Warner Bros. // 1994 // 119 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Lacey Worrell (Retired) // January 12th, 2005
Aim for the horizon!
Real Wheels: Land, Air, and Sea Adventures is a high-energy DVD for kids containing three episodes of the Real Wheels television show that has aired on various public television stations since the mid-1990s. Each episode is hosted by Dave Hood and Becky Borg, who have a series of adventures that depend on the topic the episode addresses. The episodes included on this DVD are as follows:
*"There Goes a Boat"
Captain Dave and Captain Becky explore a nuclear submarine, where they learn how sailors sleep, eat, and breathe underwater; Becky has the opportunity to look through a periscope, and Dave discusses how oxygen is delivered to those on board. Dave and Becky also visit a container ship to watch it being loaded, as well as a tanker to explain how its engine works. They also join the Coast Guard to discuss rescues at sea. Finally, they board a Norwegian Cruise Line ship to experience the good life at sea, where Dave demonstrates with a simple experiment exactly how boats stay afloat.
*"There Goes a Helicopter"
Helicopter Pilot Dave and Helicopter Pilot Becky discuss the many uses of helicopters, from transportation, to military operations, to search and rescue missions, to traffic control. They demonstrate how a helicopter takes flight and cover the history of helicopter flight from the earliest helicopters to the modern ones of today. Dave and Becky also view the many varieties of specialty military helicopters.
*"There Goes the Mail"
Letter Carrier Dave and Letter Carrier Becky participate in the entire process by which mail goes from one place to another. They begin with mailing a letter, then follow it to the distribution center and through the sorting process, and discuss the uses of planes and trains in transporting the mail. Dave and Becky have the opportunity to sort the mail at a post office and learn about the differences in handling letters and packages, as well as the necessity of stamps, postmarks, zip codes, and barcodes. Then they have the opportunity to deliver the mail on foot, with an emphasis on the hard work conducted by the members of the U.S. Postal Service.
Kids will likely be fascinated by Dave and Becky's adventures, because both hosts display a great deal of enthusiasm and energy for the topic at hand. They are not passive observers; they fully immerse themselves in learning the intricacies of boating, operating a helicopter, and sorting the mail. There are many positive things emphasized throughout each segment, such as the importance of using life vests when boating, and reminders to the viewers to visit the library to learn more about a given topic. Another strength of this DVD is the writing: Dave and Becky explain highly technical concepts of physics in an easy-to-understand manner that just may pique kids' interest in the fun, rather than the laborious, side of basic scientific principles. For example, Dave's lesson on how boats float is conducted with a bucket in a swimming pool, something kids and parents can easily replicate at home in the bathtub.
The only negative in this series is the tendency for some of the segments to devolve into slapstick. Typically, Dave acts silly and Becky has to rescue him. The two of them get into scripted arguments, and in the boating segment, each takes a pratfall off a boat. As mail carriers, they are chased by dogs and get caught in lawn sprinklers. Young children will probably find it funny, but adults may find themselves inwardly groaning at the forced hilarity.
The special features are quite nice and add to the overall experience. Dave tours the country on a "Real Wheels Live" tour, and this DVD contains a 10-minute excerpt from the stage show. Surprisingly, this featurette is entertaining and manages to avoid feeling like an overblown commercial for the stage show. The interactive glossary is helpful in defining some of the more technical terms used in the various segments, and the blooper reel is worth a look as well. Dave and Becky come across as genuinely nice people who can laugh at themselves and who are committed to providing quality programming for kids. Another feature worth noting is that it is possible to access the main menu almost immediately upon turning on the DVD, which is a rarity in preview-laden children's entertainment, and an especially welcome one for impatient little viewers. The overall quality in terms of video and audio is excellent; the colors are bright and crisp, and the sound effects, such as the foghorns on the boats, are also very good.
This Parents' Choice award–winning series is recommended for ages 3-8, which, judging by the presentation, is an appropriate recommendation. That said, older brothers and sisters may not mind watching the wide variety of vehicles and adventures showcased on the DVD.
Thanks to the solid writing, intriguing subject matter, and professional hosts, Real Wheels: Land, Air and Sea Adventures is a solid investment for your kids' DVD collection. Kids will most likely be riveted to the screen, making repeated viewings almost a guarantee.
Review content copyright © 2005 Lacey Worrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Real Wheels Live with Dave
* Bloopers with Dave
* What's That? (Video Glossary)
* Video Preview
* Official Site