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My Friends Tigger & Pooh on DVD: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie • Friendly Tails • Hundred Acre Wood Haunt • Coming Soon: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too

My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Hundred Acre Wood Haunt DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Executive Producers: Jeff Kline, Brian Hohlfeld / Writers: Nicole Dubuc, Dean Stefan, Eileen Cabiling, Erika Grediaga, Brian Hohlfeld / Story Editor: Brian Hohlfeld

Directors: David Hartman, Don MacKinnon

Voice Cast: Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh/Tigger), Dee Bradley Baker (Buster), Max Burkholder (Roo), Chloe Moretz (Darby), Travis Oates (Piglet), Ken Sansom (Rabbit), Peter Cullen (Eeyore), Oliver Dillon (Lumpy)

Running Time: 72 Minutes (3 episodes) / Rating: TV-G
1.33:1 Full Screen (Original Aspect Ratio), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: September 2, 2008
Episodes Originally Aired August-October 2007
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); Black Keepcase
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

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The Walt Disney Company has treated Winnie the Pooh and his friends to so many incarnations that it's hard to keep track of them all. That's not a big problem, though, because for several years now, the characters have been geared strictly to preschoolers, a demographic not apt to mentally sort the different series that have existed over Disney's 42 years of playing with the profitable franchise imagined by A.A. Milne.

Presently, the exclusive domain for new Pooh animation is "My Friends Tigger & Pooh", a Playhouse Disney original series that aims as young as any prior Pooh program. Conceived and produced in the vein of "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse",
this half-hour show offers bright, colorful computer animation and more opportunities for viewers to interact with their TV.

Shaking up the evergreen empire is the fact that the anthropomorphic animals of Hundred Acre Wood now have 6-year-old girl Darby and her dog Buster as their real-world contacts. In addition, though we still get relaxed stories involving childish fears and simple misunderstandings, these are shaped by a focal design that involves the three Super Sleuths (Pooh, Tigger, and Darby) systematically solving mysteries with "help from you."

The show seeks to reward little ones interested enough to assist the Sleuths with a bit of education far more subtle and practical than Little Einsteins' in-your-face culture crash course. And fear not, many of the other regular characters remain present as well. Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Roo, and 2005 invention Lumpy the lavender Heffalump all get their turns to be the center of attention of an occasional half-episode story.

Tigger, Darby, and Eeyore explore the Moon... which looks suspiciously like the Hundred Acre Wood. Rabbit would prefer his prized pumpkin stay perfect in "Rabbit's Prized Pumpkin."

Even as Disney slowed its production of new DVD releases to a crawl over the past months, episode compilations of Playhouse Disney TV series continued to be a source of interest (and apparently, revenue) for the studio.
Winnie the Pooh ABCs alphabet discount poster Disney's House of Happy Haunts Video Shop poster Winnie the Pooh life-size standup (3 ft. 4 in. tall)
Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too featurette poster Winnie the Pooh and butterfly - Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree art poster Hundred Acre Wood gang discount poster
Browse more available Winnie the Pooh
posters, photos, and memorabilia
Available next week, Hundred Acre Wood Haunt marks the third disc issued for "My Friends Tigger & Pooh", following last fall's 42-minute Super Sleuth Christmas Movie and March's straight 3-episode compilation Friendly Tails.

The title Hundred Acre Wood Haunt, early September release date, and cover art of the flashlight-wielding Super Sleuths in a pumpkin patch above a "S-POOH-ky Fun!" declaration all point to this being a Halloween-themed DVD. As "My Friends" has yet to air an episode involving the kid-favorite October holiday, you'd probably expect to get some never-before-seen special perhaps running as long as the Christmas "Movie" did. But in fact, you just get three standard episodes that aired in August and October of last year.

In the disc's defense, pumpkins, fantasy, fright, and mystery all do feature somewhat in the three episodes. But while those may be elements familiar to Halloween, they're not enough to qualify this as a seasonal compilation. The only time the H-word is mentioned is in the bonus episode of "Handy Manny", which does explicitly deal with the holiday.

Each episode runs 24 minutes and 4 seconds long.

Hogarth! After an unnatural growth spurt, Darby towers over her friends in "Super-Sized Darby." Everyone's got an idea for what Eeyore's new house should be. (Tigger likes the idea of a swinging tire.) But does anyone care what the fussy donkey likes? Oh bother.

1. "Super-Sized Darby / Piglet's Lightning Frightening" (Originally aired August 18, 2007)
Darby becomes a giant when she's sprayed with the Insta-Go-Grow formula Rabbit's devised for his garden vegetables. The Super Sleuths help Piglet not be afraid of a thunderstorm with singing and reason.

