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Case Number 06150

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Blue's Clues: ABC's, 123's, And More

Blue's Big Band
2003 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Blue Takes You To School
2003 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Shapes And Colors!
2003 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by Paramount
Reviewed by Judge David Packard (Retired) // February 9th, 2005

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All Rise...

Need a clue? Judge Dave Packard has your back.

The Charge

We just figured out Blue's Clues!
We just figured out Blue's Clues!
We just figured out Blue's Clues!
Because we're really smart!

Opening Statement

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
Per the disc packaging, the episodes on this disc promote social/emotional issues, conflict resolution, schedule/routine, numbers, counting, and addition/subtraction.

Featured episodes:
• "Blue Takes You to School"
It's Periwinkle's first day of school, and he's a little scared. Lucky for him, Blue is there to help—as well as make us wonder what part of school is her favorite. Kids will help Periwinkle through his first day by assisting him with things like putting away his lunchbox, playing the name game (no, not that one), and counting out cups of food for the class rabbit. School rules like asking the teacher before doing something, taking turns, playing nicely with others, and following the teacher's schedule of activities are introduced as well. This episode is a great one for any kids nervously anticipating their first day of school.

• "Numbers Everywhere"
Tickety Tock and Blue are counting things around the house, and a rousing game of Blue's Clues will tell us Blue's favorite number. As the title of this episode suggests, this one's all about numbers and counting. Preschoolers will get a chance to fill in the missing numbers, match a number with a group of objects of the same number, and even do a bit of simple addition and subtraction.

Bonus episodes:
• "Blue's ABC's"
It's reading time, and everything in the house (including the back of Steve's shirt) is labeled. In this one, viewers will play along to figure out what book Blue wants to read. Kids will help Steve read "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and assist Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper with their grocery shopping by reading their list and finding the appropriate items at the store. When Blue and Steve skidoo into a book, preschoolers will help them rearrange words into sentences that make sense. Finally, tykes get a chance to read along with Blue's book.

• "Math!"
As in the "Numbers Everywhere" episode, this one is filled with counting and simple math concepts. Steve and Blue skidoo to the store, and Steve has seven Blue dollars to spend. Children get a simple introduction to money concepts and subtraction as Steve buys things he needs. Will he have enough money left to buy whatever it is that Blue wants, or will the pooch skidoo back to Steve's house empty-pawed?

The extras on Disc One are as follows:
• "Blue's School Search Game"
A list of suggested questions to ask your youngster are displayed; going to the next screen shows a picture of Blue and pals surrounded by various every day objects. Remember all those questions? Probably not—I'd suggest writing them down because there's no interactivity in this "game" other than choosing the "Back" option to leave the picture.

• "Oobi: The friend who's always with you!"
Disc One gets a tiny additional bonus with this short segment from an episode of Oobi, a fun (trust me) television series on the Noggin network. In this one, Oobi and Keiko share a bubble bath and pretend to be monsters and grown-ups before acknowledging that they are best friends.

• "Previews"
Promotion and previews of additional kid-friendly fare beckoning for your DVD dollar.

Disc Two—Shapes and Colors!
Per the disc packaging, the episodes on this disc promote color identification, color mixing, visual perception, shape recognition, matching skills, and basic geometry.

Featured episodes:
• "Shape Searchers"
Where else does Blue want to search for shapes? Joe sets out to answer the mystery, identifying a variety of shapes in common objects found around the house. If you think this episode is sticking to the basics like circles and squares and triangles, think again: even crescents and octagons get some love in this episode. Combinations of shapes to form objects are explored as well.

• "Colors Everywhere!"
Joe, Blue, and their friends are finger-painting a "Portrait of Pals," and Blue wants to add someone else to the picture. The focus is on the creation of new colors by mixing primary colors (red and yellow make orange, blue and yellow yield green—you get the idea.) I'm not sure if it was necessary for colors like chartreuse and marigold to be introduced—my kid has trouble even pronouncing chartreuse—but I'll defer to the educational consultants and teachers involved with every episode's creation.

