of them). Everybody agrees to the plan, but when Pooh unexpectedly receives a Valentine’s Day gift from an anonymous source, he tries to guess who it was from and counter the exchange. This sets off a chain of that ends up including nearly everyone in the Hundred Acre Woods. This story is actually stronger that A Valentine For You, at least for being clever in the way that one Valentine leads to many others.
The final part of the main feature is a quick Winnie the Pooh story called Three Little Piglets. In this short story also from the second season of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Rabbit attempts to tell the story of The Three Little Pigs (using Piglets instead of Pigs). However, as Rabbit is telling the story, he keeps getting interrupted by Pooh and Tigger. As Rabbit tells the story, we see the animation of his story, including any changes made to the story as he is interrupted. It’s a cute short that serves as kind of filler to the rest of the disc, rounding up the 50 minutes of the original VHS release. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the episode, but using Piglet in place of the characters (aren’t little pigs piglets after all?) makes for a clever re-telling of the story. Note that this short actually plays after the end of Un-Valentine’s Day.
Is This Thing Loaded?
On the disc, there are two main special features highlighted on the back cover of the DVD. The first is a bonus episode of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh called My Hero (11:36). In this episode, Tigger is accidentally “saved” by Piglet. The others tell Tigger that he now owes Piglet and must serve his every need until he can return the favor. Hoping to get rid of the energetic Tigger, Piglet attempts to place himself in semi-perilous situations waiting for Tigger to save him. When most of his plans backfire, they lead to other characters of the Hundred Acre Woods being saved by others. This begins a chain of events where in the end it seems everybody has saved someone else’s life and then returned the favor except for Tigger and Piglet. This is a funny story and is actually very similar to Un-Valentine’s Day, in the way that one random act triggers a chain of events throughout the Hundred Acre Woods.
The second special feature on the DVD is a game called “Catch the Love Bug”. In this simple game, the player must move a jar with their remote and click enter when they have positioned it over a flying “Smitten” or “Love Bug.” On my first attempt I missed, until I realized that the bug moves in the same patter on every turn, making any and all subsequent attempts highly successful. I know that Disney puts these games on the DVDs as somewhat of an added value for kids, but I have yet to meet kids that ever play these simplistic games. If the bug went in different paths every time, we would be telling a different story, but there’s nothing stimulating about this game. The game ends once the player has caught 5 Smittens for a “perfect score.”
There are also trailers for upcoming DVDs of Dumbo: 70th Anniversary Edition, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie’s Bow-tique, Winnie the Pooh: Frankenpooh – 15th Anniversary Edition Special Edition, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition, and Handy Mandy: Manny’s Motorcycle Adventure, as well as commercials for Disney Movie Rewards, D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans, and Disney Blu-Ray.
The DVD is being released in a standard white keepcase with a cardboard slipcover. The cover features Pooh and Piglet inside a heart as they are about to exchange Valentines. Other favorite characters (Tigger, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, and Roo) are also featured on the cover. On the back cover, we get scenes from the different episodes included on the DVD. Inside the DVD case is a special insert for Disney Movie Rewards as well as 6 different Winnie the Pooh Valentine’s Day cards. Two feature Piglet as cupid that says “I’m Smitten With You”, two others feature Pooh and Piglet hugging with a line that reads “Bee My Valentine”, and finally two feature Tigger with a line that says “Hip Hip Horray! It’s Valentine’s Day.” These are actually very cute cards that any child will enjoy having or receiving.
Ink And Paint:
The overall quality of the print quality here is average for DVD. There’s no special remastering of this animated special, and of course the episodes from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh are grainier and dustier than the 1999 special. There are plenty of dust fragments on the old episodes but nothing too distracting. The overall look of the older episodes is already grainier due to the animation style and the age. I prefer the older animation in terms of style mostly because I am more accustomed to it. There is a definite difference in style between the two episodes as they are nearly 10 years apart. The older episodes have more of a storybook quality to them while the 1999 special is cleaner. All of the episodes are featured in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio of their television broadcast.
The DVD comes with English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks and matching subtitles. Note that the Fast Play option also comes in the different languages, but no one bothered to translate the trailers or at least provide subtitles (not uncommon, but still noticeable). The overall quality of the tracks is average for this type of release. Winnie the Pooh is not exactly the type of show that benefits from enhanced soundtracks, so the 2.0 track is appropriate for this release.
There’s not much new here. In fact, it seems that the previous VHS release is being repackaged here without any modifications (although I guess there are the new trailers). Owners of the old VHS tapes will notice the old VHS logo for Winnie the Pooh at the beginning of the episode Un-Valentine’s Day. But that’s not important to fans of the show. Fans of Winnie the Pooh holiday specials have probably already gone out and purchased this DVD. These holiday specials are great for kids and make great gifts as well. What’s better for a child than a Winnie the Pooh DVD Valentine? At least, I’m sure that the Disney marketing team is thinking of the same thing. The added bonus of the Valentine Cards within the DVD case is sure to entice some Winnie the Pooh collectors as well. Overall, it’s a cute, slightly above average, release for Winnie the Pooh.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?