“Friends to know and ways to grow.”
Reading Rainbow: Miss Nelson is Back contains four episodes of the iconic television series hosted by LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation). The episodes span three different decades with one taking place in the eighties, two taking place in the nineties, and one taking place in the early 2000s.
Reading Rainbow is always an easy recommend. It’s not an icon without reason. Not only does host LeVar Burton help kids learn how to read he also goes on field trips to help kids understand more about some of the subjects that each episode’s books deal with. In terms of these specific episodes they are listed below with brief summaries.
* “Miss Nelson is Back” (1983) read by Ruth Buzzi (Laugh-In) — It’s LeVar’s birthday and he gets to go get made up as a monster as well as participate in renowned magician Harry Blackstone’s act.
* “Our Big Home” (2002) read by Naomi Judd (The Littlest Angel’s Easter) — LeVar takes a trip to the United Nations building in New York City and learns about how different countries work together.
* “How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World” (1996) read by Helen Mirren (Red) — LeVar visits his friend Chef Curtis and draws parallels between cooking and science and they make lasagna, marinara sauce, and apple raisin muffins together.
* “Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express” (1991) read by Brian Dennehy (Tommy Boy) — LeVar takes a train ride overnight from California to Washington State and meets one of the engineers as well as gives us a little tour inside the rail car including where he’s going to spend the night.
The fact that these episodes come from three different decades is made apparent by the technical specs. The full frame video automatically dates the disc but the eighties episode in particular looks a bit rough, as if it were from a VHS copy perhaps. There’s just a lack of overall crispness to the transfer and while it gets better as the episodes continue on through the years it never reaches HD standard. The Dolby 2.0 audio is a serviceable track and definitely holds up better than the video. Today’s kids may find the lower quality of both audio and visuals distracting but it’s merely nostalgic for me.
There are no special features though the liner notes do have pictures you (or a kid) can color if you’d like.
It’s always easy to recommend a Reading Rainbow disc. Reading truly is fundamental and this iconic, engaging and educational show can reach kids from any generation.