Generally speaking I am a fair judge of the kinds of entertainment that my kids will dig. This is because, for good or ill, we tend to experience things like music, movies and video games together. Even when I’d rather bury my head in the sand to avoid a particularly annoying brand of children’s entertainment.
One recent surprise, however – and a good example of a kiddie property that’s not wholly offensive to adult sensibilities – is the Disney Junior series Jake & the Never Land Pirates. Though still a relatively new property, it premiered in February of this year, it is presently celebrating its DVD debut.
Jake & the Never Land Pirates: Yo Ho, Matees Away! is a single disc collecting seven episodes from the series’ first season as well as bonus features “Yo Ho, You Ready to be a Never Land Pirate?,” which teaches proper pirate vernacular, and karaoke-style music videos from The Never Land Pirate Band. The blend of lighthearted adventure, problem-solving scenarios (for which Jake and his crew are awarded gold doubloons) and musical merriment have served to make the show a cable television hit, and the DVD captures all that charm in a more manageable package.
Whether they are searching for a mountain that belches smoke or tracking the mysterious Never Bird, Jake, Izzy and Cubby – not to mention the David Arquette-voiced parrot Skully – regularly outwit classic Disney villains Captain Hook and Mr. Smee with a little help from the viewers. Much like Nickelodeon haymaker Dora the Explorer, there are ample questions directed from our pintsized protagonists to the kids in the audience to reinforce math, sequencing and memorization skills, but it’s the dazzling animation and endearing characters that set Jake and his fellows apart.
In addition to the DVD itself, Jake & the Never Land Pirates: Yo Ho, Matees Away! also includes a CD containing seven songs from the show by Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson, Sharky and Bones of Captain Hook’s crew and the musicians behind the aforementioned Never Land Pirate Band. There’s even a complimentary eye patch to help young adventurers complete their wardrobe and get into the proper mood for solving pirate problems.
Retailing for $19.99 – and currently five bucks cheaper over at Amazon – Jake & the Never Land Pirates: Yo Ho, Matees Away! is both a fine introduction for new viewers and a great addition to the video libraries of those already down with the diminutive swashbucklers. Jake and the his crew are likely the most well-mannered and even-tempered pirates in maritime history, and the buffoonish shenanigans of principle foil Captain Hook ensure that even the series’ villain is mostly devoid of his original fright factor. It’s a kinder, gentler brand of buccaneering that’s actually fun to watch with your geeklings.
Review and promotional materials provided by: Walt Disney Studio Home Entertainment