Join the class for six fin-tastic field trips that will have you learning about all kinds of animals from around the world!
Nickelodeon has long been a staple of quality children’s programming. They expanded their brand to include Nick Jr, programming specifically for the preschool set. One of the more recent additions to that pantheon is Bubble Guppies, a show about little merfolk who live in an underwater world which mimics ours in most ways but with an aquatic influence. The series follows the adventures of six merkids who belong to Mr. Grouper’s (Tino Insana) class. Each episode sees the kids in school learning alongside the at-home audience. For the Bubble Guppies: Animals Everywhere! collection the theme tying each episode together is animals.
The merkid characters are: Molly (Brianna Gentilella), Gil (Zachary Gordon), Goby (Jelani Imani, Christopher Borger), Oona (Reyna Shaskan), Deema (Angelina Wahler) and Nonny (Eamon Pirruccello). Rounding out the cast is Bubble Puppy (Frank Welker), the loveable dogfish who acts as pet for the class.
Each episode follows roughly the same pattern. Two of the kids encounter someone or something which will become the episode’s theme. When they arrive at class, Mr. Grouper teaches the audience a few facts about the theme before the class breaks into song about some aspect of the subject. Then there is a trip to a pretend store run by Deema, and during the segment the audience learns about a specific feature of the theme. Within the episodes of Bubble Guppies: Animals Everywhere! that feature is usually an animal.
After the trip to the store it’s time for lunch, where we take a quick musical break punctuated by an episode-related pun. One of the highlights is when it’s time to go outside and the kids once more pretend to be something related to the episode. Going back to the episode (and usually the classroom) the story moves forward with plenty more learning opportunities. The show typically ends with a thematically relevant field trip.
* “Puppy Love!”
When Bubble Puppy is sick the kids learn all about going to the veterinarian’s office.
* “Ducks in a Row!”
Nonny (Eamon Pirruccello) passes by a practicing marching band and Mr. Grouper takes the opportunity to teach the kids all about what different types of instruments are in a band as well as what sounds different instruments make.
* “Boy Meets Squirrel!”
Nonny meets a squirrel who gifts him with an acorn. The class learns all about what kinds of things come from trees and which animals make their homes within tree branches.
* “The Lonely Rhino”
Gil and Molly see a rhinoceros who suffers from loneliness. Mr. Grouper teaches the class about the different kinds of animals and habitats found within a zoo.
* “The Elephant Trunk-a-Dunk!”
Molly and Gil think they see an elephant on the way to class. When they pretend to be elephants it’s the perfect opening for Mr. Grouper to help the kids learn all about pachyderms.
* “The Arctic Life!”
Gil and Molly eat snow cones before class. Wishing to go to the Arctic, the duo, alongside their friends, get the chance to learn all about the animals in the freezing terrain.
I enjoy Bubble Guppies overall, especially the twist to the animation. The characters’ mouths are animated in a different manner from the typical CGI the rest of their bodies sport, and it’s a wise move as it automatically sets the show apart. This isn’t merely a show which teaches one thing such as numbers, rather it truly expands the amount of information conveyed through songs, playtime and interactive segments. There is plenty to learn from the episode themes, so youngsters will come away from viewing with a genuine increase in knowledge. Though my preference for full seasons is well documented, Bubble Guppies: Animals Everywhere! earns a recommendation due to the entertainment value and the high ratio of education to fun without sacrificing either.
The video transfer is a bit of a disappointment with a 1.33:1 full frame. Most of the audience is watching on widescreen TVs so the black box look merely shrinks the Bubble Guppies’ world down instead of expanding it. The audio is likewise a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 which is only a disappointment due to the large number of musical segments, at least one per episode. For a show to make music such a huge part of the show and then not highlight it with a decent track makes no sense. Little ones won’t complain about a hollow or flat sound, but your system could betray it to you. There are no special features.
Bubble Guppies is a sweet little bit of preschool education. With a well-structured routine and an expanded knowledge base this is a show sure to appeal to the younglings in your life. Though I prefer full-season releases, this thematic set will catch the attention of any little ones who love animals.