This past May, Nickelodeon and Paramount brought the first five seasons of Nickelodeon’s hit animated series Spongebob Squarepants home once again in a massive 14-disc, 100 episode collection simply titled Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes. It marked the first time the collection had been re-issued, and came a little more than a month ahead of the premiere of the series’ 11th (yes, eleventh) season. Not even the network’s classic Nicktoons – as wonderful as so many of them still are today – lasted that long, with most running their course at four or five seasons. That is an aside. Getting back on track, this recent reissue of the box set, which was originally released to the masses in 2009 as part of the celebration of the series’ 100th episode’s airing, is a largely impressive reissue, albeit not perfect. The set’s episode listing is its most obvious positive, and will be discussed shortly. The set’s one negative, its packaging, will be discussed later. Last but most definitely not least of note here is the bonus material included in the set. Each element is important in its own right to the set’s overall presentation this time out. All things considered, they make the first re-issue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes one of this year’s top new DVD & BD Re-Issues.
Nickelodeon and Paramount’s recent reissue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation for true hardcore fans of the beloved Nicktoon. That is due in part to the set’s episode listing. The 100 episodes presented in this collection make up the series’ first five seasons. Not a single episode from that first half of the series’ current run is missing either. Even the roughly 2:30 short “Reef Blower,” which was part of the series’ very first episode is included here. This is something important to note due to its tie to the set’s average price point. Stores nationwide right now are carrying nearly every one of the series’ current seasons either in single-season sets and in some cases as bundle packs, that include single season sets together at a set price. The cost of those sets eventually adds up. In the case of the series’ first five seasons, the average cost of the sets runs approximately $50 both by themselves and in standalone form regardless of the outlet. In the case of this set, its average price point is $34.73, with most of the major retailers – Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Amazon – selling it at a price point of 32.96. Target is the only standout with a price point of $39.99. Add in the fact that most of the noted retailers sold the set at roughly $38 in its 2009 release, that indicates a noticeable price drop this time around. Considering all of this, audiences will see that this collection is, for the relation between its primary content and average price point, a welcome addition to their collections. While this is clearly a positive for the set, it is not without at least one glaring problem. That problem is its packaging.
The packaging in this set is problematic in that its 14 discs overlap each other, two to each side of the set’s plates. While this may be a positive ergonomically speaking, the size of the set has not been reduced that much in comparison to the set’s previous release. What’s more, by making the discs overlap in that effort to save space, it also greatly increases the odds of the discs being scratched both when they are taken out for play and when they are replaced. To that end, this is just not smart packaging. Audiences would probably settle for bulkier packaging if only for the reduced chance of the discs being damaged. Even worse, this is not the first time that Paramount has gone this route in recent memory. The company has used the same packaging method for its recent re-issues of Star Trek The Original Series: The Complete Series, The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series, I Love Lucy: The Complete Series, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series, Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series and The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series. Considering this, one would have thought the people at Paramount would have learned their lesson by now, but apparently not, and that is disappointing. Maybe if Nickelodeon and Paramount release a “mega-set” for the series’ second half, they will take this issue into consideration. Again, while another method might be bulkier, it would be worth it if it meant decreased odds of discs being damaged. Luckily, it is the set’s only negative and doesn’t completely ruin the collection. The bonus material included in the set rounds out its most important elements.
The bonus material included in this presentation of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is important to note because it is the same material presented in the set’s 2009 presentation. The nearly hour-long VH1 special Square Roots: The Story of Spongebob Squarepants is the most important of that bonus material. It takes audiences through the series’ history up through its fifth season from its unlikely roots in series creator Seth Hillenburg’s early career at an aquarium to the religious right’s attempt to slander Spongebob to Hillenburg’s eventual departure from the series. The 40-minute-plus doc presents the series’ humble roots on Nickelodeon to its surprising rise to worldwide fame all while looking ahead to its future, which obviously has proven to be quite bright.
As if that extensive history lesson isn’t enough, the set also includes a multi-lingual presentation of the series’ debut episode ‘Help Wanted’ as a bonus. The episode includes the series’ theme song being sung in Spanish, Chinese, French, German and other languages for the opening segment. The episode itself continues in a variety of languages, showing even more Spongebob Squarepants’ far-reaching popularity.
The “Life Lessons From Bikini Bottom” brings its own entertainment as it is in reality just a character profile of Bikini Bottom’s most beloved (and not so beloved) inhabitants. It’s a relatively short segment, running about five minutes, but is still entertaining thanks to the work of the editors who pieced the program together. The timing of the profiles and the show clips makes for plenty of laughs even in this short presentation.
The short “Kick-Wham-Pow-Bob” music video, which crosses music from Pantera and video from the series, adds its own enjoyment to the set’s presentation. No worries about hearing from the band’s former front man either. The musical portion of the video is all instrumental. Audiences will recognize the music as the same musical base used in the episode “Prehibernation Week.”
Each of the bonus elements discussed here is an important piece of this set’s presentation in its own way. All things considered, they show in whole why the set’s bonus material is so important to its overall presentation. When that material is joined with the set’s episode listing, its related price point, and even that one negative that is the set’s packaging, the whole proves to be a collection that while not perfect, is still enjoyable in its own right. That packaging prevents it from being the year’s top new DVD or Blu-ray re-issue, but also doesn’t keep it from being one of the year’s best in that category.
Nickelodeon and Paramount’s recent re-issue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is one of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues. That is the case even when one takes into account the set’s problematic packaging. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this set, other Spongebob Squarepants collections and all of the series’ latest news and more is available online now at:
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