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Kevin Krock, editor

Chapter Stops - Brief DVD Reviews

Animation and Children's DVD Roundup

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
by Kevin Krock, Home Theater editor

Sometimes life gets going so fast and in so many directions that some things just start piling up without you realizing it. So, in an effort to clear space from the top of my DVD player, I put together a series of short reviews that cover the essentials of the following, mostly average discs. Most of you will already be familiar with the core material, so I will focus on highlighting key points that will hopefully assist you in making your purchasing or renting decisions.

The Jetsons: The Complete First Season
(2004) | Approx. 629 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video**
Goodies***Interface**
Value**
Disc 1 Disc 2 Disc 3 Disc 4
  • Rosie the Robot
  • A Date with Jet Screamer
  • The Space Car
  • The Coming of Astro
  • Jetsons Night Out
  • The Good Little Scouts
  • The Flying Suit
  • Rosie's Boyfriend
  • Elroy's TV Show
  • Unilab
  • A Visit from Grandpa
  • Astro's Top Secret
  • Elroy's Pal
  • Test Pilot
  • Millionare Astro
  • The Little Man
  • Las Venus
  • Jane's Driving Lesson
  • G.I. Jetson
  • Miss Solar System
  • TV or Not TV
  • Private Property
  • Dude Planet
  • Elroy's Mob

I used to watch The Jetsons all the time, but it has been a while since I have had the chance to sit and watch it. Fortunately, as with many television shows these days, this four-disc collection of the whole first season is now available to watch any time you want.

Several of the episodes are quite memorable and a lot of fun to see again, and the video transfers all look pretty good for the source material being a few decades old. The audio is a simple monophonic transfer, but it is clean and solid throughout. The bonus material is not very extensive and should not be considered a big draw to this collection, but the two episode-specific commentaries and the four other short featurettes are decent additions to the viewing material. If you and your family are either big fans of the Jetsons, TV show collectors, or animation fans, then this set deserves your consideration.

Home On The Range
(2004) | Approx. 76 min. | Rated PG| Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio4 starsVideo4 stars
Goodies***Interface4 stars
Value***

Home On The Range was the last of Disney's “traditional” 2D animation features, and it is one of those movies that looks beautiful, features fantastic animation, has a great soundtrack. Unfortunately, its weakest points are the quirky storyline and the large cast of leading characters. I know some people like the movie, but even after watching it a couple of times, I found it hard to get emotionally involved with any particular character or drawn into the plight of bounty hunting cows. I will say, however, that it does have its occasional funny and entertaining moments, but they are pretty scattered. [You can read Alex Stroup's movie review here from when it premiered.]


Promotional image © Disney.

Even though the movie did not really float my boat, it is very nicely presented on this disc. The colors and details on this THX-certified video transfer are spectacular, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack will sound good on any home theater system. While this is only a single-disc edition, the movie is short enough (only 76 minutes) that there is a decent amount of bonus material. The approximately 17 min “Making of” documentary is an enjoyable survey of how they put the movie together, and the deleted scenes are also a nice addition. The commentary by Alice Dewey (Producer), Will Finn (Co-Writer/Director), and John Sanford (Co-Writer/Director) is interesting and educational, and it is well worth listening to, especially if you are looking for explanations for why things turned out like they did.


Promotional image © Disney.

If you enjoyed the movie, then this disc is for you. But for those of you that have never seen it or found it entertaining but not very memorable, it is still worth a rental for the commentary and bonus material.

Home on the Range Sing Along Songs
(2004) | Approx. 30 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio3 starsVideo**
Goodies**Interface3 stars
Value**

Sing-Along Songs

  1. “Litle Patch of Heaven” – Home On The Range
  2. “Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo” – Home On The Range
  3. “Home On The Range”
  4. “Oh, Susanna!”
  5. “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”
  6. “She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain”
  7. “The Farmer In The Dell”
  8. “Pecos Bill” – Melody Time
  9. “A Cowboy Needs A Horse” – A Cowboy Needs A Horse
  10. “Stanley Rides Again” – Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up
  11. “Anytime You Need A Friend” – Home On The Range

Dance-Along Songs

  1. “Litle Patch of Heaven” – Home On The Range
  2. “Anytime You Need A Friend” – Home On The Range
  3. “Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo” – Home On The Range

I have been a bit surprised by how well put together the Disney Sing-Along DVD library has been so far. The interface is nicely animated and fun, and the selection of music pretty closely fits the theme of the disc. In this edition, several songs from Disney's last 2D animated feature, Home On The Range, are intertwined with other classic Western-style childrens songs. The video and audio are typical for a Disney direct-to-video release and will be acceptable on most family home theaters. The bonus material features a number of edutainment activities for your children, covering areas like reading and spelling. If you have enjoyed any of the previous Sing-Along DVDs, then this will make a good addition to your collection.

