In 10 Words or Less
A sunny, fun pile of kid-friendly fluff
Loves: Good music, fun animation style
Likes: Mr. Men books (from memory)
Dislikes: Most kids shows
Imagine if you will, if the recurring characters of Laugh-In (look it up if you don't remember it) were instead the actors performing in the sketches and bits. Now, imagine if that was animated and aimed at kids, and you've got a good idea of what The Mr. Men Show, based on the classic children's books about personality traits, is all about. (And if someone would like to release some more Laugh-In on DVD, it would make me Mr. Happy.) Each episode takes a theme, like flying or inventions, and just riffs on it through a mix of scenes and moments, with every bit aimed at having fun. There are no lessons to learn, no morals to get across. If it inspires a smile or a laugh, it works.
With a cast of more than 30 characters, it's a good thing they are purely their traits, as it'd be hard to get to know everyone, even with six episodes to watch and catch on. But when all you need to know is the difference between Mr. Persnickety and Little Miss Helpful, or any of the rest, it's easy to just sit back and enjoy their car wash adventures or train fun (unlike most kids collections, five of the six shows stick to the DVD's transportation theme.) It also helps that the characters all have a somewhat unique look related to their personality. There's something incredible attractive about the clean, amusing look of the animation, reminiscent of some of the more retro-stylistic segments on Yo Gabba Gabba, which just screams fun.
Though the look of the show is a large part of the appeal, the audio is a blast as well, because of the voice talent and the music. The voices are tremendous fun, especially those provided to Mr. Stubborn and Little Miss Whoops, with Little Miss Whoops being a scene-stealer every time she's on the screen. You can also play a fun little game, trying to guess who the voices are based on, with some, like Mr. Strong and Mr. Scatterbrain, being easy to recognize, while others might take some time. As enjoyable as the voices are, the music is even better. The theme song is so enjoyable and uplifting that it belongs at the opening of a great '70s sitcom, while the rest of the series is filled with toe-taping beats that make each show fly by.
On a side note, I am pretty stunned the P.C. police even let this show on the air. From the title, The Mr. Men Show, which leaves out the distaff side of the series, to the two sides names, Mr. Men versus Little Miss, it just seems like catnip to the gender equality lobby. Even the cover art seems nervous about this, playing it safe by using an alternative logo that says Mr. Men, Little Miss, instead of the show's proper name. It has nothing to do with the show, which has no such issues. It's just rare to see this, especially in kids TV. Here's to hoping politics keeps its hands off such harmless, entertaining fare.
A one-disc release, this DVD is packed in a standard white keepcase, and features an animated full-frame menu offering options to play all the episodes, play all the episodes continuously (a nod to the parents looking to TV for a babysitter), select episodes, adjust languages and check out extras. Audio options include English and French Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, but there are no subtitles, though closed captioning is included.
Unlike so many other kids shows, this one is presented with anamorphic-widescreen transfers, and they are absolutely beautiful. The textures in the backgrounds come across crystal clear, while the clean, fun character designs shine brilliantly, with bright, vivid color. There's not a spot of dirt or damage, nor are there any issues with artifacts. They actually managed to take the candy-colored look of Wow, Wow Wubzy and make it even more eye-catching.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks are spot-on, presenting the funky music and fun dialogue as well as the original TV presentations. Don't expect to find anything dynamic in the mix, but the center-balanced mix does the job quite well.
There's a small group of limited extras included, starting with "Meet Mr. Bump," 1:06 of moments where the unlucky little blue guy gets injured or otherwise inconvenienced. The footage only fills about a quarter of the screen, sitting inside a frame, making it less ideal than a highlight reel, but if you like seeing the unfortunate suffer, here's your chance.
"Find Mr. Bump" is a very average set-top game, where you look at a picture to see how many Mr. Bumps you can find. The problem is, you only get to play it once, with just one screen and one answer. If you need more of Mr. Bump though, you can learn how to draw him yourself, with a step-by-step art lesson, or watch him in a 52-second music video, "Dance, Dance, Dance!"
Pop the disc into your PC (Macs are left out of the fun) and you get a link to the Mr. Men website, which you can access without the disc anyway. Woo. Also available are nine previews for other DVDs.
The Bottom Line
In approaching this DVD, I had only my memories of the books I vividly remembered from my childhood, and wondered what they could do with such simple, yet varied characters. What I found, was a fun, goofy show with a sense of silly humor and not a shred of educational value. The DVD looks amazing and sounds fine, with a small dose of extras that won't keep anyone's attention, but hey, this is pure entertainment, so you may want to limit your child's exposure anyway (with the exception of the fun music.)
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.