In 10 Words or Less
Silly playtime with a yong girl and her monster pal
Loves: Animation, Noggin
Dislikes: Most kids programming
Hates: Hamilton's personality
The Story So Far...
"Maggie and the Ferocious Beast," an animated Canadian production based on a series of children's books, has been a part of the Nickelodeon TV lineup for years, aimed at the networks' youngest audience members. Shout! Factory has released several collections of the show's episodes, following earlier, smaller sets from Sony. DVDTalk has a review of one of the original releases, "Let's Go to the Beach."
"Maggie and the Ferocious Beast" is an anomaly in the world of children's television. It's not a commercial trying to sell new toys and it's not a message-heavy stand-in for parents and school. Instead, it's purely a fun series, based on books by Michael Paraskevas and his mother Betty, that tells short, simple stories about a group of friends and their adventures. In that way, it's rather refreshing, though it's nothing but "empty calories," without much value for impressionable youngsters.
Maggie, the star of the show, is an imaginative little red-headed girl, who invents the land of Nowhere Land, where she plays with her stuffed animal pals Hamilton, a neurotic pig, and the Ferocious Beast, a polka-dotted hippo-like creature with a humanoid head, who is really not-so-ferocious. Together, they while away they days, playing and amusing themselves with various adventures. Nothing here is overly complicated, with one-track plots like playing with a train set or Maggie pretending to be a mommy, so kids can follow easily, though adults may be bored senseless.
Unlike many of the other series on Noggin, "Maggie" doesn't go out of its way to teach anything, focusing on Maggie's imaginary adventures. Once in a while, someone may count three items sequentially, but for the most part, the stories show the characters doing what any kid might do to fight off boredom, like singing songs or having a shouting contest. In that way, some parents might want their children to watch more stimulating shows, but a little mindless fun isn't bad once in a while. What is bad though is Hamilton's fussy personality, which is nothing you'd want a kid to imitate, a problem seemingly inherent with many kids shows.
The thing that really stands out about this disc, versus the majority of the kids TV DVDs available, is the amount of content included. Frequently, you'll get a kids DVD, and it will feature a few short episodes. Here, Shout! Factory has included four full episodes, which means you get 12 stories, about eight minutes each. Admittedly, any more than that, and most parents might find themselves headed to Nowhere Land themselves, hoping to leave the disc there.
This 12-episode collection is a one-disc release, packed in a clear keepcase with a reversible cover. The DVD has a mildly animated full-frame menu with options to watch all the episodes, select individual stories or adjust the audio. Audio options include Dolby Digital 2.0 English and Spanish tracks, though there are no subtitles and no closed captioning.
The full-frame episodes on these discs look as bright and bold as they do on TV, befitting the color design of the series, which uses strong primary hues. The animation looks great, without any dirt or damage, and good detail, showing the delicate "brush strokes" used for grass and sand. The only negative is one that plagues most traditional animation on DVD, and that's pixelation along thin black lines. Otherwise, it looks terrific.
The audio is simple Dolby Digital 2.0, and it sounds clear and crisp, cleanly separating the characters' dialogue from the light jazzy score. There's nothing challenging or dynamic about the mix, as you might expect from a kids series.
The only "extra" here isn't on the disc, and that's the reversible cover on the case, which has a black and white version of the art for kids to color.
The Bottom Line
"Maggie and the Ferocious Beast" is a cute, innocuous show that's light on messages or educational value, but loaded with colorful fun images and silliness that little kids can enjoy. It's not going to be a show parents will want to sit through though, putting it a notch below other adult-friendly kids shows, like "Johnny & the Sprites" or "Jack's Big Music Show." The DVDs feature clean, solid presentation, but no real extras, though at 90 minutes, it's longer than most other kids disc, which is helpful in not driving parents nuts when faced with repeated viewings.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.