Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Best of Beakman's World (1993)
"You can't have answers without questions!"- Beakman (Paul Zaloom)
Stars: Paul Zaloom
Other Stars: Mark Ritts, Alanna Ubach
Director: Phil Squyres, Jay Dubin, Robert Heath
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:00m:24s
Release Date: 2004-09-07
DVD ReviewWith origins as a comic strip, the television version of Beakman's World was an Emmy and Ollie award-winning children's series that ran from 1993-98 that combined bright colors, weird characters and a plethora of sound effects to make science fun again. This was a far cry from the likes of the relatively staid Mr. Wizard of bygone days, and instead opted for the kind of frenetic post-MTV generation of fast cuts sometimes seemed to scream for a sedative to slow it down a little. Old-schoolers might dismiss the delivery method as, well, maybe just a bit too caffeinated, but the point here is that something like Beakman's World does make learning fun, and anytime you can make a child want to tackle a hands-on experiment on their own, you're on your way to learning.
Paul Zaloom plays Beakman, he of the towering Kramer-like hairdo and day-glo green lab coat, and his role is to bring to life the answer to a young viewer's question, which generally involves building a project to prove his case. Aiding, or sometimes hindering, the energetic scientist is Lester (Mark Ritts)—a shabby, tattooed, wristwatch-wearing rat who speaks with a "deeze" and "doze" kind of tough guy accent. Lester is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and though he is often one-upped by Beakman, it is never really done with any intentional malice. Beakman also had a number of female sidekicks during the run of the series, but for this disc all the segments feature the wide-eyed mugging of Josie (Alanna Ubach, probably best known as Serena from the Legally Blonde films). Ubach's Josie is cute, brassy and a bit rough around the edges, but she possesses the kind of quirky and offbeat delivery that makes her character fit right in alongside a giant rat and guy a with a really huge head of hair.
Beakman covers a range of educational subjects, such as the mysteries of air pressure, sound waves, balance, or compasses, and to help explain the scientific parts, each segment features a project that viewers can build at home. Want to build a water-propelled rocket out of a two-liter pop bottle? Make your own compass? Learn how to balance three forks on a toothpick? How about your very own camera obscura? You get that, and a bunch more, on this disc, all of it delivered with the same level of kinetic energy and zingy one-liners.
In this collection, which based on Beakman's intro (where he references "watching this videotape" countless times) is a clone of an existing VHS version, and considering the show ran for nearly five years, it's unfortunate we're not getting full season sets for today's kids to enjoy. The humor is still sharp, and the manic editing and sound effects ensure it will never be accused of being slow-moving or boring.
And if all else fails, the fun and easy-to-do experiments will give you plenty of quality parent/kid time.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: This "best of" collection is presented in the series' original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. It's a definite improvement over videotape (the source for this particular collection, based on the intro). Still, there's plenty of pretty vivid primary colors here, and the reproduction is handled well with no evidence of smearing or pixelation.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 stereo surround that in this case means a largely front-heavy mix full of clean dialogue, accented by some minor directional pans when the neverending barrage of sound effects gets going.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Soccer Dog: European Cup, Daddy Day Care, The Master of Disguise
Extras Review: No extras other than a trio of trailers (Soccer Dog: European Cup, Daddy Day Care, The Master of Disguise).
The disc is cut into 15 chapters.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsYou can't knock a show that begs kids to ask questions about science, and it's doubly hard to take down one with such a steady dose of one-liners and sight gags. This "best of" collection is relatively brief, running just over an hour, but if you have a curious child at home, the projects presented will be fun for the both of you
Rich Rosell 2004-09-13