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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Nick Jr. Celebrates Spring
Nick Jr. Celebrates Spring
Paramount // Unrated // March 2, 2004
List Price: $16.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Mike Long | posted March 15, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Shows

When I was a child, cartoons ruled Saturday mornings, and the three major networks were happy to keep the animated fare coming. But, those days are long gone (with only FOX having a true Saturday-morning line-up). However, the cable networks have picked up the ball and not only have they created a new world of animation, these shows are available nearly all hours of the day. Nickelodeon is one of the leaders in this cable movement, and their line of shows aimed at younger viewers, which is known as "Nick Jr.", has been very successful. Now, Nickelodeon and Paramount have brought us a compilation of seasonal shows called Nick Jr. Celebrates Spring.

Nick Jr. Celebrates Spring offers episodes from four of the most popular Nick Jr. shows, each of which deals with Spring time in some way.

In Dora the Explorer, Dora (voiced by Kathleen Herles) and her monkey-friend, Boots (voiced by Harrison Chad) go on a non-denominational egg hunt, where each of the eggs contains a special prize. They must go past the duck pond and through the farm to Dora's grandmother's house, where they will find the ultimate prize, the Big, Yellow Egg. As usual, Dora the Explorer focuses on teaching problem solving and basic Spanish. And, if the reaction of my daughters was any indication, the makers of the show consulted a focus group to learn what kind of simple prizes kids would love to find in eggs.

The show Max & Ruby is represented with the episode, "Max's Chocolate Chicken". It's Easter morning and Max (voiced by Billy Rosenberg) and Ruby (voiced by Samantha Morton) are excited. Ruby finds a chocolate chicken in the yard and states that this is an indicator that the Easter Bunny has visited and left eggs behind. (This must be a British thing.) Ruby decides that whoever finds the most eggs will win the chicken. So, she sets off to find eggs, but Max only stands by the chicken, saying "I love you". (Did Max take Ecstasy?) This brief episode captures the excitement and wonder of Easter morning, but the moral message at the end is quite muddled.

Bill Cosby's creation, Little Bill, yields two episodes for this collection. In "The Skating Lesson", Little Bill (voiced by Xavier Pritchett) is excited about receiving his first roller-skating lesson from his sister, April (voiced by Monique Beosley). But, when skating turns out to be harder than it looks, Little Bill wants to quit. In the second outing, "Mr. Moth", Little Bill's class is learning about caterpillars and butterflies. Each student has chrysalis which will yield a butterfly. Yet, Little Bill has a cocoon from which a moth will emerge, and he's a bit upset that his is different. Can Little Bill learn to accept his moth? (This episodes gets props for referencing Mothra.) Little Bill utilizes a cardboard cutout style of animation and keeps its lessons simple for the little ones, who seem to identify with Little Bill.

The last episode comes from long-time Nick Jr. stalwart Blue's Clues. In this show, entitled "Our Neighborhood Festival", Blue (voiced by Traci Paige Johnson) and Joe (Donovan Patton) are attending a neighborhood party, which is filled with many attractions and games. Joe must play Blue's Clue to learn which event Blue is most excited about. Joe and Blue visit the various booths and run into Marlee the librarian (Marlee Matlin). Blue's Clues is easily one of the most reliable children's shows on TV today, and this episode, which features almost every character from the Blue's Clues universe is a shining example of how the program teaches problem-solving while being great fun.

Video

Nick Jr. Celebrates Spring hops onto DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. As the DVD features episodes from children's TV shows, all of the segments are offered in their original 4:3 aspect ratio. All of the shows look very good, and the colors on all are fantastic. There is no grain to be had here, nor are there any visible defects from the source material. This is some stuttering of the image on Dora the Explorer, otherwise the transfers rival digital broadcast quality.

Audio

Each of the shows carries a Dolby Digital stereo audio track. These tracks provide clear dialogue, with no indication of hissing or distortion. Stereo effects are kept to a minimum but when they do crop up, they sound fine. Be warned that Little Bill is much louder than the other shows on the DVD, although I don't know why.

Extras

The DVD contains one bonus cartoon episode, which is from the show Rugrats. Making this a bonus episode was a wise idea, as the content of this show places it outside of the Nick Jr. universe. (With it being a bonus episode, the Rugrats episode will not automatically show if one uses the "Play All" function from the main menu.) The episode is entitled "Bow Wow Wedding Vows" and in it, Tommy (voiced by Elizabeth Daily) performs a wedding ceremony for his dog, Spike, while the Finster's are throwing an Easter party, which is being organized by a professional party-planner named Ralph (voiced by Ryan Stiles). The only other extra on the DVD is a non-interactive trivia game, which is simply pointless.


Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon have done a fine job of releasing compilations of Dora the Explorer and Blue's Clues, which will delight fans of those shows. But, for those who find those compilations repetitive and crave more of a variety, Nick Jr. Celebrates Spring offers episodes from several shows and mimics an afternoon run of Nick Jr.
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