"Yo Gabba Gabba! New Friends" Keeps on Rocking in the Gabba World
One of the greatest gifts Nickelodeon has given to parents is Yo Gabba Gabba!, a show that many adults seem to enjoy just as much or more than the kids who are supposed to be its target audience. Its wonderful combination of music, dancing, animation, life-size puppets, and hip attitude all combine to produce a brightly colored world of genial and compulsively watchable silliness. If the regular TV broadcasts, the official Yo Gabba Gabba! website, the Yo Gabba Gabba! YouTube channel, the Gabba weblog, the first DVD, and the episodes on iTunes aren’t sufficient for your household’s Yo Gabba Gabba! needs, Nickelodeon has released a second DVD, New Friends, which contains 4 more episodes of the show. If you or your favorite munchkin is already a fan, this is probably all you really need to know.
The title episode of this new DVD is a brand-new episode where Jack Black pays a visit to the world of Yo Gabba Gabba! The gimmick is that he and his friend Minibike run out of gas and get lost in Gabba-land, but soon find that the strange looking cast (Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Plex, Toodee, and DJ Lance Rock) are friendly and fun to hang around with. Meeting new friends and learning how to say goodbye when it’s time to go home seems to be the theme of the episode. Unlike many of the show’s other guest stars, Black is central for the duration of the episode, going far enough to spend the back half in his own bright orange DJ Lance Rock jumpsuit. It’s not a bad episode, but Black seems a bit too self-conscious for a bit too long. However, he deserves extra credit for being willing to wear the extremely unflattering jumpsuit, and putting it on seems to be the thing he needed to really cut loose and feel comfortable on the set. Watching Black also makes one appreciate how much DJ Lance Rock really adds to the show. Like a more modern and flamboyant Mr. Rogers, DJ Lance Rock is both approachable and completely committed to the wild games of imagination occurring on screen, and this turns out to be a major contributor to the show’s success. Not that many kids are really going to notice or care about either, of course. “New Friends” is still a perfectly good episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! that happens to have a well-known celebrity guest star in it.
The remaining episodes of the show are fine fun. “Find” is all about finding and discovering new things. “Greetings” spends time teaching kids how to say hello, excuse me, and goodbye to be friendly and polite. “Share” is, unsurprisingly, about sharing. While this DVD doesn’t have any skits, songs, or cartoons as iconic as “Don’t Bite Your Friends,” “Party in My Tummy,” “Kites are Fun,” or “I’m So Happy I Can Dance,” there are still plenty of fun and catchy tunes, adorable moppets dancing, amusing animated sequences, and dumb jokes, including a knock-knock joke delivered by 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer, who is about as perfect a guest for the show as one could imagine. The best news of all is that all 3 of the remaining episodes have “Super Robot Martian Girl” animated shorts, with the surreal highlight being the one that has the dolphin who ends up singing lead in a rock band.
New Friends is a typical Nick Jr. DVD. There are the usual bucketload of unskippable trailers when you insert the disc, decent picture and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, and no chapter stops within episodes. There are absolutely no extras on this disc, which is a bit of a letdown. There is behind-the-scenes material that appears on the Yo Gabba Gabba! YouTube channel with more on the way, and there certainly had to be room to include some of it on this DVD.
W!LDBRAIN has described their brand strategy as making cartoons that are kind of cute and kind of messed up, and that’s about as good a description of Yo Gabba Gabba! as any. The offerings on New Friends may not be quite as strong as The Dancey Dance Bunch, but it’s still disappointing to hear DJ Lance Rock tell his friends that it’s almost time to go at the end of each episode on this DVD. New Friends has still got plenty of Gabba goodness to start up parties in the tummies of your favorite little ones.