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SpongeBob Squarepants: Tide and Seek
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
So here's another SpongeBob Squarepants compilation. This disc comes on the heels of Paramount's announcement that it will begin to release season sets of the fabulous show, starting this fall. While I'm thrilled by that announcement, it unfortunately dilutes my excitement over this new collection of episodes, Tide and Seek. Now I face the very real prospect of selling off all my SpongeBob discs in favor of the season sets. I can't help but feel a bit swindled. That being said, this is a strong assemblage of SpongeBob cartoons with some fairly enticing extras.
SpongeBob Squarepants follows the completely ridiculous and nonsensical adventures of the titular square sponge as he and his friends frolic under the sea. It's a seascape in which characters can draw breath, light fires, and even befriend a squirrel in a wetsuit. SpongeBob is hopelessly square in more ways than one, always fantastically cheerful and juvenile and prone to misadventure. There's also SpongeBob's best buddy Patrick, an amorphous blob of sloth, and the feisty Squidward, the cranky squid who wants only to play his clarinet but is foiled at every turn by the well-intentioned but blissfully unaware SpongeBob and Patrick.
This DVD features ten episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants:
1) Mermaidman and Barnacleboy III—The Mermaidman subseries has never really been my cup of tea, but this one is a hilarious exception. SpongeBob and Patrick unwittingly release arch enemy Man-Ray. Then they try to turn him to the good side.
2) Big Pink Loser—Aspiring to award-winning success of SpongeBob, Patrick copies every aspect of SpongeBob, including wardrobe, mannerisms, and movements.
3) Opposite Day—Squidward decides to finally sell his house and move far away from SpongeBob. But how will he handle his pesky neighbor when he needs to show the house to potential buyers?
4) Squirrel Jokes—SpongeBob finds success as a standup comic—but only by telling demeaning squirrel jokes that offend Sandy. How can he have success and remain a good friend to the underwater squirrel?
5) Rock-A-Bye Bivalve—SpongeBob and Patrick become an adoptive mommy and daddy when they find a lonely baby scallop. But daddy (Patrick) is shirking his duties...
6) Dumped—For some mysterious reason, Gary (SpongeBob's pet snail) suddenly likes Patrick better than SpongeBob, and soon the two are competing for the snail's adoration.
7) Bossy Boots—Mr. Krabs' daughter Pearl is put in charge of changing the image of the Krusty Krab. When the effort proves disastrous, someone must fire Pearl. Who will it be?
8) The Bully—SpongeBob is the sudden adversary of a loudmouth cretin at driving school.
9) Sleepy Time—In this inventive episode, SpongeBob finds that he can enter the dreams of his friends.
9) Squidsville—Squidward realizes his dream by moving away from Bikini Bottom and into Tentacle Acres, where everything is perfect and...boring.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Paramount presents SpongeBob Squarepants Sea Stories in a vivid full-frame transfer of the series' original TV presentation. Like most animation presentations on DVD, this disc's video image is nearly flawless, boasting brilliant, eye-popping colors and deep blacks. Detail is exemplary. Although some aliasing will be present on large monitors, the line work generally looks solid, and there's not much distracting from this pristine image.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc's 2.0 stereo track is pleasing and occasionally dynamic. I noticed nice directionality across the front soundstage. Dialog is clean and natural-sounding, and sound effects are crisp. However, some of the dialog and louder screams tend toward distortion.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
Improving on the previous disc's inclusion of a lone audio commentary, Tide and Seek offers two (count them, two) Audio Commentaries by Tom Kenny (the voice of SpongeBob) and Stephen Hillenburg (the creator of SpongeBob). The first, over Sleepy Time, is introduced by Kenny (in SpongeBob's voice) as a "narcoleptic commentary," and unfortunately, he's telling the truth. The two begin by narrating onscreen action in a dull monotone, and the rest is so laidback and filled with pauses that you'll soon be as asleep as the characters onscreen. I love this show, but I hoped for more exciting commentaries. The second, over "Dumped" fares somewhat better and is a little more lively. Hillenburg discusses the thought process that lead to specific ideas. But the tone is much the same as the first, and this one ends abruptly. You think they'd want to cram more trivia and behind-the-scenes hilarity into the span of an 11-minute episode.
Next up is the Mermaidman and Barnacleboy III Storyboard, which is the entire episode played out with storyboards and temp sound. It's a moderately interesting glimpse into part of the animation process.
Finally, Behind the Scenes: Special Delivery is merely a 45-second interstitial bit about the Nickelodeon mail room.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
It's your call—wait for the season sets to begin, or buy this collection of SpongeBob zaniness. Me? I'd rather have the full seasons.