2. "Eeyore's Trip to the Moon / The Incredible Shrinking Roo" (Originally aired October 6, 2007)
When the gang finds what they believe is a broken piece of the moon,
they excitedly plan a lunar trip to put it back in place. No one can figure out why a new measure of Roo's height suggests he's shrinking instead of growing.

3. "Eeyore's Home Sweet Home / Rabbit's Prized Pumpkin" (Originally aired October 20, 2007)
The pals take turns building a new home for Eeyore and find the donkey's needs tough to meet. Rabbit enlists the Sleuths to help keep his best pumpkin safe and unflawed for an upcoming competition.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Picture quality is digital perfection, presumably the result of a direct computer-to-computer transfer. The series' neon colors and modest yet pleasant CG animation reaches the viewer with nary an imperfection in the 1.33:1 fullscreen format. Despite the package's claim of a Dolby Surround presentation, the audio here is plain two-channel stereo. Though not making use of the full sound field is a shortcoming, the track still gets the job done and minor lip-synching issues seem more attributable to the show than the DVD.

Guess the "ghost" who's under the cloth sheet in the easiest of three games comprising the Super Sleuth Fall Harvest Festival. Seis of the siete tools de Handy Manny show off their Halloween costumes in the bonus episode. Fall leaves blow as a magnifying glass holds a montage on the main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The first of two bonus features is the requisite set-top game. "Super Sleuth Fall Harvest Festival" is actually three games in one.
The first rewards subtraction skills by counting the apples in a tree and then those that fall. The second tests powers of deduction by having you guess which of the 8 ghost-costumed series regulars you're looking at. The memory-sharpening last part involves picking vegetables for Rabbit in a prescribed order. The randomly-arranged game provides a few minutes of mild entertainment, though I can see the target tots finding the memory activity challenging and potentially frustrating.

The second and less commonplace supplement is a bonus episode of "Handy Manny" (24:05). In the "Halloween" segment, Manny teaches his talking tools about the holiday as well its Spanish equivalent Día De Los Muertos while they help neighborhood costumer Victor with his sewing machine. In "Squeeze's Magic Show", the gang is called to Magic Marty's Shop, where they've got to fix Marty's prized magic chest. This likable episode also offers a Spanish language track.

Launching this FastPlay platter are the Disney company promo; previews for Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse": Mickey's Storybook Surprises, My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too, "Little Einsteins": The Christmas Wish; and a Disney Movie Rewards spot. The Sneak Peeks holds additional promos for Tinker Bell, The Secret of the Magic Gourd, and "Handy Manny."

The menus play close to last spring's Friendly Tails compilation but with a leafy autumn motif.

Inside the black keepcase (that's unusually dark for a Pooh title), we find a booklet of ads and a Disney Movie Rewards insert. No contents listing has been provided, but the rear case artwork adequately conveys this information.

The Super Sleuths try a song and dance number to help Piglet over his fears. When that doesn't work, Darby paraphrases Craig T. Nelson's lightning/thunder storm-tracking lesson from "Poltergeist." After more than forty years of youth, Roo must have reached old age. How ever else could you explain the fact that he's apparently shrinking?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"My Friends Tigger & Pooh" has its values, but I doubt that "enduring entertainment" is among them. As such, it seems better suited for occasional Disney Channel viewings than DVD player staple. That said, if you do consider this show worth preserving in its glory, this compilation is okay. The asking price per episode is higher than it needs to be, the random collecting tactic pleases no one completely, and the Halloween marketing is needlessly deceptive. If you can overlook all those aspects and proceed to justify spending a few dollars on each of the three regularly-broadcast episodes, the bonus "Handy Manny", and basic set top games, then by all means pick this up. But know you could do a lot better.

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Related Reviews:
New to DVD: The Nightmare Before Christmas • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Storybook Surprises
My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Friendly Tails • My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie
Little Einsteins: Flight of the Instrument Fairies • Handy Manny: Manny's Pet Roundup • A Very Playhouse Disney Holiday
Pooh's Heffalump Halloween • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Treat • Sing Along Songs: Happy Haunting - Party at Disneyland
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Friendship Edition • Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: It's Playtime with Pooh
Sing Along Songs: Sing a Song with Pooh Bear and Piglet Too • Disney Learning Adventures: Winnie the Pooh - Shapes & Sizes

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Disney collectibles including Winnie the Pooh

Reviewed August 29, 2008.