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Paramount Studios presents
SpongeBob SquarePants: Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies (2002)

"Oops! I guess I ripped my pants again."
- SpongeBob SquarePants (Tom Kenny)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 19, 2002

Stars: Tom Kenny
Other Stars: Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence
Director: (various)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:05m:00
Release Date: March 12, 2002
UPC: 097368767942
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-A-B+ B+

DVD Review

I had very low expectations when Nickelodeon debuted a new cartoon series called SpongeBob SquarePants, about a talking sea sponge, in 1999. As a father of a then eight-year-old, I had already sat through far too many poorly written, cheaply animated television cartoons to put much faith in this new outing. What I didn't realize was that SpongeBob SquarePants was in the same top-notch category as other modern series like Dexter's Laboratory or The Power Puff Girls, and that it harkens back to the good old days when a cartoon could be funny without preaching, and written cleverly enough to appeal to adults as well as children.

For the uninformed, SpongeBob SquarePants (voiced by Tom Kenny) is the creation of Stephen Hillenburg, and concerns a child-like, pants-wearing sea sponge, who according to the theme song, "Lives in a pineapple under the sea/Absorbent and yellow and porous is he...."

SpongeBob lives in the town of Bikini Bottom, has a pet snail named Gary, and is best friends with a thickheaded, but well-meaning starfish named Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) and a deep-sea diving-outfitted squirrel from Texas named Sandy Cheeks (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence). Cranky squid neighbor Squidward (voiced by Rodger Bumpass), who loves to play the clarinet, is constantly aggravated by the overly friendly SpongeBob (who is simple enough to think Squidward actually likes him).

The humor is simple, but is complimented by animation that really sells the visual gags. Some of the funniest moments are not dialogue-driven, but result from a well-placed roll of the eyes, or better yet, a completely blank stare.

This low-priced DVD collection of ten shorts, spanning the first and second seasons, also includes the added incentive of two episodes not shown on television. Even with that, my daughter Sammy and I were questioning the selection of episodes, and wondered why classics like Bubblestand, Opposite Day or Rock Bottom didn't make the cut (I guess we can only hope they will be part of the next SpongeBob disc). Regardless, this is a fine cross-section and features the following episodes:

Ripped Pants
Original Air Date: July 1999
Season 1
This episode is my personal favorite. SpongeBob becomes a big hit when he accidently rips his pants at Mussel Beach, but he takes things too far and soon becomes an annoyance. Includes the classic Ripped Pants song, of course.

SB-129
Original Air Date: Dec 1999
Season 1
According to Sammy, this is "the most popular episode" on her fifth-grade bus. After trying to hide from SpongeBob in the freezer at the Krusty Krab, a frozen Squidward is thawed out in the future, only to find out that the future is not always a better place to be. Surreal.

Texas
Original Air Date: Mar 2000
Season 1
When Sandy gets homesick for Texas, Patrick and SpongeBob try to cheer her up. This is a great episode, and features SpongeBob's classic imitation of Texas.

Graveyard Shift
Original Air Date: never aired
Here is one of the "bonus" episodes, and it concerns the Krusty Krab restaurant becoming a 24 hour place. When Squidward tries to spook Spongebob with his tales of the "hash slinging slasher", his story backfires and freaks out both of them. Nosferatu makes a guest appearance in Graveyard Shift.

Something Smells
Original Air Date: Oct 2000
Season 2
When a case of bad breath (caused by sea onion ice cream) turns SpongeBob into a pariah, he is confused as to why people (re: fish) are avoiding him. When Patrick gets bad breath (from sea onion bon bons), he blames SpongeBob for giving him "the ugly."

Jellyfishing
Original Air Date: July 1999
Season 1
Another genuine classic from the first season. SpongeBob and Patrick try to give Squidward his "best day ever" and of course, proceed to destroy his life. This episode includes one of my favorite moments when SpongeBob tries to play Squidward's clarinet, and has a case of really dry lips.

Dying For Pie
Original Air Date: Dec 2000Season 2
Squidward has accidently fed SpongeBob an exploding pie (don't ask, it's a cartoon!). Racked by guilt, Squidward tries to make SpongeBob's final hours more pleasant, but only succeeds in driving himself crazy.

Wormy
Original Air Date: Feb 2001
Season 2
Sandy's pet caterpillar turns into a butterfly when SpongeBob and Patrick pet-sit, and the two are convinced Wormy was eaten.

F.U.N.
Original Air Date: Sep 1999
Season 1
One of the best secondary characters in the series is the devious Plankton, a very tiny and very evil little guy. When SpongeBob tries to develop a friendship with him, he becomes a patsy for Plankton's scheme to get the recipe for the Krabby Patty. Plankton rules.

Club SpongeBob
Original Air Date: never aired
SpongeBob and Patrick have a club where they take advice from a talking shell, known as "the magic conch. When their clubhouse is catapulted into a kelp jungle, along with Squidward, the group is forced to live by the words of the magic shell.

Sure, Nickelodeon runs SpongeBob A LOT, but it is kind of reassuring to know that a copy of Ripped Pants is always handy.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: As expected, the episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 fullframe transfer. One of the things that most impressed me about this disc is just how bright the colors are, much more so than when Sammy and I watch it on Nick. Terrific contrast and black levels turn this into one of the better looking animated discs I've seen in awhile.

Excellent job!

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Paramount has issued this disc with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround mix that sounds surprisingly terrific. Imaging is minimal, but dialogue sounds rich, and is mixed very well. As a cartoon, there is an abundance of sound effects (don't forget that hip tropical theme) and these elements never overpower the character voices. Rear channels are uses sparingly, with the bulk of the action occuring in the front channels.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Violent Femmes Sing SpongeBob SquarePants
  2. Backstage Pants
  3. More SpongeBob SquarePants Secrets
Extras Review: There are more extras here than I would have have expected, especially on such a moderately-priced disc. The Backstage Pants option, when activated, pops up a SpongeBob icon at various points during an episode, ala The Matrix's "Follow The White Rabbit", that will lead viewers to a brief behind-the-scenes tidbit from Hillenburg, Kenny, etc. Some of the information is pretty interesting (such as the original ending for Graveyard Shift) but it is infrequent, and a bit distracting. It would have been nicer to be able to access this info separately.

More SpongeBob Secrets runs about 15 minutes, and is a collection of a number of short pieces, broken down into categories like SpongeBob's Start, Voice Overs, Drawing Characters and Show Design. The information presented here is brief, but where else are you going to learn that the original name for the series was SpongeBoy? The opportunity to see Kenny do SpongeBob's annoying laugh is really funny, by the way.

Milwaukee's own Violent Femmes do a quick take on the series theme, in a piece that was used on Nick as a bumper.

Each episode consists of approximately four chapters, though there is no formal set of chapter selections on the menu.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

You might arch your eyebrow at the high marks I give this disc, but this is one of the most consistently funny cartoons on television, and this affordably priced debut DVD includes some of SpongeBob's finest moments (though Sammy and I eagerly await volume 2).

Recommended.

 


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