Tag Archives: DVD reviews

DVD Review: “The Penguins of Madagascar-Operation: DVD Premiere”

Who could have imagined that the Penguin characters from the two Madagascar film would spin off to their own animated series so successfully? In both films, the characters were essentially comic relief, thrown in as a “C” story that pretty much had nothing with the main plots until they show up at the end to rejoin the rest of the escaped zoo animals. Yet, in their own show, the penguins not only carry the show, but they are funny and enjoyable for parents and kids alike.

The Nickelodeon series has been on the air nearly a year now and it’s a big hit for the network. So, in true fashion of the marketing savvy network, Nickelodeon has released Operation: DVD Premiere, the first “feature length” DVD with over two hours of entertainment. The DVD is a collection of some of the Penguins best adventures, as well as a brand new, never-before-seen special, “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge,” and two never- before-seen episodes, “Truth Ache” and “Command Crisis.” On a side note, I know that Nick plans to air “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge” on President’s Day. I don’t understand the logic in advertising something as “never-before-seen” for just one week before putting in on television. I digress.

The set up for the show is simple: The Penguins, that is Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private, are back living at the New York City Zoo. Even though they are residents in the zoo, that doesn’t mean they’re confined behind bars. Instead, they have plenty of crazy adventures within the zoo and outside it. Along for the fun are three characters they never lived in the zoo in the films: King Julien, the insane lemur, originally voiced by Sacha Baren Cohen, by on television capably handled by Danny Jacobs, Maurice, an aye aye who is Julien’s trusty servant, and Mort, the accident mouse lemur who is the brunt of Julien’s contempt.

Supporting characters on hand to fill the absence of the main Madagascar characters include Marlene, an otter whose character is solely new to the series, plus Mason and Phil, the two chimpanzees from the films.

“Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge” is a funny, “save the world” adventure that finds the Penguins pitted against the evil Dr. Blowhole, an angry dolphin who gets around on a Segway. Dr. Blowhole plans to melt the North Pole in order to flood the earth as payback to humans for making him perform tricks in a ring of fire. Making matters worse for the Penguins is the fact that Julien has teamed up with Blowhole. The nefarious Blowhole is voiced by guest-star Neil Patrick Harris (who seems to be everywhere these days) and he has a good time with the role. Like most animation being produced these days, the adult behind the creation of the show often slip in a little bit of safe grown-up humor to make the show enjoyable for parents, as well as their kids.

The other two episodes, “Truth Ache” and “Command Crisis” fit right in with the seven other episodes included on this DVD, all of which have previously aired on Nickelodeon. As for bonus features, they aren’t much. But you shouldn’t expect too much when you’re buying TV episodes on a single disc like this one, anyway. There are trailers for upcoming Dreamworks animated features, Nick animated show and a couple of online games. Like I said, it isn’t much. Still, if you have a Penguin or King Julien fan in your house (child or adult) then this DVD is a worthwhile investment.

DVD Review: “Sonny with a Chance: Sonny’s Big Break”

51wlvLbYKyL._SCLZZZZZZZ_[1]Sonny with a Chance: Sonny’s Big Break (2009, Disney)
purchase from Amazon: DVD

Disney’s Sonny with a Chance is cut from the same cloth as the mouse house’s other tween sitcoms: bright, pretty young ingénue thrown into a crazy situation and surrounded by an ensemble of wacky supporting characters. In this case, the female star is Demi Lovato; the budding young music star that also has appeared in the Disney hit films, Rock Camp and Princess Protection Program. Lovato plays Sonny; she’s a Midwestern teenager brought to Los Angeles to become the newest star on “So Random,” a sketch show that resembles the old Nickelodeon series, All That. With her wide-eyed optimism and Midwestern gosh oh golly, Mickey and Judy “let’s put on a show” enthusiasm, Sonny is a fish out of water and immediately at odds with “So Random’s” other so L.A. starlet, Tawni (Tiffany Thornton). Tawni is a bratty teen whose ice cool heart is eventually melted by Sonny and they soon become fast friends.

The remainder of the “So Random” cast includes the Mutt & Jeff duo, Nico (Brandon Mychal Smith) and Grady (Doug Brochu). Smith and Brochu are great with the one liners and willing to make fools of themselves. They’re my favorite characters. There is also the standard “bratty little sister” character, this time in the form of Zora (Allisyn Ashley Arm), the youngest cast member. While “So Random” is very popular, it competes for an audience with “Mackenzie Falls,” a sort of Gossip Girl soap opera staring a group of prima donnas. Their leader is Chad Dylan Cooper (a funny Sterling Knight), who is so full of himself, he can’t pass a mirror without looking. Chad loves getting the better of the “So Random” gang, but has a hard time breaking Sonny’s spirit. This confuses him and strangely, makes him drawn to the girl. Continue reading

DVD Review: “The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 1”

The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 1 (2009, Warners)
purchase from Amazon: DVD

Did you know that Star Trek wasn’t the first sci-fi series to develop a life after it was cancelled and earn a new life almost 20 years later? I didn’t. The Jetsons, the first animated family in space, premiered in 1962 as a prime time family show before immediately jumping to Saturday mornings. For over 20 years, the original 24 episodes played endlessly until the show’s producers, animation legends Hanna Barbera, decided to give their fans more adventures of George, Jane, Judy, Elroy and Astro, the family pet. The Jetsons Season 2 premiered in the fall of 1985 and now, the first 21 episodes of season 2 have been released on a 3 disc set, The Jetsons Season 2, Volume 1.

The second season took on a direction for the show. Now strictly a Saturday morning cartoon, the revived series was aimed squarely at children. The focus shifted from the adult adventures of George to more stories about Elroy and Judy. Additionally, there was an emphasis on computers and all the great, cool gadgets the future would provide. The second season also introduced a cuddly, furry creature called Orbitty, which became Elroy’s sidekick and the new family pet (Astro was always more of a human character; a space age Scooby Doo).

It’s important to know these facts going into The Jetsons Season 2, Volume 1 because if you were like me, expecting the same 60’s, cool cartoon that I grew up with in the 70’s, you’ll be in for a bit of a letdown. The second season of The Jetsons is purely kids stuff. The animation is glossy and slick, better than the 60s’ version, but there seems to be a little bit of soul and charm missing from the 1980’s version. Furthermore, the music was updated for the time and featured electronic instruments, then the current fad.

Still, this new version of The Jetsons was never intended for grown ups and the trust test of its appeal is how it will play to a kid in the 21st Century. I sat down with my 7 year old cartoon loving son to get his reaction.

He loved it. He laughed at the corny jokes, thought Orbitty was cute, and seemed to associate with Elroy. Everything the producers were pursuing in the 1980’s held true twenty years later. That, my friends, is the true testament of a great series. If it holds up for a modern audience, then it must have been doing something right.

Go out and find The Jetsons Season 2, Volume 1, for your kids. It’s safe, goofy fun and doesn’t contain any of the mean spirited humor that so many modern cartoons contain. Furthermore, the well produced documentary bonus feature, The Jetsons Return to the Future has plenty of little informational nuggets to satisfy the little ones curiosity and create fans for life.