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Where's Spot? and Other Stories - 30th Anniversary Edition

Other // Unrated // December 1, 2010
List Price: $9.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted December 23, 2010 | E-mail the Author
Spot: Where's Spot? 30th Anniversary Edition DVD:
British children's author Eric Hill hit that magic pay dirt that all aspiring children's authors wish for. He wrote a series of incredibly simple books about a puppy. He is now a wealthy man, and I hear those cash registers beeping in your minds now, as well. "Simple books about a puppy?" you say, " why, I just wrote three of those books in my head this minute!" No you didn't, Eric Hill did, and this 30th Anniversary Edition DVD of Where's Spot? is here to give Hill a little more money, and to remind you that success in the world of children's books is about as ineffable a feat as possible.

Our screener DVD comes complete with 9 short Spot stories, 6 featured stories and 3 extras - about 5 minutes each, and all animated the old-fashioned way, with paint on cells. It's 45-minutes of very-young-child-friendly fun with the odd power to compel. These narratives can enthrall kids with the simplest of devices; consider the title story, in which Spot's mother tries to find Spot, who is hiding in the house. She checks the closet, which holds a bear eating honey, she checks a grandfather clock, which holds a sleeping snake, and so on. [Spoiler Alert] She ultimately finds Spot in a basket. Though my almost-five-year-old and I are well familiar with this plot line, (and many of the other ultra-simplistic ones here) she still managed an honest chuckle here and there.

Her adult partner, me, appreciated the old-fashioned charm, not of the stories themselves, but of Spot's animated presentation. Watching cell animation now seems to create the illusion that the pictures are actually moved by hand, and there's warmth to the colors and imagery not found in slick CG animation. Further, mellow, sweet, jazzy tunes underscore the action in a way that took me straight back to the days of my youth, when home sick from school and confined to our couch with only the vagaries of mellow, sweet and jazzy daytime Public TV to keep me company.

You'll not be picking up this DVD for nostalgia value, though if you're made to watch it, maybe those vibrations of a simpler time will ease your pain or something. Your children - if of an appropriate age - will probably be just as apt to zone out in front of this as they would with any other animated content, except they'll be missing out on all the goodness brought about by frenzied, attention-destroying editing, ludicrous and facile pop-culture references, and soul-corrupting advertisements. Sounds like a good deal to me. Though more and more I wish I'd never introduced my daughter to the marvels of TV, I can at least take some pride in drawing the line just beyond mostly benign stuff like this, and mostly on DVD. I wouldn't expect to get much mileage from Where's Spot? beyond pre-school aged kids, but for when you really need to close your eyes on the couch, this DVD is a master's class in how to harmlessly distract your kids. And no, it's in no way as easily created as it looks.

Stories included are: Where's Spot?, Spot's Lost Bone, Spot at the Playground, Spot Goes to the Park, Spot Finds a Key, and Spot Goes Splash! Extra stories are: Spot's Bath, Spot's Umbrella, and Spot's Tree house.

The DVD

Video:
Our check disc screener presents a 4 X 3 image that looks to be in good shape but is indeed old fashioned in animation appearance. When we receive final product, we'll be able to go into a little more depth regarding the quality of the image.

Sound:
The same thing goes for the stereo audio found herein, though everything seems to be mixed clearly, and is distortion-free.

Extras:
Three Additional Episodes are the main extra here, and all are as sweet, gentle and simple as the rest. In addition, Creator Eric Hill Reading Where's Spot? is included. It's an odd three-minute bit that held no interest for my daughter. English SDH Subtitles are available, and finally, a Shape Sorting Game, also simple and short, is included. I'd hope the target audience is too young to know their way around a DVD remote, so I'm not sure whom this is for. It seems likely to inhibit rather than foster any type of learning.

Final Thoughts:
Creator Eric Hill makes enthralling kids look easy with these sweet and simple tales. A total of nine 5-minute stories featuring the adorable, animated pup doing innocent things seem poised to keep your three-year-old hypnotized. These old-fashioned cartoons are a far cry from the flash-frenzy cartoons popular now, which is a big plus, but adults will probably pass out after two minutes of these cute, sedate tales. Though exercise in the sun is better, I'll call this DVD Recommended.

www.kurtdahlke.com

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