Live-action programming aimed towards a pre-school or general younger audience is harder to sell than animated programming. They might both be selling the same thing, but it’s harder for kids to relate to real-life adults. That is, unless they are singing and dancing, of course. As most everyone knows, Disney is always looking for the “next big thing”. So after they successfully brought both the The Doodlebops and The Wiggles the United States for American kids to enjoy, you knew it was only a matter of time before they found something else to bring to national prominence. That “something else” was another male singing and dancing foursome called the Imagination Movers, which has become another successful franchise for Disney’s “Playhouse Disney” series.
The Imagination Movers are a band that was originally formed in New Orleans in 2003. The group consists of four members: Rich Collins, Scott Durbin, Dave Poche, and Scott “Smitty” Smith. In the Playhouse Disney series, the group works similarly to handymen. When an “idea emergency” crops up, the crew take it upon themselves to solve the problem using their different imaginative skills. Rich uses his drumsticks to write and draw in the air. Scott has a special pair of “Wobble Goggles” that allow him to see things from any chosen perspective. Dave’s red cap contains anything and everything imaginable. Smitty’s journal is used for collecting and re-arranging information. Inside their Imagination Warehouse is the mischievous Warehouse Mouse, their unofficial pet. Next door is the office of the ultra bland and stuffy Knit Knots (Douglas Fisher) and his good-natured niece Nina (Wendy Calio).
Imagination Movers: Warehouse Mouse Edition isn’t actually the first Imagination Movers DVD to have been released. Back in 2004, the band released an independent DVD compilation entitled “Stir It Up”. That was before Disney got their hands on them, so hardly anyone knew about them. That DVD contained music videos and live performances. But this DVD set only contains four 24-minute episodes from the first season of the series. Like other Playhouse Disney shows, each episode of Imagination Movers has a specific format. Once they are given a situation that requires imagination, there’s a simple, central problem that pre-schoolers can solve mentally with them. These problems are never too complicated, and anyone over the age of seven could probably figure it out relatively quickly.
The real reason why this series has become so successful is the singing and dancing from this real-life band. The songs range from rockabilly to rap, and there are quite catchy. Of course, the dialogue and acting feels forced at times, but the cast does their best to make everything entertaining and lively. Kids will certainly not lose interest with the wacky and hyperactive nature of the Imagination Movers. Thankfully, though, the silliness isn’t excessive and the guys don’t seem to be talking down to kids.
The only real complaint that one could have about Imagination Movers is that it is not as educational as other Playhouse Disney shows. But you definitely can’t argue the fact that this series is entertaining. The music is the main selling point of this show, and many would consider the singing and dancing of the Imagination Movers to be the best of any of the live-action children’s programming that featured an all-male cast. It might not help your children with their math skills, but they will learn basic problem solving skills that will get their imagination going. As and added bonus, you won’t be embarrassed as an adult to be caught singing along to the songs either.
Episode 1 – Bucket of Trouble
The Imagination Movers decide they need more business, and for that they need a commercial. So they decide to make one. Unfortunately, Rich gets his foot stuck in a bucket, and they have to figure out how to solve that problem first.
Episode 2 – The Tooth Hurts
Warehouse Mouse gets a toothache, but he refuses to let the Movers take him to a vet. In fact, he runs away and hides, and this situation requires more brain power and imagination.
Episode 3 – Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Mouse?
When the Movers’ television breaks down, they hire a repairman who happens to be afraid of mice. So it’s up to the guys to help him get over his fear.
Episode 4 – Finders Key-pers
Knit Knots loses the key to his office, so he enlists the help of the Movers to help him find it.
The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer is great. Colors look bright and vivid, and there is hardly any grain to speak of. So no problems there. However, the packaging says that this show is presented in 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio, but only the intro material and menu screens are in widescreen.
The audio included is available either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Sturround sound or Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either.
Special Agent Oso Teaser Episodes –
A preview of two episodes of the upcoming Playhouse Disney series, Special Agent Oso are given. They are called “Goldfeather” and “Live and Let Ride.” This series features a junior special agent who, like “Dora the Explorer,” needs viewers at home to help him make the right decisions so he can complete his missions. Sean Astin gives voice to the title character, Which is a teddy bear. Both episodes feature an identical format and structure and involve the sort of audience participation found in other shows. Kids will probably enjoy this as well, but it could get old after awhile.
This a fun show that will definitely keep your kids entertained. It’s not as educational as other Playhouse Disney series, but there is still enough educational benefit to recommend a purchase for anyone with children under the age of five. Of course, anyone over the age of seven can solve the problems of the Imagination Movers. But the music from this group is something that adults can enjoy if they have it on in the background for their children.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents Imagination Movers: Warehouse Mouse Edition. Created by Rick Gitelson. Starring Rich Collins (Mover Rich), Scott Durbin (Mover Scott), Dave Poche (Mover Dave), Scott Smith (Mover Smitty), Wendy Calio (Nina), Kevin Carlson (Warehouse Mouse), Douglas Fisher (Knit Knots), and Joe (Frank Crim). Running time: 96 minutes. Rated: TV-Y. Released on DVD: May 5, 2009.
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