What Are You Doing for Your 10th Birthday, Dora? Right! The Same Thing You Always Do!
It will come as no surprise that Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure is pretty much the same as every other episode of Dora the Explorer, since the show’s relentless sameness is pivotal to the show’s appeal to its target audience. Dora’s about to celebrate her birthday (her actual age is never mentioned in the show), but gets thrown into Wizzleworld instead of home by accident. To get home in time for her birthday, she has to travel through the usual 3 obstacles to get a magic wishing crystal to the head Wizzle while dodging the wicked La Bruja and her pair of flying monkeys who want the wishing crystal for themselves. The only notable change between this new anniversary episode is its reliance on guest stars from earlier episodes of the show, like the Snow Princess and a band of pirate pigs, as well as Dora’s cousin and fellow show headliner Diego and his sister Alicia. This provides a convenient way to pad the show to its extended length without really needing to do anything too original. Guest stars include Hector Elizondo as the Wishing Wizzle, Rosie Perez as La Bruja, and John Leguizamo as both Flying Monkeys. Only Leguizamo manages to make much of an impression, with Elizondo and Perez being handed roles that are depressingly straitjacketed by the show’s usual unimaginative scripting.
Dora the Explorer‘s lack of imagination or anything remotely appealing to an adult is still quite off-putting to me, and those criticisms are magnified by the sense that it manages to make kids feel like they’re achieving something by setting the bar disgracefully low. It’s still a TV show that would really rather be a video game, and to be honest, I would probably find it less objectionable if it were. The fact that Dora‘s lasted as long as it has does warrant some kind of commemoration, but I can’t imagine very many people other than the show’s creators really getting all that excited about it. I’m also baffled at why they’d run the special in prime-time at all, putting it past the proper bedtime for its demographic.
But hey, the show’s obviously not for me, and I still picked up a few Spanish words and phrases while watching (even if I can’t remember any of them right now). Happy birthday anyway, Dora. Now get out of the way so I can watch The Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba!, or Sesame Street with the kid of my choice instead.
Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure premieres on Sunday, August 15, 2010, at 8:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on Nickelodeon.