Maybe I was born in the wrong era. Maybe I’d better serve a world where data didn’t zip through wires at the speed of light, but instead could only travel as fast as your best horse. People would think twice before traveling 500 miles to deliver a slip of paper that said ‘LOL U SUCK’, I presume. And forget about getting a burger around the corner – you’d be eating the same buffalo that you shot last month and you’d like it. My days would be spent outside instead of trapped behind a computer typing in data. You can probably hear my sighing from there.
Zorro predates Batman by 20 years, with Zorro appearing first in 1919 in pulp stories by Johnston McCulley, but the similarities between the two are numerous. Bat-fans are already well aware of Zorro’s influence on the young Bob Kane, and as an avid Bat-fan myself, I was compelled to explore exactly where all of this came from. Disney was gracious enough to provide the materials for my study, which happens to coincide with November 3rd’s release of both the first and second seasons of Zorro on DVD in Disney’s ‘Treasures’ line of DVDs.
There’s really nothing classier than Disney’s Treasures collections. Lovingly packaged in awesome tins, packed with bonus trinkets and materials, and relatively limited in edition. In this case, Zorro : The Complete First (and Second) Seasons both come with really great little Zorro pins, postcards of Guy Williams both as Zorro and his alter ego, and detailed booklets. They are comprehensive. If you’re a completist and you’re wondering where the 4-episode ‘third’ season went (which was presented in a different format as ‘Walt Disney Presents’ after the main series ended), they’re here too, appended two episodes per set – so you’re genuinely missing nothing. You have to juggle a bit to watch it all in airdate order, but it’s a small price to pay to have everything in one place.
Each set includes 39 half-hour episodes (each!) presented in stunning clarity. I’m not sure if these were remastered or just amazingly well cared for, but the prints are really clean and undistracting. I’m always impressed by Disney taking the extra few steps to present something that never, ever appears lazy. No, this is not the first time that a lot of this has been on DVD, but it’s never been presented this comprehensively.
Okay, so the packaging of the DVDs are really neat, and the DVDs are nice looking – but the show is actually really good too. I’m not one to criticize a show that aired well before I was born and have no context to measure it against, but it’s a good show. It’s such an innocent mix of adventure, humor, and everything that makes Batman a great hero. Of course, Zorro was there first, but the comparisons between two giants of pop culture history are inevitable. Men who are noble heroes who put on a bumbling facade to disguise their identity, a faithful manservant, coming and going through a hidden cave, dressing in black. It’s still a truly enjoyable thing to watch.
Bonus materials include archival footage that only Disney could provide, and a few behind-the-scenes mini documentary-style explorations into the world of Zorro.
They each will set you back about $40 bucks, which is even less than the now-rare earlier Zorro releases would. And this time, you get two really neat little pins and some ultimately classy tins. I look forward to curling up with these before bed all winter.