<center><table border="0"><tr><td width="100" valign="top"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0006L0L5W/thehomeimprovemz"><img src="http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0006L0L5W.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg" width="98" height="140" border="0" alt="Buy Baby Monet: Discovering the Seasons DVD from Amazon.com"></a></td>
<td width="600" valign="center"><b>Baby Einstein: Baby Monet - Discovering the Seasons</b>
34 minutes / Release Date: March 8, 2005
1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)</p></td></tr></table></center>
You may have heard of Baby Einstein, a series of products designed for babies and toddlers including books, CDs, and toys. Released in time for the transition to spring, <b><i>Baby Monet: Discovering the Seasons</i></b> is the series' seventeenth DVD title in the video domain. It represents my introduction to the line, as it's something for which I more or less fall out of the target audience.
From a bit of research, one can learn that "Baby Einstein" is quite a phenomenon in the infant mini-market, a market it dominates. The company's videos have won awards and sold bundles of copies. Teamed up with Disney, the Baby Einstein Company has expanded into toys and apparel.
<i>Baby Monet: Discovering the Seasons</i> introduces infants to the four different times of the year, devoting about 8 minutes to each. This introduction consists of catchy images and classical music "specially re-orchestrated for little ears." The artwork includes Claude Monet's "Haystack" paintings, while the sound selections make use of a retooled version of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." Ocassionally, some adorable real toddlers come on screen, as do two zebra puppets who act as hosts to a degree.
<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/babymonet1.jpg"> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/babymonet2.jpg"></center>
The keyword here is "simplicity." As the target audience is a demographic which lack the ability to fully and coherently speak, very little dialogue is uttered. Instead, the images (including some pleasing time-lapse photography) and music engage the young senses in providing the most basic overview of spring, summer, fall, and winter. Rather than specific lessons being taught, there's merely scenery depicting the seasons.
And that's all there is to it, plus a boogie down of a recap at the end. Altogether, the feature runs just over a half-hour long. With a suggested retail price of $19.99, one wonders if there are similarly-designed alternatives on television that won't cost so much <i>monet</i> to captivate newborns. Apparently, there isn't really; on this DVD and in their literature, the Baby Einstein people make it seem as if they're the only ones who have decided to stimulate infants in the multimedia department. This would imply that there is a great deal of thought behind the very basic appearance.
Under the heading of <u>Discovery Cards</u>, you'll find "The Gallery" (housing 12 Monet paintings seen in the feature) and "The Twelve Months", a simple recitation of the month names which you can view in five different language arrangements (English, French, English and French, etc.).
<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/babymonet5.jpg"> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/babymonet6.jpg"></center>
"A Look at the Seasons" (11:45) is more interactive than the feature itself. It goes through photographs of items associated with the four seasons, showing just a portion of each photo before revealing the subject with narration and the rest of the photo.
Puppet Shows houses three brief, amusing vignettes featuring Baby Einstein's hand puppets: a happy-go-lucky purple zebra and his shrewd blue-and-yellow duck foe. "Pot of Gold", "Sprinkler", and "Beach Ball" run just under 4 minutes altogether.
"Toy Chest" reveals a great deal of product placement that I didn't realize or consider. It's a gallery of the sixteen toys that appeared throughout the feature. Each still contains a photograph, accompanied by the product and brand name.
<b>MENUS & MISCELLANEOUS</b>
As you might have guessed, the menu cycles through the various seasons of the year, while classical music plays. Selecting "About Baby Einstein" from the main menu plays a 4-minute overview of the series, which highlights the various videos/DVDs by age group, and makes mention of things like puppets and discovery cards. This is also mostly covered in one of the four booklets provided inside the DVD case. (Another booklet houses a coupon good for $2 off any Baby Einstein DVD or video.
At the start of play, there is a 1-minute preview for <i>Little Einstein</i> a new preschool-targeted cartoon from Disney and the Baby Einstein companies which will premiere on DVD August 2005 and later come to the Disney Channel. Baby Einstein continues to expand, now with the intention of reaching a slightly-older audience that may have already been weaned on their products.
You can enter "Repeat Play" mode, which loops the video (sans previews, but with credits) again and again, as a virtual babysitter for any infant or infants. "Languages" allows you to play the DVD in French or Spanish. In this case, the few bits of dialogue are presented in the desired foreign language, as are the bonus features and the infrequent on-screen text.
<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/babymonet3.jpg"> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/babymonet4.jpg"></center>
Clearly, the sales numbers indicate that the Baby Einstein line is popular and so anyone with young children may be intrigued to find out what the fuss is all about. While much that bears the "Disney DVD" name can entertain a wide range of viewers (especially the good stuff which attracts the diverse audience of this very website), <i>Baby Monet</i> is strictly for the kids, specifically those between six months old and being literate enough to read (and appreciate) this review.
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0006L0L5W/thehomeimprovemz"><img src="http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0006L0L5W.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg" width="98" height="140" border="0" alt="Buy Baby Monet: Discovering the Seasons DVD from Amazon.com"></a>
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0006L0L5W/thehomeimprovemz">Buy <b>Baby Monet: Discovering the Seasons</b> from Amazon.com</a>
Baby Einstein: On the Go - Riding, Sailing, and Soaring
Baby Einstein: Baby Wordsworth - First Words - Around the House
Little Einsteins: Our <strike>Big</strike> Huge Adventure
Baby Einstein: Lullabies and Sweet Dreams