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Little Einsteins on DVD:Our Big Huge Adventure • Team Up for Adventure • Mission Celebration! • The Legend of the Golden Pyramid
Rocket's Firebird Rescue • Race for Space • Flight of the Instrument Fairies • The Christmas Wish
Fire Truck Rocket's Blastoff • Animal Expedition

Little Einsteins: Mission Celebration! DVD Review

Buy Little Einsteins: Mission Celebration! from Amazon.com Little Einsteins: Mission Celebration!
Show & DVD Details

Executive Producer: Eric Weiner / Writers: Jeff Borkin, Eric Weiner

Creative Director: Olexa Hewryk / Producer: Kris Greengrove

Voice Cast: Erica Huang (June), Aiden Pompey (Quincy), Jesse Schwartz (Leo), Natalia Wojcik (Annie) / Singing Cast: Harrison Chad, Jesse Goldberg, Emma Straus, Philip Trencher

Running Time: 72 Minutes (3 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-Y equivalent)
1.33:1 Full Screen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: August 22, 2006
Two Episodes Originally Aired October 13, 2005 and October 21, 2005; One Unaired
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); Red Keepcase
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

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By Ed South

Just about every morning in my house at 8:00, the theme song to "Little Einsteins" can be heard coming from one TV or another. For the next half-hour, you can also hear my preschool-aged son laughing, singing, clapping, and shouting along with his Little Einstein friends. If you don't have a preschooler living in your home then you may not be familiar with Leo, Annie, June, and Quincy - the quartet known as the Little Einsteins. Another breakout hit show from Disney Channel's daytime Playhouse Disney lineup, "Little Einsteins" sets out to familiarize kids with classical music and classic works of art while also encouraging them to get up off the sofa and play along.

The show was designed for children who have graduated from the popular line of Baby Einstein videos. Just like "The Electric Company" was billed as "for graduates of Sesame Street," "Little Einsteins" takes the same curriculum as Baby Einstein and expands and matures the material for a slightly older audience. Baby Einstein videos are very simple montages of puppets, everyday items and works of art all set to classical music. "Little Einsteins" takes the music and artwork and weaves them into stories featuring live action footage of real geographical locations and an animated cast of characters kids can relate to (as opposed to Baby Einstein's cast of nameless, armless animal puppets).

The Little Einsteins discover the blue prints to a "birthday machine!" The gang encounters a snake in the tropical rain forest. Where's Samuel L. Jackson when you need him?

My son, a recovering Baby Einstein addict, has been a fan of "Little Einsteins" since it first aired last fall. He'll sometimes hear a piece of classical music and identify it - not by its proper title, but he'll say something like, "Hey, that's the dragon kite song" or "That's the birthday balloons song!" What really made my wife and I realize that "Little Einsteins" was making an impact on our son was during a trip to the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum.
While strolling through an exhibit on space travel, my son sat up in his stroller, pointed to a picture and correctly said, "Look, it's Saturn! Saturn has three rings around it!" He was excited and we were impressed. We didn't know exactly where his knowledge came from until a few weeks later we saw the Little Einsteins flying Rocket to Saturn and talking about the rings of Saturn. It was then that I knew "Little Einsteins" was more than just singing and clapping; it was a welcomed addition to my child's life.

In a typical outing, the Little Einsteins will go on a mission, flying their rocket named Rocket to some real life location where they need to find something which is audibly represented by a piece of classical music. On their quest to find whatever it is they are looking for, they will inevitably have to travel through a landscape based on a classic piece of art. At the top and the bottom of each installment, the featured artist and composer are mentioned alongside a sample of their work. Along the way, the kids on screen will ask the kids at home for some help. It may be simple hand gestures, or a request to shout out something at the TV, but the audience's participation is greatly encouraged. It's all one of those deals where kids are learning stuff even though they don't realize it.

"Little Einsteins" debuted on Disney Channel last fall and quickly became a family favorite not only holding down the prime 8:00 A.M. time slot but also generating multiple DVD releases. Little Einsteins: Mission Celebration! is the third DVD Disney has released, following the feature-length direct-to-video Our Big Huge Adventure (which launched the brand a year ago) and last spring's Team Up for Adventure. Mission Celebration follows Team Up's example and comes "packed" with three episodes of the hit series.

