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Capsule Reviews: New "Dora" and "SpongeBob" Three-Disc Boxed Sets

The new Celebrate with Dora boxed set repackages three previously released Dora the Explorer DVDs at a value price. The exact discs included in the box are Dora’s Christmas, Dora’s Halloween Parade, and Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure. Unfortunately, it seems Nickelodeon opted to go for a different Christmas-themed disc instead of the surprisingly solid Dora’s Christmas Carol. This boxed set was released on November 15, 2011.

You’ll probably have more fun with the Holidays with SpongeBob boxed set, released on the same day and re-packaging the Halloween!, Christmas, and To Love a Patty DVDs. The good news is that two of the three discs date back to 2002-2003, and contain much more of the gleefully moronic mayhem that made SpongeBob a household name among adults as well as children, rather than the more turgid and much less funny plot-driven SpongeBob airing today. The Halloween! disc is especially worthwhile, with some gems like “Frankendoodle,” “The Secret Box,” “Band Geeks,” and “Idiot Box” generating some big belly laughs. Even so, like most of Nick’s “themed” DVDs, the themes of these discs fall apart pretty quickly after the initial episode. I must also admit that I still find a lot of the other episodes on the disc to be rather hit-or-miss. Perhaps I just missed the window to be a really fanatical SpongeBob fan.

Both boxed sets contain discs identical to previous releases, so if you own any of them from before, you won’t be getting anything new other than the cardboard box. As is usual for Nickelodeon’s single-disc DVD releases, these discs are pretty bare bones, turning in decent picture and sound but not much else in the way of niceties or extras. All the Dora discs are of recent vintage, but it is kind of fun to leap back in time with the older SpongeBob discs to the earliest days of DVD, before studios discovered forced trailers on disc insertion and the video game ads were pushing PlayStation 2 titles. Still, the budget price and the fact that both shows have been on the air long enough to generate a new generation of fans means that either set can serve as a welcome gift this holiday season.

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