Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mini-DVD Review: The Best of Clifford the Big Red Dog (Nov. 7)

Welcome to another edition of the Saturday mini-DVD reviews! We continue our Thanksgiving weekend reviews, with Lionsgate's The Best of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Based on the classic children's book series, comes this PBS series voiced by the late legendary John Ritter. So, join Clifford and his friends T-Bone, Cleo and his owner Emily Elizabeth for fun and learning. See my mini-DVD review of the set:

The Best of Clifford the Big Red Dog (Lionsgate, $34.98) brings us 42 short episodes on DVD on 5-discs. This set is full of bonus materials as well on each disc, designed for children. The menus are easy to navigate and are also designed for children. The packaging is very good and of course in red. Lionsgate has a clear plastic cover then when we take that out you get to the red packaging, with Clifford's head (like The Simpsons head covers). Parents might want to help children take the plastic out, as it might be a little hard for children. The head packaging is also kind of hard to open. But it sure looks nice! When we open the head, we get a nice case and a booklet. The booklet is designed well for children and easy to read. It breaks down each disc. The case holds the 5-discs. Each disc's art is colorful and has Clifford with his friends. Now, I will break down each disc. But first let me tell you, each disc has menu directions narrated. The episodes automatically play, says the narrator. You can press the Menu button on your remote control to get to the actual menu screen. When we do that, the theme song is playing in the background with nice colorful menus and easy to read for kids. Disc one's options are Choose Episode, Big Fun Features, and Audio Features. Each of those options when selected has narrated directions, like for Choose Episodes we hear John Ritter (Clifford) giving us directions on how to choose the episodes. There are two themed selections on this disc--"Everyone Loves Clifford" and "Good Times, Good Friends." Both have 5 mini-episodes that run approx. 11 minutes each, for a total of approx. 57:52, counting the opening and closing theme. 7 chapter stops for each themed selection (opening theme, 5 mini-episodes, and closing theme). The Big Fun Features on this disc are three "Speckle Stories" that run 90 seconds each. The Speckle Stories usually run at the end of each episode on PBS, but it is an extra on this set. There are also 2:25 worth of Trailers for other Lionsgate products that children might want to buy. The Audio features we can change back and forth between 2.0 English Dolby Digital and 2.0 Spanish Dolby Digital. Moving on to disc two, the options are Scene Index, Audio Features, Big Fun Features. Audio Features is the same as disc one. Scene Index gives us 8 mini-episodes to play. They again run approx. 11 min. each for a total of 1:31:17, counting the opening and closing themes. There are 10 chapter stops on this disc (opening theme, 8 mini-episodes, and closing theme). The Big Fun Features on this disc are "Clifford's Doggy Detective Game," which consists of four games children can play; 3 more "Speckle Stories," that run 90 seconds each; and Previews, where we get yet more trailers for Lionsgate products. The previews this time auto-play before the menu directions come up on this disc. Moving on to disc three, we have Choose Episode and Big Fun Features. Choose Episode, again the directions are narrated by John Ritter, give us two themed selections--"Rock N' Roll Clifford!" and "Team Clifford!" This time each theme has four-mini episodes, again running approx. 11 min each, totaling around 46:38. The Big Fun Features on this set include "Clifford's Big Ideas," with directions narrated by John Ritter, these are 3 ideas followed by text of the ideas that run 60 seconds each. Like the Speckle Stories, these usually air in between the episodes or at the end of the episode on PBS. Then we get a "Tour of Birdwell Island," which is a nice interactive map that children can easily use to find there way around the island. Then we have "Real Life Doggie Friends" that runs 2:45. These are real dog stories. I think PBS runs these after the closing credits on Clifford episodes. There is also a DVD-ROM feature if you have a computer with a DVD drive. Moving on to the fourth disc, we again have Choose Episode and Big Fun Features. Choose Episode, directions narrated by Ritter, have two themed selections--"Big Fun in the Sun" and "Look Out, Clifford!" Each themed selection has four mini-episodes that run approx. 11 min. each for a total around 46:23 each. Big Fun Features include three more "Big Ideas," with directions narrated by Ritter, running 60 seconds each; the "Who's Who Game," which is a nice trivia game for children to test their knowledge of the show; and more "Real Life Doggie Friends," running at 3:16. Finally, the fifth disc has Choose Episodes and Big Fun Features. No directions on this disc for some reason. Choose Episodes have two themed selections--""Clifford's Fluffiest Friend - Cleo" and "Clifford Saves the Day!" Again, four mini-episodes each running 11 minutes each, for a total of 46:26. The Big Fun Features are two more "Big Ideas" running 60 seconds each; "Clifford Dance," which is a nice 35 second promo for the show on PBS; and more "Real Life Doggie Friends," running 3:09. This set is pretty well done and filled with extras that children will like and can learn from. If you have not bought this set already, please buy it for your children as it is something great to buy during the holidays. And if you don't have children, I still suggest you buy it, as I'm sure many of you read the books when you were a child. John Ritter gives the voice of Clifford a new meaning and he was nominated for many Daytime Emmy's for this role. So, grab T-Bone and Cleo and hop on Clifford's back to get this DVD set!
-- Reviewed by Pavan
(5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Clifford the Big Red Dog TV.com Page

Our Thanksgiving Weekend Review Marathon continues tomorrow, as we preempt the ratings coverage (sorry, we don't have final numbers for Tuesday-Saturday because of the holiday), with a review of the new ABC sitcom Big Day, which will premiere this Tuesday at 9/8 central only on ABC! Is it worth watching? Find out tomorrow!


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