Change is never easy. It can be especially difficult for young children. The folks behind the popular Nickelodeon program "Blue's Clues" are apparently well aware of the devastating effects that sudden change can have on youngsters. So, when "Blue's Clue" star Steve Burns decide to leave the show in 2002 after six years, the transition to a new star, Joe (played by Donovan Patton), was done very gradually and smoothly. The episodes contained on this DVD, "Get to Know Joe" showcase the four episodes which introduced Joe to the world.
For those of you who aren't familiar with "Blue's Clues", here's a short tutorial. (But, my guess is that if you're reading this review, then you know what "Blue's Clues" is.) "Blue's Clues" is an half-hour program which is aimed at young children. The show teaches many lessons, but focuses mainly on deductive reasoning, being observant, and being a good citizen. Steve Burns stars as Steve (typically the only human in an otherwise animated world), a man who lives with his dog Blue, who is...blue. Steve is also surrounded by many household objects, such as salt shakers and soap, with whom he interacts and speaks. Ironically, Blue can't speak (how does that work?), so in order to communicate with Joe, she leaves him clues, hence "Blue's Clues". On each episode, Steve gets three clues from Blue and from those, he must guess what she wants or needs. To make the show quasi-interactive, Steve asks the audience for help in finding the clues and deciphering their meanings. Of course, this makes Steve come across as mentally-challenged. Does all of that make sense?
As stated above, this DVD brings together the three-episode story arc in which Joe is introduced and contains the first episode in which Joe flies solo. In "Joe's First Day", Joe, Steve's brother, comes to visit. He comes just in time for show-and-tell, in which he introduces his stuffed duck, Horace, to everyone. (Keep in mind: kid's show!) This is followed by "Joe Gets a Clue", where Steve teaches Joe how to play "Blue's Clues". Steve lets Joe find the clues and decipher Blue's cryptic message. Things get sad in "Steve Goes to College", the pivotal episode in which Steve announces that he'll be going away to college and that Joe will be taking care of everyone from now on. Finally, in "The Big Book About Us", Joe gets to know the familiar cast of characters by designing a book which lists everyone's preferences.
Despite the fact that a Paramount rep once told me that there was no market for Nickelodeon shows on DVD, they've done a fine job with this one. Not only is it rare for Nick to release their kids shows on DVD, how often do we see complete storylines getting the digital treatment? Let's face it, to most adults, "Blue's Clues" can seem odd and annoying. But, as far as children's TV goes, it's well-done and well-loved. The effort that goes into the show comes through here, as Joe is introduced over the course of two episodes and then in the third, we are told that Steve is leaving. Eventhough this is all make-believe, that episode is still touching, especially the "Blue's Clues" portion. And while the program may oversimplify college for the little ones ("I'm going to learn about space", Steve exclaims.), it does a fairly good job of explaining where Steve is going and why he has to leave. Over 100 episodes of "Blue's Clues" have aired and this collection represents some of the best.
The episodes on "Get to Know Joe" are presented in the familiar 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the televised show. Anyone who's seen "Blue's Clues" knows that it's a colorful show, and those color practically leap off of the screen here. The image is incredibly crisp, sharp and clear, showing no grain or video distortion. The blues, reds, greens, and yellows all look great and the picture has an amazing amount of depth. There is some slight artifacting at times, but that's the only drawback here.
This DVD offers a Dolby Digital stereo track. It provides clear dialogue and music, and displays no hissing or distortion. The track is also well-balanced. In comparison to Dolby 5.1 or DTS tracks, it's rather limp, but all of the clues sound great and the occasional song comes through quite well.
The one true extra on this DVD is a bonus episode which celebrates "Blue's Clues"' 100th show. It's quite clear that this show was broadcast during prime-time, as it contains more jokes and references for adults than the typical episode. Both Joe and Steve are featured here. Steve is visiting from college, where he has joined the hopscotch team (so clearly, he goes to Duke). This episode contains some good songs and is quite fun. The other extra is a text guide for parents which explains Nickelodeon's philosophy and gives an overview of "Blue's Clues".
If you have a small child, then they probably watch "Blue's Clues". If you're like me, you're ready to replace all of those "Blue's Clues" VHS tapes. "Get to Know Joe" is a nice collection and hopefully, a sign of things to come from Paramount.