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Baby Einstein: Lullaby Time - Soothing Sounds for Baby DVD Review

Buy Baby Einstein: Lullaby Time from Amazon.com Lullaby Time - Soothing Sounds for Baby

Running Time: 31 Minutes
1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: October 30, 2007
Not Rated / Producer's Recommended Age: 3 months & up
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Ten years after Baby Einstein was introduced to the world, the twenty-fifth entry to this acclaimed series of educational DVDs arrives. Lullaby Time differs from the other installments, however, in that its goal isn't to teach your infant anything.
As the packaging states, its incentive is to, "expose little ones to favorite lullabies" and "help set a calm, cozy, and comforting mood." With that in mind, it mostly succeeds.

This 31-minute program does not feature a clear-cut pattern the way most Baby Einstein (and "Little Einsteins") shows do. Quiet instrumental lullabies are played as the screen shows a multitude of somewhat random images. These essentially boil down into three categories: babies, nature, and toys. The first category varies between babies napping alone and with their understandably exhausted parents. The second includes peaceful landscapes such as a vacated beach and an empty meadow. Finally, there is footage of many different toys in motion, some of which are shot in extreme closeups in order to get a surreal effect.

One of the many cute babies seen in this program, but only one of the few to actually be awake and enjoy the Toys ‘R Us goods. Who needs opposable thumbs? Baby Lamb manages to put his toys away without them in this "Goodnight Book."

In between each lullaby, there's a brief interstitial involving a lamb who's far less loquacious than that other puppet lamb. Each segment has the lamb engaging in a bedtime activity such as a reading a storybook or kissing his stuffed animals good night. The only portion of the video that actually features spoken dialogue is a "Goodnight Book" about the lamb preparing for bed and what his dreams entail.

The program on the whole is well-produced, and its sleep-inducing intentions nearly worked on this reviewer. It more than likely would have worked, too, had it not been for some of the aggravating toy footage. Many of the toys featured spin, slide, and glide rapidly. This, coupled with the camera's need to be two inches away from the toy in question, can cause one to feel rather dizzy. Perhaps the effect is different on babies, but it's hard not to imagine them, too, feeling disoriented and spitting up their last intake of Gerber food.

Other than that, the show does its job, but it raises the question: Is this job really needed? Baby Einstein DVDs have prided themselves in teaching infants the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and even exposing them to science and sign language. Compared to all the other titles, Lullaby Time feels rather unneeded. Of course parents will want to surround their children in something peaceful and relaxing, but one can't help but feel that a simple mobile could do the same job this program aspires to. It's a sweet program to be sure, but it comes across as too fluffy in the grand scheme of things, not to mention it feels as though the Baby Einstein company is desperately searching every nook and cranny for a marketable topic.

Our one and only baby lamb reads aloud to the inanimate bunny via a series of quiet sound effects. This tree (and the few other shots that follow it) make for the ultimate endurance test of any person. The prospect of one of his relatives accidentally falling on him must be what’s keeping baby lamb awake in this main menu.

BONUS FEATURES

Because of the target audience, one shouldn't delve into the bonus material section expecting an audio commentary or comprehensive documentary. Most of what we do find, though, feels like deleted scenes from the main program. The first of these is "Aren't Ewe Sleepy?" (3:54). This assembles most, if not all, of the lamb's inerstitials into a long reel of footage not found in the actual show. Why the new segments weren't part of the feature to begin with is anyone's guess.

"Goodnight Book" (2:29) actually features nothing new at all.
It simply isolates the virtual storybook found during the show into its own feature. It seems a waste to re-include it here when the space, as little as it is, could've been used for a new story featuring the star lamb.

Speaking of the lamb, "Sleep, Sleep, Mr. Sheep" (2:14) is another puppet show featuring the character. Unlike "Sleepy", however, this reel contains completely new footage. The baby lamb, oddly called Mr. Sheep by the menu listing, is seen struggling with narcolepsy. He dozes off in several areas such as the car and the park before finally settling down back home.

"Sheep Dreams" (24:12) apparently shows us what the little lamb sees by night: silent, disconnected images of scenery that each run on a loop for minutes on end. If the main program couldn't get the baby watching it to sleep, this certainly should.

"Toy Chest" (30 stills) is a mix between a helpful guide to the toys featured in the show and a shameless marketing gimmick all at once. A more complete view is given of the toy than what the video allowed and is accompanied by the name and manufacturer.

"Languages" offers the option of watching the show and supplements in English, French, or Spanish. The only feature excluded from this is "About Little Einsteins" (5:18), a promo featuring interviews with the creators stating how simulating this series is. Apparently only the English and French enjoy the show, for no Spanish option is available for this. This is rectified with "About Baby Einstein" (3:57). This promo interviews both the creators and several parents, and it encourages viewers to buy more DVDs from this series, as all as the infinite number of toys.

MENUS and MISCELLANEOUS

The menus all feature a nighttime theme involving sheep. The centerpiece lamb of this disc counts his family as they jump over him in the animated main menu. The same low-key lullaby music found in the feature is heard here. All of the other menus are static and silent and feature the lamb (or other sheep; it's hard to tell) in different poses and leaps.

The disc includes a two-sided insert listing the scene selections and bonus material. The other side showcases other DVDs in the series. In case you miss that (or the four-minute video promo), there's a booklet featuring various "Baby Einstein" DVDs and products. A Disney Movie Rewards code worth 75 points is also included.

An empty beach at sunset is the perfect place for romance... or to soothe to sleep the byproduct of romance. Apparently watching balls spiral constantly down a chute can create a "calm, cozy, and comforting mood" for babies.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Lullaby Time is an undeniably cute little program, but not much more than that. It neither offers the type of education found in the Baby Einstein series nor the entertainment level of other children's shows. This is recommended strictly for the most die-hard Baby Einstein parents, those suffering from insomnia, or the most rabid sheep fanatics.

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Related Reviews:
Baby Einstein: Lullabies and Sweet Dreams (CD) • Little Einsteins: Rocket's Firebird Rescue
Baby Einstein: My First Signs • Baby Einstein: Discovering Shapes • Baby Einstein: Meet the Orchestra
Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams • Bear in the Big Blue House: Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Baby Einstein: Playdate Fun (CD) • Baby Einstein: On the Go - Riding, Sailing and Soaring • Higglytown Heroes: To The Rescue
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories • Baby Einstein: Baby Monet - Discovering the Seasons • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Treat

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Reviewed October 16, 2007.