Winnie the Pooh-A Very Merry Pooh Year (2002)

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Released 27-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Menu Animation & Audio-Including sub-menus
Game-Covered In Snow
Game-New Year's Eve Party
Karaoke-Selections
Karaoke-Sing Along With The Movie
Featurette-Enchanted Environment
Easter Egg-Happy New Year; Eeyore; Piglet; Tigger; Winnie The Pooh
Easter Egg-Rabbit; Roo
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 61:11
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gary Katona
Ed Wexler
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Jim Cummings
John Fiedler
Michael Gough
William Green
Nikita Hopkins
Ken Samson
Kath Soucie
Michael York
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Christopher Klatman
Mark Watters


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Norwegian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Danish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Norwegian
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Song Lyrics
Norwegian Song Lyrics
Danish Song Lyrics
Norwegian Titling
Danish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Winnie the Pooh -- A Very Merry Pooh Year returns to see-in the festive season in the Hundred Acre Wood. If you're not familiar with the cast already; there is of course Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) who, despite being of small brain, is always well meaning; Mother Roo and her son Kanga; Tigger (Jim Cummings), who is always bouncing and forever excitable; Rabbit (Ken Sansom) the nervous one, bordering on being an obsessive-compulsive; Eye-ore (Peter Cullen) who is manically depressed but always funny (a bit like Elliot Goblet) in style; Gopher who is meant to be representative of American culture; Piglet (John Fiedler) who is a scaredy-cat in the extreme ("oooh de-de-de-dear"); Owl, the wise know-it-all who is more of a eccentric crackpot than a worldly wise owl; and last, but not least, is Christopher Robin (William Green), the boy for whom the world of Winnie the Pooh was created. Bob Joles provided the decent story narration.

    This presentation consists of two related yet reasonably standalone stories; the first celebrates Christmas and the second celebrates the New Year. The Christmas story starts with the whole team, even including Gopher, collecting at Pooh's house for Christmas Eve celebrations, where they are reminiscing about the year that their letter to Santa almost didn’t make it, and Pooh and Piglet decided to make good on Santa's deliveries. After making their list to send to Santa they set off to deliver the envelope via the North Wind Carrier. Unfortunately, they soon realize that Pooh has forgotten to ask Santa for a present, despite the fact that he wished for a pot of hunny for each of his friends, just in case he might drop by some time. So Pooh and Piglet set off to intercept the letter before it reaches Santa so that they can add Pooh's request for a present. After capturing the letter they proceed to edit the wish list to incorporate not just Pooh's wish, but extended wishes for everyone else. Suddenly they realize that they are running out of time as Tigger reminds them to "Get that (letter) to Santy, hasty-posty". They quickly rush off to send it, but as luck would have it the letter makes it way back to Pooh's house instead of the North pole and so Pooh decides to take it upon himself to make good on everyone's extended Christmas wishes. Needless to say not all goes according to plan but everything works out in the end when Christopher Robin brings Santa's presents and the team learn that Christmas with friends, not presents, is the most important thing.

    The second story begins on the very next day (post Christmas) when Pooh suddenly remembers that he has forgotten where he had earlier hid Piglet's Christmas present. No matter how much he looks and looks, he can't seem to find it. And before he knows it, he has been searching right up to New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Rabbit, everyone is preparing to celebrate the New Year at Rabbit's house. When Rabbit finds out, he makes it clearly known that he doesn't like how everyone else acts and threatens to leave the Hundred Acre Wood if they don't change. After insufficient debate, Rabbit's friends decide to take some radical New Year's resolutions and change themselves for Rabbit's sake. Tigger agrees never to bounce again, Pooh agrees to give up honey, Eye-ore agrees to cheer up, and finally Piglet agrees to be less afraid of everything. The resulting changes make for some interesting character contrasts as we see the various pairs, Piglet & Tigger, and Eye-ore & Pooh, perform complete role reversals. The plan backfires, however, and Rabbit strengthens his conviction to leave, but in an amusing twist of fate, Rabbit suddenly finds himself in need of their assistance and ultimately ends-up forgiving everyone by acknowledging their faults and accepting them just as they are (there's your moral dose for week). And finally, just in time, Pooh remembers where he hid Piglet's gift and presents it, albeit a week late to Piglet. The story then finishes off with the old classic friendship song, Days of Auld Lang Syne (days of old friends' time).

