What is it with kids and construction?
Dave and his bumbling buttinski traveling companion Becky are Real Wheel adventurers, meaning they run around the globe like hyperactive dingoes sticking their shtick into everyone's business workday. Sometimes they confuse a construction site ("There Goes a Bulldozer") showing that poor craftsmanship and OSHA violations do indeed have a rational explanation. Other times, they amble through an artillery range ("There Goes a Tank") demonstrating that an unprecedented two-decade military build-up has left the army with a lot of free time to let civilians mess around with our national defenses. Maybe they'll visit a pre-NASCAR paradise ("There Goes a Monster Truck") so white trash in training can show our dumfounded duo that at one point in time, the tractor pull was the favorite spectator sport for intermarried cousins. But dopey Davy and blundering Becky (Harold Lloyd only wishes he was this slapstick) can't leave well enough alone. Otherwise, they wouldn't have a profitable made for video children's series, now would they? So it's time to threaten the population proper as our twin titans of troublemaking interrupt firefighters and paramedics as they endeavor to save lives ("There Goes a Rescue Hero"), destabilize law enforcement with completely lame hi-jinx ("There Goes a Police Car") and, oddly, revisit the whole 911 notion in an unnecessary sequel ("There Goes a Rescue…Vehicle"). If you've never thought of the Jaws of Life as "fun" or the defibrillator as "nifty," then you've never entered the world of Real Wheels. In this mechanized metropolis, all manner of machines are manipulated by complete morons to hopefully stimulate baby's developing blue collar.
Here is an important quote for all of you thinking about sinking your hard earned dosh into these visual pacifiers:
For Boys and Girls Ages 3-8
And honestly, that's it. That's the age group these DVDs are absolutely perfect for and truly aimed at. Any older and the young one you've given this to will start to develop the interpersonal shame and self-esteem issues that you've struggled so hard to avoid as a parent/guardian or kidnapper. They will resent that you even thought something as lame brained and dorky as this was viable "entertainment" for their budding existence. Even worse, they will think you consider them borderline retarded since the level of education provided teeters around golf cart on the cognizant chart. Not that Real Wheels doesn't overdose on the statistics and facts. Indeed, it's hard to imagine that three year olds really care about the recoil ratio on a tank turret or the amount of lift a tower crane can produce. They are too busy making a fudge factory in their Garanimals to give a standard deviation. And any brattling pushing eight will find the endless droning of host Dave nothing short of a visit to grandpa in the VA hospital. Apparently, what wee ones want in a mindless substitute for parental love and affection is big brawny land movers piling up dirt and cloud-busting derricks moving massive girders up the sides of skyscrapers. The incredibly juvenile mind of those post-potty training but pre-proper wiping just love their diesel powered demagogues and Real Wheels wants to provide said worship fodder in foot pounds.
But the big question here is why? Why do today's toddlers drool over the notion of a pavement scraper? Why do they get their Huggies in a humidor over vehicles with sirens and warning lights? Is it something in their DNA? Are human beings now genetically predisposed to finding dump trucks delightful and helicopters heavenly? This seems to be a fairly recent evolutionary development. Kids in the 1950s were less concerned about combines and more interested in avoiding nuclear annihilation. The children of the '60s were all about circumventing the long-term negative effects of Saturday morning cartoons (The Riverdale Chronicles—from Archie to Josie—have destroyed more adolescent minds than Funny Foam and Space Food Sticks combined). We can see hints of a growing mechanism mania in both the '70s and '80s, decades filled with Killdozer, the Empire's Imperial Walkers, and an exploding Space Shuttle. But full-fledged religious fervor over fire engines and backhoes seems to have gotten its fractured foothold during the '90s, when Juniors and Misses got shuffled from weekend parent to custodial entity in a never-ending road trip where the only thing to observe out of their manipulated worldview window seat was highway construction and inner city destruction.
Whatever it is, Dave Hood apparently owns the monopoly on it. He has taken a simplistic formula (he interacts with various workmen and vehicles), adds some stupid silly capering (or as it should be called, rudimentary slopstick), and expounds for hours about the intricate technical details of the transport he has his butt stuck in at the present moment. Sometimes he tries to incorporate skits ("Here Comes a Police Car"'s cruel Crapstone Cops) or repeated spiels to pad out this combustion engine ennui. It's all very cold, calculated, and about as much fun as a fractured coccyx. And yet it sells like banana shooters at a monkey convention. The Real Wheels videos have made Hood, the true pied piper of piston power, a fortune and parents take any opportunity they can to champion his curative powers. Most of the compliments can be summed up in the following paraphrase: "It completely mesmerized and brainwashed my infant into a state of near catatonia for almost two hours. What a God send!" Anything to keep from actual human interactivity with your offspring, one supposes. While there is literally nothing wrong or redolent about the Real Wheels Adventures, there is also nothing inventive or exceptional about them. They are just tune-up travelogues, mechanic porn for the soon to be lubricant chimps of America. Parents will love them, the kiddies apparently can't exist without them, and society's imagination weeps because of them.
Perhaps the only redeeming aspect of these DVDs is the way they are put together by Warner Brothers. Packed with extras that are easily the most enjoyable thing about the discs, the Real Wheels Adventures look and sound very good. Three separate episodes are presented on each DVD (with the ability to "play all" or just one) and they all appear very nice in the 1.33:1 full frame presentation (even when they are from radically different timeframes in the production's existence). There are a lot of ambient truck and vehicle sounds for the kiddies as part of the aural effort here, and the Dolby Digital Stereo Surround is clear and crisp. As for the bonus material, we are treated to a blooper reel to show that, when it comes to massacring the English language, Dave Hood and Becky Borg are just as capable of malapropisms as the next numbskull. There are interactive construction zones where, game like, you match pictures to puzzles and get rewarded with things blowing up (or magically coming back together) or a similarly simulated dispatch center that leads to more motor monologues. There are some "video previews" otherwise known as trailers and a "What's That?" featurette that explains all the torque talk Dave and Becky are going on about. But the best, most bizarre offering here is the Rockin' Real Wheels Sing-a-Long Songs. Where else can you pogo to twisted pop tunes about sand shifting and time triggered implosions. So catchy you'll find they've burrowed their way into your cerebellum like errant trivia, the complicated chorals will have you and the fruit of your loins crooning the body shop electric. Too bad they're the only things you'll remember about the Real Wheels Adventures.
They say that America has a love affair with the automobile. Here's proof that said lug nut lust is indoctrinated, not genuine.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Bloopers with Dave and Becky
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