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Paramount Home Video presents

Blue's Room: Alphabet Power (2005)

"We are really going to need your help today...because...we're making...an Alphabet Train."- Joe (Donovan Patton)

Stars: Victoria Pontecorvo
Other Stars: Donovan Patton
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:38m:27s
Release Date: 2005-08-02
Genre: educational

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A+AB C-

 

DVD Review

The Blue's Clues TV show began entertaining toddlers in 1996, and hasn't let them down since, providing the perfect mix of fun and education. 2004 saw the series' first spin-off, titled Blue's Room, hit the airwaves. This is a bit of a departure from the format of the original show, in that Blue actually talks instead of making cute dog sounds. Blue is on his own too, as far as human companionship goes, but three out of the four episodes on this new disc finds Blue still with his human friend Joe (Donovan Patton), who cares for Blue and helps him when he needs it.

This latest DVD release, Blue's Room: Alphabet Power, as with most of these toddler-friendly titles underwent the grueling litmus test that directly involves my two-year-old daughter. In this case, however, the best way to gauge the effectiveness of Blue's Room was to compare my daughter's reaction to it and to the original Blue's Clues series. With Blue's new ability to talk, I expected her to keep her attention longer during Blue's Room. While she didn't ignore the Blue's Clues episodes on this disc by any stretch, she didn't take her eyes off the screen once during the "Alphabet Train" episode, and that gives it the seal of approval, at least in my book. She's never been wrong before, but I guess I'm a little biased.

There are four episodes on Alphabet Power, beginning with "The Power of the Alphabet," which focuses, naturally, on the 26 letters of the alphabet. Much of the Blue's Room audience is infatuated with the alphabet in this stage of their development, and Blue takes them on a very fun journey, mixing catchy songs in with the games that are of the perfect difficulty level for these youngsters to play along.

The rest of the episodes are from the original Blue's Clues series (only are more recent, given Joe's appearances in each), and "The Alphabet Train" sticks with the letter-heavy theme, as Joe and Blue spend some time with the title subject. Each of the train's cars represents a letter, and Joe and Blue have to find something that starts with that letter to put on the moving teaching tool. This seemed to be my daughter's favorite episode, and, as a parent, I really appreciated the focus on letter recognition and introduction to phonics.

"Let's Write" and "Magenta's Messages" are presented on this DVD as bonus episodes, but they are just as valuable and fun as the other two. The former is Joe-heavy, as he teaches some writing skills by going around the house, putting labels on everything. A bit more Blue would have been nice, but Joe is perfectly capable of keeping kids' attention all by himself. "Magenta's Messages" has Joe and Blue watching over Magenta, a big, red dog. Reading is the skill that is focused on, as Joe and Blue have to read notes that result in a final, larger message. If there's a least-effective episode of the bunch, "Magenta's Messages" is it, but it still kept my little girl's eyes on the screen.

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

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The shows are presented in their original full frame format, and all of the bright, vivid colors that help to grab a child's attention are well-rendered here. The detail of each animated image is exquisite as well, and there's really nothing in the way of annoying flaws or visual defects.

Image Transfer Grade: A
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is perfect for this material, but isn't exactly something to showcase your home theater with. Most of the information stays up front, with a bit of the music branching out to the rear speakers. There's no bass, but each and every line of dialogue can be distinctly heard, regardless of the surrounding sounds.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 5 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Lazy Town, Rugrats Tales From the Crib: Snow White, Dora the Explorer, Blue's Room, Dora the Explorer: Dance to the Rescue, My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Nicktrition Tips for Parents - Textual nutrition pointers.
  2. Doodle, Doodle...Spell! - Interactive Game
Extras Review: Aside from some trailers, a pair of Blue's Room TV spots, and some text-based tips for parents about kids' nutrition, the only valuable extra is the game Doodle, Doodle...Spell! This is the perfect difficulty level for toddlers, as they have to choose the letter that is missing from the word on the screen. A doodled drawing is also visible to help them out, and the animated correct answer is sure to give them a sense of accomplishment.

Extras Grade: C-
 

Final Comments

Parents can't go wrong with Blue's Room: Alphabet Power if they're looking for a fun, educational way to spend some time with their toddlers. Paramount Home Video does another nice job with their DVD series, giving us nice audio and video and a few extras that will also appeal to both kids and their parents.

Chuck Aliaga 2006-01-19