    Winnie the Pooh -- A Very Merry Pooh Year is a simple set of stories, complete with a collection of enjoyable songs appropriate for the Christmas season. Add to this a healthy dose of moral messages from Disney enterprises and it's pretty much all summed-up.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is, for the most part, very good although there are moments where the quality drops off, badly. Surprisingly, the average bit rate is very high, regularly reaching the maximum of 10Mbps. This is a good sign, that the studios are willing to use the space on the disc to ensure a high quality transfer. It's a pity the material didn’t really justify it.

    The main transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full screen and it is not 16x9 enhanced. There are some inconsistencies in both the mastering and labelling of this disc that require mentioning. The main menu is mastered at 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced but none of the features or material is presented in this manner, and the back cover clearly states the following, contradictory, specifications:

As I have noted, the disc is indeed, all of the above—if that makes any sense?

    The animation quality and detail is also inconsistent and highly variable, ranging from the incredibly simplistic example at 0:54–1:08 to much more intricate and detailed examples at 29:50 and 55:55 for instance. Likewise, sharpness is also highly variable, radically changing from being typically very sharp and detailed to periods of momentary and severe loss of focus on the telecine machine, which affects numerous scenes throughout the presentation. Excellent examples of this sudden loss of focus can be seen at 25:54, 30:46, 41:57, 44:06, 51:20, 58:28 and some classic examples where the focus practically phases from sharp to soft and vice versa can be seen at 51:14–51:17, 52:15, 52:26. Black levels are excellent, white levels are very good and shadow detail is superfluous in this presentation, seeing no opportunity to express itself. There is a low level of almost continuous background noise present through major sections of the feature that appears to cause problems for the MPEG codec later on, despite the high bandwidth encoding. Apart from some minor film grain, there are no other apparent sources of noise.

    The colours are fairly muted and subdued, almost pastel in presentation, but reasonable nonetheless. Like almost every aspect of this transfer the colours are inconsistent, finding plenty of opportunities to radically change in hue, saturation and brightness. Good examples of this effect can be seen at 14:53, 14:54 where Piglet changes from pink to off-grey and 23:54 where the normally orange Tigger turns brown, presumably due to the cold. The colours are not all bad though, and at times can even appear perfectly saturated and balanced, for example at 19:36. Finally there is a case of some cross-colouration occurring in combination with aliasing on the reins at 23:26.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that the high bit rate that this transfer appears to have been encoded at, coupled with the relatively simplistic nature of the material, would combine to banish MPEG artefacts from view. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Macro blocking is clearly visible at 51:25, mild posterisation can be seen at the same location and in addition at 0:00, 45:44, 51:27, 53:21, mostly during the fades, and Gibbs Effect is visible along some of the sharp animation edges at 1:07 (Pooh's nose), 1:22 (Pooh) and 10:05, 10:33, 22:27 (Net lines and character edges). There are also some minor examples of aliasing that occur, such as at 1:28 (floor), 31:23 (wood pile), 49:46 (bed). Edge enhancement has been applied unnecessarily to this feature and is most visible at 35:17 as black edging around the white strings and at 54:17 as black edging around Pooh against the background of snow. Telecine wobble was almost imperceptible, there is no evidence of any interlaced frames and moiré effects are absent.

    Film artefacts are present and although fairly minor and unobtrusive, they can often be reasonably numerous, a good example of this is at the section starting at 10:10. There is also the odd occasion where a larger film artefact is visible such as at 11:23 (hair, top right), 16:12 (hair) and 10:33 (water damage) but these are rare.

    The subtitles were extremely accurate even down to mimicking Gopher's speech impediment with lines such as "Ssweet but a little ssappy, if you assk me." (remember to whistle on the s's). Conveniently, this line also serves to sum up the story, somewhat.

    This disc is an RSDL disc with the well placed layer change occurring at 48:18 during a fade to black and silent break between major scenes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is very little to comment on with respect to the audio tracks. They were simple, effective and generally unspectacular.

