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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Animals > Invisibility > Telefilm > Animation > Animals > Fantasy > Educational > TV > Abner The Invisible Dog (2013/Inception DVD)/Bubble Guppies: Animals Everywhere! (DVD)/Dora In Wonderland (Nickelodeon DVD)/Leap Frog: Letter Factory Adventures: Letter Machine Rescue Team (Lionsgate

Abner The Invisible Dog (2013/Inception DVD)/Bubble Guppies: Animals Everywhere! (DVD)/Dora In Wonderland (Nickelodeon DVD)/Leap Frog: Letter Factory Adventures: Letter Machine Rescue Team (Lionsgate DVD)/Sesame Street Elmo's World: All About Animals (Warner DVD/all 2014)/Snowflake The White Gorilla (2013/Lionsgate DVD)/Strawberry Shortcake: Big Berry Help (2013/Fox DVD)

Picture: C+ Sound: C+/C+/C+/C+/C+/C+/C Extras: C-/D/C/C/C-/C/C Main Programs: C-/B/C+/C+/B-/C/C+

Here is a new cycle of children's DVD releases, most of which are good, but a few fall short.

Fred Olen Ray's Abner The Invisible Dog (2013) is a sloppy, flat, dull, odd comedy about a dog who becomes invisible when he drinks a stolen invisibility formula, but anything that might work here never gets anywhere with its cast of mostly unknowns (though an older David Chokachi shows up looking bored) and this runs on and on for 89 minutes in a romp that I was shocked at being so bad.

Andrew Stevens produced this and though the dog in the film is some kind of sheep dog, the one of the case is too digitized to be anything real and the one of the back cover is more of a bearded collie! That epitomizes the lack of effort throughout.

A trailer is the only extra.

Next we have two Nickelodeon entries, the 138 minutes of Bubble Guppies: Animals Everywhere! and the shorter than expected Dora In Wonderland (an Alice In Wonderland take-off) which are the latest entires in their respective series, but the former is much better than the latter. I like Dora enough, but the DVD had room for much more and I find it hard to believe there were not more shows or content that could have been added. There are no extras for Bubble, but Dora has a bonus episode (sorely needed) and our edition included a paper doll set.

Leap Frog: Letter Factory Adventures: Letter Machine Rescue Team further expands the educational universe of the Leap Frog franchise well and though this is shorter than Dora at 35 minutes (not including extras), this has a little more impact. Designed to educate young viewers, this has turned out to be a growing franchise that has a bright future. I am pleased with that development.

Music Videos and video segments for parents are the extras.

Sesame Street Elmo's World: All About Animals runs 137 minutes and though it was a bit uneven, it has more content than most entries on the list and has its moments. I just felt it was too much indoor activity for a show on animals and not in the Sesame Street tradition of being outside as much as it should have been. All in all, it is not bad, though.

A DVD-ROM downloadable activity book is the only extra.

Andres S. Schaer's Snowflake The White Gorilla (2013) is the Americanized/English-dubbed version of the CGI animated Spanish production about the out-of-place title character. Too bad this version has awkward, loud voiceover work by a cast that includes David Spade, Keith David and Christopher Lloyd, all of whom are capable of good such work. This runs 86 minutes and never really goes anywhere, but it would be nice to see if the original Spanish version sadly missing from this release is any better. It could not be worse.

Extras include 4 episode of Miniscule and the featurette Giving The Characters A Voice.

Finally we have Strawberry Shortcake: Big Berry Help (2013) the latest CGI installment of the revived franchise and the first we have seen of it at all in many, many years. Running 66 minutes, it may not be as long as one would like, but I was surprised how child-friendly and consistent it was. The characters have been revised, so older fans may not like it, but it is nice for what we get and is worth your child's time if interested.

Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, a Music Video and Printable Coloring Pages are the extras.

The image quality is on even par across all the DVDs here, despite different aspect ratios including anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 presentations on Abner, Frog & Berry, 1.33 X 1 on Bubble, Elmo and an anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 frame on Gorilla. Color is just fine, though the CGI programs tend to have more muted color. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Abner, Gorilla, Dora and Berry should be the sonic champs here, but Berry is sadly the weakest presentation on the list by being transferred at a low volume, while the others have weak soundfields, so the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the rest of the DVDs can more than compete.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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