Themed DVD collections have been Nick Jr.'s bread and butter for almost a decade now: they've all but abandoned chronological season sets, so the recent appearance of A Very Nick Jr. Christmas on store shelves is hardly surprising at this point. Six episodes are included on this one-disc release: Blaze and the Monster Machines' "A Monster Machine Christmas", Shimmer and Shine's "Santa's Little Genies", Dora & Friends' "Shiver the Snowman", Bubble Guppies' "A Very Guppy Christmas", plus Wallykazam's "Wally Saves the Trollidays" and "Snow Place Like Home". Not surprisingly, these aren't all-new episodes; most originally aired during the winter months of 2014 and 2015, so any kid who's followed these shows should have seen them already. Also, happy Halloween next week!
What's really disappointing is that, more often than not, each of these six episodes simply has a Christmas or winter backdrop pasted over its regular formula: there's nothing really "special" about these holiday specials, nor are any of them particularly memorable. The closest are "A Monster Machine Christmas" and "Santa's Little Genies": though I don't really care for Shimmer and Shine at all, both feature guest appearances by Carl Reiner and at least make a small attempt to break from tradition. The likable (but, by now, a little too young for my daughter) Bubble Guppies also turns in a decent enough episode, as "Santa Claws" and his cute li'l horse-fish Snowflake save Mr. Grouper from snowbound disaster. But Dora and Friends and both Wallykazams are just regular old winter episodes, which makes this collection feel much more thrown-together than the last one and the one before that.
Still, if you've got a little one that's interested in any of these shows, there are much worse presents than A Very Nick Jr. Christmas: there's over two hours of content here and, even if it's more lukewarm than magical, that's more than you can say about most of the studio's themed collections these days. If you can find this for $10 or less, it's a decent stocking stuffer that won't drive you up a wall unless you watch Shimmer and Shine more than once.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Since all of this material was created in HD, it's no surprise that A Very Nick Jr. Christmas looks extremely strong on DVD with bright colors, fine image detail, and a pleasing amount of texture on characters and backgrounds. All episodes are presented in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratios, which showcase the eye-catching visual designs and well-rendered background compositions. The stylized color schemes look great with no obvious bleeding, while shadow detail and black levels are also consistent from start to finish. Small amounts of banding can be spotted along the way, but that's expected for standard definition releases and is most likely a source material issue.
DISCLAIMER: These compressed and resized screen captures are decorative and do not represent this title's native 480p resolution.
The audio is uniformly presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds great under the circumstances. Dialogue is crisp without fighting for attention, while a modest amount of channel separation and LFE gives songs and action sequences a decent amount of punch. Just one complaint: no dubs, subtitles, or Closed Captions are included.
Menu Design, Presentation, and Packaging
After a few advertisements and logos, Paramount's DVD opens with a colorful interface that's easy to use. This one-disc release arrives in an eco-friendly keepcase and, not surprisingly, no bonus features are included here.
I'm not going to lie: with few exceptions, A Very Nick Jr. Christmas is lukewarm holiday entertainment with little more than a flimsy Christmas or winter backdrop pasted on each show's standard formula. (The lack of Nick Jr. juggernaut PAW Patrol is also disappointing, but the pups actually get their own holiday-themed DVD which I'll be reviewing soon). Still, I'd imagine that most kids will eat this one up if they haven't seen the episodes already, and the nostalgia handicap of holiday-themed collections is worth an extra point in my book. Paramount's DVD follows the template of past discs, serving up a solid A/V presentation and no extras. Recommended at the right price.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third person.