"Ohhhhhh… who lives in a pineapple under the sea…"
About two years ago, I was introduced to Spongebob Squarepants. Voiced by Mr. Show alumnist, Tom Kenny, Spongebob is one of the strangest cartoon characters I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Spongebob, dressed in his usual brown shorts, white shirt, and red tie is a naïve optimist. He's always happy, doesn't realize when people are trying to take advantage of him, and annoys almost everybody he encounters on a constant basis. Unlike most cartoons today, Spongebob Squarepants caters to both a child and an adult audience.
Spongebob and his friends like in an underwater town called "Bikini Bottom." His friends include a dopey pink starfish named Patrick, and Sandy Cheeks, a competitive squirrel in an astronaut's suit. Spongebob works as a fry cook at the local burger joint, called the "Krusty Krab." His boss, Mr. Krabs, is a money hungry red crab, who would do anything to save and make a buck. Also employed at the Krab, is a sourpuss gray squid named Squidward. Rounding out the eclectic cast are various other town residents, villains, and more.
"Spongebob Squarepants: Tales From the Deep" is a compilation DVD filled with 9 Spongebob Squarepants episodes in total, with a running length of approximately 2 hours. I am still vexed as to why Nickelodeon and Paramount don't just release Spongebob box sets, instead of these individual "themed" discs. Anyways, here is a brief episodic review:
House Party - Spongebob decides to throw a party at his house, but spends most of his time obsessing over a schedule of events that nobody is willing to adhere to.
Hall Monitor - Mrs. Puff selects Spongebob to be this week's Hall Monitor, but he takes the job too seriously and decides to "monitor" all of Bikini Bottom.
I Had an Accident - Spongebob has a nasty accident while sandsurfing, and vows to have another one again. As a result, he decides to never leave his home again.
Valentine's Day - Patrick believes that Spongebob slighted him by giving him nothing for Valentine's Day, and goes on a rampage.
Just One Bite - A take off of "Green Eggs and Ham", Spongebob cannot believe that Squidward has never eaten a Krabby Patty, and does whatever he can to convince him to take one bite of one.
Mermaidman and Barnacleboy - Bikini Bottom's resident aged superheroes are pestered by Spongebob and Patrick in an attempt to lure them out of retirement.
Tea at The Treedome - Spongebob is invited to Sandy's air-filled home. In an attempt to impress her, Spongebob goes without air for a considerable amount of time, with hilarious consequences.
The Paper - Equipped with a simple gum wrapper, Spongebob sets out to annoy the surly Squidward by showing him all the possible uses of it.
Born Again Krabs - Afraid of the financial repercussions of throwing away a moldy Krabby Patty, Mr. Krabs takes a bite of it to prove it's still good, and ends up in the hospital with food poisoning.
"Spongebob Squarepants: Tales from the Deep" looks as nice as a cartoon possibly can. Presented in 1.33:1 full frame, colors are sharp and vivid. Little to no instances of grain are present, with no artifacting whatsoever. In addition, the episodes look better than the versions shown on Nickelodeon. If you're a Spongebob fan, you'll be very happy with the video here.
Presented in Dolby 2.0, "Tales from the Deep" sounds as good as I expected having one of the earlier Spongebob releases. All dialogue and underwater sound effects sound clear as day. I don't think it would have benefited from a 5.1 mix, so I'm cool with the job that Paramount has done here.
An animated DVD menu showing clips from "House Party" allows the viewer the options of "Episode Selection", "Preview", "Special Features", and "Play All."
The "Preview" selection from the menu plays a short trailer for various Nickelodeon shows. Honestly, they should have had trailers for at least each of the Spongebob DVD releases in my opinion.
"Special Features" includes a Spongebob music video called "Underwater Sun" by the Bird Brains (this song is played in "House Party" as well). Still, it's nice to have. In addition, a two-minute featurette called "Drawing the Goo Lagoon" is included. The third and last special feature is a rough black and white storyboard (complete with rough dialogue) for the "House Party" episode. This is pretty cool, and lasts 14 minutes.
I love Spongebob Squarepants. Granted, there are some episodes I like more than others, but for the most part, the main feature of the DVD is very solid. Mix in great video and audio, and you have a must have for any Spongebob fan. For those of you who have never seen Spongebob, or who really don't like most cartoons of today, I suggest you go out and rent it before forming your opinion. Otherwise, this gets a "Highly Recommended" from me.