Nickelodeon // 2010 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // February 1st, 2010
"This is the best birthday ever!"
The coolest kids' show on TV returns to DVD with another four-episode collection: Yo Gabba Gabba! Birthday Boogie! This time around, DJ Lance and his gaggle of talking toy-creatures sing and dance their way through birthdays, playing dress up, a talent show, and taking a ride. Cynical parents might look at this 94-minute disc as another stingy-on-content money grab, but their kids won't care, and neither do I. As far as I'm concerned, any Gabba is good Gabba. I could pretend that I love this show on behalf of my infant daughter, but why bother? Yo Gabba Gabba! is awesome, and I am in its fuzzy orange-hatted thrall.
It's Brobee's fourth birthday, and he's sad because no one seems to have remembered it. While DJ Lance stops by to wish him a happy birthday and to reminisce about Brobee's birthdays past, the other Gabbarians prepare for a surprise party. Melora Hardin (from The Office and Monk) teaches the gang a new dancey-dance, Biz Markie dedicates a special "beat of the day" to Brobee's big day, and everyone parties quite heartily to the song stylings of Super Music Friends Show guests The Ting Tings. Because this is show is aimed at young kids, the Brobee-is-sad stuff is kept to a minimum. The coolest things in the episode are the triple-pointed party hats that resemble the three red bumps on Brobee's head. I can see really that look taking off. Other memorable moments: the ultracute photo of baby Brobee's first birthday, and the fact that a cake made to look like Brobee comes to life and offers a piece of itself to the birthday boy. Weird.
* "Dress Up"
It's dress-up day in Gabbaland, and DJ Lance leads the crew in playtime as they try on funny hats (ironically, none are as funny as the one DJ Lance wears all the time), pretend to be cowboys in the wild west having a banana-eating showdown, and take part in a prog-rock-for-kids fantasy operetta where Brobee the hero and his unicorn friend Muno journey to the lair of Toodee the dragon to save princess Foofa. Super Music Friend Show guests The Little Ones perform, and Mark Mothersbaugh draws a pirate, but the best thing about the episode is the fantasy epic number that ends the show. It's like Rush and Yes got together to write a concept album for kids. Seriously.
In this episode, DJ Lance encourages everyone to figure out their talent -- defined here as something you are good at and like to do. Although Muno, Plex, Toodee, and Foofa all come up with a long list of "talents" (including things like whistling, skateboarding, and watering flowers), Brobee is sad because he can't think of anything. The rest of the group encourages him in song not to give up, and as a result Brobee realizes he does have a talent after all. Good thing, too, because then it's time for them to participate in the big Gabbaland talent show. Also in the episode: Mark shares his artistic talent, basketball player Amare Stoudemire stops by for a dribbling dancey-dance, Biz drops another "beat of the day," the Super Music Friends Show gets punked up by Hot Hot Heat, and the earth shatters with the revelation that DJ Lance can fly.
Modes of recreational transportation are the focus of this episode. First, Brobee and Foofa go on a bike ride, leading into a Super Music Friend Show appearance by Dean & Britta. Then, Plex teaches Muno how to skateboard -- a surprisingly informative and realistic take on the inevitable falling-down necessary to get good at it. Finally, Toodee hits the anthropomorphic beach for a surfing session with Foofa's older brother. Elsewhere, DJ Lance leads a group of kids in a dance inspired by putting on a seat belt, and we get to hear a story about a kid who has help racing his brother home after school.
Yo Gabba Gabba! Birthday Boogie! is identical to past releases in presentation and bonus features. That is, it's in full screen and there are no bonus features. I know the show is aimed at a young audience who wouldn't know an extra from a hole in the ground, but why must we adult fans suffer? Or be judged for our love of a kids' show?...But mostly the extras thing. The stereo sound more than handles all the great music, though music is a big enough part of the show that I wonder what the creative minds at Wild Brain and The Magic Store could do with a surround soundtrack.
Provided your kids (and/or you) dig this show, Birthday Boogie! will satisfy just as much as the previous Gabba discs. Though I'd much prefer full-season sets to these piecemeal collections of random episodes, Yo Gabba Gabba! is highly recommended to parents who are tired of lame kids' programming. Children are weird, and cool, and they look at the world in a unique way. So does this show. It's got tons of style and creativity, and perfectly captures the joy of being a kid. It educates as well as entertains, but keeps the messaging to simple ideas like, have fun, stay safe, and don't be mean. And really, what more do little kids need their TV to teach them?
Now it's time to render a verdict! Are you ready? Well, let's do it! Break it down. Not Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2010 Erich Asperschlager; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated