Tag Archives: Television

DVD Review: “Bunnytown: Hello Bunnies!”

Bunnytown: Hello Bunnies! (2009, Disney)
purchase this DVD (Amazon)

If you’ve been wondering why it seems to take three years for the folks who make Jack’s Big Music Show to get a season’s worth of new episodes together, this might be your answer. Disney’s Bunnytown, assembled by some of the same talent behind Jack’s, has been entertaining Disney Channel devotees since the last few weeks of 2007, and now, with Hello Bunnies! it makes its first leap — er, hop — into the home market.

Jack’s fans will instantly recognize the same visual aesthetic (and some of the same voices) behind Jack, Mary, and Mel; Bunnytown is a brightly colored world of foam and fuzz that fairly leaps off the screen. Here, take a gander:


This isn’t a carbon copy of Jack’s Big Music Show, however; it’s more of a Disneyfied version of The Muppet Show, complete with skits by human actors (including a pair of Laurel and Hardy-type characters). There really aren’t any storylines in any given Bunnytown episode; although you might see a gag repeat with slight variations, they mostly consist of bite-sized bits, light on dialogue and heavy on visual humor. A lot of it seems more suited to between-show bumpers on a network like Noggin than a full-length television series, but that works well with the short attention span of Bunnytown‘s target demographic (such as my daughter, who immediately pronounced it her new favorite series, ranking it higher than Yo Gabba Gabba! or The Wonder Pets — a change I suspect will be exceedingly temporary, but there you go).

The Hello Bunnies! DVD includes four episodes of Bunnytown, as well as a few small bonus features — one of which is, naturally, an advertisement for an upcoming Disney program. It’s all appropriate for young children, although it’s worth noting that some skits, such as “Superbunny,” are drawn along the same black-and-white moral lines that will be familiar to any longtime Disney viewers, and if you aren’t ready for your kids to digest the concept of “good” and “bad” bunnies — or people — then you may need to do some skipping around.

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DVD/CD Review: “Gustafer Yellowgold’s Mellow Fever”

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Mellow Fever (2009, Apple-Eye)
purchase this CD/DVD (Amazon)

Back in the days when I didn’t have kids and therefore remained rather blissfully unaware of most children’s entertainment, I operated under the (pretty reasonable, I think) assumption that most of it was more or less linear, and easy to understand. I mean, it stands to reason, right? If you’re trying to entertain an audience that isn’t going to process anything you don’t explicitly spell out on the screen, you’re going to make sure it’s all spelled out, right?

I was totally wrong, obviously. Do you hear that bitter laughter? That’s the sound of other parents, remembering the days when they were new to the lawless frontier that is kids’ entertainment. I started to get my first inkling of just how weird this stuff can get when I took in my first accidental late-night viewing of the gibbering horror that is PBS’ Boohbah, which is still the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on late-night TV. These days, I am, of course, much more well acquainted with the kiddie continuum, and understand that you can go from the bone-simple (like Maisy) to the utterly surreal (The Wonder Pets!, which, I confess, I totally love) in the space of 15 minutes. I think it’s good for the kids, really — I mean, life doesn’t make sense, and the sooner they figure that out, the sooner they can get jobs and move out of my house.

Anyway. All this talk of linear and non-linear, obvious and esoteric, leads me to the insane wonder of Gustafer Yellowgold’s Mellow Fever, the third in Morgan Taylor’s Gustafer Yellowgold series. Prior to opening this handsome DVD/CD package, I’d never heard of nor experienced Mr. Yellowgold, but now that I have, there’s no going back; my daughter and I will look forward to these things as long as Taylor keeps putting them out.

The idea behind the character is a little difficult to explain, but I’ll use some of this handy press kit text to try and get you up to speed. Read on: Continue reading

CD Review: The Laurie Berkner Band, “Rocketship Run”

The Laurie Berkner Band – Rocketship Run (2008, Two Tomatoes)
purchase this album (Amazon)

A year or two ago, Jack’s Big Music Show was my daughter’s favorite thing to watch on TV. It was one of the first shows she really got into, actually, and I liked it too — it offers plenty of bright colors, with nifty-looking puppets designed by Sesame Street vets, positive messages, and a parade of cool guest stars (my personal favorite: Andrew Bird as the dulcimer-fixing Dr. Stringz). Due in part to the typically transitive tastes of children, and in part to the show’s abnormally long, Sopranos-style hiatuses, Sophie moved on from Jack’s fairly quickly; ordinarily, I might have encouraged her to keep on watching it, not least because I’d already invested in at least one Jack’s DVD — but in this case, I was actually sort of happy to watch her enthusiasm fade. Why? Because each episode features a pair of music videos, and many of them feature Laurie “Oh God, Not Her Again” Berkner.

Berkner is an extremely popular kids’ musician who has been selling oodles of albums for over a decade — at this point, she’s pretty much her own media empire; sort of the Oprah of kids’ music, with albums, DVDs, and even a book under her belt. Personally, I find her unsettling — I don’t trust anyone whose facial muscles are strong enough to support all that smiling, and she has the shake-you-by-the-lapels singing style of a Junior Miss pageant contestant — but kids and parents loooooooooooooove Laurie Berkner, to the extent that Rocketship Run, her first album in six years, is a very big deal. It’s also pretty good, actually, which, perversely, only makes me hate her more.

Rocketship Run represented a first for me: Instead of ripping it to my hard drive and listening to it with my daughter, I waited until she and my wife were going on a car ride together, and handed it off for them to share on their trip. This accomplished two things: First, it saved me from at least one round of listening to the album, and second, it would give me an objective pair of opinions I could trust before I filtered Rocketship through my grumpy dad’s-ear perspective. It was a big hit, of course — my wife actually said the words “I love it,” and my daughter immediately insisted on having the album on her iPod. All 24 freakin’ tracks of it. Continue reading