Need a clue? Judge Dave Packard has your back.
We just figured out Blue's Clues!
If you're looking for a great way to both entertain and educate a special toddler in your life, look no further. The Blue's Clues: ABC's, 123's, and More DVD collection, based on Nick Jr.'s award-winning Blue's Clues television series, contains three discs chock-full of episodes that introduce preschoolers to letters, numbers, shapes, colors, art, music, songs, and more. While you won't get much in the way of extras in this somewhat-pricey set, the variety of concepts presented among the twelve episodes, combined with the unique approach that makes Blue's Clues such a hit with toddlers, makes this a recommended purchase.
Facts of the Case
The three discs included in Blue's Clues: ABC's, 123's, and More are as follows:
Disc One—Blue Takes You to School
• "Numbers Everywhere"
The extras on Disc One are as follows:
• "Oobi: The friend who's always with you!"
Disc Two—Shapes and Colors!
• "Colors Everywhere!"
• "What Does Blue Want to Make?"
The extras on Disc Two are as follows:
The "Blue's Clues" option within the "Parents' Guide" is a mission statement of sorts. You'll also learn the specific concepts being taught in the disc's two featured episodes. Two silent, static screens. I'm seeing a disturbing pattern here.
Finally, the "Extended Learning Activity" within the "Parents' Guide" suggests a further activity that parents can enjoy with their children.
• "Oobi: The friend who's always with you!"
Disc Three—Blue's Big Band
• "Bedtime Business"
• "What Does Blue Wanna do on a Rainy Day?"
The lone extra on Disc Three is as follows:
The best thing about Blue's Clues: ABC's, 123's, and More is the variety of skills covered on these three discs. Common preschool concepts such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, pattern recognition, music skills, and routines are all included. While no single concept is covered in-depth, each is presented in such a way that it serves as a simple introduction to the concept and a launch point into other resources that may focus on the concept in greater detail. This is especially welcome if you're not sure which skills your child is ready for; in my case, my son took to the "Shapes and Colors!" DVD before any of the others. Just this week, he's taken to the "Blues Takes You to School" DVD. The diversity of the concepts in these episodes gives parents the ability to take things at the child's pace and the freedom to introduce other concepts at a later point, when the little ones are more ready for them.
All of this is served up in that incredibly inviting and friendly atmosphere unique to the Blue's Clues series. Every episode is crammed with routine and familiarity—Blue establishes that she wants to play Blue's Clues, Side Table Drawer chucks out the handy-dandy notebook for the proper recording of clues, and Steve (or Joe) sets off to find the three clues, each one clearly marked by a blue paw print. Along the way, educational segments cleverly presented in interactive, entertaining ways will make viewers use their noodles. Once all three clues have been found, the answer to Blue's question will be found after a short visit to the Thinking Chair. Kids will probably find themselves dancing along to the common songs prevalent in each episode, and they'll enjoy the wide array of other supporting characters that make appearances along the way. I can speak from personal experience that the formula works very well—toddlers are quickly assimilated into Blue's bright and cheery world, and given the concepts that Blue's Clues teaches, that's a good thing, indeed.
I should also note that the "featured" episodes are from more recent seasons with "Joe" (Donovan Patton) as host, while the "bonus" episodes are from older seasons with "Steve" (Steve Burns) as host. Regardless of which host you prefer (personally, I much prefer the doe-eyed, cheerful Joe over the dimmer, annoying Steve), you get both in equal installments, making everyone happy.
Technically, these are fine discs. Each episode is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, and details are sharp. Blue's world is a highly colorful one, and the image is largely free of any debris or artifacts. The sound is presented in a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo offering and is extremely clear. In short, the video and sound are both well done for discs of this genre, and more than sufficient for the preschoolers viewing them.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I'm a little miffed at the notable lack of extras. Boring screens of text with nary a hint of sound just don't cut it. Was it not possible to cull some items from the wealth of material already out there? The Nick Jr. web site is filled with printables, activities, games, and learning pages; adding some of these features as DVD-ROM bonuses would have been a nice touch. For example, one episode features Steve making a banana cake; would it have been too much trouble to include a simple recipe for banana cake that parents and kids could make together?
A list price of $49.99 (as of January 31, 2005 at Nick.com's online shop) is unacceptable as well. Sure, you can shop around and find this set at under forty bones, but that's still too much. For only 12 episodes and the absence of extras with any real substance, I'd expect a more reasonable list price. Granted, this is good stuff, but with the series still widely available on cable, I can't see paying more than thirty dollars for this set.
Despite stingy extras and a list price that's steeper than I'd like to see, the excellent mix of concepts covered in Blue's Clues: ABC's, 123's, and More make it a recommended purchase. Preschoolers get a little bit of everything here, and the colorful, entertaining approach of one of the best "edutainment" shows ever produced will keep little ones glued to the television set.
The court finds Blue's Clues: ABC's, 123's, and More not guilty! However, the court would like to see Paramount consider reducing the suggested retail price or beefing up the extras on future releases.
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