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Paramount Studios presents
Spongebob Squarepants: Sea Stories (1999)

"This is more fun than double overtime at The Krusty Krab!"
- Spongebob Squarepants (Tom Kenny)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: December 09, 2002

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

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:37m:58s
Release Date: November 05, 2002
UPC: 097368756243
Genre: animation


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

DVD Review

In this third installment of collected Spongebob Squarepants shorts, Paramount and Nickelodeon have continued their habit of gathering a cross-sampling of ten episodes from the show's first four seasons. While I am confused at the absence of stellar first season stuff like Rock Bottom (still a real favorite of my daughter Sammie and I), the set list on this latest release does thankfully include the disco-rave antics of Jellyfish Jam, so I guess I can't really complain too much. Spongebob Squarepants is terrific show, full of dumb slapstick and clever humor that works for kids as well as adults.

If you've been under a clamshell and are unfamiliar with the weirdly wonderful world of Spongebob Squarepants (voiced by Tom Kenny), here's a quick synopsis. He 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 squirrel named Sandy Cheeks (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence) from Texas, outfitted for deep-sea diving. 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).

Gary Takes a Bath
Original Air Date: 03/07/01

This episode originally debuted on the NickToons TV channel, and isn't officially part of any Spongebob season, per se. Kudos for its inclusion here, but unfortunately it's the weakest episode of the lot, with the whole story revolving around a series of weird sight gags as part of Spongebob's failed attempts to get his pet snail Gary to take a bath. It picks up near the end when Spongebob absorbs all of the bathwater and becomes an over-sized monster, but for the most part the humor falls a little flat.


Hooky
Original Air Date: 04/08/00
Season 2

Despite Mr. Krabs frantic warnings to "Beware the hooks!" (which are in fact hooks dangled from fisherman on the surface), Patrick and Spongebob believe the colorful lures to be some type of carnival. They develop a game called "Riding the Hooks", which involves riding the lures to just below the surface, and then jumping off. Even though Mr. Krabs has warned them about the risk of ending up in a gift shop, or worse, a can of tuna, Spongebob and Patrick live dangerously until they learn their lesson the hard way. Classic stuff!


Life of Crime
Original Air Date: 05/05/01
Season 3

Spongebob and Patrick confuse the concept of borrowing with stealing, and enter a brief life of crime that begins to delve into The Treasure of the Sierra Madre territory. After "borrowing" a balloon from a vendor, not realizing it was "Free Balloon Day," the two pals leave Bikini Bottom as a pair of fugitives. This episode features a great scene where Spongebob agitates Patrick by eating a candy bar extremely slooow, and it is on par with the lip-licking scene from the Jellyfishing episode. Excellent!


Pickles
Original Air Date: 8/21/99
Season 1

Spongebob, fry cook at The Krusty Krab, has a comic encounter with a surly customer known as Bubble Bass. Bubble Bass is sort of the equivalent of The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy, but in this case he is obsessed with food. When Spongebob forgets to put a pickle on a Krabby Pattie (or did he?), Bubble Bass humiliates the little sponge and as a result turns him into a confused mess who loses all confidence in himself. Some good visual gags here (Spongebob being unsure how to go to sleep), and plenty of western-themed showdown sequences make this one work pretty well.


No Free Rides
Original Air Date: 03/07/01
Season 3

This episode continues Spongebob's ceaseless attempt to get a driver's license, which of course he seemingly will never get. Here he drives instructor Mrs. Puff nuts, causing her to practically give the little sponge his license, just so she'll never have to have him in her class again. There's some good bad driving humor here, along with a rare appearance by Spongebob's bulbous-headed parents!


Sailor Mouth
Original Air Date: 09/21/01
Season 3

While reading some dumpster graffiti about Mr. Krabs (Krabs is a....), Spongebob stumbles across a very bad word, one that he doesn't know the meaning of. Patrick informs his pal that the word must be one of those "sentence enhancers", much to their delight. The running gag here is that everytime the word is uttered it is replaced with a Flipper sound effect, and there is a great sequence where Spongebob uses his new word to excess to greet the customers at the Krusty Krab.


No Weenies Allowed
Original Air Date: 03/15/02
Season 4

This is one of the best episodes on this collection, and it centers on Spongebob's attempt to get tough so he can enter the rough-and-tumble Salty Spittoon bar. As hard as he tries, he's apparently destined to fit in with the other nerdy types at The Weenie Hut Jr., until he gets the idea to stage a fake fight with Patrick in order impress the bouncer. The episode ends with a really funny bit of dialogue involving an ice cube and boo-boos.


Jellyfish Jam
Original Air Date: 08/28/99
Season 1

Here's one of the standout episodes from season one, in which Spongebob takes in a stray jellyfish who follows him home. There is a prolonged rave-type sequence, where Spongebob and the jellyfish get down to a wacky techno-beat for 12 hours straight. Trouble starts when the jellyfish invites his buddies over, and poor Squidward gets truly abused as a result.


The Algae's Always Greener
Original Air Date: 03/22/02
Season 4

No Spongebob collection would be complete without an appearance by the series penultimate villain, Plankton. In this installment the evil owner of The Chum Bucket concocts a dastardly plan to switch bodies with Mr. Krabs, and of course he ultimately finds out that it's not as much fun as it looks. This episode is notable for a disturbingly gigantic Mr. Krabs, who just happens to be nude!

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

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Like previous releases in the series, Spongebob Squarepants: Sea Stories is presented in 1.33:1 fullframe. The thing that really jumps out at me is the clarity of the image, which is a dramatic improvement over my mediocre cable signal. The animated world is full of colors that are brilliant, rich and bright, with deep resonant blacks.

Beautiful.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 surround track is perfectly adequate for the material, and the dialogue is presented cleanly. There is modest imaging across the front speakers, but it is minimal at best. Rear channels are uses sparingly, with the bulk of the action occurring in the front channels.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Shanghaied episode with three alternate endings
  2. Spongebob Dancin' Pants Music Video
  3. Videogame Tips
Extras Review: Nickelodeon aired a special episode of Spongebob Squarepants on 03/07/01, entitled Shanghaied. The hook was there were three separate endings (one each for Spongebob, Patrick and Squidward), and all three full episodes are included here, even though only the final moments are different. The episode involves an appearance by the ghostly Flying Dutchman, and the various endings center on a potentially life-saving wish. It's a well-worn gimmick, but each of the endings are similarly dark in tone, and all three are quite funny.

The other extras include the Spongebob Dancin' Pants Music Video (:59s), which is nothing more than a series of wacky clips set to the Jellyfish Jam techo music. This was used as a commercial on Nickelodeon, and to call it a "music video" is really stretching it, though it is pretty damn funny. Another commercial disguised as an extra is the Videogame Hints and Tips, and this is nothing more than an ad for the video game.

Each episode is a chapter, so if effect there are 10 chapter stops on this disc. A Play All option is available for the full experience, and the opening theme song now only plays once (as opposed to at the beginning of each episode, as on earlier releases).

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Spongebob Squarepants is a solidly written cartoon, designed to appeal kids and adults without pandering too much to either group. Even at its worst, the show is still is far funnier than any of its contemporaries, and rarely fails to elicit at least a couple of laugh-out-loud moments.

Highly recommended.

 


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