In 10 Words or Less
More adventures with the bossiest little pig
Loves: Animation, Noggin, Yo Gabba Gabba
Likes: Wonder Pets, Blue's Clues
Dislikes: Dora the Explorer
Hates: Getting no extras
These days, everyone's going green, and Nickelodeon is no exception, with their Big Green Help program aimed at educating kids about things they cab do for the world around them, and now this new themed DVD collection. Like most Nickelodeon DVDs though, it doesn't quite follow through on the expressed theme, as the various episodes are a mix of conservation messages and more general nature stories. The collection pulls from today's highest-profile Nick Jr. series and pulls some quality episodes in doing so.
The seemingly ever-present cousins Dora and Diego get the first two spots in the line-up, as many would expect, bringing the first two non-conservation episodes as well. First, Dora help out the mommy Bugga Bugga Bug, who's trying to get food to her babies. It's the same three-part journey as every Dora adventure, this time focusing on learning about bugs, with a Spanish word and some shape and sound recognition thrown in as a bonus. The Diego episode manages to completely escape the reality of the green theme, as Diego jumps into a fairy tale book to help some mermaids, with the help of a manatee. The reason for the mermaids being in trouble is completely ridiculous, and it's hard to even see where there's even a small connection to the disc's theme. Other than the fantasy setting, it's your usual Diego episode, with all the standard hallmarks.
The Wonder Pets are up next, and for at least the first half, during the "Save the Tree" story, they play by the rules. Getting the call to help someone, they find out it's not a baby animal this time, but a tree in the city that's going to die because it's stuck in a dirty lot. After deciding plants need help like animals, they set out to help the tree, and get some help of their own on their mission. It's got a great message about creating green spaces, along with the usual positive message about teamwork. The second half though, where they "Save the Elephant," has little to do with the concept, outside of the fact that an elephant and Africa are part of nature. It's still fun to see the little buggers work together to pull a stuck elephant out of the mud with the help of a lever.
The most directly tied to the theme is "Green," an episode of Yo, Gabba Gabba focusing on taking care of the environment. As anyone who's read my Yo, Gabba Gabba reviews knows, I think this show is fantastic, not just for kids but the adults watching alongside, with fun music, good messages and a goofy sense of style and humor. The gang teaches about watering plants, not littering through song and the idea of shared ecosystems, with help from Sal Masekela during the Super Music Friends Show. Even the episode's dance break was flower related. Sure, the song about fruit and its nutritional value is a touch off-message, but otherwise, it does a good job of making the green message fun.
Whenever I see an episode of Blue's Clues on one of these collections and don't see a picture or description attached to it, I fear it's a Joe episode, from the series' far less desirable era. Fortunately, "What Does Blue Want to Make Out of Recycled Things?" is a Steve episode, which makes it better off the bat. Putting a big emphasis on the triangle recycling symbol, the episode does a fine job of introducing the ideas of separating trash (with talking recycling bins) and reusing things that would otherwise be trashed. The disc wraps up with an episode of Ni Hao, Kai-lan, that puts Kai-lan and pals in an environmental mood. In "The Place Where We All Live," the local insects have run into a trash issue that's affecting their efforts to built a fruit stand, and the cause is close to the group. There's even a message about non-polluting methods of transportation. It's one of the more educational episodes of Ni Hao, without losing any of the the show's trademark elements, like the Chinese vocabulary and frequent songs,
Packed in a standard keepcase, this one-disc release features a static, full-frame menu offering options to watch all the shows, select episodes or check out the bonus features. If you leave the menu up long enough, the play-all option will kick in automatically. There are no audio options and no subtitles, but there is closed captioning.
The full-frame video looks rather terrific with bright, bold color and a clean image that presents the animation quite well. The only episode that doesn't fully meet the high level of quality is Blue's Clues, which is probably the oldest of the bunch. There are no issues with dirt or damage, or compression artifacts.
The audio is the same as your average Nickelodeon kids DVD, with Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks that recreate the simplistic TV presentation, offering clear dialogue and clean music, with no dynamic mixing.
The lengthier DVD content comes at a price, as there are no extras besides the promos, though honestly, the extras on these Nickelodeon DVDs never amount to much.
The Bottom Line
Going green is certainly a popular topic, so it's no surprise to see it as a theme for a Nickelodeon DVD. And, as usual, not every episode sticks to the theme. But unlike most such collections, there's a full six episodes to watch, including quality shows like Yo Gabba Gabba's "Green" episode and The Wonder Pets's efforts to save a tree, though you'll find you have some of these episodes on other DVDs. The disc looks and sounds as good as the shows do on TV, though there's nothing in terms of extras. If this is the start of longer Nickelodeon DVDs, then I'll certainly applaud its arrival.
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 follow him on Twitter
*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.