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Case Number 07339: Small Claims Court

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Nick Picks 1

Paramount // 2005 // 180 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // August 4th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Dennis Prince has come to the harsh realization that this isn't the same Nickelodeon he remembers from years back. Where's You Can't Do That On Television?!

The Charge

Seven episodes from seven of the best-known Nicktoons.

The Case

Gather 'round, kids of all ages, and take a taste from this lazy Susan tray of Nickelodeon treats. Some are super yummy but others are a bit stale. Let's see if you can find one or two that particularly tickle your tummy.

All Grown Up!—"Lucky 13"
Those Rugrats kids have shed their diapers and are ready to manage the social minefield of Pre-Teenagerdom. Here, we see a clash of the titans as one of the most popular kids in the school has planned a swinging party on the same day that spoiled and snotty Angelica is celebrating her momentous 13th birthday bash. This one's all right, and the Rugrats do translate reasonably well to the grammar school hallways. Unfortunately, the humor, safe as it is (usually appreciated by this reviewer), tends to fall uniformly flat. (Grade: C+)

Spongebob Squarepants—"Spongebob B.C."
It's a special prehistoric show with live-action segments featuring Patchy the Pirate as he tries to impart the modern-day relevance of the discoveries made by cavemen, cavewomen, and other cave-critters. Meanwhile, it's a trip to the dawn of time under the sea as Sponge-gar, Pat-ar, and Sqog grunt and grumble in hunger until they discover the miracle of fire and how everything tastes better kabob style. Really, it's a rather weak double-length episode made worse by the live-action Patchy segments. Spongebob is usually better than this so it's unclear why this particular episode was chosen for this disc. (Grade: B-)

Fairly OddParents—"Information Stuporhighway"
Timmy Turner is hyper little boy who has a crush on the standoffish Trixie. Timmy's folks convince him that a special email message is the best way to Trixie's heart, combining sweet romanticism with a well-measured bit of threatening tone. But when Mom and Dad send the "threat-mantic" overture on its way, the mortified Timmy wishes his fairly odd fairy godparents to whisk him into Cyberspace itself to intercept the email before Trixie can open it. But—look out!—the creepy schoolteacher, Mr. Crocker, who's determined to expose and exploit the true existence of fairies, is also prowling around the 'Net and is eager to put the byte on Timmy's magical mentors. This is a fun episode that offers a fun kids-eye-view of the Internet. It's good enough for repeat viewing. (Grade: A)

The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron—"Jimmy Timmy Power Hour"
The 3-D and 2-D animation worlds collide when Timmy Turner (of Fairly OddParents) is woefully behind on completing his science project and summarily wishes for access to the greatest laboratory in the world. Of course, he lands smack dab in the middle of brainy Jimmy Neutron's secret lair and, in so doing, displaces Neutron into the 2-D world while Timmy enjoys the new sensation of being "bulgy" in a 3-D animated existence. This one's really more like Fairly OddParents than Jimmy Neutron, and it works quite well. Running a double-episode length, it's a fun dual-adventure and amusing to see each character rendered in a different style. This is another that's good for additional viewings. (Grade: B+)

Danny Phantom—"Bitter Reunions"
The Generation Gap rears its ugly head in this episode that finds genetically altered and now ghostly Danny Phantom at odds with his super-scientific parents. Realizing they've never shared details of their childhood with young Danny, Mom and Dad decide to invite the boy along to their college reunion. Unfortunately, this serves as an ill-fated trip down Memory Lane: the evil Vlad Plasmius, a rival of Danny's dad from two decades past, was also genetically altered in an accident similar to that which rendered Danny part ecto-plasmic. It's a reasonably entertaining episode but the overall premise of the show is a bit stretched to perform suitably for any length of time. Besides, we've seen most of this shtick in Ghostbusters. (Grade: B-)

My Life as a Teenage Robot—"Hostile Makeover"
Heroic Jenny the robot is in dire straits. The evil Cluster Legion has infected this girl gizmo with a mechanical parasite that's slowly turning her into a hideous, monstrous, female-robot-thing. I don't really care for this cartoon much; it comes off as a Powerpuff Girls rip-off and is clearly hoping to draw in the young girl viewers. The humor is pretty trite and, really, it's nothing you haven't seen before. (Grade: C-)

Rugrats—"Finsterella"
Their parents consider these babies and toddlers mere infants, yet this crowd of pint-sized playmates speaks freely and fluently among themselves when the big people aren't around. In this episode, little Chuckie fears his life is in danger of following the pattern of Cinderella after Angelica points out that the bespectacled boy has a stepmom and stepsister. Much like the latter All Grown Up!, this flagship show was cute in its notion of the clandestine grown-up adventures of this collection of curtain crawlers but its humor never really develops much past its ability to elicit a slight smile and occasional snicker. (Grade: C)

There are some definite hits and misses in this collection but what's most confounding is why the "pu-pu platter" approach here when Paramount already has a bevy of Nicktoon discs in release. Having not sampled all of the Nicktoon discs, I'm not certain whether the episodes included here are available elsewhere and, to that end, this disc might merit a look as way to sample some of Nickelodeon's product. Having said this, I could likely recommend Fairly OddParents above all others with The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron and Spongebob Squarepants tying for second place (although this episode of Spongebob is pretty bad). The others are pretty much retreads of themes and concepts already at work elsewhere and, personally, the Rugrats kids just don't have much appeal to me nor do they seem to be able to hold the interest of my own rug rats.

From a technical perspective, though, this is a pretty impressive disc. The full screen transfers here are especially sharp, vivacious, and free of any significant compression artifacts. This helps the disc along as it really is a treat for the eyes and one of the better animation presentations of this sort that I've seen. The audio isn't as "boffo" but it's good nonetheless thanks to an energetic Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix that suits the on-screen images quite well. All in all, it's a well rendered, well managed disc that, based solely on technical qualities, would merit a recommendation. There are no extras here, not even a feigned "bonus 'toon."

All in all, there are certainly some decent shows within the Nicktoon stable while others are certainly forgettable. This new disc makes it easy to draw the distinction among them and, if you're curious to sample the Nick wares, then I'd recommend a rental so you can discover which shows appeal most to you.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 180 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• All Ages
• Animation
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• Official Nickelodeon Site








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