    This disc contains three audio tracks, a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded track in English, Norwegian and Danish. The tracks are fundamentally mono in nature, with all dialogue and effects being focused in the centre channel. I primarily listened to the English soundtrack and sampled the other language tracks—and found that only the voices had been changed, all the music and effects appear to have been preserved perfectly across dubs, unlike many other dubs I am familiar with.

    The dialogue was very clear and distinct. The audio sync, which is always subject to debate in animated features, appears to be very precise. The dialogue and effects never left the frontal soundstage although the stereo placement is effective.

    The music, by Christopher Klatman and Mark Watters, is the usual Disney fare, simple, professional, enjoyable and clearly targeted at the younger audience. Do not expect any Emmy Award winners here, but by the same token it appeals to its target audience extremely well.

    When present the music would drift out into the surround channels to provide some ambience and envelopment, but this is the exception; the surrounds find little to do between songs.

    The subwoofer slept soundly throughout the presentation and this is a good thing; I'd hate to see the reaction a five year might have to a sudden rumble or explosion from the subwoofer during a feature such as this.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu

    A simple animated menu with clear navigation, audio guide and controls.

Game: Covered in Snow

"Pooh and his friends decided to celebrate the new year with a day of ice skating. But Piglet accidentally skated into a tree, causing all of the snow to fall off the branches. Now everyone is covered in fluffy white snow. Lets find where everyone is hidden. If you answer each question correctly you'll have a chance to guess where a character is located. If you'd like a hint, press the button with a question mark. Lets begin shall we."

    Answer each random question correctly for a chance to locate each character under the piles of snow. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) The characters are always hidden in the following order: First, second and third snow mound.

Game: New Year's Eve Party

"It's New Year's Eve, and Rabbit has invited everyone over to ring in a very merry Pooh year, but there are five items that don’t quite belong at this New Year's Eve party. Can you find all five of them?"

    Identify all the out-of-place objects for a New Year's Eve party. Then you need to match each remaining item to the person responsible for bringing it. Then begins the countdown to the New Year's celebrations. Answer: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Remove: Pumpkin, Easter Eggs, Beach Ball, Beach Bucket, Picnic Basket. Then Match: Hunny—Pooh, Scarf—Piglet, Carrots—Rabbit, Party Hats—Tigger, Tail—Eye-ore.

Disney's Song Selection

    A simple shortcut scene selection to each song in the main feature: Winnie the Pooh, Trimming the Tree with Jingle Bells, Snow Snow, Jingle Bells in the Snow, Happy Pooh Year, Hunny, no, not for me, One last round of Jingle Bells, Auld Lang Syne. These can also be played with the song words via the subtitles stream.

Sing Along With The Movie

    Turns on the subtitles stream for the song words only.

Enchanted Environment

    An interesting segment that plays a random selection of music and very subtle sound effects to a fire burning in a Christmas decorated living room. Almost like a screen-saver type presentation. You can choose from "Music & Sound Effects", "Music Only" or "Sound Effects Only" modes.

Easter Eggs

    Selecting the clock will perform the Countdown to New Year's segment. Each of the six gift/present plays a different variety of samples and segments from various Winnie the Pooh releases accompanied by music and effects.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    For all intents and purposes, the R1 version of this DVD would appear to be identical, as is the R2. If anything, our local version conveniently misses out on having to suffer through the sequence of previews (read ads) before the main feature inflicted upon US audiences. On this basis, and the PAL formatting, I recommend the local product as being the better version.

Summary

    Winnie the Pooh -- A Very Merry Pooh Year is a simple set of stories, complete with a collection of enjoyable songs appropriate for the Christmas season. Add to this a healthy dose of moral messages from Disney enterprises and a decent, though not great DVD transfer, and it's pretty much all summed-up.

    The video quality is variable but mostly good.

    The audio quality is clear but unadventurous.

    The extras are ok. Well, they’re not bad actually.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael S Cox (to bio, or not to bio?)
Friday, May 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplayJVC Interiart Flat 68cm Display 16:9. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3802
SpeakersFront LR - NEAR MainMast, Center - NEAR 20M, Surround LR - NEAR Spinnaker DiPoles, Rear LR - NEAR MainMast-II, Subwoofer - NEAR PS-2 DiPole

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