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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Comic Strip > Animation > Chidlren > Comedy > Animals > Action > Educational > Fanta > Dennis The Menace – Season Two (1960 – 1961/Shout! Factory DVD Set)/Clifford – The Big Red Dog: Dog Days Of Summer (Lionsgate DVD)/Go Diego Go – Fiercest Animal Creatures (Nickelodeon DVD)/Leap Frog –

Dennis The Menace – Season Two (1960 – 1961/Shout! Factory DVD Set)/Clifford – The Big Red Dog: Dog Days Of Summer (Lionsgate DVD)/Go Diego Go – Fiercest Animal Creatures (Nickelodeon DVD)/Leap Frog – Sing & Learn With Us! (Lionsgate DVD)/The Smurfs – A Magical Smurf Adventure (Warner DVD Set)

 

Picture: C+     Sound: C+ (Dennis: C)     Extras: C-/C-/D/C/C-     Episodes: C+ (Dennis: B-)

 

 

When a comic strip is as popular as Dennis The Menace, doing any live action version is going to be put under huge scrutiny, but thanks to the dead-on casting of a very young Jay North, a hit TV series resulted that ranks up there with Columbia’s Blondie series as one of the most popular and successful filmed adaptations of any comic strip (especially comedy) ever produced.

 

We join Shout! Factory’s DVD releases with Dennis The Menace – Season Two (1960 – 1961) and having not sent he show for a long time, I was surprised how funny, smart and charming the show could be, made as a fun family entertainment that is far more consistent and amusing than you might think.  All 38 half-hours are here across five DVDs and it makes for a nice collection that holds up well 50+ years later, also making it one of the better comedies of its time.  The show is not stuck in 1950s sitcom conventions, though some of its elements may have some similarities.

 

Joseph Kearns’ Mr. Wilson is not a mean or easily annoyed man, but a really nice guy who may be annoyed by Dennis more than even he wants to admit, but he is not hateful or someone with dysfunctional character issues, which makes him being annoyed that much more amusing.  Gloria Henry, Herbert Anderson, Billy Booth and Jeannie Russell also star.  Extras include a paper insert with episode guide and brief clip of the show with sponsor commercials.

 

Of course, most of the children’s shows today are animated or just seem like cartoons when they should not be, but they too can be quality releases like Clifford – The Big Red Dog: Dog Days Of Summer, the latest of the single DVD installments of the rightly popular series including five episodes on this disc.  Though no blockbuster film or craze has resulted, I am impressed how pleasant and child-safe the show continues to be and how outright funny some of it can be.  6 Speckles Stories are the only extra in this case.

 

About as good is Go Diego Go – Fiercest Animal Creatures, a DVD single that actually debuts an episode not shown on TV (at least as of the time of this original release) in what is only three episodes on one DVD with no extras, but the show (like Dora) is a good show that encourages young viewers to explore the world around them, even if it is not in taking international excursions.

 

There is the somewhat underrated learning experience for young viewers that is Leap Frog – Sing & Learn With Us!, the latest single in that educational series that teaches skills to its young viewers in a really fun, energetic way.  This one deals with language, spelling, grammar and has its share of fun.  Extras include DVD-ROM accessible printable coloring sheets (3) and sing-along storybooks (12).  To get the idea of how good this series is, here is a link to more solid installments in the series:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10506/Care+Bears+%E2%80%93+The+Givi

 

 

Finally we have a new DVD set, The Smurfs – A Magical Smurf Adventure, being released so there is another title available as the feature film relaunch of the franchise is upon us.  This one has ten episodes as Warner takes a break from issuing the series for some reason.  For those familiar with the show, here are links to our previous coverage:

 

Volume One

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/6714/The+Smurfs:+Season+One+%E2%80

 

Volume Two

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/7701/The+Smurfs:+Season+One+%E2%80

 

True Blue Friends single

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/8343/The+Smurfs:+True+Blue+Friends+(Wa

 

 

I was never a big fan of the show, though my fellow writers obviously like the show, it just seemed more appealing to some than others.  The show is not awful and decades later, I at least understand it is enough of its own show that you can see how fans could get lost in its silliness.  It is also sadly one of the last big hits the original Hanna Barbera would ever have.  These shows come from Season Two and extras include Smurf Speak and Smurftastic Moments, which has ten highlights from this season.

 

The 1.33 X 1 image on all five releases are equal, with the black and white Dennis shot in 35mm and holding up nicely all these decades later, the Smurf transfers looking good for their age and newer animation on the rest looking as good as their previous releases.  Dennis has some flaws on the various film materials and all have their instances of softness, minor flaws and even aliasing errors.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 across all five releases is good, simple stereo save Dennis, which is monophonic and more compressed than expected overall suggesting rough optical mono sources.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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