Sesame Street: Dinosaurs!:
A blind grab from the old stack of screeners, Sesame Street: Dinosaurs seems like a good bet. Kid and dad both like dinosaurs, and Sesame Street is the closest thing to a kid's religion that we have. Big surprise, if Sesame Street is a religion, Elmo is the Big Cheese. Does everything Sesame Street by default end up being anchored by Elmo? Well, no worries, this brief (40 minute) collection of dinosaur-related short subjects is charming and informative, and you get to see Elmo as both a Stegosaurus and a Pterodactyl - pretty cool!
First up is the almost-20-minute-long bit of ADD-inspired insanity known as Elmo's world. All the favorite members of the world are there, talking about those old thunder lizards. Mr. Fish has a song; Mr. Noodle scares everyone by working through a number of pantomimes in his quest to imitate a dinosaur; cartoon Dorothy also has a cool song; an Apatosaurus teaches Elmodactyl about the ancient reptiles; and other fun, spazzy stuff happens with the aid of Elmo's manic chirping. I love Elmo, but his world is almost too much for me - better leave it to the preschoolers.
Next, a quick sketch involves diner owner Alan and Elmo's Apatosaurus friend; cute and reminiscent of Big Bird's age-old troubles in convincing others of the existence of Mr. Snuffleupagus. Next, Elmo, Telly and new friend Abby employ the Dinosaur Fairy in their quest to become cute dinosaurs. Fun and songs (and super-cute dinosaur versions of the trio) lead to a dawning realization that they'd rather just pretend. Lastly, a skin-peelingly adorable claymation short highlights Elmo singing and playing with his pet dinosaur - glucose levels shoot through the roof with this one. Credits and a tiny reprise of Elmosaurus and friends singing and dancing occupy the final four minutes of the program (but there's a promo for Sesamestreet.org at the tail end if you stick around).
If for whatever reason you feel like it's best to cute-up those ancient creatures before introducing them to your own terrible lizards, Elmo and his Sesame Street friends could be the way to go. The program, save any Elmo's World craziness, is sweet and sassy enough for both kids and parents to enjoy. I dig the moments of very dry, deadpan humor (like the anachronistic Fairy Telephone Operator) that writers and performers dole out for us graybeards. I'd love to get more than forty-five minutes (plus previews) all told for my 15 DVD dollars, but as far as kid/tube time is concerned, Sesame Street is still the Gold Standard.
We're looking at a fullscreen (1.33:1 ratio) standard presentation that preserves the dimensions of the original television broadcasts for this collection. The picture is sharp, colors are rich and bright. Edge enhancement is pretty prominent throughout and some instances of aliasing occur. Kids aren't going to care, and it's not like you're settling down with a beer to watch the two-disc special edition of the Wachowski Brothers' Speed Racer, so why should you care either?
Dolby Digital (presumably) Stereo Audio is of the standard variety. There aren't any horrible mixing problems, dialog is un-muffled and up front, and the music is sprightly, clear and has signed its non-compete clause, ensuring you can hear the words of the songs etc. perfectly well.
Journey to Ernie: Dinosaurs is the five minute extra for you and yours to enjoy. It features Big Bird going back in time to talk to dinosaurs both real and fake, portrayed by puppets and animation, as the amarillo avian adventurer searches for his buddy. Menu Screens lead to the extras, Scene Selections and English and Spanish Subtitles. Brief Previews for three other Sesame Street DVDs, and a top-loaded plug touting the good things your Sesame Street dollar does for kids around the world complete the extras.
For a fun and gentle way to give your kids some learning about dinosaurs (if you see what I'm saying) this short, forty minute collection of fun stuff from Sesame Street, featuring the irrepressible and unstoppable Elmo might be right up your alley. Of course the kids will love it and it may just goose them into wanting to learn some of the hard science behind these amazing beasts. Adults will think it's horribly cute (and either love it or hate it, depending) and enjoy those few tiny nods to more sophisticated humor that pop up. It can certainly be Recommended, especially if A) you need a break or B) you're kid, like mine, is already turning into a vidiot - but hey, it's educational! We just wish the bang for buck ratio included a few more minutes of screen time.
- 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