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Hello Baby Productions presents
Jack, the Cuddly Dog: Colors and Shapes (2005)

"That's a happy baby."
- Lucy Rose Reynal

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: March 09, 2006

Stars: Kristine Louis, Lucy Rose Reynal
Director: Max Reynal, Doug Morrione

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:26m:56s
Release Date: September 25, 2005
UPC: 094922517470
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+BB D-

DVD Review

This new DVD is intended to serve as the first in a series of developmental DVDs for very young children, from 6 months to 2 years of age. It features an animated yellow dog named Jack, who like babies is curious and friendly and eager to learn about the world. Jack is superimposed on live-action footage of various things that will appeal to infants, while the narrators, a woman and a young girl, describe what's on the screen. In the background, classical pieces by Bach, Brahms, Chopin and others are gently played by Cheryl Tschanz. Jack himself is a lovely piece of animation, preserving the pencil lines of designer Paul Beard (who died in a car accident at age 25), giving Jack a very nice visual appeal and an organic feeling that blends him into the live action.

Dispensing with the rapid-fire and insistent mania of Sesame Street, this DVD takes a much more relaxed and gentle approach that's very refreshing. We get to the colors and simple shapes eventually, but throughout there are plenty of interesting distractions, such as other babies, children, dogs, flowers, cows, horses, deer, sheep and swans. Concepts such as water and autumn are also introduced quietly, while Jack wanders onto the screen periodically to say hello to the child. Without irritating songs or bad dialogue, this is a program that will bear repeated viewings and unlike many items for small children is quiet and sedate rather than causing overexcitement. If there is a drawback, it's that the child narrator feels compelled to say, "Hi Jack" whenever the dog appears on the screen, which is very often, and this can become annoying. It also will tend to put impressionable children in a condition where they cannot be taken safely into airports. That aside, infants and young learners will be charmed by the title character and the animals on display, and parents will probably be pleased by the stealth introduction of classical music. The running time is a little short, though (a few minutes shorter even than the 30 minutes stated on the keepcase).

The DVD is available only from limited outlets, such as Amazon, or directly from the creators at the Jack the Cuddly Dog website.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The picture is mostly full frame, although a few shots are letterboxed to varying aspect ratios. The film seems rather overcompressed, with trees having an unpleasant digital look to them; edge enhancement makes some of the shapes overly harsh. Some of this seems to be from excessive compression, which is hardly necessary considering the amount of content on the disc. In future volumes, a much higher bit rate could be used. The colors don't always seem stable;the purple in particular frequently looks blue, which may cause some mild confusion.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Other than some mild hiss there's nothing to complain about in the audio transfer. The piano sounds fine and has excellent presence, while the narration is firmly centered and music comes from both the mains and surrounds in a ProLogic setup.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 9 cues and remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no extras; the animated menu is the height of simplicity with just a Play option, so that small children should have little trouble managing with it. There are nine chapter stops, though there is no chapter menu.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

An irresistibly charming and quiet introduction to shapes and colors with plenty of replay value. The transfer could be a little better, though.


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