Baby Einstein: World Music:
Baby Einstein, the now controversial baby-enhancement product line, expands beyond Western Europe with their new World Music DVD, a nominally adjustable 37-minute-long program meant to grow along with your baby. Baby Einstein merits notoriety for inspiring the opinion that parking your little miracle in front of the tube with one of these DVDs playing (or CDs etc.) will actually increase her intelligence. Whether that was ever an actual claim made by the company is unknown to me, but current opinion is that nothing is a substitute for face-time with the folks, but these products at least won't hurt like Jerry Springer.
At any rate, the usual motifs are in effect in this charming presentation, with added spice of footage - nature, people and animals - from each region visited. Adorable puppets cavort, teaching each other how to play native instruments and rhythms, mostly, and smoothed-out Baby Einstein versions of World Music songs (dulcet tones on the synthesizer) play over scenes of international allure. All the continents are visited, ensuring babies and toddlers will remain enthralled and enriched for the full 37 - but you should of course turn the DVD off after 15 minutes (that's all the rest you'll get for now, parents). However, note that packaging states: 'Specifically designed to be viewed with your baby' - so maybe you're not off the hook after all.
While super cute and mellow for your babe (and truly better than merely innocuous) this concept seems a bit tame. There are times when you need a break, and the glass teat is often the safest bet, yet if you're serious about introducing your infant to world music, why not just play the real thing, instead of watered down stuff? Don't think of this as any real introduction to World Music, but simply as a different option than the playpen.
That said, Baby Einstein DVDs are curiously enchanting, the puppets are truly, terribly cute, and the music is so comforting, it's almost like climbing back into the funky womb. (I'm going to regret writing that.) Baby Einstein: World Music is no exception to the rule, so if used in moderation, it can indeed be a good thing.
Baby Einstein: World Music is presented in 16 x 9 widescreen, which seems a step up from your standard kids' DVD, and the image is nice and crisp with bright, vibrant colors. It's a fine, standard DVD quality image free of artifacts.
Dolby Stereo Audio presents music with clear fidelity and a robust range. It's distortion free; when kids talk or sing for the 'Grow With Me' setting, they are loud and clear.
Extras start with additional Spanish and French Audio Tracks and SDH Subtitles. Select A Segment allows you to watch a 5 or 10 minute segment, or a grouping of puppet sequences or songs. Grow With Me enables you to beef up slightly your World Music experience by adding titles and verbalizations to images (like 'Maracas' or 'Dancing') when it might help a growing mind to become familiar with names of objects, concepts or actions. Both Discovery Cards and Toy Chest are similar to virtual flashcards: The former shows a picture of an instrument, followed by its name and description, while the latter identifies from whence comes all the cute toys and props used in the DVD.
Baby Einsteins DVDs are cute, sweet, charming and soothing; naturally you and your baby will love them. Use them in moderation and watch with your child (if you can) for brief periods and they just might develop an interest in world music. It seems like if you're really serious about introducing the kid to a wide variety of music, play the real stuff, and don't count on this DVD to do the job for you. In all, I'm comfortable calling this DVD Recommended, even if I'm less and less enthusiastic about the notion of so-called screen time these days.
- 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