Judge Aaron Bossig wonders if a direct port from VHS to DVD counts these days.
"Science is easy when you know all the tricks!"
Yet, according to Beakman, there are no tricks in science.
Beakman's World is courageous enough to take on the daunting task of "making learning fun." That the show isn't a snore fest is commendable. That it's actually kinda fun is a minor miracle.
Facts of the Case
To satisfy the natural curiosity that kids have about the world around them (as well as provide entertainment to accompany Saturday-morning cereal consumption), Beakman (Paul Zaloom) is here to show us the wonders of science. He is aided by Josie (Alanna Ubach, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde), an excitable girl in pigtails, and Lester, his lab rat (Mark Ritts). Beakman challenges the kids in the audience to solve problems with science, while Josie and Lester are characters that kids can to relate to. Two TV-watching penguins named Don and Herb round out the cast, giving early-morning viewers of Beakman's World some cuddly companions to sit in front of the tube with.
Beakman is the kind of show you want your kids to like. To kids, it's a goofy show about cartoonish people who do fun things with ordinary kitchen items. To parents, Beakman is a guy who shows kids that science is a part of our everyday lives, shows that science affects everyone. And, oh yeah, it's a lot of fun too. Never dry or boring, Beakman is not the kind of teacher who gives long, detailed explanations as to how his experiments work. Instead, he rapid-fires science factoids at the audience, with the hope that for every four or five ideas that the show presents, at least one will pique the interest of a schoolyard scientist.
This becomes the hidden value of Beakman's World. The man doesn't teach by thoroughly explaining a subject. Instead, he whets children's curiosity, then lets them go off on their own to learn more. After 30 minutes of Beakman's experiments, a viewer could leave with up to a half dozen new ideas and questions. And that's what science is truly about: not answers, but questions.
The amazing thing is, despite Beakman's educational bent, kids still watch it. The show lasted five years in the mud pit of Saturday-morning kids' shows, which is a true testament to the broad appeal it can have to young minds.
As a former VHS title, The Best of Beakman's World isn't a stunning audio-video reference title. It has not been remastered into high definition. Transferred onto DVD from the same master as the original tape, The Best of Beakman's World creates a fantastic reproduction of less-than-fantastic source material. It's not an exceptionally impressive DVD, but it's a clean presentation that's probably a notch above the original Saturday-morning airings. The audio, similarly, is neither disappointing nor noteworthy.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Possibly the biggest laugh you'll get out of this DVD will be the repeated mentions of "the tape you're watching." While Beakman holds up a big VHS tape, you can grin slyly, knowing that you're watching Beakman's World on glorious DVD. Beakman's World was cancelled in 1998, when DVD was a new product, and long before anyone thought of releasing kids' TV shows on it. Thus, what you're seeing is a repackaging of a VHS release. Consequently, it's in "Best of" format, not season sets. That kind of thing made some sense for VHS releases, but for this, it kind of stinks.
Actually, it more than stinks. This "Best of" set doesn't even show a select choice of episodes, as most do. Rather, it takes a bunch of episode clips and edits them into one long program. It's not really ideal for fans of the show, since it doesn't let you watch Beakman as it was originally broadcast. The DVD is probably better suited for science teachers looking to give a class presentation, since the DVD chapter stops allow each experiment to be viewed individually.
Beakman's enthusiasm for science is absolutely contagious, and he's fun enough to watch on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately, The Best of Beakman's World is more suitable for the classroom than the living room.
In light of the testimonies of his peers, Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye, Beakman is cleared of all charges and the court would like to remind the jury that being zany and educational is no crime.
Columbia-TriStar Home Video is found guilty on one count of Television Neglect: releasing a "Best of" collection rather than a full season set. The court acknowledges that this DVD is merely a port of an existing VHS release, but punitive action must be taken in order to curb this rampant "Best of" nonsense. The marketing department is hereby sentenced to be thrown into a baking soda volcano.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2004 Aaron Bossig; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.