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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » SpongeBob SquarePants - Karate Island
SpongeBob SquarePants - Karate Island
Paramount // Unrated // July 18, 2006
List Price: $16.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Mike Long | posted August 2, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Show

When The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie premiered in November, 2004, there were probably those who wondered if the film signaled the end of the television series which had spawned it. And it may have seemed that way, as the new episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants didn't appear until May, 2005. Since that time, new entries in the series have appeared sporadically. A group of these episodes have been gathered in the newly released compilation, SpongeBob SquarePants: Karate Island.

This DVD contains seven episodes as follows:

"SpongeBob TentaclePants" -- In a homage to The Fly, Sandy (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence) has invented a matter-transference machine. SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) volunteers to test the machine and asks Sandy to transport him to his job at The Krusty Krab. SpongeBob arrives at the restaurant, but he materializes inside of the every-grouchy Squidward (voiced by Rodger Bumpass). Squidward, who is never happy about anything, is especially outraged at this event, as he has an upcoming clarinet concert, and the fact that half of his body is hanging out of SpongeBob may interfere with his playing ability.

"Krusty Towers" -- After attending a fast-food convention, Mr. Krabs (voiced by Clancy Brown) gets the idea to turn The Krusty Krab into a high-rise hotel called The Krusty Towers. He plans to make a lot of money by charging outrageous fees for everything and promising uncompromising service. But, he didn't bet on customers like Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke), who demand that their every whim be granted.

"Mrs. Puff, You're Fired" -- Due to the fact that SpongeBob has failed his driving test so many times, the Boating Teacher's Accreditation Bureau investigates his teacher, Mrs. Puff (voiced by Mary Jo Catlett). Mrs. Puff is warned that if SpongeBob fails his driving test on more time, that she will be fired. Sure enough, SpongeBob fails miserably and it's decided that Mrs. Puff, not SpongeBob is to blame. Thus, a new teacher (voiced by Robin Sachs) is brought in to attempt to teach SpongeBob. Will his strict, military style work?

"Ghost Host" -- After his ship crashes, The Flying Dutchman (voiced by Brain Doyle- Murray) moves in with SpongeBob. Being a ghost, The Dutchman delights in scaring SpongeBob, but after a while, SpongeBob gets used to the frights. This causes The Flying Dutchman to question his scariness, and it's up to SpongeBob to convince the ghost that he can still be frightening.

"Wishing You Well" -- Mr. Krabs observes people throwing money into a wishing well and assumes that they are crazy. Once the concept is explained to him, he decides that it's a great money-making scheme. So, he has SpongeBob dig a wishing well adjacent to The Krusty Krab. While Krabs sees this as a way to make a quick buck, SpongeBob believes that the wishing well is truly magical and proceeds to find a way to make everyone's wishes come true.

"Karate Island" -- SpongeBob receives a videotape in the mail which invites him to travel to Karate Island, where he will be crowned "King of Karate". When he tells Sandy of this, she's suspicious, as she knows that her karate is much better than SpongeBob's. They travel to the island together, where they are met by a mysterious host (voiced by Pat Morita). Sandy tries to warn SpongeBob that something isn't right, but the arrogant sponge refuses to listen, convinced that he is the "King of Karate". What can Sandy do to convince him otherwise?

"New Lear" -- After years to battling Mr. Krabs for fast-food dominance, Plankton (voiced by Mr. Lawrence), decided to give up. He changes to Chum Bucket from an unsuccessful restaurant into a knick-knack store. Krabs is convinced that this is yet another ploy by Plankton to steal the secret formula for making Krabby Patties, but Plankton seems sincere. Can Krabs learn to trust his arch-nemesis?

From a quick glance at the credits for these episodes, it looks as if there have been some changes in the production team at SpongeBob SquarePants. (Although, I could be wrong.) However, the show hasn't suffered from a change in quality and I was impressed with these episodes. This show works for two reasons; 1. It isn't afraid to be silly; and 2. It totally embraces the old Warner Bros. aesthetic of cartoons where anything can happen. And these two observations are in abundance here. SpongeBob SquarePants is one of those show where continuity and character development don't matter and most of the episodes could stand on its own. No, this show is focused on being funny and showing how wacky the life of an innocent sponge and all of his friends can be.

One of the reasons that this show has been so successful is that it appeals to both children and adults. Judging from these episodes, the staff behind SpongeBob SquarePants is putting an even greater emphasis on this mass appeal. Along with "SpongeBob TentaclePants"' reference to The Fly, we get a nod to Enter the Dragon in "Karate Island". The other episodes present such grown-up themes as the houseguest who won't leave ("Ghost Host") and the nearsightedness of corporate management ("Mrs. Puff, You're Fired"). But don't worry, there are still plenty of slap-stick shenanigans and slightly rude jokes here to delight children. These episodes may not have all of charm of the first batch of SpongeBob adventures, but they are solid entertainment.

Video

SpongeBob SquarePants: Karate Island gives a roundhouse kick to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The episodes included here are all presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The image here looks first-rate, as the picture is very sharp and clear. There is no evidence of grain or defects from the source material. Aside from some very minor artifacting and a hint of edge-enhancement, major problems were absent. As one would expect, the colors look great. As a major plus, I saw none of the jagged lines or jerky movements which often shows up on animated DVDs.

Audio

The DVD features a Dolby Digital stereo audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects with no hissing or distortion. I noted some stereo effects, but for the most part, the audio, most notably the dialogue is housed in the center channel. The audio is acceptable, but nothing spectacular.

Extras

The only extra on the DVD is a set-top game entitled "SpongeBob's Karate Chops Game".

Paramount is one of the few companies which offers consumers a choice. Fans of SopngeBob SquarePants can either purchase compilations like SpongeBob SquarePants: Karate Island, or they can wait for the season sets. ("Season 4, Volume 1" arrives September 12.) Either way, they can enjoy their favorite sponge whenever they want. This particular DVD contains some good episodes, so those who want a sampling of Season 4 will enjoy it.
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