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Handy Manny on DVD: Tooling Around Fixing It Right Manny's Pet Roundup

"Handy Manny": Manny's Pet Roundup DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Creators and Executive Producers: Roger Bollen, Marilyn Sadler, Rick Gitelson / Writers: Peter Hunziker, Jonathan Tydor, Lorne Cameron, Rick Gitelson, Sheila Dinsmore

Director: Charles E. Bastien

Voice Cast: Wilmer Valderrama (Manny Garcia), Carlos Alazraqui (Felipe), Dee Bradley Baker (Turner), Nika Futterman (Stretch, Squeeze), Tom Kenny (Mr. Lopart, Pat), Kath Soucie (Dusty), Fred Stoller (Rusty), Nancy Truman (Kelly)

Notable Guest Stars: Benjamin Brian (Leland), Elan Garfias (Pepe), Cooper Green (Lyle), Mindy Burbano (Cassie), Shelley Morrison (Mrs. Portillo), Mindy Burbano, Isabella Pajaro (Julieta), Jane Lynch (Jackie), Jessi Corti (Renaldo)

Running Time: 82 minutes (7 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio); Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (Spanish); Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: August 5, 2008 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Episodes Originally Aired Between 2006 - 2008 (2 Episodes not yet aired)
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5); White Keepcase

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Playhouse Disney has achieved success recently by capitalizing off of established franchises.
"Little Einsteins" grew as a spin-off to the "Baby Einstein" video series. "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and "My Friends Tigger and Pooh" invigorated new life into well-beloved characters in the Disney family. While perhaps not as milked by the company as the aforementioned ones, one original series proved to be successful on its own terms: "Handy Manny".

The series deals with an Hispanic repairman named Manny Garcia (Wilmer Valderrama) and his set of talking tools (Felipe, Turner, Stretch, Squeeze, Pat, Dusty, and Rusty). Being Sheetrock Hills' favorite (and seemingly only) handyman, Manny and his toolbox friends spend their time fixing various broken items around the town per request. Often, they are called to do more than just repair work, as seen in this third DVD collection of episodes: Manny's Pet Roundup.

Manny and the rather small population of Sheetrock Hills cheer under his new sign (and logo). These seven bright colorful talking tools are Handy Manny's closest companions. Here, Squeeze (the pliers) voices her opinion on how to fix the spinning logo for "Renaldo's Pretzel Castle."

The most welcoming thing about "Handy Manny" is its lack of condescension towards its viewers. Many shows aimed at small children tend to hammer their morals and messages into the audience's head, and the presentations can be cloying and saccharine. "Handy Manny" doesn't concern itself very much with morality lessons. When it does, it does so deftly and gently.
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Casting Wilmer Valderrama as the lead character of a series like this seems odd at first, but he's one of the main reasons the show avoids the pitfalls of its kin. His vocal work for Manny is relaxed and natural, selling him as a genuine person and dodging the raised volume and drawn-out syllables of other preschool series leads.

"Handy Manny" marks one of the few times Disney's catered directly to the Hispanic demographic. There was a definite risk here at becoming too self-consciously ethnic, and while that occasionally occurs (American characters greeting Manny in Spanish when he clearly speaks English), it's usually handled more organically. Manny and the tools occasionally spout out Spanish phrases but don't always follow with an English translation. This may seem to negate the point of including such terms, but in doing so, they allow children more of an opportunity to interpret based on context clues. This puts the show ahead of something like "Dora the Explorer", which obnoxiously lambastes children with its Spanish lessons and flavor.

The laid-back attitude of "Handy" proves to be both a blessing and a curse, though. While the show comes across as very down-to-earth, it also struggles to be very memorable. The most colorful characters (the tools) aren't given enough screen time to make a lasting impression. This backs the creators into a corner since the 11-minute episode format allows the slim plots to be told tightly, but also leaves little room for strong characterization. Still, it's unfair to judge "Handy Manny" along the same lines as children's programming that resonates with adults (such as "Sesame Street"). It's a pleasant show when viewed on its own terms, and that fact alone makes it more valuable than most other shows of this style.

Each episode runs 11 minutes and 20 seconds long without opening or closing credits.

Lyle and Leland break the trend of twins wearing identical outfits by wearing identical outfits... with inverted colors. A staple of the show is having the person in need of assistance call Manny via phone bubble. "Squeeze Makes a Promise" has Mrs. Portillo filling this role along with the ability to see exactly where Manny's standing. Cassie's bunnies look quizzically at their open cage in what can only be described as a "Pet Problem."

"Lyle and Leland Lopart" (Not yet aired)
Manny and the tools assist a boy named Pepe (voiced by Elan Garfias) with his soapbox for a town race. Mr. Lopart's twin nephews also compete but are having trouble getting theirs to run.

