Walt Disney’s Timeless Tales – Volume Two appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Not one of Disney’s best-looking DVDs, Tales was watchable and not much more.
Since “Mr. Toad” occupied much of the disc, I thought it deserved to be discussed on its own. Sharpness usually appeared pretty crisp and detailed. This seemed to be the strongest aspect of the image, and I found relatively few concerns about the area. I noticed no examples of moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge enhancement appeared absent.
Print flaws, however, presented more significant problems. I detected dust, white speckles and black grit quite frequently. Other defects were less prevalent, but they appeared nonetheless; the movie featured various blotches and spots, plus a couple of scratches and hairs. At times the picture seemed slightly jittery as well.
Colors usually came across as fairly pleasant. "Mr. Toad's" hues generally were slightly muted but largely accurate and distinct; they definitely should have looked fresher, but I had no genuine complaints about them. Black levels could appear quite deep and rich at times; some of the characters of "Mr. Toad" displayed very solid dark tones, such as the appearance of Mr. Winkie's hair and the judge's cloak. However, during that short's second half, we see a lot of nighttime sequences, and these showed somewhat flat black levels, and the shadow detail appeared slightly heavy and murky. Although the short could look quite good at times, the DVD never lived up to the standards set by Disney’s other releases from the period.
As for the other three shorts, “Duckling” was the most attractive of the bunch. It showed a few minor specks and streaks, but otherwise it was clean and clear. Sharpness looked solid, and the colors were lively and bright.
“Ferdinand” was the least appealing one. It seemed soft and fuzzy much of the time, and it also demonstrated pale colors. Blacks were too dark and dense as well, and it suffered from a number of source flaws.
“Cousin” fell between those two. On the positive side, it boasted no source flaws and offered colors that were reasonably lively and full. However, this came with moderate softness, and the short never offered great definition. Overall, I thought the four cartoons on this DVD added up to a “C+” for visuals.
In regard to the monaural audio, “Mr. Toad” again deserved to be examined on its own. That track was lackluster. Dialogue had problems. The lines were always intelligible, but they tended to be somewhat rough and edgy. Music was also a bit brittle, and effects showed a little distortion as well. There wasn’t much life or dimensionality to the audio of “Mr. Toad”.
The other three shorts sounded decent. Speech showed no edginess, but then again, none of the three used a lot of dialogue. Music was thin and trebly but acceptably clear. Effects were similarly lackluster but acceptable. I got about what I expected from these older cartoons.
When we look at supplements, we get virtually nothing. A mix of ads appear under the Sneak Peeks banner. This area includes trailers for Cinderella, Kronk’s New Groove, Chicken Little, Lilo & Stitch 2, The Parent Trap,
Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween, and Kermit the Frog’s 50th Anniversary.
For dedicated Disney buffs, this Timeless Tales collection will be redundant, as they’ll already own all of the shorts. However, for more casual fans, there’s a lot to like here. Three of the four shorts are real winners, and even the weakest still entertains. Picture and audio quality are fairly mediocre, though, and the set includes no substantial extras. This is a decent way to get a package of fun cartoons if you don’t want to shell out for the “Treasures” releases.