Case Number 05122


Koch Vision // 1997 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Lacey Worrell (Retired) // September 2nd, 2004

The Charge

The science behind all the fun!

Opening Statement

Even if you're not the parent of a science-minded nine-year-old, you may want to check out this DVD anyway because one of the hosts is a preteen Elisha Cuthbert, Jack Bauer's foxy -- but much-maligned -- daughter on TV's 24. Especially if you're the kind of guy who was taking part in those online countdowns to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's 18th birthday...

Facts of the Case

This DVD features four 1997 episodes of the Popular Mechanics for Kids show: "Submarines," "Cool Cars," "Boats," and "Spaceships." Each episode focuses on a variety of different kinds of machines in the category; for instance, the "Submarines" segment includes everything from naval submarines right down to radio-controlled ones operated by kids. There are also animation shorts, featuring a duo named Nix and Tix, that emphasize certain scientific principles.

No expense appears to have been spared in production; segments take place anywhere from Catalina to Maryland and just about everywhere in between. Adult experts take a back seat to the teens Elisha and Jay, who steer the interviews and keep the audience engaged.

The Evidence

The sheer variety of machines featured in each episode is sure to delight kids, especially the segment on monster trucks. This DVD refuses to preach -- instead it shows how science can be fun and interesting and how it relates to the everyday world around us. I actually learned a great deal while watching this DVD, but that's not surprising considering I once thought the corpus callosum was in Texas. Corpus callosum, Corpus Christi, potato, po-tah-to, same difference.

Jay and Elisha come across as seasoned hosts despite their youth; they are animated and enthusiastic and don't even appear to be reading from cue cards. There are plenty of adult announcers who could take lessons from these two. What is completely refreshing about this DVD is that it doesn't talk down to kids. The scientific terminology is explained in simple language that does not condescend. This DVD would be a wonderful resource for kids studying physical science, and teachers may even find it useful to show in class. My eighth-grade physical science teacher used to give us extra credit for watching MacGyver. Too bad the Popular Mechanics series wasn't around back then!

This series has won multiple awards, has been recommended by Parents' Choice, and is a quality production overall. The television show 24 has achieved cult status around the world, so you may be interested in owning this DVD just for Cuthbert's presence.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Merits aside, this disc will not hold the attention of kids under about eight years old. Okay, okay, if your kid is a genius and composed his first operetta at the age of four, of course he will like it. I'm talking about the average kid here.

Closing Statement

This disc is a solid investment for parents who feel guilty about the sheer quantity of television their children watch and would like to throw some quality in there. Or for those of you who would like to take a break from Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh.

The Verdict

The tagline should read "the fun behind all the science."

Review content copyright © 2004 Lacey Worrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 80
Audio: 50
Extras: 0
Story: 85
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile
Studio: Koch Vision
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb

* Popular Mechanics Site