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"Dora the Explorer: It's Haircut Day!": Needs Trimming

Every time Nickelodeon sends us a copy of its latest Dora the Explorer DVD, we here at toonzone play a little game of “Hot Potato” to see who can go without getting stuck with the job of reviewing it. I thought I’d recently pulled off a nifty escape plan—I moved to the other side of the Pacific Ocean—but my colleague Ed Liu proved himself even more subtle by volunteering to take on a mountain of commitments (most of them really cool and exciting), thus leaving me no choice but to clench myself up into a hard little ball and submit myself to the tender attentions of Dora the Explorer: It’s Haircut Day!

I hope you’re having fun with the latest volume of The Superhero Squad Show, Ed!

For the record, It’s Haircut Day collects four episodes of the Nick series, and by this point I suspect the people who put these compilations together aren’t even paying attention to their work anymore. In the past there has been at least some slight attempt at thematic unity in the offerings—Dora’s Slumber Party at least put together a handful of sleep- or dream-related stories—but It’s Haircut Day is more what you’d get if Dora episodes were gumballs in a penny-candy machine and you had four quarters to blow. Of course, this Dora compilation will cost you more than four quarters retail. Even at Amazon, it will set you back $3.25 per episode, even as thicker “season set” releases like Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Vol. 2 will only cost you $1.35 per episode. That Nickelodeon is still putting out four-episodes-per-disc sets of Dora even after completely dropping the pretence of thematic unity suggests one of two things: Either their naked exploitation of parents-with-tots has become utterly shameless, or they know that parents won’t be able to survive Dora in any greater dosage. I’ll be charitable and assume the latter, because you know what I’d do if I were forced to watch ten episodes of Dora the Explorer in close succession?

You may now take a bathroom break while I stare expectantly in your direction and pretend that you are answering my question.

That’s right! I’d strap a Dora doll to my chest and do a Waring Hudsucker from the forty-fourth floor (not counting the mezzanine) of a downtown skyscraper.

As is probably obvious by now, I have absolutely nothing to say about this set that I haven’t said before: The show is boring, bereft of magic or imagination, and probably about as educational as beige wallpaper. For the record, in “Dora’s Hair-raising Adventure” she leads a bunch of people to the barber shop. (Perfect little moppet that she is, she doesn’t need a trim!) In “Happy Birthday, Super Babies” she gives a cake-nabbing bear his own just desserts. (That means she teaches him how to make a cake.) In “Baby Winky Goes Home” she takes a little lost alien back to its parents’ spaceship. And in “Dora’s Pegaso Adventure” she retrieves the night-time constellations after they are scared off by a meteor shower. The only fun to be had watching it (if you are over six) is to imagine what South Park, SNL or Family Guy could do with some of its situations in a satire: When Dora says the baby alien wants a “hug,” who would not lustily anticipate Dora getting face-hugged back?

And finally, just because I have no grand conclusion, let me close with this: Dear Dora the Explorer Storyboard Revision Artist Bismarck “Butch” Datuin, You have the rockingest first name ever. If I ever get tired of being “Maxie Zeus” I will certainly change my toonzone handle to something like “Bismarck von Bombast.” Sincerely yours and all the luck in the world, I remain, etc.

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