Judge Clark Douglas is The Man in the Yellow Hat. Now where's that monkey?
Get into the swing of things!
After the slightly depressing recent experience of sitting through all five Planet of the Apes movies in row, I had kind of lost faith and interest in monkeys. Who better to correct that problem than Curious George? If you have never heard of Curious George, I can only assume that you had a terrible childhood and heartless parents. George is the star of a series of books written by Margret & H.A. Rey. In each book, George allows his curiosity to lead him into all sorts of misadventures. Quite frequently, he makes a great big mess and gets into some sort of trouble, but everything turns out just fine and dandy in the end, and George typically wins some sort of award or is praised by someone. George's hapless and good-hearted owner is The Man in the Yellow Hat. He, um, wears a yellow hat. A yellow suit, too.
Almost any popular series of children's books gets turned into an animated television or video series at some point (Clifford, The Berenstain Bears, etc.), and PBS is finally animating the adventures of Curious George for the kiddies out there. In the episodes featured on this disc, we aren't getting adaptations of the actual books, but rather original stories that put a greater emphasis on edutainment (hey, it's PBS). The title of this DVD might seem to imply that each story has a musical theme, but that's not exactly true. Music plays a role every now and then, but you probably wouldn't notice the motif if the title weren't pointing it out. Eight 12-minute stories (taken from four episodes of the show) are on hand.
• "Curious George Leads the Band": George wins a contest and is given the opportunity to conduct a local orchestra for one night. Unfortunately, a rambunctious little puppy proves to be quite disruptive. This tale borrows gags liberally from a few old Bugs Bunny cartoons. Lesson for kids: learning basic musical terms.
• "Old McGeorgie Had a Farm": A friendly couple has to go out of town for a few days, so George and The Man in the Yellow Hat take care of the couple's farm. Lessons for kids: learning how to count; learning how to milk a cow.
• "Monkey Stagehand": George gets the opportunity to work behind the scenes of a stage production. He pulls curtains, sets up props, and does other odd jobs. Suddenly, and quite predictably, George is thrown into the spotlight. What will he do? Lesson for kids: remembering numbers and letters.
• "The Elephant Upstairs": George starts hearing very loud thumping noises upstairs, and becomes convinced that there is an elephant living up there. Of course, he's not correct. When he decides to investigate, George discovers the truth behind the matter. Lessons for kids: learning to recognize sounds.
• "Skunked": George and The Man in the Yellow Hat decide to go on a picnic. How pleasant! Unfortunately, a smelly old skunk decides to come along and spray George with his nasty odor. George determines to prevent this from ever happening again, which proves to be a futile endeavor. Lesson for kids: how to avoid getting sprayed by a skunk.
• "Color Me Monkey": George accidentally ruins a very valuable painting, and determines to make things right. He attempts to recreate the painting himself, but ends up making a great big mess of things. Lesson for kids: learning about primary colors.
• "Zeroes to Donuts": George has just learned about the number zero, and he determines to learn even more. So, he adds a couple of zeros to his order at the donut shop. Oops! Hundreds of donuts now belong to George. What will he do with them all? Lesson for kids: how the number zero works.
• "Special Delivery Monkey": George is asked to deliver a pizza, which proves to be quite a challenging test. Fortunately, all the mathematical info George has learned while playing a board game is going to come in handy. Lesson for kids: learning how to count.
This is perfectly pleasant little sampler disc that parents will approve of and kids will enjoy. Curious George is a little bit less curious and a little bit less naughty than he is in the books, but I doubt anyone is going to make a big fuss over that. This is an ideal slice of edutainment for 3 to 7-year-old kids. The transfer is bright and sharp, and the 2.0 audio is solid enough. Bonus features include an interactive game and coloring pages that can be printed out when you insert the disc into your DVD-Rom.
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