"Dora's Slumber Party": The Cradle Will Fall. Please!
Hola! Soy Maxie Zeus! It’s my turn today to review one of the Dora the Explorer DVDs that Nickelodeon insists on thoughtfully providing to us here at toonzone! Do you know what that means?
So the little senorita and her monkey flunkey are back this time in Dora’s Slumber Party. The theme, alas, is not “Nyquilitas All Around!” but just a lot of boring beddybye-related antics. For the record: In “Boots’s Cuddly Dinosaur” she and her simian sidekick have to retrieve his stuffed bed-friend from the park. In “Louder” they have to wake up the lazy-boned sun. In “The Lost City” she loses her own stuffed nap-time cuddle-munchkin and traipses off to look for him in the place where all lost toys wind up. (It’s in the “lost” city? Geddit?) In “Little Star” she helps a little star return to the night sky. In “Super Babies’ Dream Adventure” she has to wake up the dream fairy so the babies can go to sleep. And in “Dora Had a Little Lamb” … Well, I’m not sure what that one has to do with sleeping because it was the last episode on the disc and I’d stopped paying close attention. It does involve a little lamb that Dora has to return to Mary (of the rhyme).
These episodes are entirely formulaic, and if you don’t mind your tot suckling on this kind of thing then you will find it full of the kind of thing that guilt-ridden parents ask television to give their children as a diversion while they do the housework. Dora has to get someplace; her map tells her how to get there; she solves a few little problems along the way; and then it wraps up successfully with the “We Did It!” song. I’m not sure how educational this stuff really is, but I have my doubts that maturing brains are really elasticized by such riddles as “What can we use to see in the dark?” when the flashlight is the only remotely plausible answer.
I’m more annoyed, though, by the relative paucity of genuine imagination, but kids can find fun stuff in odd places. I do remember when I was a kid how some very simple stories or evocative settings on Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood haunted me, not because they were clever but because the were so thinly done that they hinted at spooky things just off-screen. There are some clever notions in Dora’s Slumber Party, like that “Lost City” or the idea of climbing a tall hill so you can return a star to the sky. But the execution is so slow and pedantic that I can’t imagine the survival of even a little bit of the magic that hovers around those premises.
Frankly, it seems to me that a good picture book and a well-stocked LEGO set would do a lot more for a kid’s intellectual development than Dora’s Slumber Party or any other Dora DVD. They also don’t come with lots of merchandise that is obviously not educational. If you collect these things, then by all means you can add Slumber Party to the pile. I think that’s about all it’s good for.