PAW Patrol is one of Nick Jr.'s most popular shows in years, packed with all the harmless action and cornball jokes that kids and most parents can't help but snicker at. The Great Pirate Treasure is the newest themed collection of PAW Patrol episodes on disc; it doesn't really change anything about the show's formula or characters, and doesn't have to. Most episodes go like this: the six PAW Patrol canines (klutzy firefighter Marshall, aquatic expert Zuma, construction oaf Rubble, police officer Chase, recycling guru Rocky, and high-flying Skye) kill time until a citizen yelps for help, while ten-year old handler Ryder waits back at high-tech HQ with a curiously accurate animated breakdown of the potential disaster before sending his pups to the rescue. At no point is it explained how their state-of-the-art operation is funded, or why Marshall can legally heat up the siren on his fire engine to look for a lost backpack.
Unfortunately, PAW Patrol has been given the short end of the chew toy on DVD during the past few years. The good news is that, like past volumes, the episodes included here look and sound great with crisp, 16x9 widescreen transfers and 5.1 audio...so the real draw here is that they offer a modest step up in quality over most streaming or cable versions (assuming kids will care). The bad news? Also like past releases, The Great Pirate Treasure is an all-too-brief collection of themed episodes with no bonus features, which means you'll probably end up paying $10 or more for less than 90 minutes of content. To make matters worse, all six episodes on this collection ("The Great Pirate Treasure", "The Ghost Pirate Adventure", "Pups Save the Bay", "Pups Save a Goodway", "Pups Save a Pool Day", and "Circus Pup-formers") are all from the show's first season and originally aired in 2013-14. Like most other old and new shows in the Nick library, PAW Patrol is long overdue for a proper season-by-season release on DVD or Blu-ray.
Adult quibbles aside, kids are still bound to love The Great Pirate Adventure unless they've seen at least half of these episodes the first time around. This is enjoyable, lighthearted stuff that I'd have flipped for during my single-digit years, and I'm still more than willing to sit through certain episodes multiple times if it keeps the little one happy. As usual, Paramount serves up a decent DVD presentation: skimpy on material, sure (and with no extras, either), but with a great A/V presentation that highlights the series' smooth, colorful animation and action-packed audio.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Since PAW Patrol was created in HD from the start (even re-watching these first-season episodes, it hasn't evolved much), it's no surprise that The Great Pirate Treasure looks great on DVD with bright colors, strong image detail, and a pleasing amount of texture on the characters and backgrounds. All episodes are presented in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratios, which showcase PAW Patrol's eye-catching visual design and compositions. The stylized color schemes are vivid with no obvious bleeding, while shadow detail and black levels are consistent from start to finish. Small amounts of banding can be seen along the way, but that's expected for the format and may very well be a source material issue. Overall, it's another great-looking disc that obviously beats most broadcast versions.
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. My only complaint is that the volume levels are cranked a little high, particularly during the theme song; music-savvy parents might agree that the term "brickwalled" applies here. But it's doubtful that this problem is exclusive to the DVD, so it's impossible to punish the wrong culprit. Unfortunately, no English subtitles or Closed Captions are included during these seven episodes, nor are there any dubs available like in later episodes.
Menu Design & Packaging
Like past volumes, The Great Pirate Treasure is a one-disc release and arrives in an eco-friendly blue keepcase with a matching slipcover. The colorful menus (seen above, along with an episode list) offer smooth and simple navigation. Again, there are no bonus features included here, but that's hardly surprising at this point.
PAW Patrol is still going strong after four years on the air, and that's a good thing because it's still a pretty fun show: colorful and entertaining with great characters, it's more enjoyable than its simple, unchanging formula implies. Sadly, Nick's treatment of PAW Patrol on DVD isn't as good and also hasn't changed much: the show looks and sounds great, but only includes six episodes (all from the first season!) and no extras. Here's hoping we get a proper season-by-season release soon. Until then, it's mildly Recommended to those who haven't memorized these episodes yet.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third person.