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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Animation > Computer Animation > Fantasy > TV > Comedy > Drama > Melodrama > Holiday > Animals > Dogs > The Adventures Of Scooter The Penguin (2012/E1 DVD)/Dora’s Royal Rescue (Nickelodeon DVD)/The Heart Of Christmas (2011/Image DVD)/Martha & Friends Holiday Collection (2012/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)/A Princes

The Adventures Of Scooter The Penguin (2012/E1 DVD)/Dora’s Royal Rescue (Nickelodeon DVD)/The Heart Of Christmas (2011/Image DVD)/Martha & Friends Holiday Collection (2012/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)/A Princess For Christmas (2011/Lionsgate DVD)/Thomas Kinkade: Christmas Miracle (2012/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)/Trooper & The Legend Of The Golden Key (2011/E1 DVD)/12 Dogs Of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue (2012/Sony DVD)


Picture: C (Dora: C+)     Sound: C+/C+/C/C+/C/C+/C+/C     Extras: D/C+/D/C/C-/D/D/C-     Main Programs: C/C+/D/C/C+/C/C/C-



The holidays are coming and this latest batch of DVD releases is trying to beat those dates by weeks to get shopping in early and often.  Too bad most of this is forgettable fluff.



The Adventures Of Scooter The Penguin (2012) is a simple, formulaic, computer animated tale of the title character trying to find a new home, which we have seen over and over.  The animation is as average as the script, but this is at least child friendly and not awful.  It is also competent, but not very memorable, so only select young children will enjoy it.  There are no extras, but it runs 81 minutes and that is better than many straight-to-video tossaways, so that is a plus.



The reliable Dora The Explorer is back with Dora’s Royal Rescue offering a two-part tale and is the usually pleasantly done, consistent, entertaining for young people show each DVD release has offered before.  More a fantasy entry than the usual travel story, this is just fine and Dora’s Knighthood Adventure is even here as a bonus episode, so it makes for a well-rounded if short disc.  The other extra is a nice 20-page mini-coloring book that is better than the usual Dora DVD.



The Heart Of Christmas (2011) gives us an unknown cast, sappy script and awful plotting allegedly based on some true story about someone dying of cancer, but the acting is dead-on-arrival with formulaic dialogue, bad acting and every disease-of-the-weak cliché you can think of.  The only extra is a Music Video for the lame title song by Matthew West, but it all feels like an odd coal in one’s stocking.



Martha & Friends Holiday Collection (2012) is a set of animated shorts starring cook and crafts star Martha Stewart as an animated figure in four shorts once offered as Webisodes that are amusing, not bad, but not very memorable.  The animation is as simple as anything, but we have seen worse and these will be curios for a few people we guess.  Sadly, this is one of the better releases here and one of the least pretentious about the holiday.  Downloads of craft projects and food recipes are the only extra.



Actor and one-time singer Michael Damien tries his hand at directing with A Princess For Christmas (2011) with Kate McGrath as a single mother of two of limited means taking them al to her grandfather’s mansion for the holiday.  The dialogue is mixed, the actors OK and locations fine, but we still get some formula and clichés.  What makes this really stand out is having Roger Moore (The Saint, The Persuaders and one-time James Bond) as that rich grandfather who may be snobby, but has a moral center that puts this above the h8uindreds of awful recent holiday disasters.  Still not great, the real problem here is choppy editing that stops this from being better than it is and from being more memorable.


A behind-the-scenes featurette is the only extra, but save it for after you have seen the main feature.



If Thomas Kinkade: Christmas Miracle (2012) sounds familiar, it is because it is one of many holiday releases with his name on it and the third we have covered.  However, they all seem the same, almost have the same plot and offer false senses of family I could do without.  This is a stuck-in-a story, except the 8 boring people get stuck in a church and we get bored nearly to death.  If you want something to put you to sleep for the holiday, try this, but skip it otherwise.  A behind-the-scenes featurette and equally forgettable, boring Deleted Scenes are the only extras.



Trooper & The Legend Of The Golden Key (2011) has animals, especially dogs, that talk and with bad digital animation, giving us all new respect for the likes of Mister Ed.  No actual action story as the title suggests, it is just a simple (overly so) tale of Trooper and his 10-year-old “owner” finding said key.  A little cuteness goes a long way here and I was not impressed, but it is child-friendly and tolerable, yet nothing rewatchable either.  I don’t expect a series either.  There are no extras.



Last and among the least is 12 Dogs Of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue (2012) with more animals all overt the place, more dogs here and will they have a place to live if a mean man (Sean Patrick Flannery) closes down the doggie shelter?  At 102 long minutes, I could have cared less and though the dialogue was as silly as it was overacted.  The animals were more appealing than the actors and this also had a fake look about it throughout.  We’ve seen this one before plenty of times as well.


Someone will like this for the puppies, et al, but they do not stand out much either.  We get three featurettes as extras, but nothing much more and the resulting cut talks down to its audience more than expected.  See this one when not operating heavy machinery and don’t expect much.


Dora is actually the most defined and colorful of all the releases here with its 1.33 X 1 aspect ratio throughout, while anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the rest of the DVDs underperform by being softer than they should be throughout and even in cases where the image might have been softened to be Christmas-like, they are all hard to watch.  Princess has the best color of the remaining releases.


The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Princess and Miracle are the best of the four multi-channel releases here, but Heart and Dogs are not only the other two, but the worst two sounding releases on the list with too much of the sound in the front speakers and even center channel.  It is shocking, with bad mixing decisions and we would even advise one to be careful of volume switching when watching them on home theater systems.  That leaves the rest of the DVDs with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that is better than Heart and Dogs and we better off leaving their sound playback as simple stereo.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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