PAW Patrol continues to be one of Nick Jr.'s most popular franchises; now four seasons deep, a fifth has been ordered and merchandise is still selling like hotcakes. The Great Snow Rescue is the tenth 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 to break down the potential disaster before sending his team to the rescue. In recent years, two new pups (helpful husky Everest and super-sniffing Tracker) have been introduced; the former is obviously primed and ready to go for these snow-heavy episodes, while the latter debuts here. More toys!
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. Also, unlike many recent volumes, all seven episodes on this one-disc collection ("The Pups' Winter Wonder Show", "Pups Save a Sleepwalking Bear", "Pups Save Jake's Cake", "Pups Save a Teeny Penguin", "Pups Save a Wild Ride", "Pups and a Whale of a Tale", and "Pups Save a Floundering Francois") represent a solid cross-section of the newer seasons; in fact, all but one of them is less than a year old. Still, PAW Patrol is long overdue for a proper season-by-season release on DVD or Blu-ray: there's still a lot unaccounted for, what's here is pretty much in random order, and it's kind of silly to shell out $10 or more for 90 minutes of content every few months.
Adult quibbles aside, kids are still bound to love The Great Snow Rescue 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, it's no surprise that The Great Snow Rescue looks great on DVD with bright colors, strong detail, and a pleasing amount of texture on the characters and backgrounds. All seven episodes are presented in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratios, which showcase PAW Patrol's pleasing 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 possibly 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 great. Dialogue is crisp without fighting for attention, while a modest amount of channel separation gives songs and action sequences a decent amount of punch. My only complaint is that the volume levels are 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 I blame whoever mixed it to begin with. No English subtitles or Closed Captions are included, although optional Spanish dubs are offered if you need them (or want to hear an even more awesome version of the theme song).
Menu Design & Packaging
Like every other PAW Patrol DVD, The Great Snow Rescue is a one-disc release and comes 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 more than four years (a lifetime, as far as kids shows go), and that's a good thing because it's been a consistently fun and entertaining show: colorful and action-packed with great characters, this show is 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 there's barely 90 minutes of content (even if most of it is recent) and no extras. Here's hoping we get a proper season-by-season release soon. Until then, The Great Snow Rescue is 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.