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DVD Reviews

Htf Review: John Denver And The Muppets: Rocky Mountain Holiday

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted August 15 2003 - 04:08 PM

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John Denver and The Muppets: A Rocky Mountain Holiday

Studio: Columbia TriStar
Year: 1982
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 47 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Subtitles: English & French
Genre: Children’s

Release Date: August 26, 2003

“Muppets!” screams my girlfriend in absolute excitement as I tell her what I have next in review for Home Theater Forum. “They are soooo cute!” she says in love. She claims to have seen almost every Muppet show around. After doing a little research on shows and appearances, I doubt her on that. I’m sure there are other die-hard Muppet fans out there beyond her. But I’m not counting. I remember watching Muppet Baby cartoons with my younger sister. Mix Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock (that’s for you DaViD!) and it all added to my Jim Henson/Muppet awareness and liking. Even though these little guys are puppets – yes, they are alive! Muppets exist! They have characters! They are cute! They have emotions! They were probably even friends or guardians to you at one time in some form of a stuffed Muppet as you went to bed at night. Many kids could identify with a Muppet. It was nice to see that the Muppets joined classic American musician John Denver.

As if he were climbing mountains, John Denver climbed up the music charts in the 1960’s by exploring the frontiers of the West. Pop songs like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Sunshine On My Shoulders,” “Annie’s Song,” “Back Home Again,” “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,” “Calypso,” and “Rocky Mountain High,” gained him recognition. This Emmy-nominated special - Rocky Mountain Holiday - plays on the ladder song title and features the Muppets and Denver camping out in the mountains of Colorado, Denver’s home state (hence where his stage name “Denver” came from). Good friends as they are, these city Muppets are loving nature and singing some well known and not so well known camping songs. This is the list of what to expect on Rocky Mountain Holiday:

Catch Another Butterfly
Down By the Old Mill Stream
Durango Mountain Caballero
Going Camping
Gone Fishin'
Grandma's Feather Bed
Hey Old Pal
Home on the Range
No One Like You
Poems, Prayers and Promises
She'll be Coming Round the Mountain
Take 'Em Away

The feature has its comical moments as Muppets tend bring, and Denver’s presence is best described as gentle. You can see he must have had fun with this production. Sadly he is not here today to oversee or contribute to this DVD after his tragic accident in 1997.

Picture Quality
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The picture is presented in 1.33:1. Once again, on the back of the jacket, it is written in a 1.78:1 rectangle but is not anamorphic or widescreen. A small error, but it keeps bugging me so I’m going to keep mentioning it.
The image itself has good contrast in the outdoor mountain scenes. It never seems too dark or too bright. Colours are pretty good, although lack good saturation, and blacks are deep without drowning other information. Unfortunately, it seems scenes in this picture was filmed through John Denver’s ultra-huge 1980’s glasses. Much of the feature looks a little out of focus, and has artefacts throughout. At times the artefacts resemble dot crawl as if it were from a composite master. This happens mostly on text and not on any other image so I’m going to presume that it is from the text generator used for the original production. You can also clearly tell when blue-screen is being used.
Another bothersome issue I have is that throughout the feature, the picture 'skipped ahead' for what it seemed like quite a few frames. If it was infrequent, maybe it might not bother me, but it was very frequent so it did.
This is a mediocre picture presentation that has the occasional compression artefact on faster moving objects. I would like to give this a 2, but I’ll give it a slightly higher score because some scenes look pretty good for the short run time of the feature.

Sound Quality:
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I’m crazy! I couldn’t stop tapping my foot at times when watching John Denver play his tunes. Ok, so I remember many of these songs as a kid, so it was only natural that I sang along too… :b ...the sound was adequate for a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo presentation. It sounded monaural to me. The presentation was upfront; there was a perfect bass blend when needed, and the treble was never strident which was very welcomed. Midrange was soothing while listening to Denver's voice. There was no great soundstage depth or space around sounds, but I never expected much from this soundtrack because of the type of release it was.

Special Features?
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None…I’m sorry to report. Just a few trailers for another Muppets film and a few Columbia TriStar releases.


A few thoughts…well, as my girlfriend said…”Where was Miss Piggy throughout the feature??!!” Miss Piggy had a small roll – in a reflecting moment of John’s as he went horseback riding beside Miss Piggy alongside the mountains…that sent Kermit for a spin! Also, I think John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, (1979) should have been included on this disc making it a double feature. Given the short run time of this special of only 47 minutes, something else should have been included on this disc. These days we are being spoiled by DVD features that make people want more than the film. Personally, I just want the film presentation as best as it can be and all extras come second. But in a consumer world where I’ve been told its always good to get more than what I’ve asked for - and then get a bare bones DVD – I feel a little disappointed. But if you are a John Denver fan, you want to add this to your collection. If you are a Muppets fan, or maybe your kids are Muppets fans, or maybe you need to treat your girlfriend/wife to something they find adorable and take a vacation from your action movie collection – then a Rocky Mountain Holiday is waiting for you.

Michael Osadciw

THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

Video Contributor

CANADA HiFi Magazine

#2 of 5 ONLINE   Rodney


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Posted August 16 2003 - 12:39 AM

Thanks for the review, Michael. Nice. I have this one pre-ordered. One quibble: I would change that one line about John Denver climbing the music charts in the 60's. I think his first album came out in 1969, but his big hits were all in the 1970's.

#3 of 5 OFFLINE   David Lambert

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Posted August 16 2003 - 12:43 AM

Sounds like a pass for me. Thanks for the review.
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#4 of 5 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted August 17 2003 - 09:42 PM

[quote] Also, I think John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, (1979) should have been included on this disc [quote] Yeah, that's the show that I really want. Luckily I have the CD which is a Christmas staple around my house. As for this disc - I'm a big Denver & Muppets fan, but at $20 list this is WAY overpriced, so I'll wait till it shows up in the remainder bins.

Thanks for the review!
Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.
* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.
* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted August 20 2003 - 02:13 AM

Thanks for the review. Just might have to pick it up (depsite wishing it had been 2.0 PCM audio and free from dot-crawl...what's up with those studios...can't they afford a decent comb-filter when converting composite video masters for DVD production??!!@@#*%?)

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