Dora's Big Birthday Adventure:
Summer 2010 has been all weird and wiggy on this fine planet Earth. Lots of hot weather. But if you don't get the heat, you get massive flooding. But the heat, the heat is bad. Many blame it on Global Warming, now known as Climate Change. I'm blaming it on my TV, which is blasting out heat as we watch Dora's Big Birthday Adventure. I mean, these flat-screens really pump it out, don't they? Where's my handkerchief?
Also, the heat causes me to curse myself forever for introducing our daughter to screen-time at all, especially that adorable scamp Dora. Why is she so enthusiastic? Because it's her birthday, that's why! This causes her to squeak even more shrilly, and to consort with fuzzy creatures known as Wizzles, who grant birthday wishes to all the nice boys and girls of Dora Land. Except there aren't any other kids in Dora Land except Diego and his sister. But there's a troll, and the Wizzles, and sometimes talking pumpkins.
This DVD has but three episodes, totaling about 90 minutes; 'Dora's Big Birthday Adventure,' 'Dora Helps the Birthday Wizzle,' and 'Wizzle Wishes.' While this last episode sounds a bit like a suspicious porn site, these three stories are the usual blend of rote memorization, dangerous cute-levels, and awkward silences. The first is an outsized magnum opus, featuring Dora and Boots hoping to avoid a mean witch, find the Wishing Wizzle, and get back home in time for Dora's party. The next story finds Dora and Boots searching for the Birthday Wizzle's magic wand, so that the fine furry freak can grant birthday wishes. Lastly, Dora and Boots help a baby Wizzle track down its missing wishes, in order to get back home to mummy and daddy.
So far, so good. The kid is jumping up and down on the edge of the couch, I'm sweating like a pig, and every couple minutes we're forced to chant, "bridge, forest, tallest mountain," over and over again until we really know what to do. We've also learned that a map will tell us where to go - especially if the map can talk - and that backpacks can hold seemingly everything in the world, much of it useless.
I kid, of course. I'm still not sure if Dora has anything to do with learning Spanish, but she seems eager to prime kids for grammar school, and she's benign and cute. In fact it's astounding the size of the Dora Empire, considering she does virtually the exact same thing every episode, but apparently her concept has legs.
I suppose if you have a little Dora fan in your home, and that one is due for a birthday, then this collection might be the perfect gift. Just don't expect your child to start busting out with a ton of Espaņol any time soon.
This fullscreen 4 x 3 presentation preserves the standard Dora aspect ratio we've come to expect. Further living up to expectations are super-bright colors, mild aliasing and occasional color halos - bits of pigment that extend beyond the borderlines of character designs. It's a picture that will delight your children, even if you quibble a bit.
English Dolby Digital Stereo Audio is mixed well, sounds solid, and has no distortion or fluctuating levels to complain about.
Closed Captioning and a weak DVD Game accompany fancy-pants packaging - a Pop-up Slipcase and Sticker Sheet - to complete a meager set of extras.
If you don't know the Dora drill by now, but you're itching to learn, start here. Start anywhere, because it's always the same. That said, are you amenable to Dora? If so, this collection is just about as good as any other. My new philosophy is going to be manifested through a gentle, gradual reduction of TV time; it has damaged my soul. But if you haven't reached that stage yet, Dora's Big Birthday Adventure: is as Recommended as any other Dora DVD.
- 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