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  Specs
  • Full FramePan&Scan
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • German: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Additional footage - bonus episode
  • Photo gallery - character profiles
  • Music video
  • Behind the scenes footage - animation tests
  • Interactive game

Sitting Ducks Volume 1 - Duck Cravings

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 77 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Never heard of Sitting Ducks? Neither had I. And if a geek of my calibre hasn't heard of an animated TV series, alarm bells start going off. Fortunately, my trepidation was unjustified: Sitting Ducks is a decent enough show for the kids. I emphasise: for the kids.

It's a 3D computer-generated series based on a collection of picture books by writer/illustrator Michael Bedard, and apparently shown on the ABC. Set in a town populated by ducks, it stars Bill, a cheery but slightly neurotic young fellow who befriends a crocodile named Aldo. Needless to say, ducks and crocs don't usually mix - indeed, Aldo is hunting for his next meal when he meets Bill - and much of the humour and "conflict" of the series is generated by misunderstandings in which Bill and his friends think that Aldo has returned to his carnivorous ways.

There are some funny moral ironies that aren't really dwelt upon, but may amuse older viewers - like the fact that Aldo had doubtless eaten many of Bill's peers before he changed his ways, and indeed still worked as a chef serving roast duck for many of these episodes!

There are seven ten-minute episodes on the disc (well, eight actually, but one of them is counted as a "bonus extra").

The first, Running Ducks, sees the beginning of an unlikely friendship as Bill meets a hungry Aldo in a dark alley. Great White Hype sees the town polarised by a boxing match between a seemingly deluded duck and a huge crocodile. Bill discovers Aldo's shameful day job in All in a Day's Work, and in Ducks on Ice our heroes must win a game of ice hockey against a bunch of infant crocs or be eaten by their ravenous parents.

The computer animation won't make you forget Monsters Inc., but it's cute and polished; extremely impressive for low-budget made-for-TV product. Story-wise, Sitting Ducks is a bit too simplistic, preachy and cute to have any sort of crossover appeal, but the youngsters should love it.

  Video
Contract

We get a full-screen pan-and-scan image taken from a widescreen source, but in this case I doubt that viewers will really mind; the tots probably prefer a big picture without "those annoying black bars"! There is a very minor amount of grain present in some shots, but overall the transfer is clean, colourful and sharp.

  Audio
Contract

The Dolby Stereo soundtrack is clean and crisp with no synch issues. And that's about all there is to say - there's no need for surround or subwoofer trickery here.

  Extras
Contract

First there's a bonus episode, Where's Aldo?. I really don't see the point of this - why not just include it in the main feature? It seems to be a cynical effort to pad out the list of extras. But perhaps I am a harsh and unreasonable critic.

The test animation footage by Creative Capers and Elliot Animations Studios is much more entertaining than you'd expect. There's an amusing narrative here about a duck who, terrified of becoming a meal for a croc, embarks on rigorous training program straight out of Rocky (complete with theme music).

There's a DVD-ROM game that is apparently quite silly, but as I don't have a drive I couldn't tell you...

The character line-up consists of six static pages devoted to the main characters, with short bios and illustrations.

The trailer is a cute (how many times have I used that word in this review?) montage of shots from the series set to a boppy bit of music.

  Overall  
Contract

Sitting Ducks is a sweet and wholesome diversion for the kiddies, but don't expect it to have the broader appeal of other family-oriented animations. If the little ones have worn out their copies of Shrek and Toy Story, this could be an ideal stocking filler...


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2008
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      And I quote...
    "...a decent DVD of a sweetly amusing animated series that the kids will gobble up, but don't expect the crossover appeal of a Shrek or a Toy Story."
    - Terry Oberg
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Palsonic DVD3000
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Centre Speaker:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          Diamond
    • Subwoofer:
          Diamond
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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