If these party animals look familiar…well, they should. Based off of the hit Nickelodeon feature-length film Barnyard: The Original Party Animals, Back at the Barnyard takes the same characters from the film (and a few new ones, of course) and continues their wild adventures when the humans go away on their errands. With a full array of barnyard animals as his friends, leader Otis takes up his mantle of responsibility from his father in the only way he knows how: to party long and party hard, all the while avoiding confrontation with the humans that own their ranch.
Featuring eight episodes of Back at the Barnyard, Back at the Barnyard: When No One’s Looking brings all the fun of the series to the home video format. Whether it’s being tortured by Snotty Boy when he’s left in charge of the barnyard (and subsequently torturing the animals) or saving the Pizza Twins and becoming superheroes, Otis and crew are never without a dull moment at the Barnyard. Featuring the voices of Jeffrey Garcia as Pip the Mouse, Leigh Allyn Baker as Abby the Cow, Cam Clarke as Freddy the Ferret, Tino Insana as Pig the Pig, Rob Paulsen as Peck the Rooster, Wanda Sykes as Bessy the Cow and Chris Hardwick as the leader of them all, Otis the Cow, kids are sure to love the whole lot of em’!
I hadn’t seen the film this series is based off of (I’ve had just about enough of talking animal movies, thank you), but despite being absolutely tired of animal flicks, animal TV shows are still appealing for some reason. Smaller doses, I suppose. In that regard, Back at the Barnyard is quite the fun little show, regardless of your age. While its humor and dialogue is aimed at the younger spectrum of the audience chain, it still has a tad bit of universal appeal so that parents won’t feel completely ignored while watching it. Surprisingly the series remains strong throughout the eight episodes included here, although I do have a few gripes.
The first is obviously the animation. I say “obviously” because characters move like they’re build on strict puppets or skeletal system and they show no range of motion. Turning their lead left is about as stiff as can be. The animals aren’t quite so bad, but the humans are incredibly difficult to watch. Everything feels very polished in terms of visuals, but the animation is just so darn lifeless that it takes the fun out of watching the series. I assume this is done intentionally, as CGI animation isn’t quite the budget hog it was when it first came about, but still…it can get to be a bit sloppy in appearance at times.
Aside from that, I really enjoyed what little there was on the disc to check out. While it features eight episodes, the episodes themselves are only about twelve minutes each (I assume it airs with two stories per thirty-minute block) so in essence there are really only four episodes here. It’s not like there isn’t disc space for a couple more, so it’s kind of a waste of space to not toss some more on here, but I guess they have to make more money off of the home video market for as long as they can.
Those with kids may want to add this to the list of “approved” things to spend their time on, as, while it may not teach a lot to kids, it’s safe and fun entertainment that they’ll enjoy. Recommended.
Paramount tosses out a rather curious release with Back at the Barnyard: When No One’s Looking. While there are only eight stories (comprising four episodes) on the disc, there are…animatics as extras. I can’t think of a single kid that would actually care to watch these, which makes this release some kind of midway point between for-kids and for-adult fans of the show. Are there even adult fans of the show? I didn’t even know the film received a series spin-off until this DVD arrived, so I guess I’m not the one to ask about that, but still…rather curious.
The set itself arrives in the standard amaray DVD case with an insert for other Nickelodeon titles, as well as the disc itself which mimics the cover art for the set. Video on the disc is interlaced and hurts the viewing presentation somewhat, as other than that there’s no compression to really speak of. Audio is a crystal clear Dolby Digital 2.0 English stereo track that has no distortion and is free of any defects.
As previously mentioned we have animatics as extras, with “Cowman and Ratboy” (12:48) and “The Right Cow” (12:43) being the two. Again, not sure why they’re included, but whatever…a nice bonus I suppose, but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch the entire episode in animatic form (especially when the finished version plays in the same screen as the animatic), which makes this a truly curious extra to throw onto a kids DVD.
Overall a decent release, but since the show still airs several times a week, this release may be a bit of a redundant addition to the collection if your kids are already tuning in for each of the viewings.
Back at the Barnyard: When No One’s Looking is now available on DVD.