Presented on DVD by Paramount, Celebrate Fall serves up seven episodes of Nick Jr. favorites (listed below) that mostly pay tribute to the upcoming season of crunchy leaves, apple cider, and pumpkin-flavored everything.
Up first are PAW Patrol and Blaze and the Monster Machines (both of which are new to me), and the latter serves up two half-sized episodes from earlier this year. In "Save the Talent Show", the big competition is fast approaching...but Marshall chokes on the mic and puts the pups' chances of winning in serious jeopardy. Meanwhile, Farmer Al has a plumbing problem...and rather than turn off the water and fix it himself, he calls up Ryder and his six dogs to take care of everything. In "Save the Corn Roast", Al's grill is knocked over by a runaway cow, spilling hot coals all over his corn crop...and rather than grab a hose, he calls up Ryder and, well, you get it. Meanwhile, Blaze arrives with "Truckball Team-Up", in which our hero must recruit teammates to compete in an upcoming tournament. Apparently, this episode's only connection to the upcoming season is that Blaze is the color of falling leaves.
Next up are Wallykazam and Bubble Guppies; both are somewhat new but each has enjoyed more than a few spins around these parts. Both "The Explorer's Club" and "Gobble Gobble Guppies" tie in perfectly with this collection's theme; Wallykazam is especially enjoyable for its relaxed atmosphere and playful visuals, plus the light education blends more seamlessly than most kids' shows. Bubble Guppies is a little obnoxious at times but still has an enjoyable formula, fun characters, and more than enough infectious pop music for the preschool and kindergarten crowd.
Closing things out are Team Umizoomi and The Fresh Beat Band; both are odd men out, since they're almost ancient in kids' terms (both aired in 2010), they were recently cancelled, and the former is the only one not made in widescreen. But as irritating as Team Umizoomi can be at times, "The Ghost Family Halloween Party" is an enjoyable diversion that feels right at home here. As for The Fresh Beat Band, it plays like a caffeinated Disney Channel reject and, as the only live-action entry in this collection, sticks out like a sore thumb. Still, "Giant Pumpkin" ties in with the theme nicely, as all four squeaky-clean Fresh Beats work together to haul an oversized gourd to the Fall Festival.
After a few ads and logos, Paramount's DVD opens with colorful menu designs that are easy to use. This one-disc release arrives in an eco-friendly keepcase with no slipcover or insert. Just for the record, no extras are included.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Since most of this material was broadcast during the last year or two, Celebrate Fall looks uniformly strong with bright colors, strong image detail and a pleasing amount of texture on most of the characters and backgrounds. All are presented in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratios (including Bubble Guppies, as earlier DVD collections were mostly pan-and-scan)... with the exception of Team Umizoomi's first season episode "The Ghost Family Costume Party", which aired in 2010 before the series' switch to HD. Overall, the stylized color schemes are replicated well with no obvious bleeding, while shadow detail and black levels remain consistent from start to finish. This is easily one of the best-looking Nick Jr. DVD collections in recent memory, and it's almost a shame there's no Blu-ray option.
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 fine under the circumstances. Dialogue is crisp without fighting for attention, while a modest amount of channel separation gives song-driven moments and action sequences a decent amount of punch. Obviously, some of these episodes are more "showy" than others (the rowdy, speed-driven Blaze and the Monster Machines is much more intense than, say, Wallykazam), but everything sounds exactly as it should. Unfortunately, no optional English subtitles or Closed Captions have been offered during any of these seven episodes. Again, there aren't any bonus features on board, but that's not surprising for a collection of this type.
Celebrate Fall is another piecemeal collection of recent Nick Jr. favorites, timed carefully to attract impulsive buyers. As a whole, it's harmless enough and---with the exception of Blaze and half of PAW Patrol---ties in nicely with the upcoming season. The A/V specs are stronger than usual, thanks in no small part to the newer material and the fact the Bubble Guppies isn't cropped like most of their earlier DVD releases. As far as most kiddie collections go, this one's largely enjoyable and fairly priced so it gets an easy pass. Recommended, unless you stick with streaming.
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.