When his childhood friends called Judge Mike Pinsky "Baby Einstein," he had no idea they meant Bob "Super Dave Osborne" Einstein. But it might have explained why they kept dropping large objects on his head.
"Ish! Ish!"—Judge Pinsky's daughter Rachel, discussing Baby Neptune
My daughter, now 20 months old as I write this, loves the water. We cannot pass a fountain without her demanding to visit. At the zoo, she dances happily in front of the aquariums, pointing out each and every fish. We bring extra clothes anywhere she can play in the water. And bath time is the best part of the day.
Rachel is pretty fond of Baby Einstein too. She has nearly all of the DVDs, a couple of picture books (including a tiny one about cats, which is almost as fun to grab as the real thing), and even a musical gadget that lights up and plays tones when she whacks it. When she gets fussy in the car, the friendly sounds of a Baby Beethoven or Baby Mozart CD can always calm her down. Baby Einstein is a big hit in our house.
So what could be better than a Baby Einstein DVD about water? Baby Neptune: Discovering Water combines the series' usual collection of soft classical music (played largely on synthesizers) with every sort of water kids can imagine. Although Disney acquired the Baby Einstein line in 2001 from its creator, Julie Aigner-Clark (missing from this production, as are her kids), all the elements familiar to parents are in place here, from the simple puppet antics to vivid nature images. The only conspicuous sign that Disney has a hand in Baby Neptune, apart from the title logos, is a brief shot of the huge fountain in the center of EPCOT's Future World.
The rest of Baby Neptune, at least the main feature, is water: rivers, oceans, waterfalls, beaches, and bathtubs. As always, Baby Einstein encourages children and parents to watch together, and so the show is broken down into themed segments ("Water at the Beach," for instance) in order to help children learn to identify objects. The music is—no surprise here—mostly Handel and Telemann, who wrote pieces specifically themed around water. My wife particularly likes the delightful climax: Strauss's "Blue Danube Waltz" sung by quacking ducks. She always gets excited about ducks.
Parents will find the supplementary features helpful as well. There are video flash cards to help teach language skills, a DVD-ROM coloring book with seven pictures to print, and a "toy chest" that gives information about each toy seen in the main video. Baby Einstein always seems to find interesting toys from smaller, often independent companies. As always, colors on this DVD are bright, but there is little bleeding. Audio is only 2.0, which is a bit disappointing, considering that the quality of the music and the natural sound effects deserve a more immersive environment.
The best extra on the disc though is a 13-minute "aquarium," featuring plenty of sea creatures, including jellyfish, turtles, and tropical fish, and a long section during which a friendly-looking man in scuba gear feeds a swarm of fish. All this is set to slower and more relaxing classical music, making it ideal for you and your baby to wind down with.
Of course, as far as my daughter is concerned, this disc is a complete winner. In fact, my rating for this disc is based on her response, since the aesthetic effect of Baby Neptune can only be rightly judged by its target audience. For my daughter, Baby Neptune is almost as much fun as real water. But not quite.
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