Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Alvinnn!!! Edition - Collector's Set
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (2nd November 2008).
The Show

Les Paul and Raymond Scott were early sonic pioneers who, in the 1940's and beyond, used the technology being developed for the modern recording studio to bring music into new and previously unexplored realms. During the 1950's, one Ross Bagdasarian Sr. got hip to what Les Paul and Raymond Scott were doing. He explored the possibilities of modern recording technology to the best of his ability, but was unable to come up with any gimmick more original than what early recordists called vari-speed. Paul had used vari-speed as just one of the many tools in his considerable sonic arsenal, but Bagdasarian seems to have stopped looking after unearthing this single revelation. Basically, he discovered that by recording his voice with the tape speed slowed down considerably, he got a funny sound by playing it back at normal speed. Under the stage name 'Dave Seville', he managed to parlay this minor discovery into fame and fortune by creating a series of novelty records utilizing the vari-speed technique. The first one was the famous "Witch Doctor". Later, he released a long string of novelty records attributed to "Alvin and the Chipmunks".

Next thing you know, by the end of 1959, there were puppet shows and television appearances, which lead to a 1961-1962 cartoon series, dolls, lunchboxes, and all the rest. The chipmunk characters of Alvin, Theodore, and Simon - who had appeared on vinyl as Dave Seville's voice speeded up to varying degrees - were realized visually as a troublemaker, a bookish nerd, and a chubby sidekick, all with buck teeth.

Seville and his chipmunks were enough of a hit to have lasted through several revivals, including a CGI version in the summer of 2007. A new and wholly unnecessary DVD collection presents a truly mortifying 1980's version of Alvin (Ross Bagdasarian Jr.), Theodore (Janice Karman), and Simon (Ross Bagdasarian Jr.), singing their trademarked chipmunk versions of then-contemporary hit songs in unbearable techno pop renditions, in between marching trough cartoons with tedious plot lines that seem to have been scripted from various rejected "Scooby-Doo" (1969-1972) plots. The original 1950's/1960's version of the records and related cartoons may be charming to some degree, and that latest 2007 incarnation might be saleable at the moment, but bringing back this mid-eighties travesty is just painful. It is perhaps worth noting that Bagdasarian the elder died in 1972, and since that time, the Chipmunk legacy has been maintained by his son, Bagdasarian, Jr. Once the initial creative inspiration was gone, it is clear that the quality, such as it was, quickly left the Chipmunks, which - lets face it - were a one-note gimmick that has somehow managed to stick around long after its expiration date.

The two-discs in this DVD set contains seven episodes each, all produced between 1983 and 1988. I defy anyone, of any age, to make it all the way through either disc without having some sort of psychotic episode. They include:

- "The Curse of Lontiki" (12:00)
- "Mr. Fabulous" (12:00)
- "Unidentified Flying Chipmunk" (12:00)
- "A Horse of Course" (11:22)
- "New Improved Simon" (12:00)
- "Snow Job" (11:22)
- "Maids in Japan" (10:57)
- "Every Chipmunk Tells a Story" (11:42)
- "Romancing Miss Stone" (10:40)
- "3 Alarm Alvin" (11:54)
- "Alvin's Oldest Fan" (11:22)
- "Chip Off the Old Tooth" (11:48)
- "Whatever Happened to Dave Seville?" (11:42)
- "Cadet's Regrets" (22:30)

Video

Aspect ratio is 4:3, the dull transfer looks like it came from twenty year old videotape, and this tape in turn was transferred from film. The flickering effect from the film transfer is still visible, the image is shaky, and the print is both dim and moderately speckled. Running time is an average of about 11 minutes per episode.

Audio

These episodes are presented in the original English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, encoded with Dolby Digital. The cloying music is only marginally less grating than the squeaky chipmunk voice effects that become maddening before the first episode is over. There are no optional subtitles.

Extras

Aside from bonus trailers on the first disc for "Alvin and the Chipmunks" which runs for 1 minute 19 seconds, "Spongebob Squarepants" which runs for 1 minute 7 seconds and "Go Diego Go" which runs for 1 minutes there's none at all. Thank you.

Overall

The Show: D- Video: D Audio: C Extras: F Overall: F+

 


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