Before the home video revolution, if one wanted to capture a television highlight or milestone...well, they were usually out of luck. With the advent of the VCR, individuals could now record their favorite shows. And while DVRs have replaced VCR, many still capture programming which is important to them. Yet, this practice may become obsolete as home video companies are now instantly making available premiere shows. Many eyebrows were raised when Warner released the series finale of Friends only days after the show aired. Now, Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon have teamed to bring SpongeBob Squarepants: Lost in Time to stores only one day after its initial bow.
The main attraction of SpongeBob Squarepants: Lost in Time is the titular double-length episode, "Dunces & Dragons" (Original Airdate: 2/20/06). (I had to explain why that title is funny to my children.) In this show, SpongeBob Squarepants (voiced by Tom Kenny) and his best friend Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) visit the restaurant "Medieval Moments", which is the Bikini Bottom equivalent of Medieval Times. Once inside, they volunteer to be part of the jousting show. When they collide, SpongeBob and Patrick are sent back in time. There, they find that Mr. Krabs (voiced by Clancy Brown) is the ruler of the kingdom, but he's under siege from the evil One-Eyed Wizard, Plankton (voiced by Mr. Lawrence). When Mr. Krabs daughter Pearl (voiced by Lori Alan) is taken by the wizard, SpongeBob and Patrick step up to save the maiden, aided by Squidley (voiced by Rodger Bumpass) and the mysterious Black Knight (Sandy) (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence).
The DVD also contains five additional episodes:
"Selling Out" (Original Airdate: 9/23/05): We all know that Mr. Krabs loves money and when he's offered the chance to sell his restaurant, The Krusty Krab, to the chain of Blandy eating establishments, he jumps at the chance. But, Mr. Krabs is soon bored with retirement and when he returns to beloved eatery, he's shocked to find that the business has been homogenized and that his former employees, SpongeBob and Squirdward, are living in fear.
"Funny Pants" (Original Airdate: 9/30/05): As usual, SpongeBob is getting on Squidward's nerves, but today is especially bad because SpongeBob won't stop laughing. When SpongeBob develops a pain in his side, Squidward convinces the naive sponge that is "Laughter Box" is in danger of being broken. After that warning, SpongeBob is afraid to laugh and does everything that he can to avoid humorous situations.
"Mermaidman & Barnacleboy VI -- The Motion Picture" (Original Airdate: 10/7/05): While attending a meeting of the Mermaidman & Barnacleboy fan club, SpongeBob learns that a movie is being made featuring his favorite heroes, but new younger actors have been brought in to play the lead roles. Horrified, SpongeBob approaches Mermaidman (voiced by Ernest Borgnine) and Barnacleboy (voiced by Tim Conway) and convinces them that they must star in their own movie. But, despite his good intentions, SpongeBob has no filmmaking experience, no budget, and he's working with two geriatric stars. Can his plan possibly work?
"Enemy-in-Law" (Original Airdate: 10/14/05): Plankton has become bored and annoyed with his computer-wife, Karen (voiced by Jill Talley), so he decides that he must find a new companion. Meanwhile, Mr. Krabs is annoyed that his mother is constantly stopping by The Krusty Krab (Krabs is convinced that his mother is after his money), and pushes her away. When Plankton spots Mrs. Krabs, he's instantly taken with her, and attempts to woo her with a giant robot. From there, their relationship grows, and all is well, until Mr. Krabs learns that his mother is dating his sworn enemy.
"Patrick SmartPants" (Original Airdate: 10/21/05): While jellyfishing with SpongeBob, Patrick falls from a cliff. When he regains consciousness, he finds that he's become very intelligent. This is a novelty to SpongeBob at first, but it soon becomes clear that these lifelong friends are no longer compatible. While Patrick goes off to read or discuss equations with Sandy, SpongeBob is left alone. Is there anything that can be done to bring back the old Patrick?
I've read some comments online recently which alluded to the fact that Season 4 of SpongeBob Squarepants wasn't very good, and given the fact that it came after The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, this wouldn't be surprising. Yet, I enjoyed all of the episodes on SpongeBob Squarepants: Lost in Time, all of which come from Season 4. "Dunces & Dragons" puts a new spin on the old "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" theme and it's fun to see how the show's writers have adapted the characters from the show into this medieval setting. This episode is also good because it shows an abnormally self-confident SpongeBob. I can't fathom (get it?) why fans of the show wouldn't like these new episodes, because they certainly haven't lost their silliness (see "Funny Pants") or their occasional edge (see "Enemy-In-Law" where Plankton's giant robot wreck Bikini Bottom so that he can meet Mrs. Krabs). Granted, the show doesn't feel nearly as fresh and new as it once did, but after over 70 episodes and a feature film (not to mention that SpongeBob is everywhere), that's not surprising. Fans of SpongeBob Squarepants will find something to love in this set, if for no other reason, because it brings back many familiar supporting characters and features SpongeBob at what he does best: making us laugh.
SpongeBob Squarepants: Lost in Time travels to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The episodes included on this DVD are all presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The images look very good as the picture is sharp and clear, showing no evidence of grain or defects from the source material. The series' bright colors look fantastic on this transfer and the colors never bleed out or look oversaturated. The digital transfer does render some occasionally noticeable problems with the animation, such as "zig-zaggy" lines, but otherwise the transfer rivals digital broadcast quality.
The DVD carries a Dolby Digital stereo audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are discreet, but nicely done. In short, the audio is appropriate for a television program aimed at children, but it's nothing spectacular.
The only extra on the DVD is a set-top game entitled "Medieval Moments Jousting Practice".
Youngsters who loved SpongeBob Squarepants: Lost in Time and devotees of the show will have the unique opportunity to pick-up a DVD of the newest double-length episode (plus five others) only hours after the episode premieres. But, if you can wait, these episodes will most likely arrive on a Season 4 boxed set at some point.