Judge Lacey Worrell gives high marks to this grab-bag of Nick Jr. selections.
Visit the beach! Meet new friends! Discover a lost city and a magical playroom! There's so much to do with Dora, Blue, Sportacus, Little Bill, Max & Ruby, and Oswald!
This DVD collection features episodes of well-known Nickelodeon favorites Dora the Explorer, Blue's Clues, and Little Bill, along with the lesser known Oswald, Max & Ruby, and the new kid on the block, LazyTown.
The six episodes included on this DVD are:
• "Dora the Explorer: The Lost City"
• "Blue's Clues: The Legend of the Blue Puppy"
• "LazyTown: Sports Day"
• "Little Bill: Little Bill's Adventure with Captain
• "Max & Ruby: Max's Work of Art/Max Meets Morris/Ruby's
• "Oswald: A Day at the Beach/Sand Sculpture
I usually cast a jaundiced eye at any program that claims to educate children, as "educational" programming frequently varies wildly in terms of value and quality. I also think that sometimes entertainment for entertainment's sake is perfectly fine; every single moment of a child's existence does not need to be a "lesson." These offerings from Nick Jr., however, rival PBS Kids and Discovery Kids when it comes to sheer quality for the six-and-under set. The stories are highly entertaining, but they manage to be positive and educate at the same time.
Out of all of these, Oswald is clearly the standout. Based on the beloved series of books by author Dan Yaccarino, the gentle storylines and enchanting, vivid animation are simply captivating. Oswald is voiced by Fred Savage of The Wonder Years; listen closely to the nasal tones of Henry, and you may recognize Laverne and Shirley's David "Squiggy" Lander. Additional characters, such as the odd twins Eggbert and Leo, and the Barry White-esque Johnny Snowman, only add to the entertainment in this wacky little world.
Speaking of wacky worlds, what doesn't work as well is LazyTown. Although kids are likely to be delighted by it, adults may be left scratching their heads. The characters are prone to breaking out into techno-driven songs, and they are a mix of real people and creepy looking puppets. The little girl who is the central character wears a hot pink wig for seemingly no reason, and Robbie Rotten, the bad guy, is sufficiently scary to create nightmare in very young viewers.
Staples such as Dora and Blue's Clues are always welcome, but keep in mind that these shows have extensive DVD collections devoted completely to them. That said, the very strength of Nick Jr. Favorites Vol. 1 is the sheer variety offered by the disc. There is enough to please everyone, from toddlers to kindergarteners, and it will definitely bear repeated viewings. The other strength of this collection is the diversity of characters such as Dora and Little Bill; it ensures that most children watching will be able to relate to and identify with the characters, an example studios like Disney could stand to emulate.
Judgment in favor of Nick Jr. Favorites Vol. 1 on the grounds that it gracefully walks the line between education and entertainment and will inevitably be loved by not only boys and girls, but by parents as well.
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