Even if you didn't get the first three volumes of The Chronological Donald, there's a good reason to get this last one. Along with thirty other cartoons from 1951-1961 is what's universally regarded as the best educational cartoon ever made, "Donald in Mathmagic Land" (1959). In this featurette animated by Hamilton Luske and other Disney animators, the Spirit of Adventure leads Donald to discover mathmatical wonders of music, the Golden Section, the secret of billiards, and other intriguing ideas against lush backgrounds of '50s era Disney at its modernist best. To their credit, the animators don't modernize Donald, who's his irrascible, impetuous self on this mystery tour far from Duckburg.
As Amid Amidi details in his book, Cartoon Modern, Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in 1950s Animation, the '50s marked a high point in animation design, with the Disney studio borrowing some of the stark, modern look of UPA. Some of the other cartoons in this collection rank among Donald's best: the most memorable Chip and Dale 'toons, including "Out of Scale" (1951) and "Donald Applecore" (1952). Some of the best of the duck's nephews are also included: "Lucky Number" (1951) and Don's Fountain of Youth (1953). As Leonard Maltin notes in his audio commentary, most theatrical cartoons had been discontinued due to mounting costs, but Walt still insisted on full-quality Donald cartoons for theaters throughout the '50s. "Chips Ahoy" (1956) was the last theatrical feature, after which Walt moved to TV, beginning with the Disneyland TV show.
Speaking of Maltin, his intros on the Disney treasures usually consist of short disclaimers as to the politically incorrect nature of some cartoons, usually listed separately as "From the Vault". Here, however, he gives longer, engaging introductions, perhaps because he's as much a Donald fan as we are, and there's also commentary from animation historian Jerry Beck, making this set an animation fan's delight. "Donald in Mathmagic Land" originally aired on The Wonderful World of Color with an intro by Ludwig Von Drake about light and color in which he continually notes that viewers with black and white sets will have to imagine what he's talking about, as they can't experience "living color". This was clearly propaganda to sell TV sets (as was the show's title), but which is very interesting in retrospect. Hopefully it makes it out in a Ludwig Von Drake collection.
Reviewers have been suggesting that the quality of the packaging of the Disney Treasures sets is falling, and this one is no exception. The Chronological Donald Vol. Two had a swing out flap for one of the two discs. On Vol. Four, the discs are merely snapped, one overlapping the other, on the inside back of the case, and there's barely room to do that. This is one time when registering for the Disney disc replacement program might come in handy. Another annoying feature that has not gone away is a schlocky Disney ad that opens the disc. It really is unwatchable, but there's a booklet slipped in the case about Blu-ray, what it is, why you should get it, and, it follows, go get all the Disney Blu-ray releases, that is actually helpful. All in all. The Chronological Donald Vol. Four easily lives up to the name "Disney Treasure".