One of the greatest things about being a parent is the
|dictate monitor what your children are exposed to
when they're young. While some people don't let their kids watch TV, my 4 and 5 year-old
are HUGE fans
of the Shield, the Sopranos and they're just warming up to Dexter. Seriously
though, when it comes to children's programming, I usually go with what I
grew up on - the Electric Company, Animaniacs, Fat Albert,
Mr. Rogers, Walt
Disney (the classics) and Sesame Street ("old school" -
Every so often, my children will discover a show on Noggin or PBS Kids on their
own. I have to admit, some of the shows they start watching - Arthur, Between
the Lions, the Backyardigans and Tiny Planets, are pretty darn entertaining.
Another show that caught their eye is Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends. Based
on the books by David Kirk, Miss Spider is about about a...um, spider, who lives in
in a place called Hollow Tree with her children
Spinner, Snowdrop, Pansy, Wiggle, Squirt, Shimmer, Dragon, Bounce and hubby
During each episode, I assume there is some sort of lesson for kids to learn, but I
found it hard to decipher at times because i'm so intent on keeping track of who
was whom. If the huge cast wasn't bad enough, the abstract CGI, with
characters made up of mostly spherical shapes and jagged lines made it that much
harder. That's not to say the animation isn't not pretty, because it is -
as the name implies, Sunny Patch is bright and colorful. However, I felt the show's strongest point was the music. Both the background score
and the vocal compositions were very catchy and, for lack of a better word,
heartfelt. In fact, the very first time I watched the show, I had the theme song
in my head. Unfortunately, finding out who contributed the vocals is
about as easy as trying to figure out what edits were made in whichever WWE DVD
i'm currently reviewing (don't get me started on that).
Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends - Hum Bug
contains six different "holiday-themed" episodes. Well,
"holiday-themed" according to the back cover. See, we start out with Humbug,
an episode where Spiderus takes advantage of Bounce, who's eager to do a good
deed before the dream bug that comes before every winter solstice visits Hollow
familiar? From there,
Dashing Through the Snow has Squirt, Bounce and Miss Spider trying to make
it home to the Holly Berry Feast without getting trapped in a snowstorm.
After that, it seems as if Lionsgate just slapped on any old episode that would
fit on the disc. Top O'Big Tree is about the kids trying to earn their
Bug Scout Wings, while Seeing Straight has Dragon finding a pair of
glasses and learning that it's important to return items to their proper owners.
Spider Mom sees Miss Spider and one of her sons competing in the Annual
Bugathon For Needy Bugs that teaches Squirt that winning isn't always important. The final story,
Best Bug Buddies, teaches Squirt and Wiggle not to judge a book by its
cover when they meet Spindella's niece, Petal.
Extras: Immediately after the trailers (and before the anamorphic
menu), we're told "For fun spiderific features and activities, press the menu
button on your remote control". There are no features and the only "activity" to
be found is the workout your thumb will get as you continue to press the menu
button in vain. Other than that, there are trailers that you will most
definitely NOT want to subject your children to. There's the trailer for the Bratz
live-action movie and Bratz Super Babies cartoon, Peppa Pig, Betsy Bubblegum's Journey
Through Yummi-Land featuring the Ice Cream Pop Girls and the Doodlebops.
Video Quality: The picture for Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends: Hum Bug
is presented in a full-frame 1.33:1 format and is sharp and fantastically
colorful. I didn't notice any artifacts, grain or softness whatsoever.
Audio Quality: While I wouldn't mind hearing the music in Dolby Digital
5.1, i'll have be satisfied with the English or Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks
Final Word: When all is said and done, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends:
Hum Bug is a harmlessly entertaining hour-long collection of 'toons. Why's
that? I have no idea. I'm not necessarily a fan of the abstract animation, but
the songs and the music more than make up for. There's also something to be said
for Kristin Davis' vocals as Miss Spider - her voice is so calm and soothing. If
you can find this release for $10 or under, it's Recommended. Heck, there
are much worse things your kids could be watching...you have to look no further
than the trailers on this disc for proof.