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Nick Picks, Vol. 3
The eight episodes included on this DVD are:
* "All Grown Up: Dude, Where's My Horse?": The kids from the original Rugrats show have grown up into tweens and teens, and this show follows their lives after toddlerhood. In this episode, the family visits a dude ranch out West to go on a City Slickers cattle drive, but the kids have a great deal of difficulty adjusting to ranch life, which does not include modern technology but does include shoveling horse dung.
* "SpongeBob SquarePants: Fear of a Krabby Patty": SpongeBob lives under the sea and has adventures with various friends. In this episode, bad guy Plankton tries to steal the recipe for Krabby Patties by luring SpongeBob into a Freudian-like therapy session.
* "Catscratch: Bringin' Down the House": Mr. Bilk, Gordon, and Waffle are three lucky cats who were left a fortune when their benefactor died. They enjoy the good life while they get into, and out of, trouble. A mouse hunt is the focus of this episode, as Waffle wants to attend the Mousehunters Ball but must catch a mouse first.
* "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Brobot": Jimmy Neutron is a genius kid with a knack for coming up with new inventions. Here, he comes up with a little brother, which seems like a great idea at first. But Jimmy makes him a little too perfect and as a result experiences some sibling rivalry!
* "Danny Phantom: Fright Night": Danny Phantom is a ninth-grader who doubles as a superhero with a penchant for hunting ghosts. He must juggle regular life with hiding his true identity. In this Halloween-themed episode, Danny accidentally releases the Fright Knight into the world, meaning that Danny must make things right again.
* "My Life as a Teenage Robot: See No Evil": Jenny must deal with the difficulties of being both a teenager and a robot. In this episode, Jenny's terrific new eyes, which contain night vision, zoom lenses, and heat vision, create complications for her. She opts not to wear them, which creates trouble.
* "The Fairly OddParents: Hail to the Chief and Twistery": Timmy Turner is fortunate (most of the time) to have two fairy godparents (fairly oddparents) named Cosmo and Wanda, who make life interesting and complicated at the same time. In these two episodes, Timmy runs for president of the school to get a girl's attention but finds that he dislikes the job, and Cosmo and Wanda conjure up some historical characters to help Timmy with his history paper, but it takes them away from more important work.
Where as the Nick Jr. shows such as Dora the Explorer and Little Bill gently educate as they entertain, the largely poorly conceived Nick shows, aimed at older kids and teens, are generally loud, obnoxious, and – how can I say this – ugly to look at. The biggest offender of the bunch is The Fairly OddParents, with such terrible animation that it is difficult to look at. Couple that with insipid storylines and incredibly bad voice acting (an offense most of these shows commit), and it's a downright excruciating experience.
The All Grown Up episode furthers some unfortunate stereotypes, for example, in one scene a Western character asks Angelica how she gets her hair so shiny. Her reply? "We bathe." The rest of the shows, with the exception of the mildly entertaining Jimmy Neutron have little redeeming value. Kids seem to love the shows, however, so maybe it's a chip that's missing after one passes a certain age! That said, there are plenty of secret SpongeBob fans over the age of 18 as well.
I do give the SpongeBob episode partial credit for the spoof of the Freudian therapy session. The free association technique carried out by the evil Plankton is halfway amusing, and dare I say it, well done. This will be lost on kids, however, unless they're the 10-year-old genius types already in grad school. Needless to say, however, the incessant winking all of these shows do to the adults in the audience might be lost on kids, but it doesn't mean they won't be entertained. I can remember my own mother groaning at my choice of entertainment (The Smurfs, Brady Bunch reruns, etc.), so as a parent, I suppose it's my turn to endure the torture and wonder whether my son's brain is being turned to mush.
I strongly recommend that parents actually sit down and watch these cartoons with their kids to determine whether or not these shows are appropriate. Let's be honest. Most of us as parents rely on kids being occupied by television to some extent in order to have time to throw a load of laundry in, get dinner on the table, etc. It is a mistake, however, to assume that television executives have our kids' best interests at heart. It's up to us to determine that. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that everyone else's kids are watching these shows.
The picture quality on this DVD is excellent; the colors are vivid, the picture is sharp, and it will truly draw in viewers. As if they need to be glued to the television any more than they already are!
Presented in Dolby Digital sound, this disc's sound quality is very good. The tones are rich and vibrant.
No extras here, sorry! This is a staple of children's DVDs, so it borders on the unforgivable. Past Nick offerings have had slim pickings in this area, though, so it is not really a surprise. One particularly annoying feature about Nickelodeon DVD releases in general is the fact that the on-screen menu cannot be immediately accessed by pressing the Menu button on the remote control. Viewers must skip through several commercials for other releases (in this case, five of them). Nick is a strong enough brand – let's face it, they dominate the cable cartoon market – that this is unnecessary. Parents are going to be cajoled and wheedled by kids to buy these discs whether the menus are easy to access or not.
For parents who are unfamiliar with these shows, rent the disc first and watch the shows with your kids. It's not going to turn your kids into serial killers or anything, but there is far better quality stuff out there for your entertainment dollar.