“Now this might be the room of any small boy, but it happens to belong to a boy named Christopher Robin, and like most small boys, Christopher Robin had toy animals to play with. And together they had many remarkable adventures in an enchanted place called The Hundred Acre Wood. But out of all of his animal friends, Christopher Robin’s very best friend was a bear called Winnie The Pooh.”
“Oh Bother”A.A. Milne was quite an eclectic writer. He wrote murder mysteries that even appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. From that fertile mind would also come a place known as the Hundred Acre Wood. In that select place some of literature’s finest characters had the greatest adventures any boy could imagine. And adventures are certainly no fun on your own. Young Christopher Robin was joined by Piglet, Tigger, Owl, Rabbit, Eeyore, and, of course, Winnie-The-Pooh. Who didn’t fall in love with that silly old bear… Winnie-The-Pooh. OK, so maybe Dahmer or Bundy might have been exceptions. Still, anyone growing up in the last 30-40 years who isn’t a psychopath has had a love affair with Winnie-The-Pooh, all stuffed with fluff.
Often when a company gets the rights to such classic characters, they end up doing more harm than good, particularly if they include radical changes to the beloved material. Walt Disney was first introduced to the stories after seeing his own children delighted by their adventures. His quick mind told him that this English story needed to be more formally introduced to American children. It took several years for the versions of these characters to evolve into what we so instantly recognize today. The original characters were quite different from these uniquely Disney inventions. I know the folks at Disney claim they stayed very true to the originals, but that simply isn’t true. Today the characters are recognized all over the world more in their Disney incarnations. More than the drawings, the voices of these characters have become very distinctive with those of us who grew up with them.
“And one of the greatest of their many grand adventures began around and about this day, a most delightful time of candies and cards. A day of Valentines.”
This Valentine special is really the joining of three different Winnie The Pooh episodes into one release.
“But happy as he was, the day brought with it a certain uncertainty. For this was also a time of change. And change does not come easily for some bears, especially a bear named Winnie The Pooh.”
A Valentine For You:
Christopher Robin has not been around the Hundred Acre Wood for some time, and it’s beginning to worry Pooh Bear and the gang. When they do finally find their friend, he is writing a valentine note to a girl. When Owl explains that Christopher Robin has been bitten by a Smitten, the gang becomes concerned that there will soon be no time for them. They seek out another Smitten, first cousin to a love bug, you understand. They hope that if Christopher Robin is bitten a second time, it will undo the harm of the first bite.
There are plenty of the usual songs and antics. The gang eventually comes to understand that no matter how many friends Christopher Robin loves, there will always be room in his heart for Pooh and the gang.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, Rabbit has called an emergency meeting. It seems that last year led to an avalanche of cards because a certain bear, whose initials happen to be Winnie The Pooh, gets carried away with giving out cards. To avoid the disaster they all agree that there will be no Valentine exchanges this year. But when Pooh gets an unexpected pot of honey at his door, it sets off a chain of misunderstandings that lead to the same kind of overload the gang was hoping to avoid. Eventually they realize that it was Christopher Robin that started the ball rolling, and they haven’t gotten him anything at all. It seems a card is too small, so Rabbit puts on a Valentine show for their friend. With Tigger in charge of the “special defects”, you know this show isn’t going to come off quite as planned.
Three Little Piglets:
Pooh delivers the story of The Three Little Pigs, but in his own style. But a Pooh story is never complete unless there’s honey. So, the whole gang joins in on the telling. What we have is a classic Hundred Acre Wood story.
It’s all presented in an expected full frame format. You’ll be pretty amazed at the video presentation here. Even in the age of high definition this standard DVD looks impressive. Colors are bright and alive with all of the major characters displaying spot on the way we remembered them. The animation is smooth. Black levels are near perfect, as is contrast.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track offers pretty much dialog and music or effects. It’s fine for what it is. There are a few songs, and they have nice dynamic enough range, but this isn’t the kind of film that lives too widely in the surrounds. Dialog is excellent, allowing you to hear it all perfectly.
Bonus Episode – My Hero: When Piglet saves Tigger’s life, Tigger decides to repay him by being his servant for life. While Tigger is certainly well-intentioned, he begins to get on Piglet’s nerves. So, Piglet decides to set it up so that Tigger saves his life and they’ll be even. Except in true Pooh style, things go wrong, and everyone else ends up saving everyone else’s life.
I love these old classic Pooh cartoons. Still, I’d much rather see the entire series released rather than these small samples based on one theme or another. They don’t cost a lot, and they’re great family entertainment, but I fear Disney will never give them all to us at this point. In small doses or no, this is the classic cartoon and not the latest CG version of the series. It takes one back to the Hundred Acre Wood where, “a boy and his bear will always be playing”.