Global book publisher Scholastic is certainly no stranger to the DVD world, having already released a few massive collections of award-winning stories in a more visual format. Chances are that most DVD fanatics with young children (ages 4-8, for the most part) currently own a boxed set or at least a few stand-alone releases, and for good reason: they're consistently entertaining and a great choice for parents and children to watch together. Smaller "themed" multi-disc collections and stand-alone discs have also been released in recent years, and these might just be the most accessible introduction to the Scholastic franchise.
Today's review covers Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type...and More Fun on the Farm!, not to be confused with the stand-alone release of a similar name. This three-disc collection also herds together Giggle, Giggle, Quack (included with Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics, Volume 2 or as a stand-alone release) and Diary of a Spider (included with Treasury, Volume 1 or as a stand-alone release)...so if you've been collecting the one-volume releases or the Treasury boxed sets, Moo's not for you. For everyone else, this fun animal-themed collection of stories is definitely worth looking out for. The title story offers a Far Side-like tale of animal literacy and rebellion, combining clever humor with an easy-to-follow style that should suck kids right in. Other easy highlights include "Hot Hippo", "Giggle, Giggle, Quack", the three "Diary of a..." stories and "Norman the Doorman", among others.
Like Scholastic's other DVD releases, each of these three discs contains a handful of stories from a variety of decades and visual formats. Most preserve the original style of the book illustrations, while others (including at least one live-action short) are more liberally "based on" the original books. Additionally, all 17 stories are presented with optional English karaoke-style subtitles to encourage active reading by kids and/or parents, and two stories---in this case, Click, Clack, Moo and Diary of a Spider---also include optional Spanish audio tracks. Either way, these collections are not meant as a substitute for the originals, so it wouldn't hurt to crack open a handful of books on a daily basis as well. From top to bottom, here's what's included:
Complete List of Contents
(17 stories on 3 single-sided discs)
Disc 1: "Click, Clack, Moo", "The Cow in the Canal", "Chicken Little", "I, Crocodile", "Hot Hippo", "Waiting for Wings" and "Let's Give Kitty a Bath"
Disc 2: "Giggle, Giggle, Quack", "Dooby Dooby Moo", "Duck for President", "Diary of a Worm" and "Diary of a Fly"
Disc 3: "Diary of a Spider", "Roberto the Insect Architect", "Norman the Doorman", "The Mysterious Tadpole" and "The Dancing Frog"
Presented on DVD by NewVideo, Scholastic's Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is a compact and entertaining collection that parents and children should enjoy in equal measurements. Though the technical presentation could use a bit of tightening around the edges, this three-disc release also includes a handful of thoughtful and appropriate bonus features. Overall, it's a solid amount of material for a fairly reasonable asking price...and though both Treasury volumes offer the most bang for your buck, this scaled-down collection certainly isn't a rip-off. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in their original 1.33:1 format, these stories vary quite a bit in overall condition...but for the most part, they're perfectly watchable. A few of the older stories suffer from moderate amounts of dirt and debris, while others display mild interlacing issues and compression artifacts. It's obvious that some of this content could've benefited from a little cleanup around the edges, but most parents and children will be perfectly pleased with the visual presentation.
The audio presentation is also uneven but acceptable, as most of these stories seem to be presented in Dolby Digital mono and stereo mixes; additionally, two stories (listed above) also include Spanish dubs. Dialogue and musical numbers come through clean and clear, largely free of hiss, distortion and other such problems. All 17 stories also include "read-along" subtitles that are presented like karaoke lyrics, should the parent (or child) choose to follow along. A thoughtful and appropriate touch!
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the static menu designs are simple and easy to use. Most stories run for roughly 5-15 minutes (although the "timer" is disabled, which is annoying) and are presented without chapter stops, while no layer changes were detected during playback. This three-disc set is housed in a trio of clear thinpaks, tucked inside a colorful slipcover with a promotional insert.
Extras include a few Discussion Questions paired with select stories, as well as a short Interview with Diary illustrator Harry Bliss and, of course, the Spanish Versions of Click, Clack, Moo and Diary of a Spider mentioned above. Half of the stories are advertised as extras, but they're also included in the listing above. Overall, a small but appropriate batch of bonus features.
Another winning release by Scholastic (even though it's just a repackage of existing material), Click, Clack Moo presents 17 terrific stories in a variety of visual formats. Parents and kids should enjoy this from start to finish, though it's certainly not designed to be a "virtual baby-sitter". NewVideo's DVD presentation is fine with mild reservations, pairing a decent technical presentation with a few thoughtful extras. Overall, this three-disc collection is Recommended to those who don't own this material already.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, mocking passers-by and writing things in third person.