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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Bear in the Big Blue House: A Bear For All Seasons (1997)

"Summer! It's my favorite season. Well, along with Fall, Winter and Spring."
- Bear (Noel MacNeal)

Review By: Joy Howe and Mark Zimmer   
Published: July 15, 2003

Stars: Noel MacNeal, Peter Linz, Vicki Kenderes-Eibner, Jim Kroupa, Tyler Bunch
Other Stars: Lynne Thigpen, Tara Mooney
Director: Hugh Martin, Dean Gordon

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:11m:38s
Release Date: July 08, 2003
UPC: 043396085879
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BB-B+ C-

DVD Review

A Bear for all Seasons is another in the series of Bear in the Big Blue House programs produced by the Jim Henson organization. For those of you who had not heard of the Bear, this series involves a whole menagerie of interesting and loveable creatures, much like the Muppets, but with appeal designed for the five-and-under crowd rather than adults. The shuffling and expressive bear is called Bear, Treelo is a green squirrel, Ojo is a teddy bear, Pip and Pop are otters, Tutter is a squeaky and often irritating mouse, Ray is the sun, Luna is the moon and Shadow is, well, a shadow. This disc includes 3 complete episodes: Falling for Fall, Summer Cooler, and All-Weather Bear.

Each episode begins with the Bear welcoming the viewers to the Big Blue House, accompanied by peppy and friendly music, with Bear doing an adorable sniffing up to the lens and smelling the viewers and their sand and salt-water aroma, for instance. Falling for Fall features Ojo and Treelo acting like trees, and the gang talks about the concept of change of colors and falling leaves, though Treelo has trouble with the concept and tries to glue the leaves back on the branches. This episode will be particularly useful for any children who have anxiety about change, as Bear gives comfort that this is the natural order of things.

Summer Cooler finds Bear trying to get someone to play checkers with him, and concepts of diagonals are explained. Ojo and Treelo have fun pretending to be in a submarine, while Tutter sets up his own swimming club. All-Weather Bear deals more with the daily change rather than the seasonal changes, as a storm comes and makes a mess of the otter pond. After cleaning it up, a storm strikes again, and the group has to make some fun inside, with some imaginative suggestions for things to do when the weather is inclement.

Each episode also includes some animation overlays, and a vignette of actual little kids giving their opinion of each season. Shadow makes an appearance in each of these episodes and tells a story, set to silhouette animation that's quite striking.

This is an excellent DVD with three great episodes that children will greatly enjoy. Viewing it as an adult without kids has to qualify as a guilty pleasure. Granted, you won't have to hear it repeated ad nauseum, but the usual Henson quality production values are there. The puppetry is highly expressive, with good facial expressions, backed by simple but interesting music. The dialogue is funny and interesting, making this a true winner. Well, it doesn't hurt that Bear is fascinated with all sorts of wholesome things, like falling leaves, pumpkin pie, and snorkeling.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The full-frame picture features extremely vivid and eye-catching color throughout. There tends to be moderate shimmer on the fur of the Bear and other areas. Moderate aliasing is present, and there is often a digital look to surfaces, though that may be an artifact of the special effects work. It's a tolerable transfer but nothing exceptional.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 sound is very clean, with clear dialogue and music. There is no hiss or noise present, as one would expect in such a recent production. The bass on the songs is impressive, with nice depth. The high-pitched characters such as Treelo and Tutter are often difficult to make out, however, making the included subtitles very helpful. Those too young to read are on their own.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 3 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Kermit's Swamp Years, Stuart Little 2
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Sing-alongs
Extras Review: The disc includes four sing-alongs of songs featured prominently in these three episodes, with optional sing-along captioning. In addition to an ad for Columbia's Family Fun series, a full-frame trailer for Kermit's Swamp Years and an anamorphic widescreen theatrical trailer for Stuart Little are also included.

A Play All option is included, allowing one to play the three episodes in sequence, or for maximum maddening effect, to play the three episodes continuously.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

The Bear talks about the seasons in this enjoyable but short disc. The audio is very good as usual, though the video has a few mild problems. The usual extras are here as well. Enjoyable and educational fun.

 


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