Another quartet of random imaginary cartoon adventures
The Story So Far...
This set of four adventures has no connecting theme, but the DVD is named for the first story, "Match-Up on Mount Olympus." Pablo and Tyrone are a pair of ancient Greek mortals who love basketball, struggling with the rainy weather that prevents them from playing. To change it, they travel to Mount Olympus so they can confront the cantankerous Goddess of Weather, naturally played by Tasha. Before they get to her though, they have to get past two other gods, Austin and Uniqua, in games scored by a cool samba sound. It's an amusing take on the old man versus gods story, and a pretty advanced concept for a kids show.
A Backyardigans stand-by, the race episode, returns with "The Great Dolphin Race," an underwater episode set to a generic sound that doesn't seem to hew to anyparticular genre. Uniqua is a stablehand at the ol' dolphin track, where Tyrone rides star dolphin Blue Streak. Uniqua would love to have a dolphin of her own to ride, and when she finds SeaSquirt, a tiny, yet fast dolphin, she gets her wish, setting up a race with Tyrone. Considering the show's issues with depicting liquids, putting the show in the water might be a risk, but since it's in all water, there's no need to show water. Smart cheating.
The show has gone to outer space and out west, so why not combine the two in "Ranch Hands from Outer Space?" This is actually one of the better episodes I've seen, as the sense of humor displayed by Uniqua and Pablo as the aliens who misunderstand rancher Tasha, and cause lots of trouble. The show's songs are, according to the box, in a '60s Italian pop style, but I don't have much experience with that genre, and it sounded more like klezmer music to me. It's a solid overall episode that I enjoyed, for once.
It was much better than "Caveman's Best Friend," which incredibly gives Austin, the forgotten Backyardigan, a starring role, playing a caveman who gets a pet, namely a baby dinosaur. The songs are fun, thanks to the doo-wop/R&B sound, but the show is just another version of "The Flintstones" idea of putting characters in the Stone Age. Or perhaps it's just Austin isn't all that interesting, and this is why we don't get a lot of him in the show.
The audio arrives in Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks, which deliver clean dialogue and good separation between the music and speech. There's actually some decent positioning of the sound between the left and right channels, making for a solid listening experience.
More actually extras take the form of two videos, "Chicken-Itza Pizza" and "Amazing Inventors." Unlike the last Backyardigans DVD, these videos are from episodes not included on this disc, so they actually are extras, though the songs aren't among the series' best.
The Bottom Line