Plot: What’s it about?
This episode of Veggie Tales is like no other, as Archibald Asparagus has taken over and of course, we wants to bring more “class” to the series. The episode starts with Archibald gaining control of the show and soon enough, he presents the world’s first all-vegetable rendition of Hamlet. Of course, it doesn’t work out just as planned and Hamlet turns into a more unusual version of the story, though humor abounds and the message is delivered well. But the changes don’t end with that bit of classy showmanship, not by means. In the segment usually devoted to Larry’s Silly Songs, Archibald inserts Larry’s Classy Songs, but Larry still manages to entertain. He sings a rousing tune that is centered around his box of chocolates and new hat, both of which he wants to keep in top condition. The main attraction of the episode however, is Lyle the Kindly Viking and it is a tale of the benefits of sharing, as seen through the actions of Lyle (played by Jr. Asparagus). A small, but big-hearted Viking, Lyle wants to make friends and help people, instead of pillaging and taking things from others. His fellow Vikings laugh at him at first, but soon they will learn the lesson of how valuable sharing can be…
I’ve seen several episodes of VeggieTales (this is the 15th release, but first on DVD) and I have to say, they are fun to watch and also include some valuable lessons. I know most people think these kid shows with a message are preachy and uncool, but VeggieTales is neither and relies on funny characters and hilarious moments. This episode teaches about the importance of sharing and while that message is made quite clear, it is done in an entertaining way, kids will not feel lectured by this release, not by any means. The show is computer animated and looks very cool, perhaps not as refined as Toy Story, but the animation is fun to watch, that’s for sure. This episode was a very good one with a lot of funny moments, I especially enjoyed the all-vegetable edition of Hamlet, which was downright hilarious. I think with the lack of programs out there for kids that send the right messages, VeggieTales stands as one of, if not the best of the lot and as such, I see no reason not to give this release a chance. Big Idea has also issued a fine disc and I can’t wait for future titles, this is an impressive debut indeed.
Video: How does it look?
VeggieTales: Lyle the Kindly Viking is presented in a full frame transfer, which the show’s intended aspect ratio. The animation looks great with this superb visual treatment, very crisp and sharp throughout. The show’s lush and vivid colors come through well also, but never bleed or smear, which is good. The reds and greens dominate the screen, but I was unable to detect any problems, impressive work. The black levels also seem on track, as detail is never obscured and shadows remain stark. I think this is an excellent looking transfer and if this an indication on what to expect from future VeggieTales discs, we’re all in for treat after treat with this series.
Audio: How does it sound?
In a surprise, but most welcome move, this disc includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix, very cool. I didn’t expect much from the track, but in the end, it panned out very well and adds a lot to the experience. The surrounds are used to good ends and while not an explosive mix, it ensures the material sounds as good as possible, which is what counts. The dialogue is clean and never hard to understand in the least, which is of course, good news. This disc also includes a stereo option, in case that better suits your needs.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc also includes some neat extras, which add even more value to this disc. You’ll find an interview with the founder of Big Idea Phil Vischer and the director of this episode Tim Hodge, both of whom have a lot to say here. I do think an audio commentary track would have been even better, but this interview was welcome and adds some background on the episode, which is nice. A special widescreen edition of Larry’s High Silk Hat is also found on this release, as well as a trailer for Jonah and storyboard comparisons on a scene from the segment with Lyle the Kindly Viking. All in all, a cool batch of extras and since we don’t see a lot of them on kid aimed titles like this, that makes them even more valuable, if you ask me.