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Paramount Studios presents
SpongeBob Squarepants: Spongeguard on Duty (1999)

"It is becoming increasingly obvious - I can deny it no longer. I am small! I need to someone big to clear the beach for me. I need... SpongeBob!"
- Plankton (Mr. Lawrence)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: May 31, 2004

Stars: Tom Kenny
Other Stars: Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:29m:00s
Release Date: June 01, 2004
UPC: 097368798243
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+BB C+

DVD Review

Here is another entry in Paramount's random episode, budget-priced collection of Nickelodeon's cartoon hit SpongeBob Squarepants. It's funny stuff, to be sure, but this time around we only get eight episodes, instead of the usual ten, and I suppose the run of these compilations is nearing its end, especially as full season sets become available. And considering there have only been three full seasons, the available pool of material is just going to get smaller.

SpongeBob Squarepants (voiced by Tom Kenny), for those who haven't been indoctrinated, is the über-nerdy man/boy sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea and who has a pet snail named Gary, who acts like a cat. SpongeBob eeks out a living as a fry cook at The Krusty Krab, under the money-grubbing eye of Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), an oversized lobster who talks like a second-rate pirate. A well-meaning but just plain dumb starfish named Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) and a squirrel (fully outfitted for deep sea diving) from Texas named Sandy Cheeks (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence) are SpongeBob's best friends, and for a comedic foil, Squidward Tentacles (voiced by Rodger Bumpass) is a cranky, sarcastic, clarinet-playing squid who lives next door, in some sort of giant Easter Island head.

Thankfully this set includes an outstanding episode with pint-sized villain Plankton (in Walking Small), in which he tries to recruit SpongeBob to help him with his evil plans for beachfront renovation, and in the process gives SpongeBob a dose of bad-guy nastiness. Plankton, with his need for domination, is one of the series better recurring characters, and is used sparingly enough across the run of the series to make any appearance fully satisfying and entertaining.

Things get a little morbid in one of the other standouts episodes, Nasty Patty, where Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob intentionally poison someone who they consider to be a phony health inspector, culminating with them burying his body in a shallow grave. Of course, the health inspector isn't really dead, but the fact that they think so makes for some bizarre "hide the body" gags that are a step above usual kids' cartoon humor.

Yes, I know I'm an adult with grown-up responsibilities, and that some should think I should be watching DVDs with more substance, but I can't deny that SpongeBob is very, very funny. There are no messages here, no underlying wholesomeness, instead there is simply goofy visual gags and quick-witted dialogue that isn't afraid about veering off into surreal territory in a heartbeat. With the show having a limited run, Paramount can't continue to unleash these compilations for much longer, though they have made the price point attractive enough to make it all but a no-brainer purchase.

SpongeGuard On Duty
Season 3
Original Air Date: 03/22/02

Naughty Nautical Neighbors
Season 1
Original Air Date: 08/07/99

Walking Small
Season 1
Original Air Date: 03/22/00

Season 2
Original Air Date: 03/08/01

Jellyfish Hunter
Season 2
Original Air Date: 09/28/01

Nasty Patty
Season 3
Original Air Date: 03/01/02

Doing Time
Season 3
Original Air Date: 01/02/02

Season 3
Original Air Date: 09/20/02

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


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: All eight episodes are presented here in their original 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio. Paramount has done a consistently nice job on the transfers for this series, and once again the color palette is properly bright and vibrant, balanced by solid blacks. A bit of minor shimmer here and there, but there are no major defects or compression issues evident.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: In keeping with the status quo of previous SpongeBob titles, audio is provided here in pleasant sounding 2.0 stereo. Character voices are clear and discernible at all times, and the mix itself has just enough directional pans to give the presentation some dimension, with elements such as music and assorted bubble effects coming across cleanly.

All in all, just fine.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, Rugrats: All Grown Up, SpongeBob Squarepants, Jimmy Neutron, G.I.: The Movie
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The amount and quality of the supplements have been decreasing steadily with each progressive SpongeBob compilation, and when they resort to labeling three episodes as "extras" you know not to expect much. Spongeguard On Duty and Clams are offered up in black-and-white pencil sketch storyboard format, with no sound effects or music, and only rough voice work. This type of thing has been included before on previous SpongeBob titles, but it is beginning to lose some its relevance and novelty.

In addition to the usual handful of Nickelodeon-themed trailers, the disc is cut into 8 chapters (1 per episode).

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

There's only eight episodes (instead of the usual ten) on this compilation, but the content is more evenly balanced than on some earlier collections. Purists will likely be holding out for the eventual Season Two and Three full sets, but in the meantime this is good for some quick laughs.


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