SpongeBob SquarePants - Sponge Buddies/Nautical Nonsense DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Why Did They Have To Ruin The Cast & Crew Interviews?

I'm not going to comment on the episodes found on the SpongeBob SquarePants - Sponge Buddies/Nautical Nonsense DVD because almost all of them can be found on the Season 1 & Season 2 box sets, which is how you're better off seeing them (at least they're in order and paired together with the proper companion episodes). Instead I will be focusing on the bonus features. Not the Violent Femmes music video, because that too can be found on the Season 1 box set, but on the cast and crew interviews that make up the rest of the bonus features. I love the interviews and the "in studio" voice recording re-enactments, but I *HATE* how EVERY piece of this great footage is ruined because someone thought it would be a great idea to cover up almost the entire screen with a bubble graphic frame. You can only see the video through a small round part of the middle of your tv screen, and even then it isn't clear as there's a bubble "shine" over it. I'd love for Paramount/Nick to include all of the original, non-bubblefied footage on the season 3 box set, even though most of the episodes are for seasons 1 and 2.

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SpongeBob SquarePants - The Complete 2nd Season DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Not As "Complete" As It Should Be

How can this be the "complete" 2nd season when the two alternate versions of "Shanghaied" are missing? Paramount/Viacom/Nick included the Patrick and Squidward ending versions on the "Sea Stories" DVD, but yet left them out as bonus features on this set. I'd like to know why. Double-dipping, I suppose. They've done that with almost all of the 13 (as of this writing) unnecessary individual releases, some of which contain bonus materials not found on the season sets.

Speaking of bonus materials, this set has very little of them, especially when compared to season 1. Since they already have a lot of bonus materials in the vault from the individual releases, it wouldn't have been a lot of trouble to include them in this set. Again, double-dipping, I guess, provides the answer.

Vitamin C - More Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Great Music, Outdated & Crippled Enhanced CD Portion

Vitamin C's "More" was originally released in 2000 by Elektra Entertainment Group (a division of Warner Music Group). "The Itch" music video on the CD-ROM portion of the disc ("Enhanced CD") is crippled using HyperCD technology. (HyperCD is the brand name for a way of removing a small slice of meta-data from a digital file such that the file is made unreadable. This process is called "encrippling." Only when the "encrippled" file on a computer is linked with the piece of meta-data on a web site can the user view the content.) Unfortunately, the video will NEVER be playable because the website was taken down a long time ago.

HyperCD technology absolutely sucks and would have given me a good reason NOT to buy anymore CDs had the technology not already gone the way of the Dodo.

Let's see, where should I begin...

1. Running HYPERCD.EXE from the main/root directory of the CD installs files to C:\HYPERCD and puts an icon on my desktop without telling me it's doing this, and for no real reason anyway. This is the first instance of my hatred for HyperCD technology. Spyware does this kind of behavior. (I'll let it slide that this menu exe doesn't contain any real content, and is really pointless to have anyway.)

2. "The Itch" music video is located on the CD here: \content\Vc01.hlk. However the "content" directory is set to be hidden by Windows. There's no reason to hide the file like that. People who bought the CD don't have to be treated like pirates, though that's the basic premise for HyperCD technology when used in a manner like this.

3. The HyperCD browser plugin installer is located on the CD here: \SETUP\SETUP.EXE. However, the program runs in an endless loop on my computer. When it starts to run the second time, I quit it.

4. The plugin gets installed for IE (C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\PLUGINS\nphcd32.dll), but not for Mozilla. I had to manually copy/move the plugin to my Mozilla plugins directory. (The installer gives no indication of what the plugin is named or how many files it installs. The HyperCD.com website gave me the file name.)

5. Since I had to manually quit the install program, this of course means that my default browser (Mozilla - which the plugin was not automatically installed to) won't be launched, and I won't be taken to the site through which I can view the video. Thankfully, I found the URL of the website in this file \SETUP\HCDSETUP.INI on the CD. The website is: http://elektra.broadbridge.net/vitamin_c_001/index.html

6. If I try to go to that site, I get a "server not found" error message as that server, much less that page, was taken down long ago. This is why the internet should not be relied upon to provide exclusive content for a physical item. For example, the Jurassic Park DVDs gave you an exclusive "weblink" to online content on the making of the then in-production Jurassic Park 3. Needless to say, that "bonus feature" is non-existent now. Of course, that case is drastically different from this one. In the case of any CD using HyperCD technology, the content actually exists in the CD itself, but is crippled unless viewed from within an online webpage. It's one thing to have a link to content that can't be viewed, it's quite another to have the content itself but not be able to view/hear it.

