The August 14, 2018 DVD release "Muppet Babies: Time to Play" provides a good chance to check out the adorable Disney Junior reboot of a genuine pop-culture phenomenon. The original 1984 8-season series is the first of many shows, which include "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" and "Flintstone Kids," that shave years off of popular characters. The hilarious "Community" parody of this concept is one of many examples of the success of this theme,
The bigger picture is that "Play" is further proof that Disney cable channels offer fare for all ages. This release comes on the heels of a reviewed DVD of the very bright series with a literal strong Latin beat "Elena of Avalor." Other recent Disney releases include the latest (also reviewed) set of episodes of the Disney XD reboot of "DuckTales" and the first set of the personal fave Junior series "Puppy Dog Pals" that centers around incredibly cute pug siblings going on missions. A "Pals" "Babies" crossover would be beyond awesome.
The following YouTube video of the opening credits of "Babies" illustrates (pun intended) the updated CGI look of the series. It also introduces the emphasis on using your imagination that is a central theme.
The core group that returns consists of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo the Great, and Animal. Summer the penguin literally and figuratively joins the band. Group caregiver Nanny is now Miss Nanny; she still only is seen from the baby perspective of the waist down.
Each half-hour episode consists of two or three adventures. Things typically start out with either Nanny initiating an activity that triggers a fantastic voyage of the mind or a mishap among the kids prompting the adventure du jour. Either way, viewers can count on a clever escapade and a rockin' music video. A song that be considered Muppet Beach Party is particularly fun.
The first outing in "Play" has Miss Nanny actually going into the closet triggering the muppets going in after her. The issue related to this quest is being afraid of the dark. The dual messages are that that phobia is valid and that the dark is nothing to fear.
A rather bizarre element in another outing has Miss Nanny planning to show her charges what clearly is the Olympics; she refers to the event as the Sport-a-thon for an apparent but unknown legal reason. The modern problem of the Internet going out leads to the gang staging their own games. The lesson this time is the importance of being a good loser. One spoiler that is refreshing in 2018 is that Miss Nanny does not issue participant awards.
A cute outing from the perspective of one with a childhood friend named Peter Potato has Gonzo bonding with an inanimate root vegetable. This one begins with hilarious sequences that show that the potato is not very good at games. This leads to Gonzo getting upset when his new buddy is ostracized. The lesson this time is of inclusion.
The copious special features begin with 10 Show=and-Tell shorts that likely are filler on Junior. The theme is one or two of our friends discussing show-and-tell presentations. We also get six music videos from the episodes in the set.
One of the best overall things about the new "Babies" is the same as the Disney approach to the "Star Wars" franchise. The new productions staying true to the source material helps make watching with the kids fun for the adults.