[Amanda suggested I go ahead and post this even though she hasn't written her bit yet, so...here goes!]
Instead of reviewing these shorts in the order in which they're shown in Melody Time, I'll review in order of the one I liked least to the one I liked most.
-"Trees" is dull. For what it is, a poem set to gently moving images, it's done well. If it were to be seen among a series of other similarly paced animations, it might be easier to appreciate it, but when surrounded by other much more energy-filled scenes, it just comes off as boring.
-I'm not sure what I'm supposed to like about The Legend of Johnny Appleseed. The legend itself is interesting enough to hear or read about orally, but what's to be gained from seeing it played out? With Pecos Bill, we get to see a larger-than-life character do the impossible. With Johnny Appleseed, you see...a kid tend to apples. And plant them. Then befriend forest animals. And then there's that hootenanny that I'm still not convinced has anything to do with his story. Again, the problem here too might be a case of comparison - the other tall tale seen in this package clearly overshadows this one.
-Blame It on the Samba also suffers with the context in which I'd seen it. It's pretty much more of the same that I'd already seen in Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. But in this one there isn't even much Donald comedy. It makes me wonder why he gets a very prominent spot on the cover of the VHS I watched. It is very lively and colorful animation, but I can't help but think it should've been in Saludos Amigos in the first place, if that were chronologically possible.
-Little Toot (as a short) is cute, but...again with the comparisons, I just have to judge it alongside little flying Pedro and Susie the Blue Coupe. It's a bit harder to sympathize with Little Toot himself since he is rather a brat. It is a great short to watch as far as animated water is concerned. The song itself is also fun.
-If you don't mind the weird relationship implications of Once Upon a Wintertime, it is a charming little piece that'd be great to bring out during the appropriate time of year.
-It probably does have a lot to do with my remembering fondly but not having seen this segment for a very long time, and being excited to see it again, but I get a kick out of seeing that little Bumble Boogie bee. I actually wish it went on longer.
-Pecos Bill does what The Legend of Johnny Appleseed didn't. I am partial to the use of animation's potential to show the fantastic. For my money I want to see a folk tale legend accomplish Chuck Norris-esque feats (and really, aren't tall tales just older "Chuck Norris jokes?"). And that is exactly what I get to see here. But I would still only call it a favorite in the context of this set. I wonder if I would've liked it more if Bill were played by Goofy?
Favorite character: The Bumble Bee! Just because.
Least favorite character: Spooky waves with creepy water hands!
Overall: It won't take long for me to get mixed up which bits were in Melody Time and which were in Make Mine Music or some other compilation. So I'd probably rate it at about the same overall level as MMM, which is to say, passably entertaining.
[To be posted....soon??] [Amendment... NOW!!]
Okkay so is there such a thing as being anti-inspired? I don't mean just the blah uninspired feeling, but the feeling that any inspiration you might have had has been crushed out of you forcefully? This seemingly never-ending march of package features is doing that to me.
I'm left wondering if this is how audiences felt back when these features were fresh. Were they spaced out enough that people appreciated them and I only feel this way because there are so many so close together? Perhaps they though the Disney Studio had made their two hits with Pinocchio and Snow White and were gradually going to fade out. Perhaps Disney was at this time more solidly making a name with live action features instead. They do usually seem to be less expensive and less time consuming. Perhaps I'm just too eager because I know about the classics that are coming up soon.
Favorite Character: Wid-uh-maker. (Yes, I know it's Widowmaker, but the drawl is part of the character!) He sure is a jealous fool.
Least necessary character: Male Snow Bunny. He seriously started the entire ice danger and didn't have any part in the rescuing.
Overall: As before, each of the individual pieces are good, but trying to string them together just feels disjointed to me.
Amanda's Extra: Phoning it in for this one, folks. Once Upon a Wintertime was the most memorable section of this feature partly because during my childhood every Disney holiday special seemed to include this short. I loved watching Scott Hamilton and Kristie Yamaguchi ice dance to Disney songs and this short was always one of the interludes.
Anyway, enjoy this snowflake.