Hoisted by my own petard!
Let’s make this easy: Strawberry Shortcake: Double Feature is a nostalgia piece, pure and simple. It contains the first two of six shorts produced during the 1980s. While originally created at American Greetings alongside fellow pop culture phenomenon The Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and Friends had a hard time enduring, with several reboots attempted but none catching on. Strawberry Shortcake: Double Feature is written by Romeo Muller, who’s notable for being the genius behind writing some of the most enduring holiday classics of all time including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. It’s not surprising, then, that Strawberry Shortcake: Double Feature boasts the same type of family-friendly uplifting messages within these stories, not to mention the impressive amount of rhyming Muller manages to finagle into each story.
The World of Strawberry Shortcake tells the story of the titular little girl who wakes up excited to celebrate her birthday only to discover her friends have seemingly deserted her. However nothing is what it seems for, in their attempts to rebuff her, all of her friends have actually been planning a surprise party. While the surprise party is the framework of the episode, the driving force is introducing us to Strawberry Shortcake (Russi Taylor) and her other bakery-item-themed friends, as well as her nemesis, the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak (Robert Ridgely).
Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City tells the story of Strawberry Shortcake going head to head with The Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak in a TV baking battle. That battle is, once again, merely the framework and instead Strawberry Shortcake meets new friends on this trip to the big city who are likewise confectionary creations.
My favorite thing about these two shorts is how Muller is unafraid to use big words and concepts, believing his audience to be smart enough to pick up on context. For example when it looks like Strawberry Shortcake has lost the baking contest she tells her friends, “Victory lies in the struggle, not the prize.” What kids’ show talks like that nowadays? And speaking of talking, in a pre-cursor to the Aca-talk of Pitch Perfect, Strawberry Shortcake berry-talks her way through each episode, even including a musical number to help The Peculiar Purple Pieman get the hang of it. As soon as I heard all of the songs they came flooding back. I’m definitely the audience for this release and I recommend it for anyone who wants to relive the berry nostalgic memories.
The disc isn’t pristine or remastered by any stretch of the imagination. The full frame 1.33:1 transfer shows its age, with The World of Strawberry Shortcake coming out a bit worse for wear. There are color bands haloing the edges and you have to allow it to fade into the background. Within Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City, there are some slight discolorations as well, most notably a green ring around the sun. The audio for both offerings is a mono track, as bare bones as you can get. But surprisingly it holds up, with no real issues aside from flatness to the track which is expected given its age and low initial quality.
There are no special features.
I’d love for all of the 80s Strawberry Shortcake offerings to be available together in one set for the Gen-Xers to collect but I won’t be surprised when two more single disc releases come out with two shorts apiece instead. I suppose you can’t capitalize on nostalgia without capitalism.
Strawberry Shortcake: Double Feature is aimed right at my generation, as well as anyone else who watched the pint-sized dolls ad nauseum. While I would like to see all of the Shortcake shorts in one collection, I’ll pick up the other ones when they’re released, too.