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PBS Home Video presents
Boohbah: Building Blocks (2006)

- Zing Zing Zingbah

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: March 29, 2006

Stars: Penelope Keith, Cubert Smith, Charles Bergest
Other Stars: Rudolph Walker
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:00m:04s
Release Date: March 28, 2006
UPC: 841887051965
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B+B+B+ D+

DVD Review

The kids' show Boohbah is one of the premiere series for the youngsters and their parents. This quirky series is the brainchild of the folks behind the equally weird Teletubbies, and it's enjoying similar success. Boohbah airs regularly on PBS, but its enormous exposure extends beyond the television. You can't go to a toy store without seeing these creepy (yet adorable to the little ones) creatures lining the shelves, and they also appear on birthday cards, other types of toys, and, of course, DVDs. Building Blocks is the latest of these discs to hit stores, and it's yet another solid collection of this newest craze in kids' entertainment.

This release compiles three episodes of the show that run about 20 minutes each. The basic formula for each episode involves an intro showing the five title characters (yellow Humbah, purple Zumbah, blue Jumbah, pink Jingbah, and orange Zing Zing Zingbah) emerging from what can only be described as cocoons. This sequence instantly brings Neo's "rebirth" in The Matrix to mind, only it's much less gooey. From there the Boohbah dance around, making strange noises and interact with a cast of Storypeople that live in Storyworld with basic names like Grandmama, Mr. Man, Mrs. Lady, Brother, and Sister, to name a few. Every episode then ends with the Boohbah returning to their cocoons and seemingly blasting off into space. While such a repetitive formula can be agony to parents, such a thing is just what nearly every kid under the age of 5 thrives on.

Building Blocks, Magical Pipe, and Desert Island are the three episodes on this particular DVD. Building Blocks focuses on Grandmama building a tower of blocks with her bare hands. When she learns how much a forklift will help her with this task, she turns to the device for assistance. Magical Pipe finds Mrs. Lady playing a musical pipe that really gets the rest of the humans dancing around. The Boohbah themselves pull off some more of their patented twists and turns for the kids to follow along with. Desert Island finds the Boohbah making themselves into small balls, then bursting out of the balls to be as big as they possibly can. Meanwhile, Brother and Sister run around an island until they reach the end of the line, and have to find a way to get rid of the surrounding water.

This show is riveting for its target audience; my two-year-old couldn't take her eyes off the screen. That's all one can ask, really, as any show of this kind should be considered a huge success if it can grab a child's attention for so long. It'll be interesting to see what kind of lifespan the series turns out to have. Will the creators keep it going or will they move on in a few years to their next kid-friendly, albeit warped, show? Only time, and ratings will tell.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The full-frame presentation is above average for each episode, featuring sharp, detailed images throughout. The color scheme of this show is its main strongpoint, and each bright orange, red, and purple hue is brilliantly rendered. There are no print flaws and no noticeable grain or dirt.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: This is another surprisingly active Dolby Digital 2.0 track, as the strange music and sound effects utilize the surround speakers most of the time. The Boohbah "dialogue" is always easy to hear, even if we're not exactly sure what they're saying.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 3 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Look What I Can Do - Boohbah short.
  2. A Special Message For Parents - From creator Anne Wood.
  3. Your Child Can Be a Star - Contest Winners
Extras Review: Three extras are available, including a seven-minute Boohbah short called Look What I Can Do. This just shows different kids dancing around in a shimmering rainbow circle.

A "Special Message For Parents" is just under four minutes long and mixes footage from the show with creator Anne Wood talking about the educational value of the series.

Finally, there's a three-minute clip showing the winners of "Your Child Can Be a Star!" sweepstakes doing their very own unique dances.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Boohbah: Building Blocks is the newest DVD collection of one of the more popular shows on kids' television. As it's geared almost exclusively towards the little ones, parents can rest assured that the three installments on this disc will provide their kids with hours of harmless, trippy entertainment. The audio and video are just fine, and there are even a couple of extras that are valuable to both parents and kids.


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