Bonus episodes:
• "Adventures in Art"
It's painting time again, and Blue wants to add something to her painting. As in the "Colors Everywhere!" episode, some emphasis is placed on the mixing of colors to create new hues (in this case, preschoolers will help Blue mix the proper paints to touch up her wagon.) A segment requires viewers to pick the correct shapes in constructing a sailboat, and pictures in an art museum must be placed in chronological order based on different types of weather shown in each picture.

• "What Does Blue Want to Make?"
Creativity reigns in Steve's house as he and his friends work on a variety of arts and crafts. Kids go on that familiar journey of collecting paw print clues to figure out what Blue wants to make. In this episode, viewers will learn pattern recognition by determining which shape and color of macaroni goes next in Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper's picture frame, combine shapes to make objects, and follow a picture-based recipe to make a banana cake.

The extras on Disc Two are as follows:
• "Parents' Guide"
First up within the "Parents' Guide" is the "Nick Jr. Play-to-Learn Philosophy." It's nothing more than a few silent, static screens on the importance of play in a child's development. It also lists the types of skills you'll find promoted in episodes of Blue's Clues. Nothing special here.

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!"
Another short segment from an episode of Oobi. In this one, Oobi and friends dance ("Oobi dance! You dance!") in that hilarious yet strangely creepy way that only a human hand sporting a pair of cheap plastic eyes can.

• "Previews"
More promotion and previews of additional kid-friendly fare beckoning for your DVD dollar.

Disc Three—Blue's Big Band
Per the disc packaging, the episodes on this disc promote rhythm, completing sound patterns, movement and motor skills, bedtime rituals, music appreciation, and color and pattern identification.

Featured episodes:
• "Blue's Big Band"
What instrument is Blue going to play in the band? Kids will practice repeating various rhythms as well as moving to the beat. If you've ever had a desire to don a fake pig snout and oink along with Joe as you pretend to be a piglet, here's your chance to knock yourself out.

• "Bedtime Business"
The rituals associated with turning in for the night are explored as kids collect clues to learn Blue's favorite part of bedtime. Warning to parents: the highly-infectious "Scrub" song is included in this episode. I dare you not to hum this sucker well after this one ends. Kids, however, will love it.

Bonus episodes:
• "Blue Wants to Play a Song Game!"
Watch Steve mangle the lyrics to kiddie song game classics like "If You're Happy and You Know It" as viewers figure out what song game Blue wants to play.

• "What Does Blue Wanna do on a Rainy Day?"
A rainy day doesn't mean a dull day indoors as Steve and Blue explore a variety of fun alternatives. Hanging out with Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper and their water xylophone has kids choosing which note comes next.

The lone extra on Disc Three is as follows:
• "Parents' Guide"
This contains the same segments you'll find within the "Parents' Guide" on Disc Two—the Nick Jr. Play-to-Learn Philosophy, the Blue's Clues mission statement and specifics on what kids will learn from the episodes on the disc, and an Extended Learning Activity (here, it's suggested that adults and children create their own version of the "Shape Searchers" game.)

The Evidence

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.

Closing Statement

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 Verdict

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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Genres

• All Ages
• Television

Scales of Justice, Blue's Big Band

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 10
Judgment: 84

Perp Profile, Blue's Big Band

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Blue's Big Band

• Parents' Guide

Scales of Justice, Blue Takes You To School

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 25
Judgment: 92

Perp Profile, Blue Takes You To School

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Blue Takes You To School

• "Blue's School Search Game"
• "Oobi: The friend who's always with you!"
• Previews

Scales of Justice, Shapes And Colors!

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 20
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Shapes And Colors!

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Shapes And Colors!

• Parents' Guide
• "Oobi: The friend who's always with you!"
• Previews

Accomplices

• IMDb








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