Case Number 04070


Paramount // 2004 // 128 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // March 13th, 2004

The Charge

Dive deep down into the deep blue sea and join everyone's favorite sponge, SpongeBob SquarePants, for more nautically nonsensical adventures!

Opening Statement

After an excellent boxed set of the first season, Paramount has returned to previous form with this single disc release. The marketing hook this time around is the inclusion of two episodes that will not see the light of day on cable until 2005. Will this disc do justice to the greatness that is SpongeBob SquarePants or will it sink faster than Ben Affleck's career?

Facts of the Case

For those of you keeping track, once again, here are your Bikini Bottom players:

* SpongeBob SquarePants: A sweet but irritating sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea. He is the best fry cook in Bikini Bottom, much to the satisfaction of his boss, Mr. Krabs (and his wallet!).

* Squidward Tentacles: SpongeBob's curmudgeonly neighbor and co-worker, who lives for the day that SpongeBob leaves Bikini Bottom.

* Patrick Star: A lazy, dumb starfish who lies under a rock when he isn't hanging out with SpongeBob, or pestering Squidward.

* Sandy Cheeks: A spunky Texan squirrel who lives underwater for the sheer challenge. Insult Texas and you're dead!

* Mr. Eugene H. Krabs: Owner of The Krusty Krab, Bikini Bottom's premier eating establishment. His great passions in life are money and making more of it!

* Plankton: Owner of The Chum Bucket and Mr. Krabs' mortal enemy. His goal in life is to steal a Krabby Patty to discover the secret recipe.

The Evidence

I'm not going to bore you by simply repeating what I said before about the program. To read those general comments, I refer you to my review of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete First Season, originally published in November 2003.

What I will add is that every time I watch this program, the more I realize that it is something special and out of the ordinary. Most made-for-TV animation is pretty bad, with uneven animation, awful scripts, and poor execution. SpongeBob SquarePants is different. By making sure that it has broad appeal for both kids and parents, it manages to elevate itself beyond mediocrity and toward brilliance. Now that the series is winding down, a feature film version will debut in theaters in November 2004.

Ten episodes appear on this dual-layered disc. On a scale of zero to five Krabby Patties:

* "The Fry Cook Games"
Plankton is determined to defeat Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob in this year's Fry Cook Games. His weapon: his newly signed fry cook, Patrick Star!
Rating: *****

* "Bubblestand"
SpongeBob opens a bubble stand. Charging 25 cents for lessons, he and Patrick try to get Squidward into the act.
Rating: ***

* "Squid's Day Off"
Mr. Krabs makes Squidward the temporary squid-in-charge while he goes to the hospital. Squidward decides to "promote" SpongeBob and leave him to run the Krusty Krab by himself.
Rating: ****

* "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler"
SpongeBob alerts the police about a serial litterer. Except that this is the Tattletale Strangler, who vows revenge. (This episode will not air on Nickelodeon until January 2005.)
Rating: *****

* "Pranks A Lot" (AKA "Nasty Pants")
SpongeBob and Patrick purchase a can of invisible spray. They proceed to wreak havoc in Bikini Bottom. (This episode is exclusive to this DVD until January 2005, when Nickelodeon will finally air it.)
Rating: *****

* "Artist Unknown"
Squidward becomes the art teacher for the Bikini Bottom Community Center. He only has one student: SpongeBob.
Rating: ****

* "Grandma's Kisses"
Squidward and the anchovies tease SpongeBob for being too emotionally attached to his grandma. Patrick tells him to become an adult by wearing sideburns and developing a taste for freeform jazz.
Rating: ****1/2

* "Krusty Love"
Mr. Krabs falls in love with Mrs. Puff and proceeds to spend $100,000 on their first date. He puts SpongeBob in charge of his wallet for future dates.
Rating: *****

* "Krab Borg"
SpongeBob stays up late watching too many horror movies and manages to convince Squidward that Mr. Krabs is a robot.
Rating: *****

* "The Smoking Peanut"
SpongeBob and Patrick go to the Bikini Bottom Zoo to see Clamu. She's asleep, so SpongeBob throws a hot peanut to wake her up. Consequences of gigantic proportions ensue.
Rating: ****

Just as they have done with other SpongeBob discs, Paramount gives us a completely flawless full-frame transfer. If you're used to watching SpongeBob SquarePants on cable broadcasts, you will be stunned at the depth and detail the DVD presentation reveals. The colors are beautifully rich and deep, devoid of bleeding. Best of all, you'll find no problems relating to compression issues, such as artifacting and pixelation. This is the way recent animation should look on DVD.

Audio is just as superb. Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround stereo, details and sounds will come through your speakers of which ordinary cable transmissions are not yet capable. Dialogue sounds clear and crisp. The score is mixed perfectly so that it does not interfere with dialogue and sound effects. I applaud Paramount for doing superior work with television animation that many other studios are unwilling to do.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Previous SpongeBob discs, both single- and multi-disc packages, usually contained some worthy extras. Unfortunately, all we get this time around are the storyboards used for the "Grandma's Kisses" episode. The soundtrack plays throughout a slide show of storyboards. It's interesting, but considering other discs have included audio commentaries, featurettes, and music videos, it's kind of weak.

If I have any other complaints, it's this: after issuing a stellar box set the previous October, why repeat one of the episodes from that set here? "Bubblestand" has its moments, but it is far from the best this series has to offer. Chances are the fans and admirers own the episode on the earlier set. A much better solution would have been to provide a short that has yet to make its DVD debut, or better yet, give us another unreleased short. I may be nitpicking, but I think it's a significant point.

Closing Statement

With a suggested retail price of $16.99, and many stores discounting to $12.99, I can easily recommend the disc. It's worth the purchase price for the two new shorts, which are among the very best SpongeBob SquarePants episodes ever made.

The Verdict

All charges against SpongeBob and his cohorts are dismissed. Paramount is given probation for the inexplicable stand against multiple extra content.

Case dismissed!

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

Scales of Justice
Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 10
Acting: 98
Story: 97
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* None

Running Time: 128 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Storyboards: "Grandma's Kisses"

* IMDb

* Nickelodeon

* The Church of SpongeBob SquarePants