SPIDER-MAN:THE '67 COLLECTION
(1967) | Approx. 1,144 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio*Video**
Goodies1 starsInterface2 stars
Value**

I remember watching these original Spider-Man cartoons in reruns after grammar school on weekday afternoons, and it was a surprisingly strong flashback to hear that familiar theme song and see the “IN COLOR” logo pop up on my screen when I loaded these DVDs. That is just one example of the small things about this set that those of us who watched it back then will more fully appreciate. Although, Spider-Man has enjoyed a recent resurgence, these episodes should still play fairly well with current young viewers. All 52 original episodes from 1967 are presented on this six disc set, and while I have yet to make it through all 19 hours or so of episodes, it was a lot of fun to see several of these classics again. Amongst Spidey's memorable foes that he encountered during this first season are Dr. Octopus, The Green Goblin, Mysterio, the Rhino, the Kingpin, Dr. Magneto.

While all the episodes I watched revealed their age with dust, scratches, and other minor visual distractions, the colors are surprisingly saturated. Additionally, the animation was designed for Saturday morning cartoons, so some leeway must be given for the relatively unrefined look to the episodes. As for the audio, do not expect anything more than what was there originally, a simple monophonic soundtrack. Even at that, though, some of the audio is a bit rough around the edges. Also, do not go looking for any bonus material on this set. Personally, I thought breaking the set up into two releases with some additional bonus featurettes would have been better, but maybe there was not enough material to warrant that option.

This set, while a boon to those that love Spider-Man, has a rather limited audience and may not play well with a wide family audience. Just go into it prepared that you and your family really have to want to watch a lot of Spider Man to pick up this set. If you fit that category, then by all means, track it down. For the rest of you, though, save your money for another DVD on another day.

Bear In The Big Blue House Collection
(2004) | Approx. 45 to 75 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio2 starsVideo2 stars
Goodies2 starsInterface2 stars
Value2 stars
 

Everybody with a child and the Disney Channel knows about Bear and all his friends in the Big Blue House. My boys have been watching Bear for years, and now they can watch the gang any time they want on our DVD player. Actually, this collection of DVDs was previously owned by Columbia Tristar, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment recently obtained the home video distribution rights to the Bear franchise. If you already have the Tristar discs, there will not be any significant difference between those and any with a Disney label.


Promotional image © Disney.

All the discs present the TV shows with decent quality, but nothing better than what you can get from your satellite or cable. The convenience is having all these episodes available on DVD rather than in a stack of VHS tapes or waiting for them to be rerun. Besides the Sing-Along songs, there is not other bonus material, which is kind of a disappointment, but these discs are truly targeted for the children. The discs I have watched with my boys include:

  • Heroes of Woodland Valley
  • Party Time with Bear
  • Potty Time with Bear
  • A Bear for All Seasons
  • Everybody's Special
  • Shapes, Sounds & Colors with Bear
  • Tidy Time with Bear
  • Visiting the Doctor with Bear
  • Sleepy Time with Bear and Friends
  • Dance Party!

Each of these discs, except the Heroes disc, contains three episodes of the show in their entirety, and your children can either watch the shows individually or you can watch all of them continuously. For families with young children and toddlers, these discs make great additions to your library, and you do not need to have all of them for your children to enjoy Bear and the gang. After going through all those aforementioned discs, my boys end up watching only one or two episodes over and over, anyways. So, track down your children's favorites and pick them up at your local discount store.

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Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Kevin here.


The Jetsons
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Two episode commentaries by Janet Waldo
  • The Jetsons: The Family of the Future (8 min)
  • Space Age Gadgets (5 min)
  • Nuclear Family Album (2 min)
  • Rosie the Robotic Maid: A Tribute (3 min)

Technical Specifications

  • Region 1 encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • Full-screen – 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • French and Spanish subtitles
  • Closed-captioned

Home On The Range
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Four deleted scenes (15 min)
  • The Making of Home On the Range (17 min)
  • Audio Commentary – Producer and Co-Writer/Directors
  • Art Review (10 min)
  • “A Dairy Tale: The Three Little Pigs” animated short (4 min)
  • Yodel and Joke games and activities

Technical Specifications

  • Region 1 encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • Anamorphic widescreen – 1.66:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • French language track
  • Closed-captioned
  • THX Certified

Home On The Range
Sing-Along Songs
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Karaoke mode
  • “Find It!” Word recognition game
  • “Letter Puzzle” Spelling activity
  • “What's This?” Early reading activity
  • Random and repeat play options

Technical Specifications

  • Region 1 encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • Full-screen – 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Closed-captioned

Spider Man '67 Collection
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • No additional video material
  • Booklet with episodes

Technical Specifications

  • Region 1 encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • Full-screen – 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Closed-captioned

Bear in the Big Blue House
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • 3 - 6 Sing-Along songs

Technical Specifications

  • Region 1 encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • Full-screen – 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Closed-captioned

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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