Nickelodeon // 2012 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // June 10th, 2012
"You can count on us to save the day."
Between TV and the Internet, there have never been more options to keep your kids quiet for twenty-some minutes at a time. Lest you feel bad about sitting little ones in front of the television, programmers have found a way to mitigate parental guilt: educational TV. Some kids' shows focus on social niceties like being polite, helping other people, and not biting your friends. Others deal with more traditional school subjects. Nick Jr.'s Team Umizoomi is all about math, using candy colors and peppy tunes to teach kids about counting, patterns, and shape recognition. Their newest DVD collection, Team Umizoomi: Umi Games, has four arithme-tastic episodes and runs a total of 96 minutes. Can you figure out the length of each episode? You have until the end of class. Please show your work:
"The Umi Sports Games"
Self-proclaimed "tinest superheroes in the world" Milli, Geo, and Bot compete in Umi City's prestigious Umi Games. To win the Umi Games Trophy, they must come in first place in four events: soccer, swimming, basketball, and biking. Standing in their way are the rapping Sports Robots, each with their own sports specialty, and, like all robots, easily defeated by math.
It's off to the boardwalk, where the Team comes together to help a young boy named Ryan win enough tickets to afford the toy helicopter he wants, playing games like whack-a-fruit, beanbag toss, and miniature horse riding. Sure, Ryan would probably learn more if they made him earn the tickets on his own, but whatever.
Out skating in the park, Milli and Geo warn Bot against putting on the red "Crazy Skates" -- mischievous wheeled footwear that cause their wearer to go way too fast. In a shocking twist, Bot accidentally puts them and takes off, sending his friends on a madcap adventure to stop his wild ride and save him.
Team Umizoomi head to the carnival, where they use their counting, shape, and math know-how to help a boy named Jake find his lost stuffed bunny before his school trip leaves to go home.
At first glance, Team Umizoomi looks like a mid-level CGI kids' show. It doesn't have the cool factor of Yo Gabba Gabba!, or the clearly defined characters of The Backyardigans, but what it does have is serious education wrapped in catchy music and flashy colors. Forget the "Umi"-everything and the generic anime character design, what sets this series apart from its Nick Jr. counterparts is the focus on that least popular of subjects: math. Your kids will enjoy the hip-hop robots without realizing they learned something about pattern recognition and addition.
Team Umizoomi: Umi Games is presented in vivid full screen that fully delivers the world of Umi City, with its combination of animated and live action inhabitants. The palette is bright, and the picture is crisp. It's another solid DVD release from Nickelodeon. Audio comes in an upbeat 2.0 Stereo mix. True to form for these 90-minute TV-on-DVD sets, there are no extras.
Nick Jr. has set the bar pretty high when it comes to kids' TV. Although there's nothing special about Team UmiZoomi, there are far worse ways to distract your kids. In the words of my own daughter, "it's really funny." If it improves her math skills, even better.
I think the Umi Games might be fixed, but who cares? Not guilty!
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site