Elmo's World: Opposites:
I had high hopes that my 21-month-old (that's almost two years for you non-toddler-parents out there) would become a crusty old horror hound like her dad. Looking back at the terrified sleepless nights I spent as a four-year-old after watching Ssssssss or Let's Scare Jessica To Death on TV don't seem so bad. Now, though, I understand the often-irrational world of fear a youngster must learn to live with. Yes, the little one has just experienced her first moments of true media-inspired terror, thanks to Elmo's weird friend Mr. Noodle. Thanks a lot, pal!
Elmo's World: Opposites is a 54-minute teaching DVD composed ostensibly from Elmo's World segments culled from the all-time great PBS kid's show Sesame Street. There are three notions of 'opposite' tackled: up and down, open and close [sic] and fast and slow. For these three topics to constitute nearly an hour makes me think additional teaching moments were added, making Elmo's World segments on steroids. Elmo introduces the concepts from his psychedelic apartment, footage of kids demonstrating opposites and various animated segments and guests further illustrate the notions.
A closet fan of Elmo since the wife and I got an early Elmo doll (that hardly looks like him - with wide open mouth frozen in an oddly appealing rictus) I was excited to share the DVD with my daughter, who also loves the doll. Elmo's domicile, with mobile CGI furniture colored by crayons, appeals to her, but when that front door opens to an entirely different reality, with creepy old Mr. Noodle (and his scary hair and mustache) capering about in weird, slo-mo ersatz Chaplin stylee, the horrified cries and tears make the scene. Mr. Noodles is essentially a clown, and clowns are inherently frightening to children of a certain age. Clowns should be federally regulated like cigarettes and alcohol. But enough of that.
It's time to conclude this rambling excuse for a review. Elmo is adorable, and the kids love him. Largely all the other segments are amusing, clear, concise, very kid-friendly and cute, but not so cloying that adults won't be able to handle it - something that is a perennial Sesame Street strength. Strengths aside, Elmo's World: Opposites should be considered a 'breather DVD,' one that the kids are plopped in front of for 10 - 15 minutes of parental downtime. Parent-child interaction is always preferable, and I can't imagine thinking an hour in front of this DVD is going to be the best way of teaching a child about opposites. On the other hand, Elmo's World: Opposites is a great choice for kids and parents - when you do need that break - as a sweet, educational, good time. If TV watching is a snack, it's the apple in the apple-versus-cookies snack war. Just make sure your kids can handle Mr. Noodle before you leave the room.
Elmo's World has the sharp look of a well-mastered digital production. The fullscreen ratio of original television broadcasts is preserved. Colors are bright and vibrant, with only some of the 'real kids' video segments looking like actual reality, with more muted colors, occasional film-grain and other things that betray reality. And then there's Mr. Noodle - watch out!
Dolby Digital English Language Audio is up front and well audible. Spanish Audio is also available.
Three Chapter Stops and English or Spanish Subtitles are available, as well as Previews for three other Sesame Street DVDs.
Even though we'll probably never be able to watch this DVD again, thanks to the evil Mr. Noodle, Elmo's World: Opposites is a great choice if you need to take a parenting-break, or if it's raining outside and you're at your wit's end. It's educational, fun and entertaining. I wouldn't presume to use it as a sole means of education - maybe as a supplement if you're home-schooling - but would consider it TV time with the benefit of being better for the kids than most anything that's not on PBS. Support public broadcasting! Elmo's World: Opposites is Recommended for kids who've passed the Mr. Noodle test.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com