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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > SpongeBob Squarepants - Season Two

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes Overall: A-



Back in the early 1990s, Nickelodeon was still a struggling basic cable station trying to make a name for itself as a bona fide channel with original programming.  Up until this point, they mostly aired reruns of old kid’s shows from various nations around the world.  It was great, as it introduced kids to the raunchy humor of You Can’t Do That on Television to the educational awesomeness of Mr. Wizard’s World.  As far as original programming, all Nickelodeon had was a couple of game shows including Double Dare (and all its incarnations with host Marc Summers) and Wild & Crazy Kids.  But then something happened in the early 1990s that established Nickelodeon as the number one basic cable channel for kids: the invention of the NickToon!  The first three shows to be produced for Nickelodeon were Doug, Rugrats, and Ren & Stimpy.  Kids took to these shows instantly and adored them.  Soon after, Nickelodeon kept their original programming coming with the creation of SNICK, or Saturday night Nickelodeon with awesome shows for kids.  More NickToons soon came with Aaaah! Real Monsters and Rocko’s Modern Life, both of which became as popular as their predecessors.  Little did people know, though, that there was an animator/writer/director at Rocko’s Modern Life who was concocting an idea for an animated show that took place under the sea.  The man was Stephen Hillenberg, who after a lot of hard work, brought the world SpongeBob SquarePants, a kooky series about a sea sponge and his adventures under the sea.


The series became an instant hit and became synonymous with the Nickelodeon network.  While it occasionally has episodes that get a little too out there (an entire episode devoted to SpongeBob relearning to tie his shoes?), the majority of the episodes are pure hilarity, and strike a chord in today’s kids as well as the adults who were kids who grew up on Nickelodeon.  The show has blossomed into one of Nickelodeon’s top shows, and as of now (thankfully!), there is no end in sight.  The writing and directing are brilliant, and the sight gags are spectacular and come out of nowhere but still make perfect sense.  What it must be like to be in the heads of those people?


The set comes in a nice box that resembles SpongeBob’s pineapple home.  The box itself has a nice texture, where certain parts are raised giving it a semi-pineapple feel.  Inside that box is another box containing the three Amaray cases which house the DVDs.  This second box is covered with original artwork featuring all the popular characters from the show, including some well-known ones that appeared in season two.  Each DVD comes with animated menus, which look quite nice.  There is a “Play All” option or you can select each episode individually.  What they also did nice was that under each disc’s “Special Features” menu, they included the credits for each episode separately, instead of tacking them onto each episode.  This allows the viewer to dive into each episode without having to see the opening theme song each time, or view credits at the end.  Also included in the set is a free movie ticket to see the SpongeBob SquarePants movie in select theaters (which I recommend all fans to see).


The video is presented in its original TV aspect ratio of 1.33 to 1.  The colors are rich and vivid suffering from no fading at all.  All lines are thick and solid, with no breaks at all.  The image looks wonderful, as there is not a single hint of dust, grain, dirt, or anything that would tarnish the image.  The combination of cel and computer animation works well for this series, and is preserved quite nicely in this set.  Alas, it is not 100% perfect, as there are some interlacing errors, which are quite noticeable.


The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround, similar to what is heard when viewed on Nickelodeon.  The viewer has the option to listen to the episodes in either English or Spanish.  The quality of the audio is great, as there is no muffling of sound or any hints of imperfections.  It is a decent mix for a television show that utilizes only the front speakers.  They could have done a 5.1 mix, but for a show like this, it would have only been used to amplify directional sound.  Unfortunately, the set is marred by the exclusion of any subtitles or closed captioning.


The extras included in this box set are far from fantastic, and in fact, bring this entire box set down.  Available for seven of the episodes are audio commentaries from each particular episode’s writers and animation director.  There really is not much to be said about these commentaries, as most of time the people who are doing the commentaries do not say a word.  These long periods of silence make the viewer forget they even have the audio commentary option on!  When they do talk, they do not dispense any pearls of wisdom.  More often than not, they just laugh at what they see on screen, or even remind the viewer what is happening in the episode, which is not helpful at all.  They sometimes delve into the creation process on the whole, but do not go into detail about the particular episode.  The commentaries are the worst part of the set.


Other extras include a multi-language featurette entitled “Around the World with SpongeBob SquarePants.”  It is really just the opening credits featuring audio tracks in English, Portuguese, French, Japanese, German, and Spanish.  It is interesting to hear the way the show is translated into these various languages, but other than that, not too interesting.  The episodes “Christmas Who?” and “Mermaidman & Barnacleboy III” can be viewed entirely as a storyboard, so you can get insight into what the episode was like in the planning stages.  The only other extras are a demo for a SpongeBob SquarePants trivia video game (which isn’t that great a game) and a script viewer that can be accessed via DVD-ROM on the computer.


All in all, this set pales in comparison to the season one release, which featured some great interviews with cast and crew members.  The episodes themselves are hilarious and well done, but when the set is all boiled down, it probably would have just been better off to release the set “episodes only.”  Extras for DVD releases are meant to enhance the original content of the episodes, and clearly, these extras do not.  Here’s hoping the next season set brings back the quality of extras seen on the season one box set.



-   Antonio Lopez


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