Judge Brett Cullum prefers his Care Bear well-done, with plenty of barbecue sauce and a side of loaded mashed potatoes.
Our reviews of Care Bears: Cheer, There And Everywhere (published March 23rd, 2009), Care Bears: Festival Of Fun / Magical Adventures (published April 6th, 2005), Care Bears: Helping Hearts (published February 3rd, 2010), Care Bears: Journey To Joke-A-Lot (published October 27th, 2004), Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (published May 9th, 2003), Care Bears: Share-A-Lot In Care-A-Lot (published May 8th, 2010), Care Bears: Share Bear Shines Movie (published October 23rd, 2011), Care Bears: Super Cuddly Collection (published January 1st, 2012), and Care Bears: The Giving Festival Movie (published December 5th, 2010) are also available.
Who's that coming from somewhere up in the sky?
I'm not really sure where the 25-year mark comes in for the new set Care Bears: 25th Anniversary unless we're counting down for 2008 and the toy line launch's premiere. The Care Bears started off in 1981 as greeting card characters much like their sister franchise Strawberry Shortcake. By 1983, they turned up on toy shelves as collectible teddy bears, and in 1985 they made their movie debut in The Care Bears Movie. The feature film did incredibly well at the box office, and a cartoon was produced to appear as an ABC television program called The Care Bears Family Storybook from 1985 to 1988. It lasted two seasons and 70 episodes.
They never really had a back story or mythology since the Care Bears were American Greeting Card figures and teddy bears, so a whole history had to be created for their mythical land in the clouds called Care-a-lot. It was a kingdom with fluffy knights each emblazoned with a power symbol on their chest, and they valiantly fought for caring feelings of the terrestrial world. Yep, the Care Bears even sat at a heart shaped table that mirrored the round one of Arthurian legend. But rather than jousting or swords, their weapon was the "Care Bear Stare" which activated a beam from their chests to fight off evil foes like No Heart, Beastly, Professor Coldheart, and the Wizard Dim. The stare produced a psychedelic laser that seemed to temporarily disable No Heart except when he accessorized with the right necklace. Oh yeah, did I mention the hearts on the Care Bear posteriors? I have no clue what those did, and my "tramp stamp" joke I want to make would be wildly inappropriate.
This Care Bears: 25th Anniversary DVD set from Lionsgate pulls 25 episodes from The Care Bears Family Storybook television series where the Bears square off with No Heart and his reluctant sidekick Beastly and sometimes Shreeky or Dr. Fright. The cast was pretty bloated featuring every Care Bear, the Care Bear Cousins, and the cubs. The Cousins were not even bears, but rather various animals that were "teddy bear"ized by the toy company. They lived sometimes in the Forest of Feeling since they were obviously second class citizens of Care-a-lot. The cubs were baby bears, and it seems every bear pretty much lived in Care-a-lot for most of the episodes. Some adventures happened only in the cloud kingdom, while other episodes featured the Bear Family heading down to Earth in floating cloud cars to help out various kids who needed their cuddly brand of help.
All of these have been released on DVD before, but never all together. So here is each volume, and a listing of the episodes from them:
Adventures in Care-a-lot:
Kingdom of Caring:
Festival of Fun:
Video on the set looks like previous releases, and has an air of "just slap it on to the DVD and let's go!" The fullscreen image doesn't look much better than a VHS copy. Kids won't care, but the adults may find their favorite episodes are scratchy and grainy with no restoration effort. Sound is a soft and cuddly stereo, perfect for a show like this. A nice touch is you just pop the disc in and it starts playing, so smaller kids won't have to surf through menus. Either that or a busy parent can throw one volume in and run out of the room. There are no extras in a traditional sense, but the set does come packaged with a limited edition plush toy. It's only six inches high, and is a silver bear with a heart belly badge. The words "25 Years" are emblazoned on his feet. He may be collectible since only 75,000 of these sets were made for release.
Generation X may have some nostalgia for these toons, and, for kids, the Care Bears are non-offensive good natured fun. There's certainly nothing wrong with these fluffy episodes which always teach a simple moral lesson in a gentle voice. The gift set is nicely presented, and a quick way to get four DVDs and a small plush toy. Collectors and kids should find a lot to have fun with this, though the casual adult viewer could probably care less. It's a trippy surreal show, but one with a lot of heart and not much else.
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