Paramount // 2005 // 145 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 14th, 2005
A six-pack of Nick.
Nick Jr. has issued this little sampler of its popular shows, presumably to wow the hapless parent into buying full-blown discs for each individual show. This disc is a no-nonsense cross-section of unrelated Nick Jr. shows, thrown together with no extras, but packing 145 minutes of solid kids' entertainment. Here's what on tap:
* Dora the Explorer: "Super Map"
Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ever encountered the omnipresent Dora series. This episode tracks Dora's quest to get home and land herself a mysterious prize. Aiding her on her journey is "Super Map," a sentient map-being that guides her through the various challenges (i.e. walking over logs) that may present themselves.
I can see why small children would enjoy this charming cartoon: it's very interactive. As Dora progresses -- dare I say it, explores -- she comes upon little games and obstacles that encourage interaction from the viewers. For example, she might be faced with a maze to maneuver or a game that requires her to match colors. Good stuff for the rugrats.
* LazyTown: "Sleepless in LazyTown"
Ah, yes, this insane show. LazyTown is a city inhabited by puppets and humans, and guarded over by the fit and fearless Sportacus, a Swedish health nut. From his airship in the sky he monitors the healthy behavior of the LazyTown residents, eager to thrust his mustache into their business if he feels they've slacked off at all. He is aided in his adventures by the feisty Stephanie, and contested by Robbie Rotten, an emotionally stunted adult man who wishes to convince the LazyTown residents to slack off.
This episode centers on the benefit of a good night's sleep and how it affects your energy output. Robbie challenges Sportacus to a home-run derby; if Sportacus loses he has to leave LazyTown. This episode is as pastel-ridden, sound-effect laden, and hugely over-the-top as all the others, but it is premium eye-candy and the message is sound.
* The Backyardigans: "The Quest for the Flying Rock"
Yeah, these guys kind of creep me out, too. The Backyardigans are a quartet of bizarre-looking animals who tend to break out in spontaneous song and dance routines. This episode has them on a journey to find the "Flying Rock." Along the way they spontaneously break out in a few song and dance routines. The colorful, repetitive activity is fine-tuned I'm sure for young brains, but I thought the dancing was a bit weird.
* Blue's Clues: "Pajama Party"
Steve and Blue go on another clue-finding adventure, this time late at night. You know how this show works: kids look for the paw prints, write the clues in their notebooks, and endure cheesy little songs from Steve.
* Little Bill: "Little Bill's Giant Space Adventure"
Bill Cosby lends his voice as Captain Brainstorm, a space traveler who sends out a distress call to Little Bill. This imagination-fueled show is charmingly animated and is more of the entertainment variety than the educational. But there is a moral tucked away in there about liking the way you are and self-esteem and so on and so forth.
* Max & Ruby: "Ruby's Lemonade Stand/Ruby's Rummage
Sale/Ruby's Magic Act"
Max and Ruby are sibling rabbits. These three bite-sized episodes each feature Ruby taking on a new challenge, and teaching her brother a few things. It's a pretty boring show, but harmless and friendly.
There you go. Nick Jr. has provided a good cross-section of its shows that should satisfy the kiddies. There's a lot of bang for your buck with this disc.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 145 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Nick Jr.