Paramount // 2000 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Lacey Worrell (Retired) // August 4th, 2005
Dora the Explorer, a computer-animated show which has aired for years as a staple of Nick Jr.'s programming and is beloved by parents and kids alike. It features a spunky protagonist who travels with her trusty primate companion Boots, as well as a helpful backpack and map, around the countryside. She often encounters a wily fox, Swiper, who attempts to stop her; it is up to Dora to figure out ways around him, usually by shouting, "Swiper, no swiping!" Dora switches easily between English and Spanish, and often speaks directly to the little viewers at home, encouraging them to help her find items to place in her backpack or tell her their favorite events of the day. As just about every parent of a child under five already knows, this is quality children's programming at its very best.
The two episodes that are included on this DVD are:
* "Daisy, la Quinceanera"
Dora's cousin Daisy is turning 15, and Dora and Boots are looking forward to doing the mambo at Daisy's party. Daisy calls to remind Dora to bring Daisy's crown and special shoes so that the party can start. Dora and Boots must travel through a farm and a rainforest to get to the party in time.
* "The Big Piñata"
Dora and Boots are excited to go to the carnival that has come to town. When they find out there is a big piñata, as a grand prize for winning the carnival games, they navigate the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round and play games along the way to collect enough tickets to win the piñata. This episode places special emphasis color recognition and counting.
There are also two included bonus episodes:
It's Boots's birthday, and Dora is planning a party for him at her house. In order to get to the party, Dora and Boots must climb stairs, and outwit the mean troll who guards the bridge near Dora's house.
* "The Fix-It Machine"
Poor Boots has a hole in the bottom of one of his boots. Dora is certain that the super-duper fix-it machine can solve the problem, but first she and Boots must go through Crocodile Lake and deal with the troll again to get to the machine.
Dora has evolved from a character on a refreshingly basic TV show to a merchandising phenomenon, and has even spawned a traveling live version of the show. She is seemingly everywhere: on party invitations, on bed sheets, even on bottles of bubble bath. The good news for parents is that Dora is a thoroughly likable character who is sure to be enjoyed by boys and girls alike in various age ranges. Toddlers will be drawn in by the bright colors and highly-animated voice acting, and older children (up to age seven or so) will have fun guessing how Dora will overcome the various obstacles she faces in getting to her destination. There is just the right amount of repetitiveness to keep children satisfied, such as the simple songs sung by the map and the backpack, as well as Dora's signature song, "Vaminos," which means "let's go" in Spanish.
In this collection, kids will be drawn in instantly by the party theme in three of the four episodes. In the first episode, young viewers will be particularly delighted to see Dora in a party dress at the end of the episode, rather than her ever-present shorts and t-shirt. Each episode is carefully constructed to encourage viewer participation, as Dora often asks questions directly of the audience.
Dora never feels preachy in its portrayal of a diverse character like Dora. There is no big deal made of her Hispanic heritage, which is the way it should be. She is just like every other little girl, but she happens to be incredibly resourceful as well as bilingual, and viewers of all ages love her for it. Her tomboyish nature and selection of simple shorts and a T-shirt for clothing ensure that boys won't be turned off as they would, for instance, by the über-feminine Disney Princesses.
I usually cast a jaundiced eye at any program that claims to educate children, since "educational" programming frequently varies wildly in terms of value and quality. I also think that sometimes entertainment for entertainment's sake is perfectly fine; every single moment of a child's existence does not need to be a "lesson." Dora the Explorer, however, has my son speaking the very simple Spanish vocabulary words used on the various shows, with no prodding from me, because Dora does quite a bit of that herself by encouraging the children in the audience to say the words with her. It does indeed teach, but in the best way possible, as kids are having too much fun with the show to realize they're actually learning something in the process.
The special features enable viewers to watch the shameless promos for other Nick Jr. DVDs again (as if having to wade through them before the program starts is just not enough). There is a brief "music video" that features the song "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes," as well as a game where viewers must help find presents for Daisy's birthday party. The game requires adult help with the DVD remote control, but it is simple enough in its format that even little children will be able to play. It subtly encourages color identification and following simple step-by-step directions.
The "Nicktrition Tips for Parents," which consists of two on-screen pages of advice on how to keep kids healthy, is skippable, although it is better than other tips I have seen on previous Nickelodeon releases. There are some helpful tips on how to hide vegetables in food in order to improve a child's diet, but it's nothing that hasn't already been said in the myriad parents' magazines on the market.
Judgment in favor of Dora the Explorer: It's a Party on the grounds that it gracefully walks the line between education and entertainment and will inevitably be loved by not only boys and girls, but parents as well.
Review content copyright © 2005 Lacey Worrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Birthday Present Game
* Nicktrition Tips for Parents
* Baby Nick Jr. Music Video
* Official Site