Saturday, April 23, 2005

a big idea come and gone

Remember when VeggieTales was actually funny?

The brain child of Phil Vischer, VeggieTales is a computer-animated show about talking vegetables, like Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and a few others, including a family of carrots, some grapes and a bunch of asparagus spears. It's goofy, in an off-beat and creative way; billing itself as "Sunday-morning values and Saturday morning fun" as it marketed itself toward a primarily Christian market.

Unfortunately, VeggieTales series went downhill since about a year before they did "Jonah," their feature-length adaptation of the book of Jonah, and has never made it back up. Their latest offerings like "Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed" and "The Wonderful World of Auto-Tainment!" -- not to mention "Larry Boy and the Angry Eyebrows" or "Duke and the Great Pie War" -- show signs of being rushed through production in order to make a quick buck.

These are videos that either needed more work, or that never should have been considered. The lessons are still there, but they're expressed too forecefully, the story is belabored and stilted, and the humor is forced. These are tapes and DVDs that were not worth buying. In the case of "Auto-Tainment," we actually wrote to Big Idea to say how awful it was.

It's a shame, because the company was producing some high-quality stuff for a while, like "Larry Boy and the Fib from Outer Space" and "Esther: The Girl Who Became Queen." Subpar videos cheapen the brand.

We have three episodes on DVD of their 3-2-1 Penguins series, but I have to say that I haven't been very impressed with that series as a whole. They're more sophisticated than the more recent Veggie Tales offerings, but even so, they're just not engaging. The series has a science fiction motif, but the lessons are more typical of Sunday school fare than what we were accustomed to with VeggieTales: the story is subordinated to making a point, rather than telling a good story and letting the moral come out.

Evangeline has asked a couple times to watch them, and it's better than some of the stuff she could be asking to watch, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

But I'm still really disappointed at the turn this show has taken.

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