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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: The Christmas Wish DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Executive Producer: Eric Weiner / Writers: Jeff Borkin, Brian L. Perkins

Producer: Kris Greengrove / Directors: Andy Thom, Olexa Hewryk

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: 96 Minutes (4 episodes) / Rating: TV-G
1.33:1 Full Screen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: October 14, 2008
Three Episodes aired between December 12, 2005 - December 7, 2007; One Unaired
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); White Keepcase
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

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The Internet Movie Database credits over 700 filmed properties to Buena Vista Pictures, a distribution company that encompasses shorts and feature films from Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, and Hollywood Pictures.
Then there are also more than 200 Walt Disney Television titles, over 500 Miramax Films, over 100 pre-Weinstein split Dimension Films, and God only knows how many user misfiles. With such a vast catalogue dating back over 75 years, why is it that these days Disney seems to release more DVDs of "Little Einsteins" than anything else?

The obvious answer -- money -- doesn't quite cover it since earning potential abounds in the library. But, of course, profitability factors right up there with ease. All the studio has to do is gather a handful of episodes from the Playhouse Disney loop (some of which have had their debuts delayed, just to be advertised as "never-before-seen"), slap them on a disc with a somewhat accurate title, deliver to stores, and watch the sales come in. The toddler edutainment market is apparently ravenous for product, a discovery made years ago when Disney purchased the homegrown multi-million Baby Einstein empire. This offshoot, introduced in 2005, would now appear to be an even bigger moneymaker for Disney, which co-produces the television series with Baby Einstein's people.

The Christmas Wish marks the eighth Little Einsteins disc released. It's the first to opt for a holiday season gimmick. I say "gimmick" not "design", because naturally, being a collection of four standard episodes, 75% of the feature presentation has no firm tie to Christmas.

Uh-oh, Annie didn't get an empty wish box from Santa. And that's... bad? Ooh, Little Einsteins, it's Starry Night. I can hear the children of the world getting smarter!

The whole thing could be about Christmas and I doubt that'd make it any better. The show is so transparently educational, repetitive, and short on entertainment value. I have no doubt that these complaints won't be made by the target audience: "preschoolers."
But even if they don't vocalize it, they'll probably feel the same way soon after taking to the series. No one's pretending this is anything greater than short-term entertainment. But we can look at 30-year-old episodes of "Sesame Street" and be both informed and entertained while having our sense of nostalgia tickled. I don't see that happening for "Little Einsteins" no matter how much time passes.

The more I see of "Little Einsteins", the less I like the unparented adventurers of the title. They exist only to introduce youngsters to musical terms and classical tunes and to casually name-drop international sights encountered. All of that's done with the subtlety and variation of a hammer. And really, where does it get anyone? Your kid can say "ritardando" without getting in trouble and that makes them an asset to society? I certainly don't want my children imitating these characters. Neither should you, unless it's been one of your dreams to rear reckless cultural snobs.

As always, each episode runs a few seconds over 24 minutes counting the preserved opening title and closing credits sequences.

June shares a "special dancing story" with her short, simple telling of The Nutcracker. This is the height of comedy in the Little Einsteins universe... dancing to gibberish lyrics for The Flight of the Bumblebee.

"Show and Tell" (Not yet aired)

Malicious aircraft Big Jet swipes the gang's favorite things in the world before they can take them to school for Show and Tell. Rocket's efforts to retrieve the stolen goods (coincidentally, all musical items) take the Little Einsteins to a crystal cave, floating gardens, and Chichen Itza, with Big Jet keeping one step ahead.
Featured art: Mayan architecture; Featured music: Georges Bizet's "Carmen, Suite No. 1"

"The Christmas Wish" (Originally aired December 12, 2005)

After Leo explains the concept of a "wish box" (which sounds like a nice euphemism for "gift card"), all the Little Einsteins get their own wish boxes. All except Annie, that is. To retrieve the misplaced package she's owed, the gang must ascend Mount Everest,
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along the way using their wish boxes for the greater good.
Featured art: Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night"; Featured music: Ludwig van Beethoven's "Fόr Elise"

"The Wind-Up Toy Prince" (Originally aired December 7, 2007)

After June narrates a short account of The Nutcracker ballet, the Little Einsteins try to save the toy prince. In response, the Mouse King (who took the prince's "winder-upper") and his army use their cunning to keep the kids away.
Featured art: Edgar Degas' Sculpture of the Little Dancer of Fourteen Years; Featured music: Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite"

"The Northern Night Light" (Originally aired February 20, 2006)

In Lapland during one of winter's short days, the Little Einsteins try to reunite a baby reindeer with her mother. When things get scary, the gang gets silly to overcome their fears.
Featured art: Claude Monet's "The Road in Front of Saint-Simιon Farm in Winter"; Featured music: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee"


The picture quality on the 1.33:1 fullscreen episodes is fabulous. The animation part of the mixed-media presentation isn't state of the art, but all of the visuals are bright, colorful, and immaculately clean here.

