VeggieTales: Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Maybe someday I’ll find an unappealing transfer for a VeggieTales production, but not today.
No problems with sharpness emerged. The program always looked nicely distinctive and well-defined. Only the smallest hint of softness ever appeared, and those instances were very insubstantial. I noticed no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement caused no concerns. Print flaws also appeared absent during this clean image.
The world of VeggieTales offered a very bright and varied palette, and Ruler followed with a strong batch of colors. The tones went with a slightly soft, pastel look, and the DVD replicated these well. The hues were clear and distinctive. Some stylized colors popped up during “Asparagus”, as it offered a dusty, arid look. Black levels were also nicely deep and rich, and though shadow detail was only a minor consideration, all of those sorts of shots came across as appropriately clean and visible. Ultimately, Ruler provided a very satisfying visual experience.
Unfortunately, I found unusual problems with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Sheerluck Holmes. The main issue stemmed from the reversal of the front channels. Elements that should have come from the left popped up in the right and vice versa. This didn’t affect the DVD’s Dolby Surround 2.0 mix, but it consistently marred the 5.1 version.
Since the program didn’t feature a ton of directional effects, this error wasn’t a huge issue, but it did cause distractions. Presumably the stereo music was reversed as well, but since those bits weren’t specifically directional, this wasn’t a noticeable concern. During the smattering of scenes with isolated effects, though, the reversed channels were annoying.
The scope of the soundscape remained decent. Most of the audio stayed with stereo music and general environmental elements. Effects occasionally became more prominent in louder sequences, and the surrounds reinforced things fairly well, but there wasn’t a lot of action to behold.
Sound quality seemed consistent with prior releases. Audio quality seemed to be fine across the board. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, and it showed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, and when appropriate they came to life quite vividly. Bass response was loud and deep.
Were it not for the directional mistakes, this would have been a “B” or “B+” mix. Unfortunately, I can’t excuse a track with such a basic error. Unless the folks at Big Idea correct this, stick with the 2.0 mix – at least it puts elements in the correct channels.
When we examine the DVD’s supplements, we start with an audio commentary with director/actor Mike Nawrocki, producer David Pitts, story artist/character designer Brian Roberts, and development team member Tim Hodge. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They touch on issues such as plot inspirations, visual development and using elements from other VeggieTales efforts, comparisons with story influences, technical considerations, and general production trivia.
At its best, this ends up as a reasonably informative chat. However, it’s not often at its best, as the commentary occasionally tends to ramble a bit. The poor quality of the recording doesn’t help. Some speakers clearly sit much closer to the microphone, so they’re very loud while we can barely hear others. There’s a decent amount of information on display here, but not enough to make this an above average track.
We also get a Veggie Commentary. This includes in-character remarks from Sheerluck Holmes and Officer John Spud, and it lasts six minutes, 54 seconds as we watch “Ruler” scenes. Like other character commentaries, this one takes things from a comedic point of view. It does okay in that regard, as it gives us a few minor chuckles. At least it doesn’t wear out its welcome and run too long.
Next we find a quick glimpse Behind the Scenes. This nine-minute and 17-second program shows clips from the movie and includes interviews with Nawrocki, Pitts, and musical director Kurt Heinecke. The piece looks at how they chose the subjects to spoof, selecting characters for various parts, the music, guest singers, the show’s theme and goofy trivia
None of these VeggieTales “Behind the Scenes” shows ever offer much depth. They present good subjects but run through them so quickly that we don’t learn a whole lot. They act as decent overviews at best.
Sheerluck and the Super Sleuth gives us a four-minute, 49-second featurette. It introduces us to “real detective” Charles Warner. He tells us a little about his career, and he and “Larry” try to solve a case. It offers a moderately interesting look at facets of the job that will mostly be useful for kids.
“Bob & Larry’s Playhouse” breaks down into many small bits. Fans can try the Video Trivia at either “easy” or “hard” levels. Actually, both seem equally difficult. The questions are pretty easy, especially since we get video clips with clues before we have to answer. You receive no reward for correct completion, unfortunately.
Next we get a Sing-Along with Larry presentation. This two-minute, 34-second clip shows Larry as he croons the song “Gated Community”. It displays the lyrics at the bottom of the screen, and the audio button allows you to turn on or off the vocals.
An Interactive Storybook offers a tale called “Sheerluck Holmes and the Hounds of Baker Street”. This allows kids to read the piece alone or have Bob narrate it. I like the fact it’s a new story and not just a rehash of “Ruler”.
Sheerluck’s Mystery Adventure Game offers a simplistic contest. It forces you to play as Sheerluck to find various oddly named food items. It’s very easy and not terribly fun. At least it gives you an award when you win: a code for a 20% discount at the Big Idea Studio Store.
Watson’s Family Activity provides a 105-second clip. It shows a game that kids can do with their parents as it demonstrates how to run your own little mystery. It might be fun for clans to play. We also get Bean Dip of LaMancha which shows us make the titular side dish.
After this we can learn How to Draw two characters. This teaches how to make Sheerluck (12 minutes, 41 seconds) and Pancho (7:58). Both offer reasonably informative and fun tutorials.
Senior concept artists Joe Spadaford and Chuck Vollmer lead us through an Art Gallery. We look at color scripts, concept art, backgrounds, and other elements. Spadaford and Vollmer offer nice reflections on the material and their work in this solid program.
Previews boasts a whole bunch of ads. We get promos for Gideon, Larryboy ‘06, Minnesota Cuke, Lord of the Beans, Veggie Classics and VeggieTales Rockin’ Tour Live.
In addition, a few Easter Eggs appear on the DVD. From the main menu, go down below “Settings”. Press enter to see a little musical number. If you go to the “Bonus Features” domain, click right from “Veggie Commentary”. When you hit enter, you’ll get a 64-second piece that shows shots from audio recording sessions. Finally, inside “Bob and Larry’s Playhouse”, highlight “Bean Dip of LaMancha” and click to the left. Hit enter to see a 45-second snippet that shows a “Royal Veggie Gallery”.
While I wouldn’t classify Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler as top-notch VeggieTales, it stands as a pretty good show. It offers enough fun and humor to make it enjoyable. The DVD features very strong visuals as well as some interesting extras, but a mastering glitch negatively affects the 5.1 soundtrack. If that doesn’t matter to you, then go ahead and get this disc. Otherwise I’d recommend you wait to see if Big Idea reissues a corrected DVD.