"Blackout on the Block" (Not yet aired)
The electricity goes out in Manny's neighborhood.
Over at the pet shop, Cassie's (Mindy Burbano) baby chicks are freezing due to the lack of heat.

"Squeeze Makes a Promise" (Originally aired January 12, 2008)
Mrs. Portillo (Shelley Morrison) entrusts Squeeze with the task of watching over her pet chameleon. Squeeze quickly finds herself breaking a promise she made regarding her babysitting.

"Pet Problem" (Originally aired September 18, 2006)
Cassie asks Mandy to fix the cage door for her rabbits. Doing this without letting them escape proves to be a challenge.

"Kitty Sitting" (Originally aired January 13, 2007)
Kelly finds a stray kitten and offers Manny and the tools a chance to adopt it. Too busy to look after it, they leave it in the care of Mr. Sanchez for the day.

"Gopher Help (Originally aired May 13, 2007)
Jackie (Jane Lynch), the groundskeeper for the city park, calls on Manny and the gang to do a different sort of job: catching a gopher that's destroying the lawns and sprinklers.

"Renaldo's Pretzel Castle (Originally aired November 17, 2007)
Renaldo (Jessi Corti), the local pretzelmaker is having his giant pretzel sign attacked by birds. Manny and the tools try to repair it while keeping the birds at bay.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Handy Manny" arrives in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. As expected, the quality is quite good. The image looks a bit soft, but this is due to the show's visual style. Colors are bold and bright without bleeding or blooming. The only real concern in the transfer is a slight case of jagged edges, particularly during movement. This is only noticeable when searching for it. Otherwise the transfer excels.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is somewhat pointless considering the show is very front-heavy. Dialogue is intelligible, and the music and effects (which make use of the surrounds sparingly) aren't overpowering.

Carrots meant to lure the rabbit back in his cage have been laid out a little too irresponsibly in one of the DVD's five set-top games. Mrs. Portillo has suddenly grown trees in her home and thus effectively hindered her chameleon from eating in another of the disc's A-Maze-Ing Pet Roundup games.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and DESIGN

The "A-Maze-Ing Pet Roundup" set-top game is the only supplement. The player must navigate each animal character featured in this compilation through a maze. One essentially plays the same game five times. In a nice touch, the mazes change upon return visits.
The only problem is that the harder mazes have arrows pointing in directions like northwest or southeast, making it difficult to know which arrow key to press. If this poses a problem for an adult, it can only be that much more strenuous on the intended audience.

The menus replicate those found on previous "Handy Manny" DVDs, but are presented in 4x3 rather than 16x9. The animated main menu features a roll call of the seven different tools from the show. All other menus are static and silent.

Via Disney's FastPlay, the episodes are preceded by trailers for Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition, "My Friends Tigger and Pooh": Hundred Acre Wood Haunt, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse": Mickey's Storybook Surprises, "Little Einsteins": The Christmas Wish, "Little Einsteins": Flight of the Instrument Fairies, and Disney Movie Rewards. These can be accessed from the Sneak Peeks menu along with trailers for "Handy Manny": Fixing it Right, The Secret of the Magic Gourd, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, and "My Friends Tigger and Pooh" on Playhouse Disney.

The disc comes housed in a standard white keepcase. Surprisingly enough, outside of a Disney Movie Rewards code, no inserts or booklets are included inside.

Manny and the tools get all Carl Spacklery whilst planning their ambitious gopher-catching strategy in "Gopher Help." In "Blackout on the Block," Cassie (Mindy Burbano) explains to Manny (Wilmer Valderrama) and the tools why her baby chicks are freezing in what seems to be summer weather.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"Handy Manny" may not stick with older viewers who happen to watch it, but it's a reasonably entertaining experience all the same. It avoids the patronizing content or ostentatious presentations of other children's programming on the air. This 7-episode compilation features picture and sound that are as solid as one could ask for in a show of this nature. The set-top game is very ordinary, though, and may even prove to be too difficult for some younger players. Still, this disc is recommended to established "Handy Manny" fans. A viewing or two on Playhouse Disney first should help sway the merely curious one way or the other.

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Related Reviews:
New to DVD: Little Einsteins: Flight of the Instrument Fairies Phineas and Ferb: The Fast and the Phineas Freakazoid!: Season 1
Handy Manny: Tooling Around My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Friendly Tails Higglytown Heroes: Heroes on the Move
JoJo's Circus: Animal A Go-Go Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Treat Under the Umbrella Tree: Volume 3
Bear in the Big Blue House: Early to Bed, Early to Rise The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Lip Synchin' in the Rain
Sing Along Songs: Happy Haunting - Party at Disneyland Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment
Hannah Montana: Life's What You Make It A Very Playhouse Disney Holiday Sing Along Songs: The Bare Necessities

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Reviewed August 5, 2008.