In order to give a balanced assessment of this children's DVD, Iíve enlisted the assistance of my 2Ĺ year old son.
Me: So, what do you think of this Bear DVD?
Me: Yep, Itís about a bear, and he dances a lot in his house with all his friends, but what do you think about it?
Me: Okay, we know heís a bear. But did you like bear and his friends? Did you like this DVD?
Son: Bear. DVD.
Me: Good, yes, bear DVD. Your favourite DVDs are Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Nemo. Does bear join that list?
Son: No Mike Wazowski! BEAR DVD!
Me: What about Buzz? Heís your favourite, isnít he?
Son: Buzz! DVD! Buzz! No Buzz! BEAR!
Me: Okay, weíll watch Buzz later. But right now I want to know if you liked Bear in the Blue House.
Son: Bear. Tutter.
Me: Yes, Tutter is the mouse. Heís funny, isnít he? You ask to watch the bear DVD a lot more than the others lately. Does that mean this is your new favourite DVD?
Me: Okay, Iíll put it on when weíve finished this...
Son: DVD! DVD!
Me: ...in a second buddy...
Son: Nooooo! Bear DVD! Bearrr...
Me: Okay! Iíll put on the frigginí bear DVD. Fer Chrissakes. This was a stupid idea, wasnít it buddy?
Obviously this show is a made for television production, but it far exceeds the quality that standard free-to-air is capable of. Pin sharp, detailed enough to render the elaborate set designs to the smallest feature, bright and saturated with incredibly rich colours, itís a treat for eyes without looking garish. Presented in its (Iím guessing) original 4:3 format, even stretched to fill a widescreen space the picture looks great and the slight distortion isnít as noticeable on puppets as it is on humans, so feel free to watch it either way.
The single Dolby Digital stereo mix is realistically all thatís required here, and thereís not a thing amiss in any way. The characters all speak clearly and your system will convey the music wonderfully either through the speakers, your television set or your surround setup. Everything is upbeat, bright and well balanced between the quieter moments (such as when Tutter is overwhelmed by the beauty of some classical music) and the more energetic poppy beats.
This DVD doesn't feature any bonus material, but there are no complaints from me this time. A quality main feature set of episodes more than makes up for any lack in this department.
I think my son made the point pretty clearly that this is his new favourite DVD, jumping ahead of Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Play School and Finding Nemo in a little under two days. Thatís saying something, because he normally couldnít give a stuff about daytime kids' show (which Iím happy about). But Bear in the Big Blue House is different. Truthfully, I can kinda see why. The characters - Bear, Tutter, Luna, Treelo, Pip and Pop and Ojo - are all very defined and unique and no doubt appeal to kids with their design and voicing, and some, like Tutter, have genuinely appealing personalities, unlike other shows containing cloying generic cloned teenagers singing idiotic ditties.
More importantly (for the adults, that is) this DVD isnít annoying when replayed 60 million times a day. The four shows contained on this disc, based upon music and dancing themes, are fun to watch and the kids will get into them in their own time without being forced to participate or feeling left out if they opt to sit on the couch.
Kudos go to The Jim Henson Company who have created fantastic characters the kids (and adults) will find lovable. Dance Party! is a recommended gift for youngsters who have behaved themselves this week.