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Toon Talk: Walt Disney Treasures - The Complete Pluto - Volume 1
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
December 17, 2004
Kirby reviews one of the recent Walt Disney Treasures DVD releases.

Toon Talk
Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt

(c) Disney

Walt Disney Treasures:
The Complete Pluto - Volume 1

Dog Days

Yep, you read that right: “Volume 1?. Unlike all the pre-release information stated, the latest addition to the Walt Disney Treasures line, The Complete Pluto, has been split into two volumes, which brings up a simple question: why?

Sure, Pluto is a beloved character, but with 48 total shorts of his own, stretching his films out over a total of four discs seems a bit like overkill; after all, Goofy (a much bigger star who definitely had a more varied output) fit all but two of his 48 shorts into one two-disc set two years ago. To fill up the discs, Disney has added, well, filler: five extra shorts that have already appeared in other Treasures collections. Granted, The Chain Gang, Pluto’s ‘debut’, certainly makes sense, as do the two shorts that were included in On the Frontlines earlier this year that are indeed actual Pluto shorts (The Army Mascot, Private Pluto); but there’s really no explaining the inclusions of Mickey Mouse’s On Ice and Donald Duck’s Beach Picnic here; Pluto’s role in these two ‘extras’ isn’t any different than anything seen in his own films. Sure, there are 28 shorts spread out over two discs, but that leaves only 23 left in his filmography (and Pluto never had his own Sorcerer’s Apprentice to pad things out a bit or various voice actors over the years - something tells me we’ll be seeing The Pointer and Pluto’s Christmas Tree again). Factor in that the bonus features included in this set pretty much cover all you can say about Mickey Mouse’s dog, and one wonders what will be included in the next volume.

(c) Disney

Anyway, as for the collection at hand, one can certainly see that Pluto’s shorts could be easily divided into two themes: “Pluto the Hero? and “Pluto the Annoyed-By-Some-Small-Creature?. In the first case, we have the classic Bone Trouble (wherein Pluto hides in an amusement park’s house of mirrors) as well as The Sleepwalker, T-Bone for Two, Canine Casanova, Pluto’s Kid Brother, In Dutch and The Purloined Pup. Basically, the “Pluto the Hero? stories find our hero in a situation where he either protects a fellow canine (usually of the feminine variety, such as Fifi or Dinah) or (more importantly?) one of his prized bones from some 'villainous' force, usually either Butch the bulldog or a dogcatcher.

The much more prolific “Pluto the Annoyed-By-Some-Small-Creature? shorts pit the pooch against another animal that keeps him away from, say, taking a nap or, again, one of his precious bones. In this collection, Pluto runs afoul of a seal (Pluto’s Playmate), a gopher (Canine Caddy), a cat (the Oscar-winning Lend a Paw, which introduced us to his 'good' and 'bad' selves), a goat (The Army Mascot), bees (Springtime for Pluto), an armadillo (the aptly named Pluto and the Armadillo), a rat (Dog Watch), as well as a couple of turtles (in both Canine Patrol and Pluto’s Housewarming), a whole zoo-full of animals (Pluto at the Zoo) and his own puppies (yes, back in the day Pluto was quite the, well, dog. According to two shorts here - Pluto’s Quin-Puplets and Pluto, Junior - the litterbug bit him at least half a dozen times.) And of course, a few other Disney stars make their appearances in this sub-genre, with Figaro the cat from Pinocchio guest starring in First Aiders (along with Minnie Mouse) and those rascally chipmunks Chip and Dale in their ‘debut’ appearance in Private Pluto and the Academy Award-nominated Squatter’s Rights.

And while with two plots repeatedly tweaked (to varying degrees of success) at least gives him a leg up over Donald’s one plot (which can be summed up in two words: “angry duck?), the adventures of our Pluto can get a bit repetitive all in one sitting, even with only roughly half of them to view … hey, maybe that explains the two volumes!

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