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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Harry the Dirty Dog & More Terrific Tails
Harry the Dirty Dog & More Terrific Tails
New Video // Unrated // August 26, 2003
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Mike Long | posted August 1, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

In my elementary school library, the books were divided into several sections. The picture books and early-readers books for kindergarteners and 1st graders were in a section called "Easy Street". I can still remember my visits to "Easy Street", and one of my favorite titles was "Harry the Dirty Dog". Now, Harry has found his way to DVD as part of a new collection from the Scholastic Video Collection, featuring animated stories from Weston Woods.

(The Harry the Dirty Dog...and More Terrific Tails DVD contains 6 different episodes, each will receive a capsule review which includes an overview of the video and audio aspects as well. It can be assumed that these shorts were captured on film for classroom use. Each contains a stereo soundtrack. Some of these shorts are quite old, so the image quality can vary greatly.)

"Harry the Dirty Dog" -- 9 minutes -- based on the book by Gene Zion -- Harry is a white dog with black spots who loves to have fun, but hates to take a bath. So, when bathtime comes, Harry hides the scrub brush and runs away to the city. There, he gets so dirty that he becomes a black dog with white spots. Will his family recognize him when he returns home? Here, it is, over 25 years later, and I still love "Harry". The magic of the story is that most any child can relate to Harry's ideals -- he'd rather play than bathe. The animation featured here is certainly a loving tribute to the book and the colors are fine. But, the image does show some noticeable grain.

"Officer Buckle and Gloria" -- 12 minutes -- based on the book by Peggy Rathman -- Officer Buckle is addicted to safety and loves to jot down safety tips. He often lectures on safety at the local school, but the children tune him out. When the police department gets a new dog named Gloria, Officer Buckle takes her to the school for his lecture. Unbeknownst to Officer Buckle, Gloria stands behind him during his lecture and acts out each safety tip. The kids go wild for this. Soon, Officer Buckle and Gloria are famous, and are being "hounded" to do speaking engagements. But, how will Officer Buckle react when he learns of Gloria's shenanigans. This is a very clever and engaging story that children should love. John Lithgow provides the narration here and does a great job with the voices. The image shows less grain than some of the other segments., but does show some defects from the source material.

"Angus and the Ducks" -- 11 minutes -- "Angus and the Ducks" stands out from the other entries on this DVD (and the entire Scholastic Video Collection for that matter) as it is live-action. Angus is a Scottish Terrier puppy who is very curious and likes to play and explore. When he goes for a walk with his master, he always hears strange noises coming from behind a hedge. One day, Angus goes off on his own to discover what is making those noises. What he finds is two ducks who don't like interlopers. This is an odd tale, as Angus and the ducks are very cute and the animal action is fantastic, but the pacing is quite slow. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and very good colors. Interestingly, "Angus and the Ducks" was produced by Pat Sajak, and the music was done by Harry Manfredini, the man responsible for the famous music from Friday the 13th.

Extras

This disc features three bonus stories.

"The Beast of Monsieur Racine" -- 9 minutes -- based on the book by Tomi Ungerer -- The first thing that you notice about this story is that its the only one on the disc to feature any overt stereo effects, and they are quite loud and impressive. Monsieur Racine grows prize-winning pears, but he refuses to share them or sell them. One night, he discovers a monster stealing his pears. Intrigued by this creature, Racine begins to study it and decides that he should take it to Paris in order to share this beast with all of France. This tale teaches a good lesson about sharing, but in a very strange, and round-about way. The colors are good here, but there are some visible scratches on the film.

"Fourteen Rats & a Rat-Catcher" -- 10 minutes -- based on the book by James Crssey -- An old lady has a basement full of rats, whom she considers to be pests. When a very large cat fails to catch the rats, the old lady calls in the town's rat-catcher. The rats are upset by this and make a plan to avoid him. This charming story has romance, a nice twist-ending, and plenty of cute rats. (I like the one who plays with th yo-yo all of the time.) The colors are slightly faded here, and there are some visible scratches.

"John Brown, Rose, and the Midnight Cat" -- 7 minutes -- based on the book by Jenny Wahner -- John Brown is a large dog who lives with a widower named Rose. They have a special relationship and John Brown feels that he is all the company that Rose needs. But that all changes when a cat begins to visit. Rose likes the cat, but John Brown is very jealous. This is a nice story, but the pacing is very sluggish and the monochrome art won't appeal to youngsters. The muted colors are further affected by the grain on the image.

A "read-along" is offered, but this is essentially the addition of English subtitles on each of the main selections. The subs are the same size as standards subs. They would need to be bigger to be effective as a "read-along".


Harry the Dirty Dog...and More Terrific Tails is a mixed-bag. The titular story and "Officer Buckle and Gloria" are definitely worth seeing, but the other stories may not hold the interest of the DVD's target audience.
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