Chris and Martin Kratt, the famed Kratt brothers, are back with another new DVD. The fourth new DVD from the hit series features two more half hour episodes from the siblings’ hit PBS Kids show, Wild Kratts. This time out the Kratts head into the deep blue sea where they learn to speak the language of the dolphins in the first of the episodes. And then Chris and Martin have to help save a blowfish from the evil Donita Donata. The episodes themselves are fun for the whole family. That they’re shown in their entirety along with the companion live action segments makes for even more enjoyment for the entire family. And of course the hand drawn animation adds one more touch of enjoyment to this latest pair of “wild” adventures from the Kratt brothers.
The first of the pair of adventures included in the new Wild Kratts DVD takes Martin and Chris undersea where they meet up with a group of dolphins. Long-time fans of Wild Kratts will appreciate right off the bat the continued excellence of the show’s animators. In an age when even so much of children’s programming has gone the route of cg-based “animation”, it’s nice to see that real animated cartoons still exist. The original hand drawn style has always given this show a big part of its identity. And it continues to do so here. This applies not only to the general style of art, but also to the use of bright colors. This is subtle. But its use helps to maintain the show’s positive vibe for younger audiences. The animation of both this episode and its companion piece is just a tiny fraction of what makes this another outstanding DVD for the family. As subtle as it is, the show’s writers did something that adds its own share of enjoyment to the first of the episodes presented here. That subtle act was tied directly tied in to the brothers’ quest to learn the language of the dolphins.
In the first of the DVD’s two episode, the show’s writers pair the Kratts with a group of dolphins so as to learn the dolphins’ language. It would have been so easy to go the standard route and suddenly have the dolphins speaking human. But thankfully, the writers didn’t take that route. Instead, they went a more realistic direction and had Martin and Chris have to figure out by mere chance what every sound meant that the dolphins were using. This semi-realistic take makes this episode enjoyable by itself. Just as interesting is the subtle addition of Aviva switching back and forth between English and Spanish. It might not have been the immediate intent, but what the writers have done in incorporating this is noting the importance of learning a second language. Ergo, those behind the scenes of this episode are to be applauded for such subtlety.
The subtle inclusion noted and the animation make “Speaking Dolphinese” an enjoyable episode all its own. The enjoyment doesn’t end with this episode though. Audiences will also appreciate the DVD’s second episode, “Blowfish Blowout.” Sure, there’s a bit of fantasy in Chris and Martin taking a little trip on an ocean current. That can easily be forgiven. Just as with the previous episode, the bright colors and original hand drawn animation continue to make for their own elements of enjoyment. What really makes episodes such as this one so enjoyable for all audiences is its balance of teaching an important message and entertaining audiences at the same time. It teaches ecological conservation without being preachy. This balance of infotainment is something that other shows have gotten wrong, but that Wild Kratts continues to get right even here. Adding to that balance is a villain in Donita Donata who is more entertaining than she is evil. Versus villains from the likes of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, she and the villains in Wild Kratts are interestingly enough just as entertaining as Chris and Martin. Audiences know they’re villains. But she [Donita] and the show’s other villains somewhat harkens back to the days of cartoon villains from television’s early days. They come across as bumbling clowns of sorts. In simple terms, they’re more entertaining than threatening. That minor element is actually pretty big in that it makes the show that much more family friendly. And mixed with all of its other positive elements, they all join together to make for one more DVD that the whole family will enjoy it. One can only hope that with future Wild Kratts DVD releases, audiences will get more than just two episodes. That aside, it’s still a fun feature for the whole family. And it will be available Tuesday, January 22nd. It can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org.
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