VeggieTales: Abe and the Amazing Promise 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. I’ve watched a lot of VeggieTales DVDs, and they all tend to look a lot alike. That trend continued with Abe.
For the most part, the show looked crisp and detailed. However, the image was a little fuzzy at the edges on occasion and lacked terrific clarity of past shows. Some jagged edges appeared, and a few examples of moiré effects occurred as well; these were minor but occasionally noticeable. Edge enhancement was modest, but print flaws appeared absent during this clean image.
The world of VeggieTales offered a very bright and varied palette, and Promise followed with a strong batch of colors. The tones went with a pastel look, and the DVD replicated these well. The hues were clear and distinctive. 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, Promise provided a satisfying visual experience.
Also fairly strong was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Promise. For the most part, this soundfield stayed with an emphasis on the forward spectrum, where it offered nicely broad and engaging audio. Promise provided relatively active audio. Elements moved nicely across the front and formed a good feeling of environment. The effects meshed together well, especially during the show’s action sequences.
The surrounds also added a fair amount to the mix. The rear speakers kicked in some good material at times. The action sequences worked best and contributed a fun feel.
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. This was a good track that contributed to the effectiveness of the piece.
If you’ve watched other VeggieTales DVDs, you’ll know what to expect from the extras of Promise. We start in the “Behind the Scenes” area with an audio commentary from director John Wahba and producer J. Chris Wall, both of whom sat together for this running, screen-specific piece. They discuss story and character notes, animation issues, influences, songs and score, the actors and performances, the use of a documentary style, story subjects/changes, and various challenges.
The other VeggieTales commentaries have been inconsistent, so I was pleased to find a pretty good chat here. On the negative side, Wahba and Wall occasionally just narrate the show, but they don’t do that often. They usually give us nice notes about the project and make this a likable chat.
Next we find Making of A Lesson in Patience. This seven-minute and 35-second program shows clips from the movie and includes remarks from Wahba, Roberts, director of music Kurt Heinecke, and VP of Development Mike Nawrocki. They give us some thoughts about the cast, characters and stories, set design, music and general themes. A few decent facts emerge here, but we don’t get a lot of novel info. The commentary touches on things pretty well, so “Making” becomes a bit flat.
A few text questions appear under Discussion Guide. This is simply a way for families to chat about various issues with the kids.
The “Behind the Scenes” area finishes with an Art Gallery. It features 13 screens and comes with commentary from art director Joe Spadaford and lead concept artist Chuck Vollmer. You can skip through the art at will or just let it run with the narration. We see concept and character drawings while we learn about the various design topics. I like the art and think the notes offer good explanations of the choices.
More extras appear in the “Fun and Games” section. Fans can try the Video Trivia at either “easy” or “hard” levels. The “easy” items are made even simpler because the game shows you clips with the answers before you must reply; they’re so simple that they’re almost insulting. The “hard” part works the same way, as it also provides video hints in advance; the answers are simply a little less obvious. Neither series of questions provide a challenge.
If you get through the “Trivia”, you get two rewards. There’s a coupon you can use at the Big Idea web store and also a “Bonus Clip” that provides a blooper reel. I’m happy that you actually get a prize for success here, as most prior VeggieTales trivia games lacked any such rewards; it’s not particularly interesting, but it’s better than nothing.
A memory game called Can You Rememb-ur? appears here. It shows five drawings of sheep and requires you to identify specific ones. If you succeed, you can watch a “bonus clip” that shows the original scene of the mad scientist playing the organ. The memory game isn’t tough, but it’s not totally easy, so it’s cool that it comes with a reward.
Next we get a Sing-Along presentation for “Sneeze If You Need To”. This two-minute, 59-second clip shows the veggies as they croon the song. It displays the lyrics at the bottom of the screen, and the audio button allows you to turn on or off the vocals. It does nothing for me, but kids might enjoy it.
After this we locate an Interactive Storybook for Babysitter in DeNile. This allows you to read the tale independently or have it read to you. The presentation seems somewhat static but at least it offers the voice of Larry to narrate.
Next we learn How to Draw two characters. This teaches how to make Abraham (11 minutes, 17 seconds) and the Boo-Boo Bird (7:56). Both offer reasonably informative and fun tutorials.
An ad for The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything opens the DVD. It also appears in the Previews area along with clips for Heroes of the Bible III, 3-2-1 Penguins: Blast in Space,3-2-1 Penguins: Save the Planets, Tomato Sawyer and Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue, MOPS, and Operation Christmas Child.
While not one of the best VeggieTales shows, Abe and the Amazing Promise remains reasonably entertaining. I think it telegraphs its theme more than I’d like, but it still amuses and delivers an enjoyable program. The DVD offers typically good picture and audio along with a nice little collection of supplements highlighted by a solid audio commentary. This isn’t the best VeggieTales product I’ve seen, but it’s pretty good.