Pros: Two very good episodes
Cons: Two below averages episodes that put the show's 4th season in perspective
As I have stated before, my children are huge fans of the Backyardigans television series. The fact that the vast majority of its episodes are on Netflix is one of the main reasons I keep Netflix around during my busiest months and I have no use for it personally. Still, for some reason the website always finds it necessary to leave out several episodes, especially from the shows final season. This means if the kids want to see all the episodes (and mine do), I have to search out some of the show’s DVDs. This drive led me to The Backyardigans – Join the Adventurer’s Club, which managed to have three episodes that none of us had seen before.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the show before, the Backyardigans was a children’s program on Nickelodeon featuring five friends (Pablo the penguin, Tyrone the moose, Tasha the hippo, Uniqua the Uniqua, and Austin the kangaroo) who spent their days together having imaginative adventures without leaving the confines of their own backyards. This included silly things like being a train conductor in Russia, playing basketball on Mount Olympus or running a diner in outer space. At the end of each episode, they sing their theme song, share a catchphrase and run off to one of their houses to have a snack. It is the kind of inoffensive entertainment than most any parent can get behind.
Join the Adventurer’s Club is a collection of 4 episodes from the fourth season of the TV series. As I’ve stated in previous reviews about most of the Backyardigans DVDs, there is no rhyme or reason to the order or selection of the episodes. There is no common theme for the episodes, and they aren’t in any order based on air date or order of appearance on TV. It is like Nickelodeon took the titles of each season’s episodes, put them on a roulette wheel and gave it a few spins. It is a little annoying. The episodes break down as follows:
Follow the Feather – The main episode of the DVD features Tyrone, Pablo, and Uniqua as members of the Adventurer’s Club, traveling the globe following a feather in search of the mythical flying, polka-dotted pony.
Dragon Express – It is only Pablo’s first day working at the Dragon Express package delivery service, but he is already an expert in fancy flying. He teaches Austin some of his cool tricks, but will they be enough to help out when Pablo gets himself in trouble on a delivery?
The Funnyman Boogeyman – Pablo and Uniqua are part of the Boo Crew, hunters looking for spooky creatures. When they stumble upon Boogeyman Austin, they immediately try to trap him, not realizing he is just a bad comedian looking for a laugh…
Flower Power – In the weakest episode of the group, Uniqua develops flower-related superpowers and does battle with the evil Gloom Meister (Austin), who prefers gloom to the sun.
The DVD certainly has its high and low points, as the series in general did by this point. The first two episodes are particularly good, with both being a virtual toss up for best episode on the DVD. Both my sons were fans of the episodes for different reasons, as the first is high on action and psychedelic rock, and the second is focused on their two favorite characters in Pablo and Austin. Plus, it has dragons doing tricks, and what small child wouldn’t be interested in seeing that over and over again?
The second half of the DVD is equally as weak as the first half is strong. The Boogeyman episode isn’t particularly funny or memorable, but it is the Flower Power episode that showed the weakness of the series toward the end of its run. While the episode itself isn’t as awful, it is at least the fourth time the kids are superheroes of one sort or another. Towards the end, many of the episodes were rehashes of previous ideas (the Backyardigans are pirates, superheroes, go to space, etc) with only the occasional original idea mixed in. While I was sad to see the show go, I can understand why it was eventually cancelled.
Overall, I think this DVD is a mixed bag with positives that slightly outweigh the negatives. While there are certainly better DVDs available in the series, this isn’t a bad one to add to your collection if your kids are fans of the show. If this is your first foray into the series, this wouldn’t be my first choice, however.