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Scholastic Video presents
Harry the Dirty Dog...and more terrific tails (1930-84)

"Harry was a white dog with black spots who liked everything. Except getting a bath."
- Narrator (Bruce Johnson) of Harry the Dirty Dog

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: August 24, 2003

Stars: John Lithgow, Debby Boone, Bruce Johnson
Director: Virginia Wilkos, Chris Larson, Gary Templeton

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:32m:07s
Release Date: August 26, 2003
UPC: 767685955338
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+BB- B

DVD Review

Intrigo is not going to like this, but this DVD offers a trio of sweet little stories focused on some of the cutest little mutts around—for my money, the only thing missing from this Scholastic disc is the chow/retriever mix nestled at my feet as I write this.

Oh my, the things a dog will do to avoid bathtime. The title character in the first story, Harry the Dirty Dog (09m:06s), runs away from home rather than face the indignities of the tub and the scrub brush, and his adventures get him just as dirty as any dog could want. But of course there's no place like home, and Harry goes back to find that underneath all his muck and grime, he's unrecognizable. It's a sweet tale, faithful to the popular and endearing book on which it is based, and Ernest V. Troost's jazz-inflected musical score goes a long way toward setting the lighthearted mood.

Next, John Lithgow narrates Officer Buckle and Gloria (11m:43s), about one of the most unlikely onstage duos since Martin and Lewis. Hapless Officer Buckle just can't get the kids to pay attention at assembly, when he runs through his many helpful safety tips (e.g., "Don't dry your socks in the microwave"). But he's the toast of the town when he brings along the precinct's new police dog, Gloria, who, unbeknownst to the constable, is playing to the crowd as Buckle works through his laundry list of safety tips. Lithgow's lighthearted narration is a particular pleasure, especially as he provides voices for a score of different characters; despite her ambitions to greater show business glory, Gloria demonstrates that she and her kind truly are man's best friend.

Finally, a live-action Scottish terrier puppy is the leading man in Angus and the Ducks (11m:18s), which follows little Angus to his new home, as he explores his neighborhood and makes nice with other species, including the new, biped members of his family and the ducks on the other side of the hedges. It's got a throwback feel to it, which may raise more questions for your little ones than the story itself: what's a Studebaker? Why are they listening to the radio instead of watching television? It's a nice little tale told from a doggie's perspective. Woof.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The animated shorts are in varied states, though the colors seem a little bleached out; Angus and the Ducks is cinematographically the most successful of the three, with bright colors from a palette that will be familiar to viewers of things like Sesame Street.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: There's a fair amount of ambient noise to be heard on all of these stories, but nothing that will keep you from attending to the tales being told, or those being wagged, either.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 3 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. three bonus stories (see below)
Extras Review: Double your pleasure with the three bonus stories offered; they're not quite as focused on dogs, but let's not hold that against them.

Ooh la la, mes amis, c'est The Beast of Monsieur Racine (08m:56s)! Poor M. Racine, a retired tax collector, cannot fathom what mysterious creature is devouring his prize-winning pears. His investigation makes up the bulk of this story, which is filled with just about every stereotypical French thing you can come up with, from berets to an unflagging passion for the Eiffel Tower to aromatic cheeses. (Cowardice in wartime not included.) The biggest complaint about this one is not that some of it is a cheap shot at all things French, but that the audio mix is mightily askew, making the narration frequently difficult to make out over the amplified accordion music. Quelle dommage.

It's love versus work in 14 Rats and a Rat-Catcher (10m:08s), in which a very single old woman hires a very single and very handsome old rat-catcher to rid her house of rodents; the rats and their prospective hunter strike a bargain, their freedom in exchange for the old woman's hand. Never hire a man to do a cat's job, I suppose, is the lesson.

The ancient battle—feline versus canine—is waged once again in John Brown, Rose, and the Midnight Cat (06m:48s), as the first character on that list, a sheepdog, tries to keep the second, a widow, away from the late-night purrings of the third. Can't we all get along? This is a children's story, so of course we can. This storybook wasn't fully animated, and the narration plays over still images, the illustrations that accompanied the original story.

English-language subtitles are offered as a read-along option, and the trailer is for the entire Scholastic DVD series.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Another winner from Scholastic, and these doggie tales won't pester you to be walked first thing in the morning, either.


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