Well, even though these had been long-rumored, and even got an Studio-released announcement earlier this year, Walt Disney Home Entertainment has finally officially confirmed the release of this year’s trio of Walt Disney Treasures collectors’ tins. Available on November 11 for $32.99 a pop, the big title for animation fans will be the fourth and final edition of The Duck’s shorts, The Chronological Donald: Volume 4, featuring the final 31 animated cartoons in this character’s theatrical series between 1951 and 1961, including the much requested educational featurette Donald In Mathmagic Land from 1955. Bonuses will include a “retrospective look, storyboards and commentary”, with the CinemaScope shorts presented for the first time on home video in their original aspect ratio (a claim that also accompanied the last volume, even though that contained scant widescreen cartoons!), and apparently a selection of the Mickey MouseWorks television segments created in the 1990s, though why anyone would want those over such gems as the This Is Your Life: Donald Duck special from the 50s, or the wonderful 1984 50th birthday special hosted by Dick Van Dyke, is anyone’s guess.
Perhaps appealing to hard core fans, and certainly by me, Dr. Syn, Alias The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh promises both the full Wonderful World Of Disney three-part miniseries about the mild-mannered Dr. Syn (The Prisoner himself, Patrick McGoohan) who becomes the terrifying Scarecrow at night. As with many of the Disney TV shows, The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh was later trimmed down and edited to feature length for release internationally as Dr. Syn, Alias The Scarecrow. Uniquely, this two disc set will include all three one-hour programs plus the film edition, with bonus “featurettes and commentary” – one hopes to hear from McGoohan himself, a rare treat indeed!
Finally, from earlier in the Disney television chronology, comes The Mickey Mouse Club Presents Annette, a compendium of the nineteen-episode serial from the third (and final initial) season of the landmark program in which the young, pre-fame Mousketeer plays a country orphan who is sent to live in the city. These segments, from February to March of 1958, won’t make up a full two-disc set on their own, so here’s hoping that the additional “interview, tribute and Mickey Mouse Club episodes” bring some much needed bonus value to the collection. As perhaps the first true Disney-manufactured live-action breakout star of the modern mold, it’s high time Annette Funicello’s career got this kind of recognition,
Also recently announced, and sure to be most welcome by fans, is The Real Ghostbusters: The Complete Series, the long-awaited animated show inspired by the Columbia Pictures movies, coming to a – get this – 25 disc collection! The set was previewed at Comic-Con earlier this year, with producer Andy Mangels jumping from his usual Filmation presentations to put together what sounds like an awesome achievement. The catch? At the moment the set is only available through Time-Life at the Real Ghostbusters DVD website, where it will be available from November 20 for a cool $180. For that you’ll get all 147 episodes of the 1980s show, including the 13 episodes of the follow-up Slimer! series, plus over 12 hours of never-before-released footage, on-camera commentaries, documentaries, interviews, episode intros, scripts, art and photo galleries, storyboards, music and effects tracks and DVD-ROM supplements. Phew!
Stay tooned! – Ben.