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|Kevin Krock, editor|
If you were either a kid or a parent between 1962 and 1977, then the weekly exploits of Davey and his dog, Goliath, are probably familiar to you. This stop- motion three- dimensional animated TV show was conceived by Gumby creator Art Clokey as an alternative to violent or brainless children's TV shows. Essentially, the show takes the friendly and loving characteristics that made Gumby such a hit, and introduces moral and spiritual aspects. The series was produced by the Lutheran Church in America, and each of the story's uplifting themes are wrapped in stories that children can easily relate to. In doing so, the stories do mention God on occasion, and on rarer instances, Jesus. The likable characters and simple plots are entertaining to young children, and can be a nostalgic blast for the "older" crowd familiar with the show.
For those that haven't heard of or seen the show, the animation alone is a treat to watch. The sets are very detailed, and even though the animation looks a bit dated, watching it closely makes you appreciate the effort and care that were put into each frame. Some folks may not like the look of the animation because it doesn't compare to contemporary stop-motion animation, like Chicken Run or The Nightmare Before Christmas, but one must maintain a historical perspective when watching older animation like this. Remember that the show was designed for children, and made on a tight budget for the small screen over 20 years ago. Since then, the art of stop- motion animation has progressed tremendously thanks to artists like Art Clokey. As a collection, these discs contain some great examples of historical stop- motion animation footage.
There are currently two volumes available, each of them containing eight episodes. These 16 episodes are just a sampling of the 65 fifteen- minute episodes that were produced, but the collections don't appear to be arranged in any specific order.
Since the original material was made strictly for TV over 20 years ago, I wasn't expecting many, if any, extras. Volume 1 met my "no extras" expectation. All that is included is a brief behind- the- scenes story, which is mildly interesting. Volume 2 has a couple more extra features, but they are also only mildly interesting. There is a behind- the- scenes photo gallery that plays like a slide show, an episode guide with show synopses, and an interactive trivia game. It's better than nothing, but, unfortunately, there probably isn't any other material available anymore.
The Video, Audio and Interface...
There's not much to say here. As I've been mentioning, these shows were designed for 1960s and '70s television, so you won't get eye- popping colors, flawless screen images, or dynamic surround sound. The video definitely shows its age, but if you apply your "historical perspective" while viewing, it won't seriously detract from the viewing experience.
The audio is a simple mono soundtrack, since that was all that was broadcast back then. The soundtrack tends to be a bit muffled at points, but your kids probably won't notice. Finally, the interface is very simple and only contains a few menus. You can either play the movie, select the individual chapters, or view the bonus material. The menus are not animated, and there's no background audio.
The Final Evaluation...
Unfortunately, the lack of bonus features, rough video, minimal audio, and basic interface make it difficult to recommend these discs as great examples of the DVD format. However, the shows themselves may be enough for fans, viewers into stop- motion animation or interested parents to overlook these "deficiencies." For me, they were very nostalgic, since I used to watch them when I was a kid. My two- year- old seems to enjoy "Davey an Goriaf," even if he doesn't yet grasp what the stories are all about. In the end, I'd probably see if I could rent the discs before deciding to pick them up, or I'd stick with the less convenient, but essentially equivalent, VHS route.