If you have nothing to do to keep your toddlers busy and you are thinking of putting in the Litte Einsteins: Race for Space DVD, it might be time to think about going for a walk.
It’s hard to figure out how to review something like the Little Einsteins: Race for Space. As an adult, the DVD has almost no entertainment value. Actually, I will downgrade that from “almost no” to “none, period.” An adult gets nothing out of this collection of episodes from the animated Disney Channel series for pre-schoolers. Nada. Zip.
The problem is, obviously, that this show isn’t made for you and me, it’s made for our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, and other assorted tots. It’s actually not even made for all kids; it’s made for very little kids. Any kid older than about six is going to stand up from the TV if you are playing this DVD and say, “hey, you’re sorta insulting my intelligence here.”
The Little Einsteins of the title are four multi-cultural kids (one for each major ethnic look) who fly around in their rocket ship and typically have some sort of mission to complete before the end of the 24 minute episode. The focus is on learning music and art and before each episode one piece of music and one piece of art are featured and show up throughout the mission. If you want to teach your pre-schooler what adagio means, this might be the show for you. There is lots of audience participation where a character on screen asks a question of the audience and then the action stops while your kid yells out the answer or does what is asked.
Although the simplistic stories are not bad, the animation is, frankly, terrible. It is cheap computer animation where usually the only thing moving is the head of the person talking or the rocket ship the kids fly around. I felt that I could get the same effect by using a felt board and cut out shapes like they use in Sunday School to tell Bible stories. Four-year-olds are obviously not discriminating animation fans, but even they deserve better than this.
It’s not impossible to make shows designed for this target age that hold some appeal for adults. The early episodes of Blue’s Clues is one example and there are others. Little Einsteins: Race for Space will probably be enjoyed by its target audience only; and they can really do better.
Children’s DVDs made up of episodes of a television show often have weak or non-existent extras and this collection is no exception. The episodes themselves are full length and three are included on the disc. This gives the main material a 72 minute running time, which is actually pretty long for this type of package. One of the episodes, called “The Treasure Behind the Little Red Door” is billed as never-before-seen. These are all never-before-seen (and hopefully never-to-be-seen-again) to me, but if your kids watch the TV show and you’re trying to justify why you should buy this instead of using your DVR to record them for free, that might convince you.
The rest of the material on the disc is barely worth mentioning. There are two three-minute shorts called “Lou and Lou: Safety Patrol” that aired on the Disney Channel between episodes of their television shows. Two kids give out safety tips while inhabiting the same type of crappily animated world as the Little Einstein kids. The Einstein characters do not show up in the shorts, so why include it on this disc? Padding is the only real answer.
The final extra is an activity called “Rocket Around-The-World” that takes the rocket from the show to a few places like the Sahara Desert and the Hawaiian Islands and after having you push a button to decide what form he should take (boat, train, etc,) you learn a few facts about the location. It’s deadly dull for anyone over three or four-years-old.
If you like the show, watch it on TV and record it so your kids can watch it on command. There is no need to waste your money on this even if you are a fan.