7. Using the Internet Archive, I was able to get a copy of the files on that page: index.html, all images, and MOST IMPORTANTLY VitaminC_Vc01.hlq (which contains the missing portion of the video file already on the CD itself). Unfortunately, VitaminC_Vc01.hlq is set to *only* work if it's on the original web server (elektra.broadbridge.net). So even having an archived copy on another website or on my own computer won't work (Mozilla reports: "Error in server identifiers(008)").

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Thanks to HyperCD technology, it looks like I'm going to be forced to buy the DVD for the movie "Get Over It!" which contains "The Itch" music video as a bonus feature. I shouldn't be forced to buy an additional product, at a cost of $10 more, for something that was advertised as a "bonus feature" of a product I already bought. That is just plain wrong!

By the way, the other content on the Enhanced CD are outdated copies of Java Environment (JRE13I), Netscape 6 (N6SETUP, N6UNINST, SETUP), Real Player 8 (NSRP8), Direct-X 6 (\SETUP\ DXM6PTCH, DXMEDIA), Spinner internet radio service (\SETUP\INSTALL SPINNER FREE), WinAmp music player - with Vitamin C skin (SETUP\INSTALL WINAMP FREE), ICQ Plus 2.05 instant messenger (SETUP\IPLUS205), and AOL 5 (\SETUP\AOL\).

Vitamin C - Vitamin C Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Two Minor Cuts, But Overall Very Enjoyable

Since Vitamin C's "Vitamin C" CD has been reviewed to death on Amazon (143 reviews as of this writing), I'll just make this short and simple, only adding what little information I can.

Two of the songs have minor cuts at the end.

Track 6 - "Do What You Want To Do" - cuts off at the end as the next track starts.

Track 10 - About Last Night" - end of song fades into track 11 "Fear of Flying."

There's a bonus song which isn't listed in the track listing on the back of the CD case. However, if you buy the CD factory-sealed, there should be an orange sticker on the front with white and yellow-orange text which reads: "Includes the anthem for all friends, for all times Graduation [Friends Forever] and the hits Me, Myself And I and Smile. Bonus Features! Graduation [Friends Forever] (The Student Interview Mix); video and interview footage for your CD-Rom (Enhanced CD)."

So, Track 13 is "Graduation [Friends Forever] (The Student Interview Mix)" (that's the official title).

The Enhanced CD video and interview footage mentioned on the label is for "Smile," though there is one brief clip of Vitamin C singing "Graduation" in a studio with the choir.

Rugrats Holiday Classics Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
I Hate When Great Singers Are Forced To Sing Horribly

I like cartoons and I like novelty albums. Since I also like the Rugrats, I thought I would love Rugrats Holiday Classics. Boy was I wrong.

The background music isn't holiday music, but some lame hip-hop/dance beats that sound like they came from a Casio keyboard or a samples CD ("Tommy's Silent Night" is the only exception).

Some of the songs have religious themes which shouldn't be there. For example, "Toys For The Girls" degenerates from a toy song to a religious song. All of the songs should be about things babies and kids would think about around holiday time, but sung to the melodies of the classic holiday songs. If I wanted to hear the songs with religious themes, I'd listen to an album of the original versions.

Most of the songs have choruses that repeat too often. Although I like the Rugrats voices, listening to them repeat the same dumb verses to the same annoying music several times within a few minutes time, and repeat that twelve times, is too much for me to bear.

BEST SONGS - "Twelve Days of Rugrats" and "Rugrats Chanukah" (honorable mention goes to "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" because I love how Cree performs it as a sort-of rap).

WORST SONG - "Tommy's Silent Night" (hand down winner). You have Tommy singing in baby-speak about baby Jesus backed by the nice traditional "Silent Night" music, which makes this sounds offensive and sacrilegious. To add insult to injury, E.G. Daily is forced to sing off-key in character as Tommy. I know that she can sing this song beautifully if give the original lyrics and the opportunity.

If you want a great Rugrats music CD, get The Rugrats Movie soundtrack (and possibly the Rugrats In Paris soundtrack - I haven't heard it myself). STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS ONE!

You can listen to two of the full tracks on Spook Central.