In 10 Words or Less
Singing, dancing and learning with four inspirational guys
Loves: The Monkees
Likes: Imagination Movers
Dislikes: Most kids shows
Part of the Playhouse Disney programming block on The Disney Channel, Imagination Movers is a musical sitcom that teaches kids about the importance of using your brain, for not just thinking, but imagining as well, via songs and a central storyline centered around solving a problem. The Movers, a group of four musicians, are less cheesy than the Wiggles, and sing more modern styles of music, with songs that are far better than your usual kids stuff. With their neighbor Nina, her boring uncle Knit Knots and puppet pal Warehouse Mouse, the cast is small and the show concept simple, making it easy for kids to jump in and enjoy.
Like most kids shows, there's a definite structure. Following one of the longest title sequences in TV today, checking in at a full, unchanging first 1:18 of each episode, the gang get into some sort of jam, like wanting to make a commercial for their business, decide to brainstorm (another repeated musical number in each show) and then work their way through the story (with a lesson, like being independent or brushing your teeth) with songs peppered throughout. It's been a while since I've watched an episode of the classic series, but it feels a bit like a sunshiney, kiddie version of The Monkees (though the Movers all play their own instruments and are a real band.) It's just got that same good-vibes, high-energy feel.
The four episodes included on this disc repeat the structure, with each show progressing the same way, letting each Mover do their thing, like Scott and his special goggles, Smitty and his informative diary, Rich and his scribble sticks and Dave's special gizmo hat. The plots don't get too involved, limited to things like convincing Warehouse Mouse to go to the dentist or trying to find Knit Knot's lost keys. The songs are the key to everything, as they are legitimate music, not reworkings of nursery rhymes or repetitive sing-song talking. If the lyrics weren't about farms and brushing your teeth, there's a good chance you'd have them on your iPod (and even so you may just do that.)
The thing about the show that most impressed me is something you'd never know from just watching the series. The four guys, whose off-camera lives include an acclaimed teaching career and work as an architect and fireman, hail from New Orleans, and all suffered major losses due to Hurricane Katrina. Despite their losses, which put their career at risk, they bounced back and have been involved in the recovery of the city and are certainly not your usual TV stars, going far beyond the call of duty, making it easy to respect them as they dance around in blue jumpsuits.
A one-disc release, the DVD is packaged in a standard keepcase (with the usual Disney promotional inserts.) Options to watch the movie, select scenes, check out bonus features and adjust the set-up. Audio options include English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, while subtitles are available in English SDH. As is usually the case with Disney DVDs, a FastPlay option, which negates the need for menus, and a registration link are included.
The package describes the transfer as "Family-Friendly Widescreen," a term I'd never heard before, but it's simply the less-wide 1.66:1 aspect ratio, enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The image is high-quality, reproducing the show's vivid primary-color scheme excellently, with a good deal of detail, as evidenced in the checking out Mover Scott's long hair. There are no issues with dirt or damage, and no obvious problems with compression artifacts.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio does a great job of presenting the show's energetic music, using the side and rear speakers to pump up the sound, while delivering the dialogue crisply. There's nothing dynamic about the presentation, but you wouldn't expect that from a kids basic cable series.
Aside from the standard collection of Disney promo clips, the only extra is a two-story sneak-peek episode of the upcoming CG Playhouse Disney series Special Agent Oso. Oso is a teddy bear who's also a secret agent, called on to help little kids. Here, he has to help a little girl build a bird feeder from a pine cone and get a little girl to ride the bus. The structure is a cross of Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go, with Oso getting the call to help, and getting three steps he needs to complete. The CG animation is good, but a bit flat, and the show didn't have the hooks of better series out there.
The Bottom Line
Imagination Movers is light and fluffy with some good lessons embedded in some extremely catchy music, making it an easy show to sit through if your kid enjoys it. The DVD looks and sounds very good, and offers a decent bonus, but one unconnected to the show, which is in short supply (as usual.) It's a fun series to be certain, but unless your little one falls in love with it, a rental should cover you.