We’ve had Disney+ for about a week now, and that’s been time enough for us all to go poking through and see what’s there and what isn’t. And I mean, I’m not getting into the Song of the South debate right now, and I feel as though the Fox thing is a whole separate issue—I’d love for the Fox archives to be as available to stream as the Disney ones, but it’s hard to jump on them for not having the whole of the Fox archives up when considerably less of the Disney ones are than I’d hoped.
I’ll admit here that I’m not familiar with the logistical issues of streaming. I don’t know what practical limits the technology itself places on availability. So for all I know, there are a few practical considerations that I haven’t taken into consideration because I flatly don’t know enough to do so. I mean, obviously, the whole of the Vault would have to be digitized first, and there’s that, but beyond that? Lord, I don’t know. I do know that I’ve already seen a few claims that the whole Vault is available, and that simply isn’t true.
For one thing, while there are shorts available, there seems to be at most a few dozen. There are no “I’m No Fool” Jiminy Cricket shorts. “The Skeleton Dance,” the first Silly Symphony, is missing, as are any number of others. (I don’t feel like searching each one individually, but I looked for a few, and it’s pretty hit-and-miss as to what’s there.) Okay, so I don’t actually expect them to have “Family Planning” (or “The Story of Menstruation,” come to that), but they don’t appear to have any of the educational shorts—no “Freewayphobia” or “How to Have an Accident at Work.” I’m still going to be reliant on YouTube for that sort of thing, I suspect.
It’s already been established that they don’t have all the animated features, and that’s not just because of streaming deals with Netflix that haven’t expired yet. I own all the package films but Make Mine Music on DVD, and of course that’s the one that the service is missing. They appear not to have the streaming rights to the original Brave Little Toaster, though they have two sequels to it. That they do have Strange Magic, presumably from the Lucas deal, is pretty much the opposite of a substitute.
There are holes in their live-action availability, too—The Absent-Minded Professor but not Son of Flubber. No North Avenue Irregulars. Nothing with Merlin Jones. No Barefoot Executive, not that I actually like that movie but still; there are only two of the Dexter Riley movies. No Summer Magic or Moon-Spinners, for you Hayley Mills fans. I’m actually going to have to rent next month’s movie (you can help with this by supporting my Patreon or Ko-fi) for Year of the Month, because they don’t have Lt. Robin Crusoe, USN.
But where I’m most disappointed by what’s missing is the TV. They have five episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club. All they have of Zorro is the movie The Sign of Zorro. They have the theatrical release versions of the Davy Crockett stuff. There is no Gallagher, no Elfego Baca, no Swamp Fox. No Michael Ontkean in Bayou Boy. Moochie only appears in The Shaggy Dog, not in his series. Tommy Kirk isn’t a Hardy Boy or having an escapade in Florence with Annette Funicello. There’s so much from the many years of Disney on TV before the Disney Channel that’s so good, and practically none of it is there.
In fact, for all the made-for-Disney Channel content available, Tiger Town, with Oscar nominees Roy Scheider and Justin Henry, is not on the service. It was the first-ever made-for-Disney Channel movie, and it’s essentially forgotten now. I can’t say for sure I’d like it; I remember watching it when it was new, but it is after all about the Detroit Tigers and therefore baseball. But it’s the sort of thing I figure other people would probably like, and it’s simply not there.
A lot of these, you’ll note, are not terribly controversial. Again, okay, so “The Story of Menstruation” is probably (I haven’t seen it) the sort of thing that would get certain parents up in arms, and “Family Planning” definitely is. But the main character of The North Avenue Irregulars is a minister, for pity’s sake, and it’s about overthrowing the stranglehold the mob has on a small city. Is Son of Flubber somehow controversial and I don’t know about it? Okay, I assume they’re still trying to decide if they’re going to include that first sequence in Make Mine Music; the reason I don’t own it on DVD is that I don’t want it without the “Martins and the Coys” segment. But surely we could all do with Goofy telling us not to drive like maniacs?