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Scholastic Video presents
I Spy: A Mumble Monster Mystery and Other Stories (2003)

"I spy, you spy, let's all play I Spy!"
- CeCe (Ellen Lee) and Spyler (Tara Jayne)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: October 07, 2003

Stars: Tara Jayne, Ellen Lee, Cindy Creekmore, Big Al
Manufacturer: Digital Video Compression Center
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:16m:03s
Release Date: July 29, 2003
UPC: 026359216329
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-B-B C

DVD Review

It's six more doses of family-friendly stop-motion fun, courtesy of our pals at HBO. Spyler and CeCe strap it on for three episodes of I Spy, each with two stories. So let's all play I Spy, shall we?

In the title story, Spyler's campfire story for his toy pals puts the fright into everyone, CeCe especially—does the Mumble Monster really exist? If so, the dynamic duo must set out to find and trap this creature as elusive as the Yeti. Happily, Mumble turns out to be a monster with a heart of gold, though he's got some serious diction problems—he's sort of a cleaned-up version of Kenny from South Park. Next, Spyler's little buddy takes a walk down memory lane as he prepares CeCe's Special Scrapbook, and we're treated to an extra helping of CeCe's corny jokes ("Why did the rooster cross the road? Because the chicken was busy!"). CeCe's pals are a lot more indulgent when it comes to looking at CeCe's scrapbooking than are just about anyone else I've ever met, known or seen.

Next, CeCe gets the whole Lance Armstrong thing going, but since he's lacking the equipment, he's got to hunt up the stuff for A Bike I Like. It's a rough and tumble race to the finish line, but Spyler has got CeCe's back. Then CeCe's got a problem—he just can't get rid of A Tick-illy Hiccup, and he and Spyler have cycled through all the standard remedies. This story is especially good at emphasizing the lessons of cooperation and problem-solving that underpin all of the I Spy tales; but also, but this point, the repetition in form can get a little stultifying, for those of us out of grade school.

The final two stories don't have the polish of the others—I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if these were among the first episodes produced. CeCe and Spyler are looking for only three objects in each, for one thing; and they're both heavy on CeCe's corny jokes, for another. In the interest of getting their groove on, the two are in search of A Broom, A Whistle and a Drum, for participation in the local music fest. And in the second, they're looking to demonstrate that they've got the right stuff—they need to fill in a couple of numbers so that they can complete their countdown, and blast off and go Sky High.

Between the two stories in each episode is a brief little scavenger hunt; and the Super Challengers in each story are nice little visual mysteries. As usual with these, the real stars are the animators, who have created a fun, imaginative world out of the stuff that populates most playrooms and pre-schools. Well done.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The final two stories are a little nicked up, one more reason to think that they were produced early on, possibly as a pilot; the cutting is very heavy in this episode, as well. Otherwise, colors are saturated and steady, and the transfer is thoroughly professional.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: A little tinny, on the high end especially, but for the young ones, this sounds more than adequate.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 3 cues and remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The Message For Parents (04m:05s) is identical to the one on the other I Spy release, and again, we in the Macintosh universe don't have access to the DVD-ROM content. Maybe Spyler and CeCe can scare up a solution to that one.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

More solid, educational family fun from CeCe, Spyler and HBO. See you next time, no doubt.


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