New this month from Disney are two enjoyable compilations of "Higglytown Heroes" (currently available) and two feature efforts - a "mashed-up" version of three of the studio's most popular shows from the Disney channel (available 1/16) and the funny "Read it and Weep" (available 1/16.) The animated "Higglytown" is an educational animated series that follows friends Eubie, Wayne, Twinkle, Kip and Fran as they venture out into the world and visit such sights as the beach, the ferris wheel and the big city (Vol. 2) and the fair, the circus and the candy store (Vol. 1). When the group is in trouble or needs help, they call on everyday heroes from mailmen to firefighters to teachers to police officers to provide assistance and let them know how we can help one another.
"That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana" is a crossover feature that merges three of the Disney Channel's hits - "That's So Raven", "Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and "Hannah Montana" (I'm surprised that the kids of "High School Musical" aren't thrown in somewhere.) The program has Raven checking into the Tipton Hotel with her boss for a photoshoot. Zack and Cody become involved and Raven has one of her psychic visions about the brothers' future. Finally, Hannah Montana gets involved when she decides she wants a Raven original to wear on her next tour.
Finally, "Read it and Weep" is a Disney channel comedy starring Kay Panabaker as Jamie, a high school girl whose journal is accidentially submitted to a writing contest. When the book - which gave the mean popular crowd at school fake names - becomes a best-seller, it's only a mater of time before the school finds out and Kay finds out who her real friends are. The entertaining film also stars Penebaker's older sister, Danielle ("Sky High").
VIDEO: All four titles are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The "Higglytown" animated titles appear crisp and clear, with only some minor shimmering. The two live-action titles looked fine, with pleasing sharpness and detail. Some minor artifacting was seen in a couple of scenes, but no other flaws were spotted. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The two live-action titles are presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, which use the rear speakers for some minor reinforcement of the score and light ambience. The "Higglytown" titles are presented in stereo and offer clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: Each of the "Higglytown" titles offer a bonus episode of "Jojo's Circus". "That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana" offers a Hannah Montana music video, "So You Think You Know Raven? Vol. 2" DVD game and a bonus episode of "Suite Life of Zack and Cody". "Read it and Weep" offers a featurette about the Panabaker sisters, a featurette on who in the cast keeps journals, a behind-the-scenes featurette and a music video.