El Perro y El Gato: Together Again | Juntos Otra Vez:
If brevity is the soul of wit, then maybe it's the soul of education, too. Juntos Otra Vez (pronounced 'hoon-tose oh-tra vase') contains five episodes but just breaks the 25-minute mark of total run-time. Without any extras, that makes for a mighty short DVD presentation of this HBO Family/ HBO Latino program. And since when did HBO start producing educational kids' programs anyway? At any rate, Perro y Gato present no problems in being brief, packing quite a bit of Spanish language (or, conversely, English) education and kindergarten-appropriate humor in a package muy corto (very short).
El Perro is a Chihuahua of course, while El Gato is big, fat, and lazy. So maybe animal stereotyping could be a concern for sensitive viewers, but kids will only see a couple active, funny characters who speak slowly and clearly (although with accents) while getting into ultra-simple adventures that teach basic concepts and lots of Spanish/English vocabulary.
Among other things, the friends talk about packing for a trip, proper grooming after mud bath or food frenzy, types of Mexican food, (Gato really loves food) tourist attractions in Los Angeles, and sharing a skateboard. Each short episode isn't terribly long on plot: just getting Cat out of bed is a major production. However, plenty of opportunities are taken to get silly, such as when Dog drives a low-rider car through Hollywood, or Cat gets a salad on the head. There is also lots of burping; lots, and lots of burping. My 5-year-old and I clocked much more laughter in one 5-minute episode of El Perro y El Gato than in a 20-minute Dora the Explorer episode, as well, we picked up a lot more vocabulary.
These goofy characters - Perro is super enthusiastic, while low-voiced Gato is deadpan and half-asleep - deliver knowledge in a very directed way, switching languages frequently as a way to translate and teach vocabulary (not the best way to learn a language, though). Vocabulary is accompanied by words popping up on the screen (both English and Spanish) and Perro frequently reviews everything we've learned. But I think it's most important how these simply animated characters can make your child laugh.
Together Again | Juntos Otra Vez is indeed quite a short DVD at under a half-hour, making it - even with a low retail price - a somewhat poor investment. But what it lacks in monetary value it makes up for in basic, easy to digest education and entertainment. If your preschool or kindergarten-aged child is learning Spanish (or your Spanish-speaking child is learning English) you can be confident to Rent It before deciding if you want to add this to your permanent collection.
Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen format, this is a solid-looking DVD. Colorful, simple Flash Animation is clear, clean and sharp. Colors are bright, and no compression artifacts are found.
Dolby Digital 2.0 English/Spanish Audio is equally dialed-in, with a good balance between music and dialog. To that point, dialog is mostly quite easy to understand, although Gato's stentorian-slacker voice takes a bit of time to get used to.
Closed Captioning is the only extra.
El Perro y El Gato: Together Again | Juntos Otra Vez is quite a short DVD at under a half-hour, making it - even with a low retail price - a somewhat poor investment. But what it lacks in monetary value it makes up for in basic, easy to digest education and entertainment. If your preschool or kindergarten-aged child is learning Spanish (or your Spanish-speaking child is learning English) you can be confident they'll get a real kick out of Dog and Cat's simple adventures. Rent It before deciding if you want to add this to your permanent collection.
- 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