DVD Review: Here Come The ABCs - They Might Be Giants

In my younger days, I went to clubs to hear Rawk Bands. And in my much younger days, I watched Sesame Street.

It is no knock on this new DVD -- it's high praise, in fact -- that I could see clips from the DVD played at clubs and on Sesame Street.

My review from last week on the CD version of this album was interpreted in the comments section by a snarky friend as being a negative review. As a long-time They Might Be Giants fan, I prefer to think of my less-than-5-star CD review as a reflection of them just failing to meet the high standards I've set for them. And part of that was a result of some songs that sound like they were designed for the DVD that were less than compelling without visuals.

So, then, the questions is, "how are the visuals?" And the answer is, fantabulous. Really. The video for "Pictures of Pandas Painting," while not a favorite song of mine, has a hypnotic, psychedelic feel. The art in "C is for Conifers" is nothing less than, well, art. "Q U" is a quirky live-action bit with Q and U (I love the shot of them walking through Central Park, with the crowd completely ignoring them). The puppetry in songs like "Who Put the Alphabet (In Alphabetical Order)" is lots of fun and a little surreal (e.g., the guitar windmills of a nearly-punk-rockin' pink poodle). And with visuals, songs such as "Letter Shapes" are much more enjoyable. (One note: if you're interested in the DVD because you want to see the actual band, you'll be mostly disappointed as the "thumb puppet" Johns get almost as much screen time as the "real" Johns -- i.e., not much.)

Taken in one 50-minute sitting, it's almost too much, but these visuals would fit in perfectly as interstitials (between-segment shorts) in Sesame Street. They would also make perfect oblique sense played on TVs in a rock club between sets.

One other minor complaint -- the DVD menu doesn't have scenes by chapters. If you're trying to limit a child's viewing time, trying to get to a particular song (and then play it from there for, say, 15 minutes) takes more work than it should.

But these are minor complaints. Excellent DVD.