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Big Idea Productions presents
VeggieTales: Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler (2006)

Sheerluck: Look, I know we're a team, you know we're a team, everybody knows we're a team, so what's the problem? So I leave out some minor details.
Watson: Like the fact that I've worked with you on every single case?
Sheerluck: Exactly, little stuff like that.

- Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: April 03, 2006

Stars: Mike Nawrocki, Phil Vischer
Other Stars: Jim Poole, Matthew Ward, Matthew West, Tim Hodge
Director: Mike Nawrocki

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (talking vegetables)
Run Time: 00h:52m:28s
Release Date: March 14, 2006
UPC: 074646000090
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-B- B+

DVD Review

Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber are the original talking vegetable team (accept no substitutes!), and the most recognizable characters from VeggieTales, the Biblically-based, computer animated video series that teaches better living through produce. Yet it's been a while since the duo has taken center stage, which is why Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler is so much fun for longtime fans: it feels like old school VeggieTales, a good story with plenty of humor and a clear moral lesson (friendship and the golden rule... duh).

This near feature-length release actually starts with another story, however. The Asparagus of La Mancha, loosely (and I mean loosely) based on the story of Don Quixote. Archibald Asparagus is Don, the owner of the Cafe La Mancha, the most popular eatery in town. But when the flashy Food Factory moves in across the street, it lures away all of his business with its giant neon windmill sign and eye-catching promotions ("Food as big as your head!"). Just when it looks like he'll lose everything, the answer comes to Don in a dream: he must wage war on the Food Factory! It's up to Don's friend and employee Poncho (Mr. Lunt) to talk some sense into his boss.

The Asparagus of La Mancha is a fun show, if a little slow and lacking in big comedy moments. The animation is great—Don's dream sequences take place in a surrealistic world with fried egg clouds and breadstick cacti, and he's menaced by a giant, lumbering windmill that breaths fire. The moral is pretty well defined, emphasizing the importance of both being loyal to your friends and, sometimes, showing them tough love if need be.

The title story is an amusing spoof of Sherlock Holmes mysteries crossed with C.S.I.-style crime solving. Larry is Sheerluck, the most famous detective in London, who only solves crimes out of, well, sheer luck, or would, if not for his partner Watson (played by Bob, sporting some nice mutton chops and a mustache). Watson gets upset because Sheerluck is taking all of the credit and winning all the adoring fans, leaving the bumbling detective on his own when the Golden Ruler, the crown's most valuable treasure, is stolen.

Sheerluck is classic VeggieTales. The core story is engaging because it's tightly focused on two favorite characters, the moral is straightforward and well illustrated, and there's plenty of humor: the palace is guarded by a bunch of clumsy French peas, and in order to solve the crime, Sheerluck and Watson have to get past two clueless policeman who can do little more than cover every surface with yellow crime scene tape. Sheerluck runs afoul of Watson's maids, who are known to dump buckets of dirty water out of windows, followed by buckets of... anvils?

There's also a new silly song with Larry (the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song). Larry's ball goes over the fence into a gated community, and it takes some doing to get it back. As always, the song is bouncy and catchy and will be in your head for days, slowly driving you insane.

The animation keeps getting better with every video, and while VeggieTales isn't quite Pixar-quality, it looks great for direct-to-video CGI animation. It's fun to take the time to pause and look closely at all the props and pictures on the walls, just to see what gags the animators and artists have slipped in.

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


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: This series has always looked great on DVD, and this volume is no exception. Colors are bright and detail is excellent. The image is solid and shows no obvious artifacting. The only thing to do now is to start producing the show in widescreen so episodes can be anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: For the most part, this 5.1 mix sounds great, with dynamic, cartoony surround use and lots of directional effects. But that's the problem: there's a lot of directional dialogue used when characters are speaking off-screen, and I noticed several instances where the tracks are flipped. A character will run onscreen from the right, but his voice will come from the left front speaker. It's weird and very noticeable if you've got a surround set-up. Oddly, only voices seem to be an issue; at one point, the sound of a group of French peas falling over like dominos travels from front left, to back left, to back right, to front right, and that effect works correctly.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Nawrocki, producer David Pitts, story artist Brian Roberts and story developer Tim Hodge
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Interactive games, family activities
Extras Review: Sheerluck Holmes is another loaded VeggieTales DVD, with features geared toward younger and older fans alike.

Behind the Scenes (09m:17s) is a brief rundown of the project. Director Mike Nawrocki talks about how the idea for the Sheerluck and Don Quixote stories developed, and gives a little background on some of the goofier elements of each, like the slang terms used in the diner scenes and the blatantly incorrect checker boards in The Asparagus of La Mancha.

The discussion continues in an audio commentary with Nawrocki, producer David Pitts, story artist Brian Roberts and story developer Tim Hodge. They chat about how the story came together and the little jokes and references stuck in the corners of the screen and share some technical details about the animation process.

Sheerluck and the Super Sleuth (04m:45s) is an interview with a real detective, who talks about his job. Sheerluck helps him solve the mystery of a missing toy police car, allowing the detective to show off some investigative techniques.

There's also an art gallery with commentary from the art directors and a short veggie commentary (06m:05s), featuring in-character comments from Larry the Cucumber and Mr. Lunt talking about Sheerluck Holmes.

The kid's stuff is all found under the menu heading Bob and Larry's Playhouse. There's a trivia game (answer all the questions right and you get a code good for 25 percent off at the Big Idea website), a sing-a-long for Gated Community, an interactive storybook, a remote-control game, instructions for a family activity (a clue finding game), a recipe for the Bean Dip of La Mancha, and long-ish how to draw segments for Sheerluck and Poncho.

The menus feature new animation and some easy to find surprises (use the enter button to ring the bell on the main menu and watch what happens). Click around some more for a look at the recording of a Silly Song and a background art gallery.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

A return to the simpler VeggieTales stories of old, Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler is another entertaining entry in the Biblically based children's video series. By know, you know if you are a fan or not; if you are, this is an excellent installment, but if not, it probably won't change your mind.


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