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Super Fun Show, The
When looking into the screener pool, you don't turn down a mystery DVD, with no descriptive information available, named The Super Fun Show. You just don't. A more than usual bit of internet research reveals The Super Fun Show is a kids' show (natch) fronted by Shawn Brown, billed as 'speaker,' 'author,' and 'Edu-tainer.' I'm calling this a double score!
I'd love to perform due diligence, presenting this to a few early educators to get their takes, but the fact that I am wildly entertained by The Super Fun Show is enough for me, and it should be enough for you. Running a brief but kid-appropriate 20 minutes, The Super Fun Show presents four songs and one story. Starting off with the too catchy theme song, Brown then moves to a sitting-and-getting-down song, On The Rug. Count To 100 gets preschoolers ready for that most basic of civilized occupations, while the Dino Song in dire fashion gives mini lowdown on a few dinosaur habits. Lastly, Brown gets silly with a long 'story' about dinosaurs.
Brown's simple, repetitive and catchy songs had me dancing and able to sing along after a few moments, and I was sweating after 5 minutes. My daughter was aghast, but additional viewings indicate she's warming to it: she's on the young fringe of his target audience anyway. Brown is energetic, funky and loose, while willing to get silly in a manly sort-of way. A 10-minute tutorial for teachers indicates that Brown's methods are to teach very simple concepts and listening skills while kids are engaged and moving and grooving. Brown even admits that, heck, some of this stuff is a way to kill a little time without you going crazy and your kids zoning out. It's a refreshing approach, as Brown's hip-hoppy songs are also refreshing (especially for anyone tired of Barney). The Dino Song is sort of odd and gloomy - I bet four-year-old boys will love it, as they will enjoy The Story (about dinosaurs) that, in juvenile goofiness, lost me quick.
The tricky part is, Brown's set-up looks like he's taking the very first steps out of actual preschools where he performs his program live to groups of about 15 real kids. Genuine footage of his live interactions are superimposed onto super-basic animated backgrounds, complete with '80s-video-style bits where four little Browns emerge from the four sides of your set screen. This really low-rent, super sincere delivery is charming and also slightly odd (for adults) - it's a bit like Brown is presenting his idea to those Next Big Invention reality show judges. You can't help but feel Brown's got an uphill battle. On the other hand, it also instantly endeared me to the DVD, and kids don't really care about that stuff, anyway.
Whatever the case, The Super Fun Show, with Shawn Brown's charismatic presence, will enthrall your preschooler, hopefully get her moving, and maybe teach her to count to 100. Personally, I dare those of you reading this to dance like Brown does during his theme song. I couldn't do it, but it's a great little workout.
Presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen ratio, The Super Fun Show won't exactly be super fun for your hi-def (or even standard def) TV. The menu screen is weirdly pixilated and fuzzy, while Brown's green-screen dancing and stories are clear, pretty sharp and have bright colors. Preschool footage is a bit washed out, and in general it's clear this is a budget transfer, with plenty of aliasing and stuff.
Stereo Audio has a decent dynamic range that serves the music well. Singing and dialog are all clear and audible, mixed at a decent level with the music. Overall the audio seems a little bit 'hot,' or mastered louder than average.
No extras other than Song/ Scene Selections and the 10-minute Teacher Tutorial are present. Featuring Brown talking in front of a green-screen, the tutorial explains how to perform Count To 100 with maximum impact, how to present an effective puppet show, and generally explores Brown's approach to this type of education. It's not only for teachers, as parents can learn a bit about how to wrangle one to twenty kids, and also enjoy Brown's style.
There's a lot to love in The Super Fun Show. Sure, it's short (my frequent beef with kids' DVDs - you can limit viewing without bruising your Kids' DVD Dollar) and (dare I say it) cheap-as-heck, but it really is Super Fun! I'm looking forward to watching it again this afternoon, maybe your kids will too. But, for reasons mentioned above, this is a definite try-before-you-buy, so I'll give it a strong Rent It.