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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Wallykazam!
Wallykazam!
Paramount // Unrated // April 28, 2015
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted May 21, 2015 | E-mail the Author

Created by Adam Peltzman (who's written for popular kids' shows like The Backyardigans, Wonder Pets, and Blue's Clues), Wallykazam is a recent series airing on Nickelodeon that's already in its second season. Aimed largely at pre-K and kindergarten-aged audiences, this charming production takes place in a fairy tale world populated by characters like Wally Trollman, his pet dragon Norville, and other friends including Gina Giant, Ogre Doug, and Libby Light Sprite. It has a relatively laid-back atmosphere that's less abrasive than the poppy Bubble Guppies (fun in small doses) and obnoxious juggernaut Dora the Explorer, yet shares the similar formula of fantasy-based adventure, song breaks, and occasional moments of audience interactivity. More often than not, it hits where most kids' shows miss.

Wallykazam's main subject of interest is vocabulary; in fact, lovable blue Wally owns a magic stick and uses it to bring words to life. Each adventure uses specific letters or sounds for problem-solving, often teaching phonetics in a similar fashion to classics like Sesame Street or The Electric Company. Otherwise, Wallykazam gets by on colorful characters, mischievous but non-threatening villains, and the quasi-medieval world that Wally and friends live in. Though the education in Wallykazam occasionally feels like an afterthought (it's about 80% antics and 20% learning), the show's terrific visual design, likable characters, and downright tolerable-for-parents mentality make it a no-brainer for any adult tired of their kids being bombarded with "neon overdose" and non-stop shouting. For what it's worth: my pre-K daughter enjoyed herself, having first seen Wallykazam on Nick's Springtime Adventures collection.

Which brings me to my only real complaint about this first collection of Wallykazam on DVD (aside from the lack of bonus features, of course): it's way too short. Only four 20-minute adventures are included here---the list is below, if you're interested---which brings the total number of episodes available on disc to a whopping five, even though almost 30 episodes have aired on Nick thus far. To make matters worse, these episodes aren't presented in any kind of order: aside from the first two, they're pretty much picked at random from the show's first season. Even so, it's good to have this charming new series on DVD, and the terrific A/V presentation makes it all the more enjoyable.

Quality Control Department

Video & Audio Quality

Not surprisingly for a brand new series, Wallykazam! looks terrific in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio with bright colors, strong image detail and a pleasing amount of textures on nearly of the characters and backgrounds. The slightly muted color scheme is replicated well with no obvious bleeding, while shadow detail and black levels remained consistent from start to finish. In all honesty, it's a shame we didn't get a Blu-ray option because Wallykazam! is obviously a show with a strong visual pedigree, but I'm perfectly happy with what we get here. Along with the recent reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this is one of the best-looking shows in Nickelodeon's current lineup.


DISCLAIMER: These compressed and resized screen captures are decorative and do not represent this title's native 480p resolution.

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds good enough under the circumstances. Voices and music cues are relatively crisp and clear without fighting for attention, while a modest amount of channel separation gives many of the song-driven moments and light action sequences a little bit of punch. Overall, Wallykazam is anything but a loud and obnoxious series...so it rarely "shows off" but still manages to open up nicely on several occasions. Unfortunately, no optional English subtitles or Closed Captions have been included during the episodes.

Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging

Seen above, the basic and colorful menu designs are attractive and easy to navigate. This one-disc release is housed in a silly eco-friendly keepcase and includes a not-so-eco-friendly matching slipcover and no inserts of any kind. Just for the record, the disc art is plain gray and no bonus features are included with these episodes.

Final Thoughts

Wallykazam is one of the more enjoyable kids' shows I've come across during the past year. Low-key and charming, the lightly educational adventures of Wally and friends are simple, straightforward, and loaded with visual appeal. The show's only mild handicap is a familiar formula: aside form the setting and character designs, its blend of imaginative adventures and quasi-interactivity has been done at least a dozen times before. Still, there's a certain spark that elevates Wallykazam to modest heights...and to be honest, my only complaint is how slow Nick's been releasing it on DVD: the second season has already begun and we've only gotten five episodes on DVD thus far (four here, and another one on Springtime Adventures). And $15 for 90 minutes of content? You might be better off streaming it instead, but Wallykazam is still enjoyable enough to pick this up on a whim. Recommended.


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.
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