Toon Talk: Walt Disney Treasures Wave 8 DVDs
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by Kirby C. Holt
Walt Disney Treasures
THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB PRESENTS: ANNETTE
DR. SYN: THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH
THE CHRONOLOGICAL DONALD VOLUME 4
The eighth wave of the Leonard Maltin hosted Walt Disney Treasures DVDs is now available, and this latest (and possibly last) batch brings Disney fans the adventures of three very unlikely heroes. Namely, a masked hero of English folklore, an easily excitable duck and America’s sweetest of sweethearts.
Starting with the latter, The Mickey Mouse Club Presents: Annette features everyone’s favorite Mouseketeer in her very own serial. From the third and final Club season, Miss Funicello stars in this quintessential “fish out of water” story as Annette McCloud, a “country bumpkin” orphan who goes to live with her citified aunt and uncle. Typical teen traumas (or as typical as 1950’s era television would allow) ensue, such as unrequited crushes, schoolroom cliques and, most shocking of all, a missing necklace that leads to all kinds of trouble for our brunette heroine.
With its malt shops and suburban bliss, Annette (which was based on the young adults novel Margaret by Janet Sebring Lowrey, of Pokey Little Puppy fame) is as nostalgic and oh-so wholesome as one would expect. Livening things up are the performances of such stalwart character actors as Richard Deacon (most well known as Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show) and especially Mary Wickes as yet another sassy housekeeper. (Disney fans will remember Wickes as the crusty Sister Mary Lazarus in the Sister Act movies and as the voice of the gargoyle Lavern in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.) Also appearing alongside Annette in the younger roles are such squeaky clean, familiar MMC faces as fellow Mouseketeer Sharon Baird and Spin and Marty themselves, Tim Considine and David Stollery, plus a pre-Donna Reed Show Shelley Fabares. Annette is quaint and corny, but refreshing in this day and age when modern Disney starlets are more likely to be known for a host of unwholesome activities (Hannah Montana, I'm talking to you).
All twenty ten-minute Annette episodes are included, along with the half-hour programs that introduced and concluded the serial. Bonus features on the set are slim, consisting of two featurettes saluting its star. “Musically Yours, Annette”, a 1993 promo that was produced in conjunction with a CD collection of Annette’s recordings, features interviews with her “famous friends and colleagues”, such as her former boyfriend Paul Anka, her Beach movies co-star Frankie Avalon, music producer Tutti Camarata and her frequent songwriters, the Sherman brothers. The brand new “To Annette With Love” includes rare photographs and footage of the beloved “girl next door”, as well as interviews with her husband Glen Holt (no relation) and close friends Baird and Fabares.
Through it all, the indomitable spirit of Annette is obvious, especially in light of her failing health due to multiple sclerosis, which has removed her from the public eye in recent years. It is also easily apparent how grateful she was to Walt Disney (who hand picked her for the Mouseketeers); in the end, she says, “I owe everything to those ears”.
Toon Talk Rating: B