Case Number 08148

POSTCARDS FROM BUSTER: BUSTER'S BUDDIES

Paramount // 2005 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 6th, 2005

The Charge

Get that camera out of my face, freak.

Opening Statement

Buster breaks loose and gets his "learn" on.

Facts of the Case

Buster, a character from the popular television show Arthur, has received his own spin-off. Good for him -- I knew he could do it. Postcards from Buster is an out-and-about show where Buster travels to a different city in the U.S. each episode, meets some kids, and documents their adventures. In essence, it's a slice-of-life travel show for kids who don't get out much.

This disc contains four episodes:

* "Buster's League of Champions"
Buster heads to Virginia Beach, Virginia to meet some kids and help them put together a homemade adventure movie.

* "Best Friends"
Next stop is Winchester, Kentucky. Buster encounters two best friends, each named Katey, who are learning clogdancing. They bring Buster to their clogdancing dojo, where he meets the teacher, a hot clogdancing blonde. Clogdancing transpires.

* "A Sense of Direction"
It's into the hood, when Buster visits a Pakistani family and in a righteous nod to PC happiness, learns all about Islam, the teaching of the Koran, and what kind of candy Pakistanis like to eat.

* "Sleepy in Seattle"
Buster's last stop is Seattle, where he gets a little taste of the Far East. He learns Tai Chi, watches a martial arts demonstration and takes the tour of a fortune cookie factory.

The Evidence

Personally, I find Arthur a profoundly boring kids show. I know it's popular and well-meaning and has some handy lessons in store for the kids of the world, but I could never find much entertainment within its runtime. Postcards from Buster does just as little to float my boat.

The way the show is set up, there's like 10 percent animation to 90 percent live action. In reality, it's a half-hour mini-documentary. I guess that's kind of innovative, but I just didn't dig it. Basically, it felt like these episodes were bloated versions of those old-school Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood segments where we learned different things. Yeah, it was pretty dope to watch how Twinkies are made, but after a few minutes, I was all about hauling ass back to the Land of Make-Believe. If, however, you are indeed all about the learning, and you think it's about time your kids got some exposure to a bunch of strangers, then this show should do the trick.

One more thing: I found the presentation a little weird. When the show shifts from animation to the live action, it takes place from the point of view of Buster's camera. So when he accosts some kid, we hear his voice, dialoguing with his subject. I'm not sure how the producers pulled that off, but I couldn't quite get past the surreal disconnect of imagining these kids conversing with an anthropomorphic rabbit.

Oh, and you know what else is creepy? Buster's friggin' dad. Buster looks like a rabbit, and that's fine, but his dad resembles some kind of inhuman botched experiment from the island of Dr. Moreau.

The full-frame, 2.0 stereo presentation is the norm. Two bonuses are included: "Drawing with Marc Brown, creator of the Arthur book series" and an overview of the Postcards from Buster series for parents and educators.

Closing Statement

I can see the value in this series: It's flat-out diversity-provoking edu-tainment. For my nickel, there's plenty of "edu," but the "tainment" is lacking.

The Verdict

Buster's father is to be tranquilized and shipped to MIT for immediate research.

Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 75
Acting: 80
Story: 75
Judgment: 78

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Drawing with Marc Brown
* Overview for Parents and Educators

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0426774/combined