For sound, we get plain Dolby Surround tracks in English, French, and Spanish. Aside from some very mild reinforcement from the rear channel, all audio emanates from the front side speakers. I don't understand why Disney stopped giving the Little Einsteins DVDs' 5.1 tracks. There's ample opportunity to use a wider mix, it would impress tots watching on a home theater, and distinguish from standard TV airings. On its own simple merits, though, the basic Surround track is fine -- crisp and utterly intelligible.

Iceland's present or potato in window-placed shoes is one of the Magic Mission Mode's Christmas tradition tidbits. Do you want to have to learn more about the Northern Lights? Just press enter, ya turkey. Why didn't you think of that? The Little Einsteins have apparently gone all out to decorate their underground hideout for Christmas on the main menu.


Par for the line, a single bonus feature is included. Though it comes under the Game Time heading, "Magic Mission Mode: Holidays Around the World" actually lends the disc some repeat value. With the Active Mode chosen, it adds a less pitiful degree of interactivity.
When an on-screen cursor is selected, the feature elaborates on things seen in with a short video played in an overlaid window resembling Rocket's monitor. In addition to discussing Christmas traditions in the foreign locations depicted, the mode sheds a bit of light on the sampled musicians and other featured elements.

The Auto Mode does the same without remote control use, simply triggering all available detours and extending play by 2 to 3 minutes. (The center bulk of each show goes uncommented on.)

The feature is only offered on three of the disc's four episodes; unaired "Show and Tell" doesn't go for that kind of thing.

The standard clubhouse menu gets a mild update to include some signs of the season: stockings, a Christmas tree, lights, and decorations. Beyond those touches and some holiday-sounding score excerpts, it's the same as all that came before it. No chapter stops are presented on the episodes, except in Magic Mission Mode where they're tied to each bonus tidbit.

FastPlay-enhanced, the disc opens with the Disney company promo and ads for Pinocchio: Platinum Edition, Einstein Pals, My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too, "Bunnytown": Hello Bunnies!, "Handy Manny": Manny's Green Team, "Schoolhouse Rock!": Earth, and Disney Movie Rewards. The second page of the jam-packed Sneak Peeks section offers additional ads for Tinker Bell, Space Buddies, The Little Mermaid: Return to the Sea Special Edition, "Little Einsteins": Flight of the Instrument Fairies, "Handy Manny" on Playhouse Disney, and "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse": Mickey's Storybook Surprises.

Inside the keepcase are a mini-booklet of ads, a Disney Movie Rewards insert, and what is sure to be the saddest ornament on any tree it's hung. That last item is a thick cardboard cut-out with the Little Einsteins cast popping out of a wreath. At the center of one side, you're to attach a photo. And I thought Hallmark had some lame ones.

Presto! Another Little Einsteins review finished. Dear Santa, please make them stop. Annie seems to think that Georges Bizet is dreamy, but then who doesn't?


In addition to one overtly Christmas-themed episode,
The Christmas Wish supplies stories involving The Nutcracker, a snowy setting, and... jet aircraft mischief. Excusing the not-yet-aired show, I guess some effort was taken to grant this compilation a holiday season feel. But really, it's about the same as any of the seven prior "Little Einsteins" DVD. Except you get 4 episodes instead of 3 and a viewing mode slightly better than another dinky game.

Still, it charges you about $4 an episode from a show that airs every morning at 8 AM. If the program was more special or boasted lasting appeal, I could see the value in buying some of the offered discs. But unless your children need more frequent, unscheduled Little Einstein fixes and you can't or don't feel like recording some on DVR, DVD-R, or VHS, then you can skip the DVD and not miss out on anything major.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

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Related Reviews:
A Very Playhouse Disney Holiday • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Treat • My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Hundred Acre Wood Haunt
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales • My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie

New to DVD:
Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection • Jack Frost (Remastered Deluxe Edition) • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Classic Holiday Gift Set • Holiday Treats
Sleeping Beauty (Platinum Edition) • Schoolhouse Rock!: Election Collection • The Smurfs: Season 1, Volume 2

Handy Manny: Manny's Pet Roundup • JoJo's Circus: Take a Bow! • Disney Channel Holiday • Bear in the Big Blue House: Sense-sational!
Little Einsteins: Flight of the Instrument Fairies • Little Einsteins: Our Big Huge Adventure • Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure!
Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 8 - Holiday Celebration with Mickey & Pals • Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment

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Reviewed October 17, 2008.