Lets Explore! Dora's Greatest Adventures:
Dang, Dora and her friends are cute. Even that weird purple cow, or whatever it is. You can't help but love Dora, you and your children. Yes, Dora will soon rule you, even with her paper-thin cartoon plots, simplistic animation and debatable educational value. You see, at some time or another, your kid will encounter the Big Explorer, so get ready, and instead of gluing your tot to the cable teat, snag up this grande DVD, full of more than 3 hours(!) of Dora's greatest adventures.
The uninitiated will soon grasp Dora's methods: a problem occurs, Dora and boots want to help, with the aid of Backpack and Map, a three-step solution is posed, and your kid is encouraged to shout, "Map!" or "Backpack!" and to profess to be able to find objects on-screen that Dora mentions. If Dora, Boots and the others didn't have their huge, vacant eyes, ready smiles, and simply adorable designs, this stuff wouldn't go down so easy. Furthermore, their aggressive positivity renders them above reproach. Plus, there's Swiper, the randomly motivated fox who's always trying to steal stuff and throw it in the bushes.
Of course Dora's main claim-to-fame is to occasionally burst forth with un poco de Spanish. Presumably, this limbers up your child's brain for learning another language, though I'm unconvinced. More likely you'll later find yourself vacationing in Mexico, when your 5-year-old will calmly mention to the waiter, in perfect Spanish, that a nearby baby jaguar needs assistance. Good luck getting the check, buddy!
While Dora does encourage call and response, and sometimes to decipher sequences of events, I wonder what good it does to ask kids if they can see the monkey in the background. Unless your kid runs up to put her grubby fingers on the screen, how will you know if she really found the monkey, and to what end?
I'll concede that minimal exposure to Dora probably won't hurt your child, and it will certainly engage her more than your standard cartoon might, but extensive viewing won't turn your kid into a linguist or someone who can easily solve problems. It will turn her into a couch potato. Do the right thing, and limit TV to DVDs, cap viewing time, and be there with your kids, so a little innocent fun and faux-learning doesn't turn into a lifetime of brain-dead TV-watching.
So what you get in this marathon is eight 24-minute episodes, including:
A goofy bird mistakes Map for a stick, incorporating him in a nest. Dora and Boots must make their own map to rescue their friend.
Hide and Go Seek:
Señor Tucán is offering a trophy that will go to Dora if she can find her friends in the Spooky Cave and other kooky locations.
Journey to the Purple Planet:
Dora and Boots have a close encounter with some super-cute aliens (basically colored shapes with silly names) and must help them get back to their cool purple planet.
Rescue, Rescue, Rescue!:
Isa, Benny, and that accident-prone Baby Jaguar are all in trouble - including trouble of the gooey geyser kind. Better help Dora rescue her friends!
Dora's grandmother gives her a star pocket (of course) and now Dora can be a star catcher. Sadly, Swiper actually successfully swipes the pocket, so Dora and her star friends need to recover it.
The Explorer Stars are back to help Dora, because Swiper has struck again, snatching and throwing Dora's necklace to the tip of Star Mountain.
Boots to the Rescue:
Boots gets his own time to shine! Dora has left the song she wrote for school in Boots' room, and he has to get it back to Dora all on his own. Your kids can help if they want.
Swiper the Explorer:
A lost baby fox needs to get home, and of course Swiper decides that now is the time to lend a hand. Can your kids forgive Swiper's swiping ways, and help him help Dora?
Your child loves Dora, although he, and you, might not know it yet. You will learn, and three hours of Dora on DVD will only serve to convince you.
These episodes and minimal extras come in a TV-standard 1.33:1 full frame ratio, and look about as good as they would on TV. Colors are fairly bright and rich, (though not quite as much as you'd expect) and details are relatively sharp. Few compression artifacts are noticeable except for aliasing and some halos, mostly around Dora's hair.
Dolby Digital Stereo Audio in English or French lacks defects. Dialog is loud and clear, music doesn't compete with dialog, and everything is dialed-in to ensure you'll know when to scream, "Map! Map!"
Closed Captioning and an "Explore Dora's World!" Game are the only two extras, but when you're getting three hours of interactive episodes, who needs extras?
Dora might help with rote memorization, and to help your child pick up a few random Spanish words. The DVD box proclaims the fun your children will have exploring their world and Dora's, and that's OK. If your kids get some screen-time on any regular basis, a DVD like this will keep them away from commercials, and will rev them up like tops. It's a lot of cute but not cloying fun with a positive message, and with eight full episodes, it's Recommended.
- 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