Television Reviews

DVD Review: Walt Disney Treasures – The Complete Pluto 1930-1947

In an animated world where mice, ducks, and even another dog all act like human beings, Pluto is an enigma: a dog who acts like a dog. Long recognized as Mickey’s canine companion and pal, Pluto actually at one time belonged to Minnie.

Pluto’s earliest incarnation came in the animated short The Chain Gang where a pair of bloodhounds made an appearance. From there, the animators developed the character in a way that was a stark contrast to the other animated non-human characters in the Disney cartoons. Pluto was all dog, through and through.

Watching the cartoons in which Pluto is the featured character is a very different experience. Pluto doesn’t talk. Most of his emotions and thoughts are shown by his animated reactions and facial expressions in various situations. The music which accompanies Pluto’s adventures is well done and also sets the tone for what is happening, whether it’s amusement, frustration, or mild peril.

Some of the toons are strictly Pluto while others like The Chain Gang, On Ice, and are Pluto and Mickey. Goofy and Donald Duck also make appearances in some of the cartoons. The animated short Lend a Paw actually won an Academy Award for best short-subject cartoon.

There are quite a few selections that have appeared in other Walt Disney Treasures collections, but the overlap isn’t so great that I felt like I was buying a set that included a lot of material I already owned.

The restoration of the black and white animated shorts is very well done. The Chain Gang has no imperfections or dirt specks in the print. A minor quibble is that sound might be a little distorted on some of the very earliest animated shorts, but overall it’s an excellent job.

The color cartoons are spectacular. The colors are so sharp and vibrant – it’s a treat to watch them on a widescreen television and catch all the nuances in the color palate as well as the fluidity of the movements. It’s so different artistically from the current crop of computer-generated animation.

I watched The Complete Pluto with my four-year-old son and I have to say it kept him mesmerized. Since the music is such a critical component of Pluto cartoons, he went upstairs and brought down a toy xylophone and was playing it along with the music in the toons. He would react to the situation, telling Pluto “Behind you! Behind you!” These are truly animated adventures that span generations.

Overall, I found these cartoons to be very child-friendly. I didn’t find anything objectionable in any of the depictions or ideas expressed. There were no stereotypes I saw that we recoil at nowadays. All of the cartoons were funny, and the ones that did make a point such as those produced during the second world war did so in a fun and entertaining way. The Army Mascot in particular was a favorite from this era as Pluto plots to become one after seeing how well they are fed.

This collectible edition comes in a tin. However, it’s the second version where the numbered certificate is inside the tin rather than stamped on it. Also, there is no more signed paper band around the entire tin. The Bonus Features are really good. There is some terrific archival footage of Walt Disney working with animators on various productions.

Titles on discs:

The Chain Gang – 1930
On Ice – 1935
Pluto’s Quin-Puplets – 1937
Beach Picnic – 1939
Bone Trouble – 1940
Pluto’s Playmate – 1941
Canine Caddy – 1941
Lend A Paw – 1941
Pluto, Junior – 1942
The Army Mascot – 1942
The Sleepwalker – 1942
T-Bone For Two – 1942
Pluto at the Zoo – 1942

Pluto and the Armadillo – 1943
Private Pluto – 1943
Springtime For Pluto – 1944
First Aiders – 1944
Dog Watch – 1945
Canine Casanova – 1945
The Legend of Coyote Rock – 1945
Canine Patrol – 1945
Pluto’s Kid Brother – 1946
In Dutch – 1946
Squatter’s Rights – 1946
The Purloined Pup – 1946
Pluto’s Housewarming – 1947
Pantry Pirate – 1940
A Gentleman’s Gentleman – 1941

Bonus Material:

• Introduction by Leonard Maltin
• Pluto 101 – character design and animation
• The Life and Times of Pluto – a “biography” of Pluto
• Pluto’s Picture Book – Excerpt from “A Story of Dogs”
• Pluto’s Pal Fergy – a tribute to Norm Ferguson, Pluto’s animator
• Archival Photo Galley
• Animation Art Gallery
• Publicity and Merchandise Gallery