I Spy a Thing That Flings and Other Stories (2002)
"I spy a cow,
A fast yellow duck,
And a happy red truck!"- Spyler
Release Date: 2004-08-03
DVD ReviewIt's another sextet of winning stories from the good people at HBO, as we tag along with the indomitable Spyler and his faithful talking dog CeCe for three episodes of I Spy, each with two adventures. The formula is a solid and consistent one: a Zen-like duck provides the riddles, the subservient pickup Wheeler hauls the stuff around, and we sleuth around in search of clues.
In the title story, Spyler is up against it, in a situation that any dog owner (or, for that matter, dog) can appreciate: CeCe wants to play fetch for hours on end, but Spyler doesn't have the arm for it. So the two of them set out to construct a newspaper tosser for the good doggie, so CeCe can wear herself out. Good dog! Ahoy, mateys! Spyler and CeCe play pirates in the second story, Seashells by the Seashore, and they've got to assemble all the necessaries for a game of buried treasure. Arrrgh.
Second episode: The outlook wasn't brilliant for the I Spy nine that day, for CeCe and Spyler lack the necessaries for the opening day of chaseball baseball season, thus preventing them from having Home Run Fun. How does chaseball baseball differ from the regular kind, you ask? Here, you make up the rules as you go. Then, did you ever wonder when pigs fly? They do when they're entered in the I Spy In The Sky Race, in A Race In A High-Flying Place. CeCe and Spyler assemble quite an entry, and even succeed in rescuing the out-of-control Mr. Pig.
I think we all know how an empty belly can prevent a satisfying nap, so next up, Spyler and CeCe are off to mollify their friend Mumble, and seek out for him A Mumble Monster Mid-Day Snack. (Mumble is a great favorite in my house. How can you not love a monster who uses slices of American cheese as a sleeping mask?) And finally, it's time to put on a show, as CeCe and Spyler gear up for their puppet theater presentation of A Polka-Dot Puppet Princess.
As is typical for this series, the splendid visual style is at least as much fun as the stories being told—the able production team turns such pedestrian household items as a spoon and a cheese greater into objects of wonder, or golf tees into stalagmites. These are consistently fine stories, and are sure to appeal to aspiring gumshoes of all ages.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Bright and glossy colors—sometimes a little too bright and glossy—in a clean transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Things are a little ratcheted up on the high end of the dynamic range, but generally this is aurally pleasing and always comprehensible.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Extras Review: What's billed as a Message to Parents (04m:04s) is actually a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the series, and everybody associated with it seems impossibly nice. Also, if you're on a PC and not a Mac, there's some DVD-ROM content, including an I Spy Junior game, a puppet show from Spyler and CeCe, and links to relevant websites.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsWarm, kid-friendly fun, with an acute visual style to help sharpen your skills. Even if you're not in the cloak-and-dagger business or aspire to work for Pinkerton's, you're likely to be charmed by these.
Jon Danziger 2004-08-04