Judge Dan Mancini was once called a little Einstein. He's pretty sure it wasn't a compliment.
Our reviews of Little Einsteins: Rocket's Firebird Rescue (published August 29th, 2007), Little Einsteins: The Legend Of The Golden Pyramid (published March 7th, 2007), Little Einsteins: Flight Of The Instrument Fairies (published August 6th, 2008), Little Einsteins: Race For Space (published February 20th, 2008), and Little Einsteins: The Christmas Wish (published October 27th, 2008) are also available.
Rocket to the Rescue!
After cornering the (admittedly niche) market on direct-to-video releases for infants, The Baby Einstein company teamed with Disney to formulate a plan to chip away at Dora the Explorer's and Blue's Clues' share of the preschool market. The result was Little Einsteins, a computer-animated show that follows the adventures of a multicultural quartet of elementary school kids with a passion for music and art. Leo, the team's 6-year-old leader is an orchestra conductor in training; his sister Annie is a singer; Quincy loves playing any and every musical instrument; and June dances. In each episode, the team is confronted with a mission, which they must complete by globetrotting in Rocket, their bright red sentient rocket ship. As they set about solving the episode's problem (with the assistance of their audience), they experience a famous piece of classical music as well as a painting, sculpture, or other form of visual art.
Fire Truck Rocket's Blastoff contains four episodes from the series' second season, including the never-before-aired "Fire Truck Rocket."
• "Fire Truck Rocket"
• "Melody the Music Pet"
• "Carmine's Big Race"
• "Mr. Penguin's Ice-Cream Adventure"
The plotlines of Little Einsteins episodes are every bit as bizarre as I've described. Rocket ships transform into fire trucks, monkeys are saved from creeping lava, penguins drive over the Andes in ice cream trucks, and pets ride a pint-sized train to the homes of their adoptive families. It's as bafflingly surreal as Sid and Marty Krofft's most fevered pipe dream, though the show isn't self-consciously trippy. It's really only weird if you stop to ponder what you're watching, and Little Einsteins isn't a show that encourages pondering. It's happy bombarding its young audience with brightly colored animation while exposing them to classical music and art on the sly. Children learn musical terminology almost by osmosis as Leo encourages them to help Rocket pick up speed by first patting their knees adagio, then allegro, then moderato, and then presto. They're steeped in art as paintings by Monet and Ranson are integrated into the animation's background plates so that the characters move through them. Of the many series out there tailor-made for preschoolers, Little Einsteins is perhaps the best at spoon feeding tykes educational information while distracting them with mildly silly entertainment.
Little Einsteins is presented on DVD in its full frame broadcast aspect ratio. Colors are bright, detail is reasonable, and there are no digital artifacts. The audio mix is a straight-forward Dolby stereo surround mix that delivers crisp dialogue and music.
The only supplement is an interactive viewing mode advertised on the packaging as "Three fun ways to watch and play." Unfortunately, one of those ways is Disney's standard FastPlay option, which allows you to insert the disc into your player and let your children be subjected to a small eternity of ads for other Disney releases before the main program begins automatically. In addition to FastPlay, there are two adventure modes that allow kids to use the remote to answer trivia questions as they watch the show. The first adventure mode has questions geared towards children ages two to three, while the second is for children ages four to six.
Little Einsteins: Fire Truck Rocket's Blastoff is no better or worse than previous DVD releases of the show. If your kids are fans, you can't go wrong.
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