So we all know the drill by now. Even if you are a 17-year-old first-time parent from Savissivik, Greenland, Dora the Explorer has been ground into your genetic code. (Yet watch how I pretend the need to get people up to speed in one sentence, now.) Yep, the English/Spanish bi-lingual cartoon character that teaches bits of Spanish language and simple concepts to impressionable tots through intense repetition is the very definition of a known quantity. And here she is with four 22-minute episodes that somehow manage to shoehorn themselves into the irresistible concept of 'haircut day.'
How do these episodes manage that feat? By not doing anything! Yes, "Dora's Hair--Raising Adventure" (the first episode presented) features some serious haircutting. Boots, the Grumpy Old Troll and a giantess with birds living in her afro could all stand a trim, a job the local peloquero (barber) is happy to tackle. A healthy dose of laughs and psychedelic weirdness make this a story that's fun for kids and captured parents alike.
However, the next three episodes engage in some serious off-roading. "Happy Birthday, Super Babies" finds Dora, Boots and the Super Babies working hard to save their birthday cakes from a nefarious bear with a sweet tooth. "Baby Winky Goes Home" sees the return of the aliens from Planet Purple - oh no, aliens! Don't leave without your baby! Lastly, "Dora's Pegaso Adventure" gets all astrological/astronomical on your heads, as Dora and boots ride a Pegasus constellation through the skies, helping other star formations return home to the moon before the sun rises. (Dora may help kids learn a little Spanish, but the sciences are not her strong point.)
As you can plainly see, it's not really Haircut Day with only 25% haircutting to be found, but what can you say? Neither kids nor parents are likely to clamor for Full Season Collections of Dora the Explorer, so Nickelodeon will continue to regularly pump out these DVDs for those so bereft as to have neither Tivo nor Cable TV. At that, they're not a bad way to occupy the kid(s) for a 22-minute episode when you need a break and it's rainy outside.
Dora's mission provides a limited view of multiculturalism, while continuing the push for now-played-out, trendy Hispano-centricism. She gets a little Espanol across while becoming even more pedantic in these episodes - harping in particular on healthy eating this time out. (Maybe it should have been called Healthy Eating Day instead?) But as wave after wave of misinformed anti-immigration sentiment crashes on our shores, Dora probably does other forms of subliminal good. However one wonders why other forms of culturally aware media entertainment for kids haven't become quite as huge. One really wonders why a realistic pro-black message seems to have begun and ended with Fat Albert, but that's another discussion entirely.
Go out and buy or rent It's Haircut Day! for your kids, it's no better nor any worse than any other Dora DVD (except, I guess, that this one is extras-free).