Jammin' with the Doodlebops:
My mind is fried from a solid week of sick kid - something that always seems to precipitate a kids' DVD review. When the kid is sick, all she wants to do is watch TV, (hence the fried brain) so late in the game we've received this Doodlebops DVD. Oh no! It's too late for the both of us. You'll excuse the rambling: I'll try to top-load the important stuff.
The Doodlebops is a Canadian kids' entertainment creation; three weird, colorful quasi-humans that play pop music. It's like a bizarre amalgam of The Monkees, The Muppets, and any number of Sid & Marty Krofft nightmares. Harmless enough - but more on that later. Anywho, on each of four 22 minute episodes on this disk, the Doodlebops sing about four songs, introduce a simple theme, tell a few jokes and do a lot of dancing. The episodes are extremely formulaic in nature, something of no import to the kids, but an aspect that stands out more than normal due to the program's simple variety show set up: Doodlebops perform theme song, Deedee and Rooney search for Moe, trade quips with an irascible cat, someone complains of being insecure or uncertain of how to perform a simple task, their manager rhymes a bit, then they take their bus (driven by a neo-Ralph Kramden) to a concert hall where they perform more songs for a crowd of screaming toddlers and baffled parents. Episodes on this disc are: Keep Tryin,' O Solo Moe, Roar Like A Dinosaur, and Switch-A-Doodle.
The Doodles, as my kid calls 'em - all microfiber dreadlocks, stunted ears and bulbous fingers - are indefatigable in their enthusiasm. They dance up a storm, mug shamelessly, pop and lock and play their instruments convincingly (though how they manage with those sausages for fingers I'll never guess). They also (in this go 'round) teach kids that practice makes perfect, performance anxiety is normal, making music and songs can help you learn, and that everyone has unique talents. As with most of my kids' DVD reviews, I can say that this advertising-free, positivity-and-pedantry-lite example of video entertainment is (with adult interaction) far better than just plopping your kid in front of commercial television while you smoke cigarettes and drink vodka from a glass at the kitchen table. But seriously, it's harmless and empowering fun, when used in extreme moderation.
Or is it? There's been a lot in the news again about kids and 'screen time.' The Disney Folks and Baby Einstein creators have run a good game convincing parents that certain programs can give your kids a head start in the smarts department. Now some pediatricians claim studies that prove any screen time (on a daily basis) before two years of age is harmful. (Oddly, when socio-economic factors are added to the equation the findings are almost mooted - to wit: rich kids seemingly suffer less or not at all from their screen time, while poor ones are set back.) After my hellish week I never want to watch TV again, and I'm interested in putting my child in an intensive baby boot camp. But for the next time when screen time is needed to save someone's sanity, a low dosage of Doodlebops is go!
For that last sick segment of the population - you know, you twenty-somethings without kids who get off on Yo Gabba Gabba - either move along or up your dosage. While the Doodlebops sport freaky looks, and their songs are weirdly catchy, there's not enough there to really engage the fractured adult mind. A sinister looking talking moose head on the wall echoes Evil Dead 2, and I'm pretty sure I'm developing a crush on Deedee, (the Lisa J. Lennox version anyway) but this one's strictly for the kids.
Our Doodlebops bring joy and fun in 1.33:1 fullscreen format. Their digital transfer brings less fun. Colors are bright and rich, but the image is a letdown, with lots of aliasing or interlacing problems. It's a pretty jagged looking presentation unless you step back farther than normal from your screen.
Dolby Digital Stereo won't disappoint, however. Music and dialog are mixed evenly and clearly audible, with no discernable distortion. The songs will stick in your head, which might not be a good thing.
Plus, if you aren't close enough to those songs, some of them come on a 4-Song Music CD included in the standard sized keepcase with flipper. Interestingly, a slipcover is included, possibly to make up for cut outs in the plastic case - a simple innovation that at least removes a fraction of plastic from manufacturing. Furthermore, two Sing-A-Long songs (Together Forever and I Wanna Be Bigger; about 3 minutes total) get your kids ready for karaoke, two Dance-A-Long songs (The Twister and Mischievous Gremlin) help your kids burn calories for four minutes, and three short Knock-Knock Jokes, plus Trailers will help you while away a few minutes.
Jammin' with the Doodlebops is more safe, wholesome entertainment for youngsters, given to you by Canada (long a source of good kids' shows, if I remember my youth) and Lionsgate - the releasing company that likes to give you its NYSE designation on DVD packaging. After this seven-days-and-counting illness and TV marathon, I'm ready to force my kid to run laps every day (and she's not even three yet). But after we're all worn out and unable to move, I'll feel safe letting her watch 20 minutes of Doodlebops - a building block for music and dance appreciation, and a way to learn some lessons too.
I'm feelin' soft-headed right now, and it seems to me like if you don't have cable, you parents will be far more inclined to buy than rent this DVD, so let's call it Highly Recommended and stimulate that economy a bit, shall we?
- 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