This week, Disney released Cory In The House: Newt and Improved Edition. If you haven't seen Cory In The House before, the premise is simple. Chef Victor Baxter goes from obscure chef to White House Chief Chef, and takes son Cory with him. Hijinx ensue, usually tied somehow to Cory's pursuit of profit. And of course, his plans always involve his two new best friends, Newt Livingston and Meena Paroom.
The show is a spin-off of Disney's popular show, That's So Raven. I've never seen the first episode of this show, so I'm not really sure why Chef Victor didn't take his wife and his lovely, talented, and psychic daughter to Washington with him (though Raven does come to visit). There has been one DVD released previously (Cory In The House: All Star Edition).
This DVD features three episodes that have already aired on the Disney Channel, and one that hasn't yet (and trust me, I'd know if it had. I have a six-year-old who has seen every episode). In "The Presidential Seal," Cory sneaks a girl into the Oval Office, where he spills ink on the Presidential Seal. Newt and Meena are called in to help, and Newt tries to replace the Presidential Seal with a circus seal in an Abe Lincoln beard. It's (slightly) funnier on the DVD than it is in print, I promise. In "Through The Roof," the trio have to compose a new song for their band, DC Three, or they lose their steady gig as the part-time, fill-in house band for the Liberry, a local club. And yes, that sounds easy — until Cory ends up launched partially through the ceiling (or is it the floor) at Newt's house. And in "Lip Service," Newt's commitment to keep a promise interferes with Cory's quest to be kissed. You'll never look at sheep nuggets in onions and garlic the same way after this episode.
Those are the three that have already aired. If you're interested in the video at all, you've seen these episodes over and over already. The draw on this DVD is the extra episode — one that hasn't been played to death on the Disney Channel (and all the parents cheered). "Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding" finds Cory in the middle of a geopolitical conflict as he tries to be a friend to two people whose countries have been enemies for as long as anybody can remember. His efforts at bringing a resolution to the conflict result in typical comedic situations — this episode will show you more of Cory that you probably want to see. Kids will enjoy getting to see this one before their friends, and parents will be happy that there's an episode they haven't seen 50 times already.
Disney has done something different with their new releases this time. Rather than starting off with the main menu, which lets you pick whether to watch one episode, all of them, or go straight to the bonus features, the DVD just starts. It plays through all the episodes, then starts on the bonus features. At the very beginning, this "FastPlay" feature is explained, so people know they can simply hit the Menu button to go straight to the main menu. Makes it easier to just watch the DVD, which is nice for kids watching on their portable DVD players on the way to the beach — you know they've lost those little remotes, don't you? Or is that just mine?
Also available on this DVD is a "Behind the Scenes" feature that follows the cast through the production of an episode. We're shown each stage, from the read-through all the way to taping. Of all the special features I've seen on kids' DVDs, this is probably the most interesting for everyone involved (because you know the parents are watching, too).
Disney knows how to market their programming. The addition of a bonus, never-before-seen episode on this DVD makes it well worth purchasing, for anyone who is a Cory In The House fan or anyone who has kids, or anyone who has a long trip to the beac with kids in their future.