This DVD put Judge Clark Douglas into super duper stupor.
A tale of heroic proportions!
I have to confess, I'm not a particularly big fan of My Friends Tigger & Pooh, the latest incarnation of the Winnie the Pooh franchise. Christopher Robin is nowhere to be seen, replaced by an enthusiastic young girl named Darby. She heads up the team of "Super Sleuths," which consists of herself, Pooh, Tigger, and a little dog named Buster. Together, they go around solving the many mysteries that need to be solved in the Hundred Acre Wood, singing a variety of theme songs, and inviting young viewers to help them solve the case. I'm fairly certain that this isn't exactly what A.A. Milne had in mind when he wrote his beloved children's stories, but that's neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that this is the way things work at Disney, and no popular children's character is exempt from being forced to provide edutainment for 4-year-olds ("Mulan and Donald Duck! I see you two trying to hide; get over here and teach these kids how to count to five!").
Sorry, I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, My Friends Tigger & Pooh. This particular straight-to-DVD release offers a brand-new "feature length" adventure (though this 45-minute special qualifies as "feature length" in the same way that a man just under 5 feet tall qualifies as being "average height"). The plot is a simple one: one day, something shiny falls from the sky and lands smack-dab in the middle of Rabbit's vegetable garden. Oh my, how mysterious! The shiny thing turns out to be a glowing purple rock. The rock magically turns all of the little vegetables in the garden into gigantic vegetables (a six-inch carrot becomes a six-foot carrot, for instance). While the rock's "magical growing powers" thankfully do not extend to anything other than vegetables, something unusual starts to happen to the members of the Super Sleuth team after they take a bite out of some of the giant veggies: they all develop superpowers!
Now, you're probably wondering where this rock came from and how it managed to acquire such magical powers. Surely an explanation is just around the corner? Well, no. Sadly, the mysteries of the magical rock are never explained, probably because the Hundred Acre Wood is populated by anthropomorphic stuffed animals rather than scientists and geologists. Ah, well.
Anyway, back to the superpowers. Darby acquires the power of flight, Pooh gets super-vision, Tigger gets super-strength, and Buster gets super-digging skills (I'm not sure whether this also qualifies as super-strength or whether his powers only apply when he's applying his paws to dirt). The team immediately starts to put their powers to good use, solving mysteries left and right with the aid of their newfound abilities. Unfortunately, these powers are so remarkable that the team is no longer forced to actually use their brain. A no-prize if you guessed that a third-act plot development is on the way in which everyone loses their powers and is forced to actually use their minds once again.
Super Duper Super Sleuths is a predictably inoffensive offering with the usual inoffensive messages: be yourself, you're special even if you don't have superpowers, things go better when people work together, and so on. If the special is guilty of anything, it's slightly betraying the basic interactive concept of the My Friends Tigger & Pooh series: viewers aren't asked to help out nearly as much as they are in the television series. This may disappoint some of the young ones who are used to the format of the show; but it's not a big deal.
The transfer is fine, though the computer-generated animation is awfully bland in contrast to the lovely hand-drawn animation of the classic Pooh shorts. Still, detail is solid and the image is bright and vibrant. Sound is fine, with the mediocre pop score coming through with clarity. Extras include a couple of kid-friendly interactive viewing modes and a bonus My Friends Tigger and Pooh episode.
Personally, if I were picking out a Pooh-themed product for kids I would go for one of the many, many superior options available (some of the original shorts, theatrical films and even some of the older straight-to-DVD releases), but My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths is an acceptably harmless way to keep the young ones occupied for 45 minutes.
Not guilty, I guess.
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