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Kevin Krock, editor

DVD Reviews for Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Recess: All Growed Down
(2003) | 61 minutes | Rated G | Reviewed by Ed Perkis, contributing writer
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio ** Video **
Goodies * Interface **
Value **

The Movie

The Recess television show is a staple of the Disney Channel line-up, showing no less than three times a day, seven days a week. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it follows the exploits of a group of fourth graders at Third Street School. Fortunately, the characters are all sterotypes, so you have the “leader,” “the athlete,” “the gentle giant,” “the brain,” and so on. They have names, but you either know what they are, or won't really care.


©Disney

The episodes usually impart a Golden Rule-type truth like “be yourself,” “be kind to the weird kids,” or “old people are useful.” I know it sounds like I don't like the show, but it's actually kinda fun, sometimes humorous, and while the animation is pretty low rent, it does have its own sense of playground style.

The All Growed Down disc is a “movie” only in the loosest sense. It is actually a compilation of three segments from the TV show (each about 11 minutes long) combined with some material created for the DVD to tie the segments together.

The Recess gang is playing croquet (no, I'm not kidding), and gets captured by wild kindergartners led by Chief Stinky (again, I'm serious). In an effort to get out, the gang tells stories relating to the bonding of the big kids and the kindergartners (the TV show segments). It's done in typical flashback “why, I remember the time when Mikey helped Tubby win the Kindergarten Derby” fashion (that's a real episode description; I wish I were joking.) I won't give away the ending; it's a real shocker.

The “movie” is nothing to write home about, but an adult will get a few chuckles out of it. Also, it is refreshingly free of any of the irony or hipness that you see in many of the kids' cartoons today. My kids (ages nine and six) love the show and consequently love this DVD. If you have a Recess fan in your house, chances are they will like it, too. Keep in mind, the running time is a meager 61 minutes.

The Goodies

The goodies here are pretty much non-existent. There are three “bonus” episodes (optimistically listed as “fans favorites”): “The Challenge,” “The Story of Whomps” and “One Stayed Clean.” each about 11 minutes long. This does put the total length of the DVD show material at about 90 minutes.

There are some previews (if you can't get enough of the trailer for MXP: Most Xtreme Primate, then this disc is for you), but no games, music videos, or other goodies.

The Video, Audio and Interface

The animation is typical Saturday morning television cartoon fare and the video looks just like that. The aspect ratio is 1.33:1, but it's not like you care. It looks like what it is; a TV show.


©Disney

The audio sounds amazing and you really need surround sound to get the full effect. OK, not really. It's presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 but there is nothing on the disc you need exceptional sound to experience. A Spanish-language track is available.

The user interface and menus are easy to navigate and pretty standard.

The Final Evaluation

We really have a tale of two audiences here. My kids really like watching these episodes, and despite the fact that the show is on television all the time, this DVD has been played a few times since we got it.

An adult can probably get a few chuckles at the first viewing, but it has almost no repeat value for anyone over about 10. It's fun, sometimes humorous, but ultimately bland kid-friendly fare. However, as I noted before, the show is on the Disney Channel all the time. Make sure you watch a few episodes before buying this DVD. If you already watch Recess, chances are you've seen these segments and won't gain much from shelling out $19.99 for the DVD.


Recess: Taking the Fifth… Grade
(2004) | 62 minutes| Rated G | Reviewed by Ed Perkis, contributing writer
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio ** Video **
Goodies * Interface **
Value **

The Movie

OK, by now you've read the previous Recess: All Growed Down review. Well, forget everything you've read; this DVD is completely different. First of all, it's one minute longer: 62 minutes in all. And… well… it's…. ummmm… OK, it's pretty much the same thing.

Although the package claims that this is “all new” material, the “movie” still feels like three independent segments linked by narration from group leader, TJ. In all other ways, it's similar to the All Growed Down disc, same characters, same mediocre animation, same occasional chuckles, and pedestrian moral at the end of the day.


©Disney

The basic plot moves the Third Street School gang from fourth to fifth grade. As fifth graders they fight back against the Board of Education's school improvement projects (no fun! Let kids be kids!), realize the pitfalls of an exclusive fifth- and sixth-grade clubhouse (don't be elitist!), and try to determine if they are too old to celebrate Halloween (it's for children of all ages!).

The Goodies

The goodies, like on the other DVD, are very slim. There are two “bonus” episodes (the first two episodes in the series): “The Break-In” and “The New Kid.” that are each about 11 minutes long. This puts the total length of the DVD show material at about 80 minutes. Besides the bonus episodes, there are some previews and nothing else.

The Video, Audio and Interface

I couldn't really figure out a new way to say this, so I copied the wording from the All Growed Down review word for word:

The animation is typical Saturday morning television cartoon fare and the video looks just like that. The aspect ratio is 1.33:1, but it's not like you care. It looks like what it is; a TV show.

The audio sounds amazing and you really need surround sound to get the full effect. Ok, not really. It's presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 but there is nothing on the disc you need exceptional sound to experience. A Spanish-language track is available.

The user interface and menus are easy to navigate and pretty standard.

The Final Evaluation

As with All Growed Down, this is fair, somewhat humorous, but hardly essential viewing. The characters are all sterotypes, but still cute to watch. My kids love this stuff, so if your children are fans, they will likely enjoy it, too. This one seems to include more material that hasn't been shown on TV, so it might be a slightly better choice than All Growed Down. In any case, you'd probably be better off spending the $19.99 list price on something that isn't being shown for free three times a day on the Disney Channel.



DVD FEATURES
Goodies for All Growed Down
  • 3 bonus epsides (about 11 minutes each)
Technical Specifications for All Growed Down
  • Region 1 encoded
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
  • Spanish language track
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
Goodies for Taking the Fifth...Grade
  • 2 bonus epsides (about 11 minutes each)
Technical Specifications for Taking the Fifth...Grade
  • Region 1 encoded
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
  • Spanish language track
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
ABOUT THE EDITOR

Kevin “Doc” Krock is been a long-time animation buff and home theater fan. He's been following the rise of the DVD format in the home market since its introduction, and he hopes to help you make the most of your family's home theater viewing time and video collections.

You can contact Kevin here.

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