Our reviews of Spongebob Squarepants: Season 5, Volume 1 (published December 12th, 2007), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete First Season (published November 10th, 2003), Spongebob Squarepants: Season 5, Volume 2 (published November 27th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: The Complete Third Season (published February 8th, 2006), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Seventh Season (published December 11th, 2011), SpongeBob Squarepants: 10 Happiest Moments (published September 19th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Fear Of A Krabby Patty (published August 31st, 2005), Spongebob Squarepants: Friend Or Foe? (published August 29th, 2007), Spongebob Squarepants: Home Sweet Pineapple (published January 19th, 2005), SpongeBob SquarePants: Legends of Bikini Bottom (published December 12th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge For Hire (published February 9th, 2005), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongebob Vs. The Big One (published March 16th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongebob's Pest Of The West (published April 25th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongicus (published April 9th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: The Great Patty Caper (published March 13th, 2011), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Seaside Capers (published March 13th, 2004), Spongebob Squarepants: To Love A Patty (published February 6th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: To Squarepants Or Not To Squarepants (published July 27th, 2009), SpongeBob Squarepants: Triton's Revenge (published September 11th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Truth Or Square (published November 20th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: Where's Gary? (published December 14th, 2005), Spongebob Squarepants: Who Bob What Pants? (published November 13th, 2008), and Spongebob's Runaway Roadtrip (published September 25th, 2011) are also available.
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he!
Absurdity is one of the traits of the best cartoons. And surreality. Absurdity and surreality are two of the traits of the best cartoons. I'll come in again.
I'm still surprised to find people (like, virtually the rest of the DVD Verdict staff) who haven't heard of Spongebob Squarepants. What is it, or rather, what is he? It's an original cartoon on Nickelodeon, the home of that other breakout cartoon, Rugrats. It's set in an undersea world full of undersea critters like a moneygrubbing crab, a cranky clarinet-playing squid, a dumb but loveable starfish, a spacesuit-wearing squirrel, and the star of the show, a pants-wearing sponge. It takes witty stories and dialogue, and combines it with the absurdity and surreality of the best Chuck Jones or Tex Avery cartoons. Ostensibly it's a kids' show, but it was popular enough with the older set that Nickelodeon plays it in primetime. Paramount has packed ten of the 10-12 minute shows on this DVD, along with a few seaworthy extras.
Facts of the Case
• "Ripped Pants"
• "The Graveyard Shift"
• "Something Smells"
• "Dying for Pie"
• "Club Spongebob"
Most people are going to buy this for their kids. They're only looking for something to keep the little tykes occupied for a few minutes. They might be surprised that they find it just as amusing as the little ones. Like the best cartoons, the humor is multi-layered, with slapstick sight gags for the kiddies, and obscure strangeness for the adults. Let me give an example. In "The Graveyard Shift," the mystery of the Hash Slinging Slasher is explained, everything except the lights flickering on and off. Who do they find out was doing it? Nosferatu. As in, the vampire from the classic silent film, complete with a black and white picture of Max Schreck flicking a lightswitch on and off. I don't think I've laughed at anything quite so hard in quite some time.
The episodes on this disc aren't consecutive or a full season set like you'd expect or demand from most TV shows, but in this case, that's entirely fine. Like most compilations, some episodes are better than others. My personal faves are "The Graveyard Shift," "Dying For Pie," and "Club Spongebob." "The Graveyard Shift" has everything that makes the show great: funny dialogue (the whole story of the Hash-Slinging Slasher is hilarious), clever sight gags (especially Spongebob's regenerating limbs), and that aforementioned outta-nowhere ending that made me bust a gut. "Dying For Pie" has all that (except the bizarre ending), plus Spongebob's "Friendship List" of fun things to do with the extra-fun things in red (hint: everything on the list is in red). All of his fun things to do seem to involve the humiliation of Squidward, though the naïve dude has no clue that he's embarrassing the guy he wants to be his friend. "Club Spongebob" has the conceit that the two idiots only do what the magic conch tells them to. Squidward mocks, of course, but everything seems to fall into place for Spongebob and Patrick while he's miserable. The other episodes can be a little uneven, but they all have their moments of sublimity. I love the prehistoric versions of Spongebob and Patrick in "SB-129." "F.U.N." has a great musical number. "Ripped Pants" is pretty funny at first, but the gag gets old quickly; fortunately, it's saved by a Beach Boys-esque ditty that closes it out. Even at 10 minutes, "Texas" feels a little long, but is redeemed by the cracks at the expense of Texas. Spongebob forms himself into the shape of Texas, and then…
Spongebob: "Hey Patrick, what am I now?"
Now all they have to do is pick on Idaho and my joy will be complete.
Paramount has done a nice job of packaging Spongebob for DVD. The ten episodes are presented in their original full-frame aspect ratio. Colors are remarkably bright and vibrant, and the edge enhancement or pixelization that can plague some animation is nowhere to be seen. The only source defects are in the live-action footage that is occasionally inserted. Audio is only stereo, but there is noticeable separation between the channels as well as the occasional panning effect.
For features, there's a whole passel of short behind-the-scenes clips showing the art design and voice recording. The clips can be watched from the menu, or with a "Backstage Pants" mode that pops up a Spongebob icon on the screen while you are watching (you know, like The Matrix's "follow the white rabbit" mode). There's also a rendition of the show's rollicking theme as recorded by the Violent Femmes. God, it's good to hear them again, even if it's only for 30 seconds.
Spongebob Squarepants is perfect entertainment for kids and for the young at heart with a sense of humor. Paramount has done a great job bringing these episodes home on DVD. Now I only hope they release another disc with "The Idiot Box," the best piece of anti-television propaganda ever aired on television…because all you need is imagination!
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Scales of Justice
• Behind-The-Scenes "Secrets"
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