Rocket transforms into a gondola when the kids go to Venice, Italy. Annie is decked out in her cowgirl gear for a visit to the Wild West.

On this disc you'll find the following:

"The Birthday Machine" (Not yet aired)

The gang is helping Rocket clean his room. While dusting off some old books, they find a drawing of a machine. The kids decide it is a "Birthday Machine" and if they can find all three pieces that make it up, they can build it and all celebrate their birthdays! This mission takes them to Italy, where they visit Florence, Venice and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The featured music in this episode is Johann Sebastian Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 5" and the featured artist is Michelangelo Buonarroti.

"Go West, Young Train" (Originally aired October 21, 2005)

Annie and her friends are off to the Wild, Wild West to visit her friend Little Red Train. It turns out Little Red Train is on his way to a party with lots of other trains. He's very excited about the party; in fact, he's got a giant sack of fun things to take to the party.
Unfortunately, the mean-spirited Big Jet shows up, takes Little Red Train's party bag and flies away. Fortunately, the Little Einstein gang is there to accept the mission to rescue the party bag and return it to its rightful owner. Along the way you'll hear the "Suite L'Arlιsienne No. 2" by George Bizet and marvel at the artistry of Navajo baskets.

"The Birthday Balloons" (Originally aired October 12, 2005)

It's Annie's birthday, and her favorite birthday gift is balloons. It just so happens that the other three Little Einsteins each give her a balloon for her birthday. Annie is so happy! Then a (musical) gust of wind comes along and blows her balloons away. Once again, the friends suit up for a mission - to retrieve all of Annie's balloons. This time, their mission takes them to Seattle (watch out for that Space Needle, balloons!), a tropical rain forest, and finally, Antarctica. The musical spotlight is "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by Mozart and the artist in the spotlight is Henri Rousseau.

What's a celebration without penguins!? Annie's birthday balloons + the Seattle Space Needle = trouble!

The series obviously follows a basic blueprint, from episode to episode. In the beginning of each installment, something is lost, stolen or misplaced, and the Einsteins are off on a mission before five minutes have passed. The production of the show itself is rendered entirely on a computer. The main characters have a flat tradition animation look to them, while the backgrounds are designed to be more realistic sometimes even using real photography.
Occasionally, an item or secondary character will be rendered in 3-D computer animation but it all seems to blend together nicely.

Oftentimes, the featured artwork is woven into the story as a setting. The Einstein kids walk or fly through scenes from classic paintings. It seems like kind of a stretch that this technique really makes an impact on kids. Most kids probably don't realize that they are looking at "art" as the scenes blend in so well with the rest of the show.

Topics like art and music appreciation or even geography might not seem like important subjects to introduce to preschoolers, but shows like "Sesame Street" and "Blue's Clues" already have the ABC's and 123's market cornered. "Little Einsteins" offers children a little something different with its edu-tainment. This isn't something that you can really appreciate with your kids, as it doesn't work on different levels. It's made for little children and they seem to enjoy it. At least my three-year-old son does!

Like the show's previous compilation disc, Mission Celebration! serves up its three episodes in their entirety. You can select each episode separately or choose "play all" for a mini-marathon, which provides just one set of opening and closing credits.


This DVD presentation knocks the picture quality up a few notches from what I'm used to seeing from the limited capabilities of our local cable provider. The 1.33:1 full screen picture is crisp and clean, and just a little more vibrant than when aired on TV. As this program is completely assembled on a computer, I would imagine that the image on this DVD is generated from the original digital master much in the same way the Pixar films are presented in home media.

Having this show play in my house on an almost daily basis before the first cup of coffee of the day, I've never taken the time to turn on the surround sound. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack really opens up the show, showing off the abundance of classical music presented in each episode. The immediate sound effects, as well as the background noise all sound better than real life. The entire soundtrack is comprised of high quality audio. Not that preschoolers care, but the audio presentation is impressive.

Three colorful buttons are your controls as you pilot Rocket through a mission in the bonus game "You've Got a Mission!" The Episode Selection menu is one of the few that differs from the previous Little Einsteins DVD.


