Written by Caballero Oscuro
If you’re looking for a Halloween-themed Pooh DVD, keep looking. However, if you’re just looking for the latest collection of episodes from Disney Channel’s My Friends Tigger & Pooh show, you’ve come to the right place. Admittedly, the front cover art of this DVD collection is completely misleading and seems like an ill-conceived holiday money grab as it clearly indicates viewers will be treated to Halloween shows if not an entirely new movie (like the properly labeled first release in the series, Super Sleuth Christmas Movie). Once you get past the cover, you’ll either be enchanted by the show’s superb production qualities or dismayed by its break from tradition.
The newest Pooh TV series is also the most dramatic departure from the classic formula, and not just because it gives Tigger star billing. Instead of Christopher Robin, the Hundred Acre Wood gang are now usually teamed up with a perky young girl named Darby and her even perkier non-speaking puppy named Buster. Aside from the core group of characters, Lumpy from the Heffalump movies is an occasional but little-used presence, while Kanga is barely mentioned and Owl and Gopher seem to have vanished completely. Even the concept has been updated, with Tigger, Pooh, and Darby forming a Super Sleuth club that dons ridiculous costumes and sets out on tame investigations in most episodes. It’s almost like the creators tried to shoehorn in a Scooby Doo concept in an effort to update the timeless quality of the property, but Darby and Buster really add nothing to the series other than annoyingly reminding parents that this is not our Pooh anymore.
While the Disney Channel’s previous Pooh series, The Book of Pooh, played it fairly straight with the framework established by Disney’s original cartoons, the new series is clearly aimed at shaking up the formula to no apparent benefit. On the upside, the show’s completely CGI production looks fantastic and features the returning talents of longtime Pooh and Tigger voice actor Jim Cummings. The 2D characters have been lovingly translated into exceptional 3D CG character models and the Hundred Acre Wood is
appropriately vast and leafy.
Each half-hour episode is split into two easily digestible shorts, and the new DVD contains three full episodes as follows:
"Super Size Darby" / "Piglet's Lightning Frightening" – Darby gets doused with some of Rabbit’s plant growth formula and has to deal with the plusses and minuses of her giant size. Piglet learns about counting the time between lightning and thunder to help calm himself down during scary storms.
"Eeyore's Trip To The Moon" / "The Incredible Shrinking Roo" – Eeyore wants to travel to the moon so the Super Sleuths put together a makeshift rocket and blast off to fill in its missing piece. Roo can't figure out why he's shrinking instead of growing. Hint: might be a good idea to avoid tracking your height on a growing sunflower stem. This story's premise is so idiotic that it's painful to watch them try to figure out what's happening.
"Eeyore's Home Sweet Home"/"Rabbit's Prized Pumpkin" – Eeyore's home falls down so the Sleuths present him with alternatives, none of which seem to fit him. Pretty sure this is a direct rip-off of a classic Pooh story. Rabbit grows a gigantic pumpkin and asks the Sleuths to help him protect it.
As evidenced by these stories, this series has been dumbed down, which is remarkable considering how dim these characters have always been. The real culprit is Darby, as she's annoyingly portrayed as being on an equal mental wavelength with the rest of the characters. Where Christopher Robin was always able to inject some logic and realistic
solutions, Darby is content to float along with the simple-minded ideas originated by the animal characters. As such, it's not a very educational show, leaving it as delightful eye candy with negligible substance.
Paradoxically, the DVD actually does contain one Halloween-themed episode: a bonus feature of fellow Disney Channel show Handy Manny. It also includes a brief game as well as the requisite plethora of Disney previews. “Hundred Acre Wood Haunt” is now available on DVD.