STUDIO: Nickelodeon (Paramount)
MSRP: $16.99
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 149 minutes

The Pitch

Umm Yeeah, I’m going to possibly rile your kiddies up before naptime, mmmKay?

The Humans

Blue’s poop-scoopers (Steve & Joe), DJ Lance Rock, some musical guests, and a “Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue” worth of toons, puppets, and Krofft-ian costumes.

Needless to say, Michel Gondry’s pitch for WORLD TRADE CENTER was back-burnered when the execs decided to go with Oliver Stone’s more straight-forward take.

The Nutshell

Like me, anyone with a preschool rugrat has probably been exposed ad nauseum to the quality (and don’t get me wrong, it is) programming of Nick Jr. and/or Noggin. This compilation DVD collects 6 supposedly sleepy-time (we’ll see) episodes of some of their more popular shows: Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, Wonder Pets!, Jack’s Big Music Show, Yo Gabba Gabba!, and Blue’s Room.

The Lowdown

The individual shows are all fun, colorful, and musical slices of quality preschool programming. They also contain important lessons and admirable values, so you shouldn’t worry about exposing your kids to questionable material here (hint to new parents: just because it’s a cartoon, SOUTH PARK is not acceptable viewing fodder for the under-4 crowd, IMO). I could go into great detail, critiquing each show’s attributes (how fun? how colorful? how musical? how valuable of a lesson?), but instead I’ll judge this DVD on its merits as a “Sleepytime Stories” Collection. To help in this review, I conducted a time-intensive experiment, using my preschool daughter (approximately 2 & ½ hours before naptime) as the test subject. Despite the fact that my brood has probably seen all of these episodes before, this would be the first time she’s watched them in this order before a designated sleep period. Let’s view the results of the study, shall we?

This is a:

A. “Where’s Melquiades Estrada buried?” placemat.
B.  Trapper-keeper for Van Damme’s THE SHEPHERD: BORDER PATROL script.
MapQuest insert for El Guapo’s birthday party invitation.

PHASE 1. Dora the Explorer (“Little Star”): Characters spend the episode helping to place a star into the night sky so everyone can make a wish (plot appears very appropriate for “Sleepytime”). However, the show typically encourages the audience to think, solve problems, learn Spanish, imitate physical actions, and interact with the very vocal characters. Is this too stimulating pre-nap? Perhaps JUST before, but my daughter’s a few hours away, so activity in the morning is good. It burns up energy, she learns something new, and we’re off to an ok start.

PHASE 2. Blue’s Clues (“Tickety’s Favorite Nursery Rhyme”): Hmmm. I guess a nursery rhyme could be seen as a pre-nap activity (Hickory Dickory Dock), but this show requires almost the same amount of attention and interaction as Dora (granted, at a lower volume and with a calmer tone). Riddles, rhyming, clue-finding… “Sleepytime Appropriate”? Debatable.

PHASE 3. Wonder Pets! (“Save the Three Pigs/Save the Owl”): Better… less interaction required… more of a “story” format. The first segment is based on a classic well-known tale, and the second segment takes place at night. My daughter’s starting to relax a little.

PHASE 4. Jack’s Big Music Show (“The Music Monster”): DANGER! DANGER! This episode is chock-full of songs (not lullabies) and monsters (the silly and harmless puppet variety). It doesn’t feature anything sleep-related at all (unless you use it as a lead-in to downplay the danger of under-the-bed monsters). It’s funny toe-tappin’ & swingin’ entertainment. Even I’m stimulated. “Sleepytime INappropriate.”

PHASE 5. Yo Gabba Gabba! (“Sleep”): Judging by the parenthetical episode title, you know the subject matter is spot on. Even though the show’s chockfull of psychedelics and songs (sending me fondly back to the days of my Sid & Marty Krofft-laden youth), all the segments were geared towards bedtime (and appropriately, considering the visuals, dreams). My daughter informed me that this was her favorite, sang along with “Naptime” (sung by the yellow robot, Plex), and cozied up on the couch under her blanket, pretending to snooze. Success!

PHASE 6. Blue’s Room (“Sprinkle’s Sleepover”): By now, we were both getting kind of restless from sitting in front of the TV for too long. Square-eye Syndrome. But that’s no reflection of the episode that was currently on. The puppet version of Blue and her friends play a series of “sleepy games” to get ready for bed… lots of low-key, low-stim activities and ideas for aiding a child who can’t seem to get to sleep. Overall, it’s a good capper for Nick’s Sleepytime “Mix-tape” and one that I’d recommend by itself before a child’s naptime.

“The next item available here on Shop Erotic is the one-eyed, studded, vibrating (and fully-posable) PseudoPud… now in safety orange!”

My judgment overall is mixed. There’s no question that the shows on this disc are all top-notch for the target audience. My daughter has watched these programs in the past and I and my wife approve of the content and presentation. What they dropped the ball on was compiling a cohesive group of select episodes that could (or should) be watched before bed. Some are just too stimulating, encouraging activity (mental and physical). It’s a shame, because in some cases, I know there are more appropriate eps. If you need to include Jack’s Big Music Show (popular and new), why not “The Grumpy Squirrel” episode? That one at least contains a lullaby. Why 2 doses of Blue? Why not include one of the many sleep/night-oriented segments of Little Bear (one of my daughter’s faves, which was sorely missed) instead of the over-stimulating Blues Clues? Otherwise, I (nor my fledgling DVD collector-in-training) had many complaints. Is it a must own? Considering how accessible Nick Jr. programs are through digital cable (Noggin and Nick channels, On-Demand), you may not need it. If you don’t have any kids, you may get suspicious stares from people perusing your collection. But it’s never a bad idea to keep an “emergency-break-glass” disc like this for travelling purposes or for when nothing else seems to work in soothing a “should be in bed” child. Just heed my words before choosing the right episode… your spawn just may be singing and dancing instead of yawning.

The Package

Not that you would whip this disc out to show off your new widescreen and surround sound entertainment system, the audio and video presentation is adequate for what it is, a reliable (albeit full-screen, of course) collection of childrens’ edutainment. The only “special” feature to be found is the “Play All” option which allows you, the time-managing parental unit, to neglect your kids for nearly 2 & ½ hours straight! Expect an average amount of commercials for other Nick DVDs when you fire up this disc… but don’t worry, if you’ve left the room before making a selection at the main menu, the “babysitter” automatically starts the program for you.

POST-PostScript… I Night-frak your Duck.

7.0 out of 10