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Featured TV on DVD Review: Jim Henson's The Song of the Cloud Forest and Other Earth Stories

April 11th, 2010

Jim Henson's The Song of the Cloud Forest and Other Earth Stories - Buy from Amazon

Earth Day is just over a week away, which means it's the perfect time to release DVDs with an environmental theme. One such DVD is Jim Henson's The Song of the Cloud Forest and Other Earth Stories, a collection of four episodes from three different TV series produced by The Jim Henson Company, starting with...

  • The Jim Henson Hour: The Song of the Cloud Forest
    Originally aired as the second half of an episode of The Jim Henson Hour, this story was then re-cut as its own 30-minute TV special. It tells the story of Milton, a lonely golden toad in the rainforest that has been trying to find a mate, but no female will answer his call. The other animals join in his song, but he still can't find a mate. Meanwhile, a pair of humans (or uprights, as the animals call them) are looking for him. It turns out that his troubles are due to his species nearly going extinct. The two humans are here to find a male to form a breeding pair with the female they already have. Now he has to decide whether he is to sing to attract a mate, or to stay silent and avoid capture. But maybe there's another way.
    A mix of puppets, matte paintings, some computer generated backgrounds, and live action. This lends a surreal feel to the story, but one that works. It's got a good story, a couple great songs, and a timely message. (Although, I kept thinking that it might be better for the golden toad if Milton was captured, as breeding in captivity might given them a better chance to survive than letting nature do its work.) On a side note, The Jim Henson Hour only lasted five episodes before NBC canceled it, though it burned off four more episodes during the summer. However, while only nine episodes aired during its initial run, the show earned six Emmy nominations, including two for this episode. The only episode that did better was Dog City, and that comes out on DVD in June. I can't wait.
  • The Animal Show: Owl & Frog
    I just finished reviewing this show's DVD debut, so there's little need to go into further detail here. In this episode, Jake and Stinky interview a couple of nocturnal animals: the Owl and the Frog. We learn about eagle owls that can live to nearly 70 years old. We also learn that baby barn owls are arguably the ugliest baby animals in the world. Yeesssh. Even the baby bats we see in story time look cuter.
    The Animal Show is a good educational show that has a formula to it, but doesn't feel repetitive. Additionally, Owl & Frog is one of the better episodes that I reviewed today.
  • The Animal Show: Kangaroo & Frog
    After an episode about nocturnal creatures, we get an episode about hopping animals: the Kangaroo and the Frog. We also learn about the Most Dangerous Frog (one that I won't hazard a guess how to spell, but it looked like a variety of the Poison Arrow Frog). We learn about what makes kangaroos and frogs such good jumpers, where frogs lay their eggs, and how frogs are obnoxiously competitive.
    Perhaps not as good as the previous episode, but seeing a frog throw a tantrum is entertaining nonetheless.
  • Fraggle Rock Episode: The River of Life
    When Doc agrees to let someone use the caves below his home to store industrial waste, the River of Life become contaminated. That spells big time trouble for the Fraggles and the Gorgs. When Boober can smell the contamination, he tries to warn the others. But he's too late. Since he's the only one who doesn't succumb to the toxins, it's up to him to save the day. Meanwhile, Sprocket must convince Doc to not go along with the plan by proving something lives in the caves, which is a tough task, since he's a dog.
    Anyone who has grown up on this show only needs to hear that "Shhhoooommmp!" from the opening theme song to get into the mood to watch this show. Fortunately, it has a lot more than just nostalgia going for it. This is an excellent episode. Not only does it deal with a lot of the threads from the series (including Sprocket's quixotic task to convince Doc that the Fraggles are real) but it also has a strong environmental theme that is perfect for this DVD.
On the other hand, there are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

Jim Henson's The Song of the Cloud Forest and Other Earth Stories has four episodes from three different shows, all with an environmental theme. The two Animal Show episodes do have a younger target demographic than The Jim Henson Hour or Fraggle Rock, so if you only have preschool kids, the DVD might not sustain their interest as effectively all the way through. That said, it's impossible to argue with that price. For a lot of people, $8 is not too much to pay just for The Song of the Cloud Forest.

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