3/01/2009

TV on DVD: The Mighty B! We Got the Bee

Amy Poehler Makes a Play to
Become Queen Bee

In Nickelodeon's Animated Series
Now Available On DVD





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Partially inspired by a character comedienne Amy Poehler notes that "she's been performing over the past several years at Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade," in this refreshingly girl-power oriented Nickelodeon series-- co-creator and lead voice actor Poehler plays the hyper active, overachieving nine and three quarter year old Honeybee Bessie Higgenbottom.


Eager to collect more than four thousand five hundred badges in her Girl Scouts inspired Honeybee Troop #828 which she aspires to conquer, the pint-sized ball of energy is often targeted by the resident queen bees-- namely, the pretty, older, popular, and cliquish Portia and Gwen who con young Bessie at every turn. Whether it's tricking her into babysitting a tot that bounces away like a basketball when she uses too much baby oil, sabotaging her robotic creation for the science fair, or trying to frighten her out of the requisite Happy Camper sleep-away camp badge-- the two girls never give up... but then again, neither does Bessie.



While most kids never tire of asking endless questions, Bessie proves just the opposite-- providing endless answers in the form of lists as she wears down everyone she comes into contact with in the DVD's eight episodes from the first season of the series as she tries to stretch herself one sixteenth of an inch to ride the mega roller-coaster The Punisher, win a dog show by taking on a stray dog named Happy who becomes her affable sidekick, and crashes scores of Bat Mitzvahs with her best friend Penny by reminding her friend to be cool and go with the cover that they're distant cousins from Tel Aviv.



Although her precocious nature and fondness for crafting atom smashers and joining Gwen and Portia's rock group to fit in find her a bit of an outsider in the world of Honeybees, the eager young taffy seller's perpetually optimistic nature and great group of friends including the skater Keenan and her younger worshipful brother (Andy Richter) always help her land on her feet.



Despite the fact that the DVD begins on rather annoying footing by launching us full blast into Bessie's world as the front teeth missing, lisp speaking girl's voice and obnoxious manner grate on our nerves rather quickly--the DVD grows much stronger as it continues and we become more accustomed to our heroine and some of the episodes including the inspired "Bee My Baby" (which finds a baby bouncing in and out of trouble), "Sweet Sixteenth" (as Bessie laments her short status), and especially the "Bat Mitzvah Crashers" all come highly recommended.



Having collaborated with co-creators Cynthia True of The Fairly Odd Parents (who also drew inspiration from a photo of herself at age six in the Girl Scouts) and Erik Wise of Spongebob Squarepants-- Poehler's high quality Nickelodeon production is sure to engage not only former scouts, like yours truly, but also reach the same audience who enjoy Nick's other toons and animation style of series including Rugrats or more recently-- Wayside School.




Winningly female oriented like the channel's wonderfully popular Dora the Explorer series-- while Bessie is probably the last kid you'd like your children to emulate as she always seems to be moving at a million miles an hour-- her sunny optimism, ambition to prove herself at levels far beyond her age, and constant reminder of who her real friends are, along with the visually great San Francisco setting make The Mighty B! of particular interest for this adorable child friendly roughly ninety minute disc.


Featuring a mini behind-the-scenes interview with the cast and creators-- animation junkies will also appreciate watching the original animatic for "Bat Mitzvah Crashers" to see the pencil drawings of the show alongside the phenomenal finished product and children will love the option to sing along (with or without the vocals) to Bessie's "Running With the Rainbow Unicorn" karaoke music video.



Also, conveniently closed captioned for the deaf and/or hearing impaired (or those who struggle to keep up with Poehler's breakneck toothless delivery), this full screen formatted disc utilizing its original Dolby Digital Stereo Sound may initially take a little time to get used to but soon-- just as she does for everyone in the endless quest for thousands of badges and relying on her imaginary superhero alter-ego to help her in her quest-- Bessie wins us over.

And ultimately, more channels should take a cue from Paramount's Nickelodeon by continually striving to offer non-violent, genuinely funny, quality entertainment for both genders and viewers of all backgrounds who can salute their inner bee.

Divided into eight episodes, The Mighty B! We Got the Bee includes the following titles that can be selected individually or played in one marathon viewing:
(Descriptions Courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment)

1) "We Got the Bee"
  • "When Portia’s band doesn’t let Bessie join, Bessie starts rockin’ to her own beat!"
2) "So Happy Together"
  • "To enter the Honeybee Dog Show and earn the Animal Appreciation badge, Bessie sets out to find a stray."
3) "Sweet Sixteenth"
  • "Just the teensiest bit under minimum height to ride The Punisher, Bessie goes to extremes to measure up."
4) "Bee My Baby"
  • "To dupe Bessie into babysitting, Portia and Gwen tell her about the non-existent Baby Wrangling Badge."
5) "Bee Afraid"
  • "In her quest for the Happy Camper Badge, Bessie goes, well, you know. But it’s scary in the dark. Especially with Portia and Gwen around."
6) "Artificial Unintelligence"
  • "Will Bessie’s entry in the science fair finally win her the Mad Scientist Badge? Or just make other people mad?"
7) "Bat Mitzvah Crashers"
  • "Bessie and Penny love crashing Bat Mitzvahs, then vow to stop when the partying takes a toll. But can they resist crashing 'the Bat Mitzvah of the century?'”
8) "Super Secret Weakness"
  • "The Mighty B is sure to find herself in quite a pickle if Bessie doesn’t help her ‘squash’ her only weakness."