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Paramount Studios presents
Dora the Explorer: Catch the Stars (2003)

"Say it with me: Steps! Diamonds! Giant Star!"
- Dora (Kathleen Herles)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: January 11, 2005

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:36m:24s
Release Date: January 11, 2005
UPC: 097368864948
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B+BB- C-

DVD Review

Dora and her faithful sidekick Boots the monkey are back for four more relentlessly chipper adventures—if you're a fan, this is more of the same, and if you're not, you probably don't need to worry about these, unless you're starting pre-school in the fall. (Of course if you are starting pre-school and you're reading this, finger paints and blocks may already bore you, Little Man Tate.) These are fine ways for smaller children to pass the time, and, unlike too much other children's television, won't send those of us looking after the little ones screaming from the room.

In the first episode, Star Catcher, Dora's grandmother gives her a special pocket enabling her to swoop stars out of the sky, but that fiendish Swiper soon swoops in, and Dora and Boots are on a rescue mission to save the catcher and, more important, their new friend Woo Hoo the star, from Swiper's evil clutches. (Did you know that stars like to play Peek-A-Boo? News to me.) The astronomical motif continues in the next episode, in which Swiper steals Dora's new necklace and absconds with it to the top of Star Mountain. Dora gets by with a little help from her friends—that's Boots again, her faithful map, called Map, and some other stars from the heavens that I don't remember seeing on my last trip to the planetarium.

In the first of two bonus, exclusive-to-DVD episodes, Dora and Boots's friend Red Rooster is in a jam—he's got a sore throat, and if he cannot perform his duties and awaken the sun, it will be dark all day. So a little bit of honey and a trip with Dora and Boots help Red Rooster get much Louder! Finally, Dora and all of her friends are in pursuit of the big trophy, which will be awarded to the winner of today's game of Hide and Go Seek—and guess what? We're It! If your kids haven't seen any episodes of the show before, this one is actually a pretty good introduction, letting us know who all the regulars are and what they do.

In general, I admit to finding these episodes a little too busy and a little too loud, and the arrow that is a poor substitute for genuine audience interaction kind of gives me the creeps. But there's a lot to recommend about this show—it's to be applauded for its interactivity, for providing some very rudimentary bilingual basics, for teaching things like pattern recognition, and for having the patience to repeat things a number of times, so that the little people can start to master them.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The palette is a little heavy on the pastels for my taste—it's all about the pinks and yellows and sherbety oranges, and after a while they can make your eyes ache. The transfer looks professional and clean, though.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: A little reedy and light on the bass, but that seems to be standard for children's DVDs these days.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 4 cues and remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Blue Talks, Curious Buddies, Candy Land, Weebles
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. interactive game
Extras Review: The best extra is a very brief sing-a-long with one of my childhood favorites, and one of my son's, too: The Itsy Bitsy Spider. You'll also find Dora's Star Catcher Game, which will only encourage your children to mess around with the remote, something they're probably doing too much of already.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

These four perky episodes are packed with lessons for very young children, though every now and again you may wish that the animators had reached for the decaf.


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