TV on DVD: SpongeBob SquarePants -- Season 6, Volume 1

Now Available to Own

Photo Slideshow

"Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?"

(More SpongeBob SquarePants)

As it turns out, even when you “live in a pineapple under the sea,” aka the Bikini Bottom setting of Nickelodeon's beloved decade old series SpongeBob SquarePants, you still have to worry about whether or not your employer is providing you with health insurance.

Although the concept of universal health care probably isn't something that floats to the surface of the intellectually shallow end of the brain that is mostly used by SpongeBob's loyal yet less-than-jellyfish sharp best friend Patrick, it does crop up in one of the twenty-four episodes contained in this new release.

Following the June celebration of the tenth anniversary of SpongeBob SquarePants along with releases of individual DVDs and a collection of the series' originally broadcast premiere hundred episodes, the first half of the sixth season arrives in a nice slim-packaged two disc set that showcases SpongeBob's unique ability to cross generations.

Having already reviewed the surf-centric blast, SpongeBob Square Pants vs. The Big One, which contained a group of terrific episodes including the titular selection wherein Oscar nominated guest star Johnny Depp lent his voice to Nickelodeon's sea, it was fun to revisit the same selections worked into the chronology of the season along with other episodes that were contained on alternate, budget-priced SpongeBob discs in '09 as well.

Able to touch on not just topical issues but general popular culture as well, I'm always impressed by how much substance is worked into any given show as the series takes a few gentle shots at reality television home makeover shows that prey on exploiting the subjects. Likewise, while some of the crude, immature humor does grow old, in SpongeBob, fortunately it seems like it's mainly inserted to keep up the intended juvenile appeal instead of being used as the basis for the plot overall.

In the same token and unlike the stunning CGI animation of series that are specifically targeted to the youngest of demographics as is the case of the Disney Channel via Handy Manny and Mickey's Clubhouse, there's something especially comforting and impressive about the rebellious nature of what is arguably one of Nickelodeon's biggest earners.

Other than a healthy merchandising that produces way too many releases of the same shows on DVD which no doubt confuses parents and consumers into rebuying what they may assume are entirely new discs because of the cover art, the fact that the content and format has stayed consistently true to creator Stephen Hillenburg's original experimental vision ensures this Sponge won't get thrown away soon.

Without going to the extremes that The Simpsons and Family Guy venture towards in an attempt to break barriers and encourage an even wider audience by sacrificing taste at times to achieve the desired “cool factor,” SpongeBob has proven it's not only cool but enviable to be as "square" as the main character's famous pants.

Time and time again, whenever SpongeBob makes the attempt to go against his true self, remake himself into someone he thinks society wants him to be, or tries to readjust his routine whether by his own decision or when a series of ridiculously entertaining events arise in Bikini Bottom, we're reassured that SpongeBob will always return to Sponge form no matter what shape he may have taken previously.

An inherently satisfying program on a number of levels-- no doubt a majority of the show's success rests in the reminder that even in Bikini Bottom things aren't all that different, whether or not a pineapple or a health care plan is included, thereby making it equally appealing for Sponges of all ages.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard critical practice, I received a review copy to evaluate the material for this article.