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review by Zach B.
Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring the voices of: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence
Retail Price: $19.95
Features: "SpongeBob Scaredy Pants" Music Video, Videogame Sneak Peek
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Stereo, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections
Released: August 27th, 2002
I've gone on before on this very website about animation transending barriers. When people used to think of animation, they merely thought of it as a form of entertianment for children. However, in recent years, people have finally realized that animation is not just for kids and put that to use in various adult animated television series, adult animated movies and more. However, there has always been a select group of animated work that appeals to all audiences. During the 1990s, the empire that is Disney did this with their theatrical feature films be it hand drawn or computer animated (while more CGI films are popping up and raking in the dough from other studios and more adult audiences). More recently, however, television has been debuting and featuring cartoons aimed at both children and adults. Shows such as "Samurai Jack" and a lot of the cartoons made for Cartoon Network have been attracting a wider audience. More recently, however, Nickelodeon's own "SpongeBob SquarePants" has been breaking revolutionary barriers as far as demographics and popularity goes.
"SpongeBob Squarepants" was originally aimed for kids, but for some reason, older audiences have tuned in and can't resist its charm (myself included). The show, which debuted during the summer of 1999 on cable's Nick, has been giving its own "Rugrats" a run for its money and is arguably becoming more popular than their decade-old-plus Nicktoon. "SpongeBob" has only seemed to really gain its popularity in the past year or so. Just like "Rugrats," the show had a stable audience at first, but then blew up into something much more as time went on (a "SpongeBob" flick is due in theaters sometime in 2004). More than a third of its audience is made up of adults, even. But what makes "SpongeBob" so popular? What is so appealing about this very cartoon show? Let me try and find out why...
In case you are not familiar with the premise, "SpongeBob SquarePants" follows the adventures of a walking and talking sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants in the ocean area of Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob works as a cook at the Krusty Krab, has a pet snail named Gary and is always cheerful. Like most whimisical cartoon heroes, SpongeBob has good intentions but his intentions backfire. Of course, the backfires cause the comedy. Be it SpongeBob helping the lonely Plankton whereas Plankton is using him to get the secret Krabby Patty recipie or SpongeBob not realizing that jokes can grow old... fast. SpongeBob's compaions are his dimwitted friend Patrick Star who lives right near him, Texan squirrel Sandy and the easily annoyed Squidward, as well as his boss Mr. Krabs. So, adventures usually revolve around them, though Sandy and Mr. Krabs are more supporting characters and don't pop up as often as Squidward or Patrick.
I guess what appeals to me about "SpongeBob SquarePants" is that it's quite a unique show. I can't think of another show in history that was animated and its main star was a living sponge. The characters are well created and fun to watch, while the setting and idea of this weird, imaginary world on the ocean floor is pretty striking and easy to get into. But I think what kids and adults enjoy is the broad, weird and wacky humor the show features. It's more slapstick and crazy, and never tends to go over the top. Or maybe it's the same appeal that I have about the show being something different, and that it doesn't fail in what it creates and extends. It's just highly imaginative, original and entertaining.
For some reason, kids do identify with SpongeBob. However, SpongeBob is an adult. He lives alone, he works at a job and doesn't go to school or anything. Yet in many ways, he is a kid. He has those good intentions, he is playful and likes fun. He has this kid demeanor that I think younger audiences enjoy. He just acts like one big kid, and that's part of the fun I suppose.
As "Spongebob" continues to grow into some kind of phenom, it makes sense for Paramount to capitalize on its success following a successful first DVD release. These episodes are just as fun as shown on the first DVD release, except the first five episodes are "Halloween" themed, which offers unique fun to tie in with the holiday. The other five cartoons are just fun, crazy SpongeBob. The episodes are: "Scaredy Pants," "Imitation Krabs," "Frankendoodle," "I Was A Teenage Gary," "Squidward, The Unfriendly Ghost," "The Secret Box," "Band Geeks," "Welcome To The Chum Bucket," "My Pretty Seahorse" and "Idiot Box." Enjoy!
Presented in 1.33:1 full screen, there's no need for widescreen since "SpongeBob SquarePants" is presented in how it's done for All of the episodes look fantastic. The transfers on the episodes are quite sharp as color saturation is quite bold and filling, capturing the locations of Bikini Bottom quite nicely. Detail is very good too. The only major flaw is noise throughout the transfer. So if you're into all of the video stuff, you'll be happy. Otherwise, given that mostly kids are going to buy this, there's a chance that they probably won't care.
An English Dolby Stereo track is included, and like the last release of the show, this one is quite active and very engaging. There are a lot of sound effects in these episodes, and they are very booming and give off a ton of action. Dialogue is also quite clear too. The musical score also brings nice life to the track. Dynamic range and fidelity are excellent. Even if the track is limited to a stereo mix, it does accomplish and bring a whole lot to everything. There's definently power to be hold in a mere stereo mix, as this is probably one of the best stereo mixes I've ever heard for any kind of programming. There is also English closed captions through your TV.
Not much at all, someone disappointing considered last time's pretty decent extras depeartment. The "SpongeBob Scaredy Pants" Music Video is in full frame and is a variation on the show's opening theme song and lasts a mere fifty-six seconds, while the Videogame Sneak Peek shows us clips from the upcoming game for Playstation2 and GameCube (no Game Boy Advance clips, though as there will be a SpongeBob game for that system according to the preview). That lasts 45 seconds. A lame video and a lame commercial. You can also watch the show's credits here.
Thanks to the popularity of this fine cartoon show, it's safe to say that we'll be seeing more SpongeBob on DVD in the near future (or so I hope). This disc ranks up with the last release containing good episodes, excellent transfers, fine stereo mixes and a decent price. The only downside to this release? The extras are incredibly sucky. Still, fans of the show... enjoy!