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Koch Vision presents
Popular Mechanics for Kids: Gators & Dragons and Other Wild Beasts (1997)

"The science behind all the fun!"
- tagline

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 16, 2005

Stars: Elisha Cuthbert, Tyler Kyte, Charles Powell, Vanessa Lengies, Jay Baruchel
Director: Sid Goldberg, Serge Marcil, Ramelle Mair, Jean-Louis Cote

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:29m:42s
Release Date: March 08, 2005
UPC: 741952625599
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

This fast-paced Canadian-made children's television series ran from 1997 to 2000, and operated under the concept to bring out "the science behind all the fun." That particular concept isn't new, there have been more than a few shows like that over the years, but of course it's never a bad thing to foist education on kids, and having kids host the show makes it all the more marketable to the target audience.

The four 22-minute episodes on this disc deal with animals in various ways: the inner-workings and behind-scenes action of zoos (Zoos), smart sea animals and fast birds (Talk To The Animals), big ol' reptiles in the bayou (Swamps & Gators) and respecting the power of tigers, bears, and komodo dragons (Killer Creatures). Maybe not as science-related as other installments, and maybe even more removed from the Popular Mechanics moniker, the show is still crammed with facts and figures, all presented with the typical array of fast-edits found on most educational series geared toward children.

A curious thing, at least when it comes to repackaging television on DVD, is that one of the young hosts is a then 15-year-old Elisha (24, The Girl Next Door) Cuthbert, and Koch Vision has truly downplayed her presence on the release of these four episode compilation discs. Her last name appears nowhere except in the closing credits of each ep, and I really wouldn't put it past lesser studios to have hyped her name shamelessly over the content itself. Kudos on the high road, Koch.

Cuthbert, along with fellow youngsters Tyler Kyte, Vanessa Lengies, and Jay Baruchel, team up in various combinations to handle the hosting chore, occasionally broken up by quick segments from adult host Charles Powell. But mostly it the kids in charge, and they do fine job interacting with zookeepers and scientists, and even as an adult I have to admit a pang of "that looks like fun" envy to see Vanessa Lengies and a park ranger get up close with a sedated polar bear.

Kids should gobble this stuff up like so much candy. It's not dull or preachy, and each episode bounces around with a caffienated zip that makes the knowledge flow off effortlessly. Maybe it's not the most usual information—do I really need to learn about the komodo dragons saliva production?—but it is all presented in a fun, watchable manner.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: All four episodes are presented in their original aspect ratio. The transfers are all rather good here, sporting bright, vivid colors, even under various inconsistent lighting conditions, both indoors and out.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: A simple 2.0 track is the sole option, and at no point was there any difficulty understanding any of the narration; music elements come across punchy and full, too. Not flashy, but perfectly suitable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 4 cues and remote access
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras other than some weblinks to Koch Vision and Popular Mechanics properties.

The disc is cut into four chapters, one per episode.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

You really can't go wrong with animals, and there's all sorts here. The four episodes on this disc might not be as hard science as some of the other installments, but it's bright, colorful and fun to look at.


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