Lazytown: The Snow Monster And Other Stories Review
He wouldn't have gotten away with this a few years ago! No, not Robbie, whose dressing up is the sort of thing that villains have been doing ever since the Wicked Queen dressed up as a witch to trick Snow White into eating a poisoned apple. And no, not even a heavily mustachioed man like Sportacus spending all of his time in the company of children in a playground and encouraging them to eat his sports candy! No, indeed not. Instead, the matter at hand is that of a set of nunchuks - deadly martial arts weapons to you and I - that Sportacus fashions out of a pair of carrots. That might seem harmless enough but to James Ferman, the one-time head of the BBFC, the nunchuks were the very thing that might well put an impressionable child's eye out.
Just as he once snipped a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle swinging a string of sausages about like nunchuks, so Ferman would have tut-tutted at Sportacus and informed our flexible friend that may be a place for weapons made out of carrots in Iceland, the same can not be said for the United Kingdom. Still, with Ferman no longer in the Director's chair at the BBFC, and indeed having retired in 1999 and passed away in 2002, nunchuks, like Caligula, The Evil Dead and The Exorcist, can now be seen on any television screen in the land. Good job too as our children can now entertain themselves with a pair of carrots as they couldn't have done so otherwise. And there's some value in that!
This release gets Lazytown viewers ready for Christmas with The Snow Monster, an episode the children, dressed up warmly and playing games in the snow, waken Robbie Rotten, who was otherwise trying to see out the winter in peace and quiet. With Sportacus out saving the mayor, who has foolishly decided to sit on a very thin piece of ice to do his fishing from, the children are left alone. Hoping to scare them away, Robbie dresses up as a very frightening snow monster. But the children have an idea for how to deal with the snow monster...a snow monster of their own! In Friends Forever, the sun has returned to Lazytown, which sets Stephanie to the building of a great play park for her friends. The winner will be awarded with a free pass to the airship! Everyone seems very excited and can't wait to start playing...but such excitement wakes Robbie Rotten. In disguise, Robbie joins in the fun and games but does so to lock the children in a spinning cup and to take to the airship himself. Annoyed at being left alone, Stephanie sits on a park bench kicking at her heels. But soon everyone needs her help. The children are feeling ill in the spinning cup! With Robbie having let the air out of the airship, it is now plummeting to the ground and from it hang Sportacus and Robbie! It's to the playground for Stephanie to save the day!
Trixie is playing on a high wire. Ziggy is too frightened to take more than step on the bar. But Stephanie, afraid of heights, boasts that she has great circus skills. So the kids bring their very own circus to town, led by Ringmaster Robbie Rotten. Or so it would be if the children could see through his disguise. With Mayor Meanswell and Miss Busybody in the audience, the Rotten Circus dresses Stingy and Pixel up as a zebra, hoists Trixie and Ziggy high up in the circus tent and readies itself to shoot Sportacus out of a cannon. Only Stephanie can save the day...but it means walking the high wire! Meanwhile, in Double Trouble, the Mayor leaves Lazytown to catch butterflies but confides in Robbie that today is the day that he gets to make up a new rule for the town. Robbie hatches a plan. It's disguise time! Looking just like the Mayor, Robbie announces that all sports, sports candy and bats and balls will henceforth be banned from Lazytown. The kids are bored. The Mayor is trapped in his tent. And Miss Busybody is packing her bags to leave. But Sportacus suspects that something is wrong with this Mayor. Finally, in Sportacus Saves The Toys Robbie invents a machine to steal away all the toys in Lazytown. Packing them up in a cannonball and firing them in the direction of China and France, Sportacus heads off in pursuit. But he arrives too late and it looks as though there will be no more playing in Lazytown. But do you need toys to play games?
The problem with these Christmas Lazytown releases is that its heart is never really in it. Like Surprise Santa in 2006, The Snow Monster is but one winter-themed episode amongst four that are otherwise set in the sunshine and summer more typical of Lazytown and while children may not mind, parents who are hoping to get their little ones in the mood for Christmas may find themselves moving on to another disc before too long. That said, the episodes themselves are fine, particularly Friends Forever, which manages to mix comedy, the songs and the usual Robbie Rotten dressing up to good effect. It's the best episode here and might well be one of the strongest Lazytown episodes. The pity is that, on a seasonal release like this, it and three of the other episodes on this set, are not quite festive enough.
Like previous Lazytown releases, this looks better on disc than it did on television but still isn't perfect. There is still some mosquito noise in the picture but this seems to come as a result of the BBC maintaining the sharpness of the picture rather than softening it for this release. Another effect of the quality of the picture is that the actors, puppets and bits of actual set leap out of the computer-generated backgrounds but very young children may not notice while adults will feel that this is only stating the obvious with a show as effects-heavy as Lazytown. Still, this does look better than pervious releases, although those less ready to compromise on the quality of the image may find themselves waiting for a HD release of the show. As for the DD2.0 audio track, it's fine and exhibits no faults but it's largely ordinary. Finally, there are English subtitles.
There are no extras on this DVD.