What's Rarest Of Disney Treasures?
When 39,500 Scarecrows Weren't Enough
Willingness to pay $250 and up for a DVD must mean you want it very bad. One that goes that high, and often, is Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh, a Walt Disney production done in
Fans frustrated by the shortfall went online to vent: 177 comments so far at Amazon's Dr. Syn page where "only 2" discs are left in stock, each with sticker of $349.95. I went to Ebay from curiosity to see what folks are actually paying ... seems several are willing to part with $250 on Buy-It-Now basis, while bids routinely go that high when ones come up for auction. DVD format has been around so short a time as to make it seem incredible (at least to me) that certain discs could become so rare, if unattainable, but consider fact that other Walt Disney Treasure sets, with tin containers each numbered, command prices approaching Dr. Syn (The Chronological Donald: Volume Four and Zorro: Season One and Two, for instance). Disney's apparent disinterest in re-pressing the discs have sent fans into paroxysms of rage, enough to raise legitimate question of, What was so great about Dr. Syn to begin with?
I never caught the Scarecrow's act on NBC, even though it first-ran over weeks before, and after, I'd turn ten. Chances are I tuned in, as was routinely the case, to watch World Of Color's dynamic opening (in B/W, alas), then Walt's intro, followed by flake-out when his show failed to engage. I'd been hooked by previous Prince and The Pauper in three parts (3/62), and would be again when The Fighting Prince Of Donegal came to primetime. These are the ones I'd be more inclined to revisit, to satisfy sentiment if not to be perhaps let down after fifty odd years. To Dr. Syn I came with objective but open mind, having pre-ordered the DVD back in '08, but not breaking its seal until alert to how coveted it's become. How does Dr. Syn play minus buffer of nostalgia? ... that is, without waft of footie pajamas and cinnamon toast as accompany? I got through one and a half of the episodes, so far, plus main titles of the feature version (which Disney actually released to US theatres in 1975), and extras that expanded on Dr. Syn's literary background and Disney UK ventures from 1950 onward.
The title character is an outlaw, but as Walt assures us in all three intros, he steals from the rich to help the needy, and his crimes never involve killing or even violence beyond an occasional sock to the jaw. Shots are fired, but no one's ever hit, other than redcoats having pistols shot from a threatening hand, the Scarecrow utilizing same benign method to disarm opponents as Roy Rogers and other white-hats that played to kid attendance. There is endless eavesdrop at doors and "outwit" of villainy by a hero who rides to backdrop of a theme song that plays in entirety with begin of all three segments. What all this amounts to is rather bloodless "high adventure" (as in not one drop) and strictest adherence to code of Disney conduct. What works is production polish way beyond level to which mid-60's TV viewers were accustomed. Shooting in
A surprise that came of Disney's restoration: Dr. Syn was shot in 1.65 widescreen format, and the DVD presents it that way, adding class to what was already there a half-century ago. Brilliance of Disney was how they could make a Dr. Syn pay and keep on paying, via broadcast and repeat of same, a comic book, nay a series of those, plus records both single and LP, even an 8mm release of highlights from the show. No wonder Dr. Syn stayed in consciousness of that generation coming up through the 60's. There was VHS made available in the 80's, these still in demand thanks to scarcity of the DVD. Disney had by time of Dr. Syn built limitless levels of revenue raising for whatever entertainment they produced. For their comparatively modest invest toward Dr. Syn, I'd love to know what dizzying profit it has generated over a past fifty years. Advice to Disney: Press another 100,000 or so of the DVD while its most eager fan base is still ambulatory enough to go out and buy.