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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Animation > Children > SpongeBobís Pest of the West (Nickelodeon Animation/Paramount DVD)

SpongeBobís Pest of the West (Nickelodeon Animation/Paramount DVD)


Picture: C-†††† Sound: C†††† Extras: C†††† Episodes: C+



Recently it seems the SpongeBob SquarePants craze has simmered down to a quiet hullabaloo, which means its time for marketing strategies to shift. Younger markets have moved on to the next big thing (probably either Hannah Montana or some other new Disney Channel creation) so the market to target now is the lingering crowd of college-age fans who wield their own purchasing power. And this, my friends, means DVDs. Lots and lots of DVDs that will compile a few episodes with a couple extra features and a fancy-shmancy cover; hence Nickelodeon presents SpongeBobís Pest of the West. Wrapped in a shiny cover sleeve made to look like a pair of swinging saloon doors, this DVD is centered around a special double-length episode of the same title. Longtime fans of childrenís cartoons will be familiar with the formula, in which the writers use an extended flashback sequence to put their regular characters in a new context, in this case: the old west. In his usual super-innocent, yet slightly tongue-in-cheek manner SpongeBob gently lampoons the new-sheriff-in-town western complete with a showdown at high noon.


The disc also has six other regular-length episodes, which have more or less nothing to do with the old western theme, but for fans of the show that shouldnít really matter much. These regular-length episodes would normally be aired in pairs in a half-hour time slot with a commercial break in between. Fortunately this means on the DVD that there are none of those annoying pauses that would normally transition in and out of a block of commercials.


The animation generally consists of two types that are neatly and creatively interwoven. The first is the traditional hand-drawn animation creating cartoon versions of various sea creatures. With each character a different sea-dwelling entity, the animators take full advantage of the eccentricities of their varying anatomies and these characters display an impressive degree of plasticity, even for cartoons. Some of the gags even border on grotesque with a few hyper-detailed close-ups reminiscent of Ren & Stimpy, reviewed elsewhere on this site. The other type of animation used takes existing still images, cuts them into moving parts and animates them with a computer. While this style is not used often, it does make the visuals a bit more dynamic. Unfortunately, the DVD transfer is such that quick movements sometimes result in a very blocky, very apparent interlacing issue. Even without rapid movement, there are times when outlines start to look pixilated or fuzzy. This is especially true of the super-imposed title text. The sound is rendered in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with fairly average quality. It is perhaps not as sharp as it could be, but for a SpongeBob SquarePants DVD the demand for technical perfection isnít terribly high.


The special features consist of four Pest of the West shorts that are considerably wittier than the feature episodes themselves, and certainly more concept driven as opposed to gag driven. There is also an Animatic of the double-length Pest of the West, which is essentially the original storyboards strung together into a loose animation, with the soundtrack over top. While it is interesting to watch for a while, to get some insight into the creation of the cartoon, it is really not worth it to sit through the entire twenty minutes.


While this release has its shortcomings, for a fan it is still a solid buy. It has a total of seven episodes, which is more than you are likely to find on most other non-full-season releases of popular shows. But it still fits in a tidy 75 minute running time so you can easily sit through the whole disc in one shot. Plus for the most part, the special features are just as entertaining and worth repeated viewings as the episodes. And to top it all off, it comes in a snazzy case that looks extra good on a dorm room shelf.



-†† Matthew Carrick


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