I cut the cable in 2006, but having a child a couple years ago made me reconsider my options. However, where I live I’m lucky to get both PBS and TV Ontario. Together, these two publicly-funded networks provide a gold mine of educational content. Along with Netflix and a stash of DVDs, we have something to watch on Saturday mornings.
Of course he has his favorites, and one of them is Wild Kratts.
The Kratt brothers, Chris and Martin, have been making kids programming since the 90’s. Wild Kratts is an animated series where they explore and take on “Creature Powers”: characteristics that make each animal unique and specialized for their environment. They’re helped by three friends, and sometimes have to protect the animals from one or more of three regular villains. Each episode is bookended with a live-action segment starring the Chris and Martin.
Wild Kratts: Super Sprinters is a recently released DVD with two episodes from Season 1. The first episode is “Falcon City“. The Kratt Brothers seek out the peregrine falcon which can reach speeds of up to 240 mph while diving to attack. Once the Wild Kratts reach the nearest city where they expect to find falcons, they are stuck with nothing but pigeons. They soon learn that even simple pigeons have some unique creature powers.
The Kratts find a family of peregrine falcons on a ledge of a building. They also find that they have to stop the tower’s owner, Zach, from cleaning the nest off while the peregrine chick is too young to fly. The live action segments show falconry where we can watch a peregrine falcon fly and dive at its prey, and the other segment shows off the pigeon’s unexpected Creature Powers.
The second episode takes place on the African savanna. “Cheetah Racer” is the first of several episodes in the series with featuring the cheetah and also one of my favorites. Sticking with the theme of speed, the Kratt Brothers’ inventor friend, Aviva, races to see who’s the fastest against inventor villain, Zach, and a cheetah nicknamed “Blur.” Aviva’s research on what helps the cheetah reach speeds of 75 mph is a simple but complete breakdown.
Alongside Aviva, we learn all the unique characteristics that combine to help the cheetah be the world’s fastest runner. While the breakdown method is common in all episodes, the many ways the cheetah’s body is tuned for fast running takes much of the episode to cover. One of the live-action segments shows some fun candid footage from earlier in the Kratt Brothers’ careers when they were approached by a wild, but friendly coalition of cheetahs.
The DVD includes details on how to find PBS and Kratt Brothers web sites, as well as PDFs on the DVD-ROM with kids activities that can be printed and enjoyed.
The audio and video quality was very clean. I found the quality to be comparable to the HD broadcast episodes we’ve watched over antenna or on Netflix, although an upscaling DVD player was used. In my day job I program DVDs and Blu-rays, so my eyes are trained to spot issues with DVD video production. The digital transfer and encode was clean, the blacks and colors were true, and there were no obvious compression artifacts. I saw a couple of digital glitches, but they were extremely minor and unlikely to be spotted by most people. Overall it is a well made DVD to add to your collection, and perfect to have in the car if you have a portable player.
Wild Kratts: Super Sprinters is available now on the PBS website for $12.99 US.