This Nickelodeon Double Pack serves up two themed compilations aimed at younger audiences and their value-conscious parents: Dora's Musical School Days and Blue's Big Musical Movie. Both titles were previously issued on DVD between 2000-2007 and have since gone out of print. Oddly enough, neither separate release has been reviewed at DVD Talk thus far...so today, it's literally a two-for-one deal.
Dora's Musical School Days (2007) offers four episodes: "La Maestra De Musica", "Boots To The Rescue", "The Happy Old Troll" and "A Letter for Swiper". Obviously, the title indicates a recurring theme...but more often than not, this collection doesn't follow through. Overall, there isn't much focus on music education; sure, a handful of songs and Spanish words are featured, but only the first episode feels like a good fit. Still, pint-sized disciples of Dora will enjoy what these episodes bring to la mesa, though most parents will find them pandering, obnoxious and repetitive. Nothing says "instant migraine" like kids being ordered to yell louder at the TV, right? 2.5/5 stars, as seen from a parent's jaded perspective.
Blue's Big Musical Movie (2000), on the other hand, is a direct-to-DVD movie starring original host Steve, Blue and company as they stage a musical show in their backyard. Over a dozen songs are performed during this 78-minute production, which also includes voice work by none other than Ray Charles (as "G-Clef"). It's a fun and educational effort, exploring musical elements like rhythm, tempo, dynamics and, of course, note recognition. The show's relaxed pace is still on display, though it's hardly dull thanks to colorful characters, simple effects and lively music. It's rare when kids' shows don't irritate parents, but I liked this one almost as much as my daughter did. 4/5 stars.
Together, this Double Pack is truly a mixed bag as far as quality goes, but it's hard to complain when you're getting two for the price of one....so if you've got a little one interested in either franchise, I suppose you could do a lot worse. Technically speaking, these recycled discs are certainly beginning to show their age, although at least they appear faithful to the original 1.33:1 broadcast versions (as opposed to some newer Nick titles like Bubble Guppies, which are cropped from 16x9 source material).
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Both discs look pretty good for their age and budget. Presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratios, Dora's Musical School Days and Blue's Big Musical Movie boast strong colors and no flagrant compression issues. Even so, there is some interlacing present (especially during Dora) and an overall softness to the images, most likely due to the source material and limited effects. Overall, these are still quite watchable and, though new remasters of both shows would be welcome, it's a passable enough effort for the price.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, again preserving the original broadcast experience. As expected, the bulk of the music-driven content sounds clean and clear, while dialogue and narration also come through without any major problems. Dora, as always, is mixed a little louder than the more passive Blue's Clues, but that's just the nature of the beast. Channel separation is slightly evident at times, but it's a mostly leveled-off experience that entertains more than amazes. No English or foreign subtitles have been included on either disc, though Closed Captions are supported during each episode.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the plain-wrap menus are fairly standard for a Nickelodeon release and, thankfully enough, the Blue's
disc has no trailers or ads beforehand. Each episode is presented with a handful of chapter stops and the discs are locked for Region 1 playback only. This two-disc release is packaged in a hinged eco-friendly keepcase with plain disc art, no inserts and a content list printed on the back cover.
Not too much. Dora
recycles a dated Preview
for the mind-numbing Wonder Pets
show, while Blue's
offers the new-for-2000 Interactive Guessing Game
, a brief Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
and two related Music Videos
. Still, it's nice to have something
here, even if some of it's no longer relevant.
Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer / Blue's Clues Double Pack, like other multi-disc compilations, is an easy way to beef up your kid's DVD collection if you're a little late to the party. Both included titles are plus or minus a decade old and, of course, their content and A/V presentations reflect source material that isn't as new or shiny as the now-regular HD standard of kids' programming. Still, it's a mixed bag: the Blue's movie is good fun, but the overrated Dora continues to be a repetitive show that doesn't offer much of value except for a few obligatory Spanish words. Overall, these music-themed episodes still average out to a passable effort, all things considered...so if your little ones are at least slightly interested in either franchise, Nickelodeon's bargain-priced Double Pack is well worth looking into. 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.