Blue's Clues was a popular kids' show that ran for six seasons on Nickelodeon (1996-2004, 2006) and totaled nearly 150 episodes, spawning a great number of books, games, and even a spin-off series (the short-lived Blue's Room, 2004-07) in the process. Featuring two different kid-friendly, calm-but-enthusiastic hosts---Steve Burns as "Steve" (1996-2002), and Donovan Patton as Steve's on-screen brother "Joe" (2002-06)---and their playful dog Blue (voiced by producer Traci Paige Johnson), this Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series featured colorful characters and fun, interactive lessons that educated and entertained preschoolers and kindergartners with energy to spare.
Like most kids' shows ported to DVD (or VHS, for that matter), Blue's Clues has been released in piecemeal themed collections instead of proper season sets; this makes owning all the episodes without any overlap a nearly impossible task. Paramount's new Get Clued Into School Pack follows suit, serving up three discs (12 episodes total) that span the show's entire run. Alphabet Power is captained, oddly enough, by Blue's Room episode "The Power of the Alphabet" and also includes "The Alphabet Train", "Let's Write", and "Magenta's Messages". Blue Takes You to School offers the self-titled episode, as well as "Numbers Everywhere", "Blue's ABCs", and "Math!". Finally, Shapes and Colors has "Shape Searchers", "Colors Everywhere!", "Adventures in Art", and "What Does Blue Want to Make?".
Yes, these episodes are completely out of order from how they originally aired. Some are hosted by Steve, and some feature Joe. But kids and parents won't care too much: these are all quality episodes designed to get kids ready for school...and even if they've already gotten most or all of this information from you or a teacher already, any of these 12 episodes serves as a fun and easy refresher course or test of their knowledge. It's also pretty quiet.
Not surprisingly, all three discs from this collection have been released at least once already: Alphabet Power got its own DVD in 2005...and so did Blue Takes You to School and Shapes and Colors, which were also two-thirds of another school-themed DVD collection from 2004. So this is anything but brand new material, and the confusing way it's been rehashed will annoy long-time fans still waiting for a full-series release or season collections. But the appeal of this three-disc set is still obvious: it's a well-timed effort with nearly five hours of solid content for under $15.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Nothing remarkable, though I'd imagine ten years ago this disc would've gotten an easy pass. All episodes are presented in their original tube TV-friendly 1.33:1 aspect ratio and look no better or worse than most kids' shows from this era ported to DVD. Image detail runs a little on the soft side, while mild interlacing and motion blur can also be spotted on many occasions. Colors are relatively bold and bright, although the warmer colors are prone to bleeding. It's still a perfectly watchable presentation overall, at least enough so that young fans won't have any complaints.
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 2.0 and sounds fairly good under the circumstances. Voices and music are relatively crisp and clear without fighting for attention, while a modest amount of channel separation gives many of the song-driven moments a little bit of punch. Optional Closed Captions are included during the episodes only.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the menu interface is basic, colorful and easy to navigate. As expected, several chapter breaks and a sea of recycled ads and warning screens are also part of the presentation. This three-disc set is housed in a hinged keepcase; there are no inserts, but a matching slipcover is included and the set takes up very little shelf space.
Just what was on the original stand-alone DVDs; nothing more, nothing less. Alphabet Power
arrives with two bonus Blue's Room Segments
("Letter L with Liam" and "Alphabet Playdate"), a Spelling Game
, and a Nutrition Guide
for parents. As for Blue Takes You to School
and Shapes and Colors
(again, also included on the older DVD collection
, they include a menu-based Search Game
, two short clips of Oobi: The Friend Who's Always with You
, and a Parent's Guide
for select episodes on the third disc. So there's not much here, but the main content makes up for it.
Blue's Clues was a charming staple of kids' programming during the 1990s and 2000s, and remains just as enjoyable now as it did during its popular peak. So far, a mountain of miscellaneous and slightly-related DVD collections have herded together most of this six-season series (as well as the short-lived spin-off, Blue's Room), but no attempt has been made to release a complete series set or season-by-season collections. Paramount's latest effort is a well-timed group of school-themed episodes and, though they've been released on DVD as stand-alone discs or part of a past collection, this low-priced set still offers plenty of bang for the buck. Skip it if you own most of this content already, but those newer to the series should consider Get Clued Into School a great buy. 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.