The lone bonus feature on this release is the imaginatively-titled game "You've Got A Mission!"
The DVD case claims "You're invited to pilot Rocket on an interactive quest." What you actually get is a simple little "game" that feels more like some pre-show entertainment you would see while waiting in line for a ride at Walt Disney World. This activity game uses recycled animation to put you in the pilot seat of Rocket. Every so often you're instructed to push one of three buttons. The button you are supposed to push is blinking, so it's just a matter of moving an arrow to the blinking button and hitting enter on your DVD remote. Of course, most kids that this DVD targets can't work a DVD remote, so even this simple approach at a set-top game seems pointless. I tried to get my son to play along with me, but the directions given are not very clear and I ended up going to the Main Menu twice before I figured out what I was supposed to be doing! A little frustrating and my son lost interest.

The menus appear to be identical to the ones used in the previous "Little Einstein" DVD adventures. The menu options are presented in extended views of the Einstein headquarters that are featured on the show. An instrumental version of the theme song accompanies the main menu.

The disc opens up with your chance to bypass "Disney's FastPlay." If you choose to play your own previews, a two-page menu will guide you through the selections of The Wild, The Fox and the Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition, Cars, the "Little Einsteins" series, Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: A Kingdom of Kindness, The Little Mermaid: Special Edition, Disney Learning Adventures: Winnie the Pooh - Good Day, Good Night and Time to Rhyme, the Playhouse Disney hit "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" which is actually a teaser for the upcoming Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mousektales release, and the next "Little Einsteins" DVD release The Legend of the Golden Pyramid, which is another 3-episode disc.

Inside the DVD's red keepcase, you'll find the Disney marketing machine at full blast as it stakes its claim on a piece of the ever-growing, newly-exploited preschool market. Inserts included with the DVD plug Little Einsteins DVDs (with a $3 off coupon), books, CDs, the TV show, and a soon-to-be-released Game Boy Advance video game. There are also ads for Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online and Cheerios (hey, they're a perfect fit for little fingers!) You'll even find an entry form to enter to win a Disney Preschool DVD Library - 25 titles of your choice! As Quincy would say, "I cannot believe it!"

The completed "Birthday Machine" provides the first of many celebrations on this disc. The Little Einsteins party down with some crazy trains!


"Little Einsteins" is a good show with good intentions. It's not the kind of show you are likely to sit down and watch with your child like "Sesame Street", "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse", or even "Higglytown Heroes." But it doesn't have that mind-numbing, fork-on-a-chalkboard effect that so many other kids' shows have. (Yes, Barney and Doodlebops, I'm talking to you!) Little Einsteins: Mission Celebration! offers you three party-related episodes in a high-quality presentation along with a simple game that can easily be done without. Considering the show is aired twelve times a week and there are only 25 episodes running at the moment, it's hard to give this disc a full-on recommendation.

This release is good for families that don't have Disney Channel. It also makes a good gift, as someone might not drop fifteen bucks on it for their own child but a child would be delighted to unwrap it at their birthday party! As I've said, my son watches the show almost every morning but he'll still ask for the DVD (we have the first release, too) when he's in the mood for those particular adventures. Children enjoy repetition and familiarity and that's exactly what a DVD like this offers.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure • Little Einsteins: Our Big Huge Adventure
TaleSpin: Volume 1 • Darkwing Duck: Volume 1 • DuckTales: Volume 1
Baby Einstein: Baby's Favorite Places - First Words - Around Town • Little Einsteins: Musical Missions (CD)
Disney Learning Adventures: Winnie the Pooh - Wonderful Word Adventure • Disney Learning Adventures: Winnie the Pooh - Shapes and Sizes
A Very Playhouse Disney Holiday • Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up • JoJo's Circus: Animal A Go-Go
Bear in the Big Blue House: Storytelling with Bear • Under the Umbrella Tree: Volume 3
Baby Einstein: Meet the Orchestra • Baby Einstein: On the Go - Riding, Sailing and Soaring
Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: It's Playtime with Pooh • High School Musical • Rock & Bop with the Doodlebops (CD)

UltimateDisney.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | Complete DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Disney DVDs | Recent DVDs | Search This Site

Little Einsteins on DVD:Our Big Huge Adventure • Team Up for Adventure • Mission Celebration! • The Legend of the Golden Pyramid
Rocket's Firebird Rescue • Race for Space • Flight of the Instrument Fairies • The Christmas Wish
Fire Truck Rocket's Blastoff • Animal Expedition

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Reviewed August 30, 2006.