Adventures Of The Wilderness Family (1975/Lionsgate DVD)/Big Time Movie (with Rags/Nickelodeon
Show Holiday Extravaganza (Gaiam Vivendi
DVD)/The Magic School Bus: The Complete
Series (1994 – 1998/New Video/Scholastic DVD Box Set)/Planet Dinosaur (BBC DVD)/SpongeBob
Squarepants: Ghouls Fools (Nickelodeon DVD)
(Planet: C) Sound: C+ (Family: C) Extras: C-/D/C/C+/B-/D Main Programs: C-/C-/C/B+/C+/C+
into Fall, here are some new titles aimed at younger audiences.
been eons since I saw Stewart Raffill’s Adventures
Of The Wilderness Family (1975) was an independent theatrical release at a
time when you would get child0freindly films here and there before Hollywood
when toy bonkers with tie-in films and TV shows. A family of four (mother father, son,
daughter) decide to move to the Rocky Mountains
and live there when the young lady turns out to be sick with a serious
disease. They ride out there (see the
gas station with 51-cents-a-gallon gas!) and are determined to stay there.
animals show up and they are rarely attacked.
They get along with just about all of them, including wild animals who
just like the family so much, they will not hurt them. Scenery is not bad, but the acting is
problematic (typical of such productions of the time) and the script is weak,
down to the fatal disease not being discussed (getting out the city made it go
away?) and the result is a weak film that has not aged well, but does have a
few amusing moments. Just not enough to
sit through all of it. A theatrical
trailer and four TV spots are the extras.
speaking of hyper commercial works, Nickelodeon has stuck two telefilms
together about (bad) music and the teens who (try and) sing. Big
Time Movie continues their attempt to give us a boy band, this one suddenly
(sure…) but I have never seen any such attempt turn out to be so boring. In case we nearly fall asleep, we also get Rags, where a female pop star singer
(also unconvincing) meets a guy who comes from “another world”, but this too is
extremely convoluted (esp. in the Internet era) as they really have more in
common: predictability and boredom.
There are no extras; see it at your own risk.
latest of the computer animated series of The
Garfield Show gives us the Holiday
Extravaganza single DVD. This
includes six such themed episodes: Haunted
House, Which Witch, Turkey Trouble, Caroling Capers and (in 2 parts) Home For The Holidays. Heir Apparent is the bonus episode and
this is a nice set in keeping with these releases, which are amusing, though
some might not like a CG Garfield. SpongeBob Squarepants: Ghouls Fools is
almost the same release, but sticks with Halloween and offers six episodes
including The Curse Of Bikini Bottom,
Ghost Host, Born Again Krabs, Arrgh!,
You’re Shoes United and Money Talks. This one has no extras, but is as
entertaining as the other release.
surprise is the big (and somewhat heavy, being 8 DVDs in slender-cases,
The Magic School Bus: The Complete
Series ran for
four seasons and is a surprisingly fun, educational, energetic, sometimes
charming and definitely child-friendly series with the great, legendary Lily
Tomlin voicing the role of a great teacher who wants to stir her student’s
imaginations and takes them on many field trips to do just that.
me of a more educational variation of the amusing 1970s animated series Mission Magic (reviewed elsewhere on
this site, a young Rick Springfield voiced one of the characters) I was
surprised how well this held up and was made to begin with, but it is yet
another winner for Scholastic and this is as strong as any of their great educational
DVD box sets to date with all 52 episodes here.
addition, it includes a nicely illustrated 24-page activity book and though the
discs themselves have no other extras, this is a extremely rewatchable treasury
and if it was not enough that the whole show is nicely produced, Tomlin is
great and puts this one over the top making it one of the best children’s
market box sets if the whole year. I
wish we saw more of this quality!
we have another educational DVD release, the BBC has Planet Dinosaur (2011) which is the latest of a still-overcrowded
market of discs and programs on the subject, with the idea here being that we
really do not 100% know what dinos really looked like. This is as good as most of what we have seen
over the years, though it is a little soft and digital animation is on the weak
side. Still, it is one of the smarter
ones and if you still have an interest in the subject, it is worth a look. The only extra is the How To Build A Dinosaur featurette.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Dinosaur
is the weakest of all the releases here, while the same aspect ratio on Family, Time and Garfield look
better and are about as good as can be expected, despite being a little soft
throughout in each case. Bus and SpongeBob are here in colorful and usually solid 1.33 X 1
presentations with limited aliasing errors.
The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Family
just boosts the theatrical mono sound as best as it can, but you can hear the
age and limits making it the poorest-sounding release here (at least it is
cleaned up somewhat), while the same mix on Garfield sounds narrowly better, it is a quiet show with a limited
soundfield. The rest of the programs are
in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that can more than compete with the other
titles. None of these have any major
- Nicholas Sheffo