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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Animals > CGI > Comedy > Trucks > Cars > Traveling > TV > Adventure > Educational > British > Litera > Alpha & Omega: Family Vacation (2015/Lionsgate DVD)/Blaze & The Monster Machines: High-Speed Adventure/Dora & Friends: Doggie Day/Dora's Double-Length Adventures (2015/Nickelodeon DVDs)/Looney Tunes:

Alpha & Omega: Family Vacation (2015/Lionsgate DVD)/Blaze & The Monster Machines: High-Speed Adventure/Dora & Friends: Doggie Day/Dora's Double-Length Adventures (2015/Nickelodeon DVDs)/Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run (2015/Warner DVD)/Peppa Pig: School Bus Trip (Scholastic/E1 DVD)/The Very Fairy Princess (2015 shorts compilation/Scholastic/Cinedigm DVD)

Picture: C+ (C: Alpha) Sound: C+ Extras: D (C on Tunes and Very) Main Programs: C-/C+/C+/C+/C/C+/C+

Here are the new child-animated TV releases for you to know about...

Alpha & Omega: Family Vacation is the latest in the dog/animal wilderness CGI animated franchise that might make kids happy, but it is pretty paper thin in ideas and energy since the original surprise hit release. The makers are really milking this one and this was the flattest yet as the gang gets an RV and goes cross country... as if they are not already in the country. For child fans only if that, this one is no vacation of fun.

Next we have the Nickelodeon releases Blaze & The Monster Machines: High-Speed Adventure continuing the Pixar Cars-inspired show that manages to be just hip enough and not as disappointing as Cars 2. Yet, I was only so impressed last time, but the 90 minutes here may be one of the longest on the list in content, but it is often with repetition and overlap. Again, for fans only.

Then they have issued Dora & Friends: Doggie Day as part of the 'older' Dora and her friends to compete with Barbie and Bratz, but this one too only goes so far despite running 92 minutes. If you are more traditional, you can get Dora's Double-Length Adventures which has the original Dora in travel action which tends to have more energy and brings together 3 releases we previously covered elsewhere on this site: Dora's Fairytale Adventure, Dance to The Rescue & Pirate Adventure. That makes it the longest-running release here, which is fine if you do not have the previous content.

Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run (2015) says its an 'Original Movie' and it is a new production, but at only 75 minutes, movie is pushing it. The gang gets involved with the U.S. Military trying to get a rare flower, leading to a silly chase, some mixed comedy and musical numbers that come out of nowhere. The result is though we see most of the favorites from the Looney Tunes gallery show up, this is not well written, paced and not that funny or fun. It might be worth a look for some, but it did not work that well for me. Fortunately, this has some extras you can read more about below, but they need to do better next time otherwise.

Finally we have two Scholastic DVD releases: Peppa Pig: School Bus Trip which is far more convincing that the Alpha RV romp and The Very Fairy Princess with four solid shorts to encourage literacy and education. The Peppa set has 10 adventures at about 5 minutes each and tends to be as child-friendly as possible, while Very has may only run 37 minutes, but no less than Julie Andrews co-wrote the book the title short is based on. We also get Extra Yarn, The Amazing Bone (narrated by John Lithgow, the great actor whose more involved in the child fiction world than you'd think; uncredited on the case) and My Garden. They are all very child friendly and they can never make or issue enough of this material for my tastes.

All have anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image presentations save 1.33 X 1 on Dora Double and some of the Very shorts and all look equally decent, clear and colorful for the format, though expect some minor flaws, staircasing and even aliasing errors at time. However, the CGI on Alpha tends to be much softer throughout than expected and is the one underperformer here. In the sound department, you get lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on all the releases save lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the Dora Double and Scholastic discs. They play well enough too, but the 5.1 presentations are never so powerful as to impress, shock or offers any demo material. In many cases, you can hear the sound has been pulled back when mixed to be child-friendly.

There are no extras on any of these releases save five recently-produced theatrical animated Looney Tunes shorts (a few originally in 3D and all of which have already been issued on Blu-ray) including Best Friends, Coyote Falls, Fur Of Flying, Rabid Rider and I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat on Tunes (often in 2.35 X 1 framing) and an on camera interview with Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton on Very.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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