Disney // 2008 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // October 27th, 2008
We're going on a trip in our favorite rocket ship...
After a wildly successful series of direct-to-video releases designed to entertain and educate infants (while narcotizing older children and adults), The Baby Einstein company teamed with Disney to steal a little of the toddler demographic from Dora the Explorer. The result was Little Einsteins, which premiered on Playhouse Disney in 2005. The animated show follows the adventures of a multicultural quartet of elementary school kids with a love for music. The team's leader, Leo, has a passion for conducting (what 6-year-old doesn't?); his sister Annie loves to sing; Quincy can play just about any instrument imaginable; and June is all about dancing. (These abilities come in handy when they have to, say, play music diminuendo in order to open a secret door on a Mayan pyramid.) In each episode, the team jets off in Rocket, their sentient (but mute) rocket ship, to complete a mission. In the process they experience a famous piece of classical music as well as a painting, sculpture, or other form of visual art. Plus, they visit places like an arctic glacier, Mount Everest, Icelandic geysers, and Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers.
Little Einsteins: The Christmas Wish has four holiday-related episodes of the series:
* "Show and Tell"
The Little Einsteins have show and tell at school. Quincy brings his musical instruments; June brings her ballet slippers; Annie brings a microphone to amplify her singing voice; and Leo brings his conducting baton. Unfortunately, Rocket's arch-nemesis, Big Jet, shows up and ruins the fun by stealing the kids' stuff. Their mission: bust into hot pursuit to catch Big Jet and recover their things. The featured music is "Carmen Suite No. 1" by Georges Bizet. The featured art is Mayan architecture.
* "The Christmas Wish"
While hanging out in their secret underground headquarters, Leo, Quincy, June, and Rocket receive wish boxes from Santa Claus (enabling them to wish for any gift they want). Annie doesn't get one. Having determined that some sort of clerical error must have occurred, they take off in Rocket to track down Santa and makes things right. The featured music is "Für Elise" by Ludwig Von Beethoven. The featured art is "Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gogh.
* "The Wind-Up Toy Prince"
June tells a story about a wind-up toy prince who is a master of dance. When an evil mouse steals the prince's "winder-upper" and takes over the kingdom of toys, the Little Einsteins create a mission for themselves: find the winder-upper and rescue the toy prince...even though he's a fictional character from June's story. The featured music is "The Nutcracker Suite" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The featured art is "Little Dancer" by Edgar Degas.
* "The Northern Night Light"
Out for a cruise in Rocket, the team hangs out for a while with a herd of Lapland reindeer. When one of the calves wanders off and gets lost, they decide to find it. In the process, they meet a friendly arctic fox. The featured music is "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The featured art is "The Road in front of Saint-Siméon Farm in Winter" by Claude Monet.
Dora the Explorer gets no play in my house, so I can't really draw comparisons between it and Little Einsteins. What I can tell you is that Little Einsteins does for toddlers what the Baby Einsteins DVDs do for infants: It provides them with a rudimentary but visually stimulating introduction to the art and music at the foundation of Western culture. Moreover, my three-year-old loves the show -- loves it. Sure, I tend to get bored while watching it and ask annoying questions like, "Why would Rocket try to drive up the side of Mount Everest when he can fly?" But the show isn't made for me. Meanwhile, my boy just ignores me, his eyes glued to the bright animation as he answers the questions cheerfully posed to him by the show's characters and pats his knees in order to power up Rocket (man, how I wish my car was powered by knee patting). Little Einsteins knows how to captivate its target audience.
The show looks great on DVD. The animation sports loads of primary colors, all of which are vividly rendered in the full screen transfer. Detail is as precise as the animation allows. There are no digital artifacts. Dolby stereo surround tracks are provided in the original English as well as French and Spanish dubs. All are clean and as punchy as stereo surround tracks allow.
The only extra is a "Magic Mission Mode: Holidays Around the World" game that will interest any tyke who digs the show.
If you are a toddler, have a toddler, or are an adult who likes to dialogue with animated television characters, then Little Einsteins is for you. With the holiday season fast approaching, Little Einsteins: The Christmas Wish is as good a disc as any to start your collection.
Review content copyright © 2008 Dan Mancini; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Magic Mission Mode: Holidays Around the World