Themed DVD collections have been Nick Jr.'s bread and butter for more than a decade now: they've all but abandoned chronological season sets, so the recent appearance of their new winter-themed collection Snow Awesome is hardly surprising at this point. Six episodes (11-22 minutes each) from three of their female-led shows are included on this one-disc release, which is a nice change-up. Oddly enough, two are advertised as "all-new holiday specials" but, according to episode lists, they've all aired already and nothing's newer than January 2018. New-to-disc, maybe?
Anyway, on to the episodes. Nella the Princess Knight kicks things off with "The Knight Before Christmas" (Santa visits Castlehaven on Christmas Eve, but snow dragons steal his presents so it's up to Nella and company to save the holidays) and "Let it Snow" (Nella searches for a magical crystal to make it snow for the kingdom's annual Snow Festival). Next up is Sunny Day with "Best Christmas Ever" (a snowstorm traps Doodle at his cousin's house on Christmas Eve, so Sunny and the gang trek through the snow to spend the holiday together). Finally, Shimmer and Shine get three shorts: "Snow Place We'd Rather Be" (when Princess Samira sends Leah and the genies to find a snowflake gem, Zeta interferes), "Snow Time to Spare" (Layla, the Ice Genie, gets help from the girls with snow decorations for the upcoming Frosty Fun Festival), and "Frosty Fun" (when two Ice Sprites sneak into Layla's palace, the girls must stop them before they wreck the castle). They're basically on par with their respective series as far as quality goes: Nella offers fun fantasy adventure, Shimmer and Shine is cute but rarely reaches its potential, and Sunny Day is complete filler.
Still, if you've got a little one that's interested in two or more of these shows, there are much worse presents than Snow Awesome: even though it's barely 90 minutes long and these six episodes are more lukewarm than magical, what's here at least fits the winter theme with no repeats from past DVDs. If you can find this for $10 or less, it's a decent stocking stuffer that won't drive you up a wall unless your kids replay it more than twice in a row. Paramount's DVD follows suit with past Nick Jr. collections, offering a dependably solid A/V presentation and...well, that's about it.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Since all of this material was created in high definition, it's no surprise that Snow Awesome looks extremely strong on DVD with bright colors, fine image detail, and a pleasing amount of texture on characters and backgrounds. All episodes are presented in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratios, which showcase the eye-catching visual designs and well-rendered background compositions. The stylized color schemes look great with no obvious bleeding, while shadow detail and black levels are also consistent from start to finish. Small amounts of banding and very mild aliasing can be spotted along the way, but that's expected for standard-def animation releases and is most likely a source material issue.
DISCLAIMER: These compressed and resized screen captures are decorative and do not represent this title's native 480p resolution.
The audio is uniformly presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds similarly great under the circumstances. Dialogue is crisp without fighting for attention, while a modest amount of channel separation and LFE gives songs and action sequences a decent amount of punch. Just one complaint: no dubs, subtitles, or Closed Captions are included.
Menu Design, Presentation, and Packaging
After a few advertisements and logos, Paramount's DVD opens with a colorful interface that's easy to use. This one-disc release arrives in an eco-friendly keepcase and, not surprisingly, no bonus features are included here.
Though it's barely 90 minutes long and the content is more lukewarm than magical, Nick Jr.'s new holiday collection Snow Awesome has no trouble sticking to the winter theme with no repeats from past DVDs. Featuring six episodes from three of their most popular female-led shows (Nella the Princess Knight, Sunny Day, and Shimmer and Shine), this one-disc release should appeal to fans of these shows who haven't seen or memorized these episodes already. Not surprisingly, the strong A/V presentation and low price outweighs the limited content and lack of extras, which means that Snow Awesome is worth picking up for the right audience. Mildly Recommended, but a rental might be enough for most.
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.