The Disney Channel original, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” premiered in 2005 as another show that offers wish fulfillment. Still, it’s this kind of imaginative world that kids often find entertaining because they manage to relate to the characters while sort-of wishing they had the life they have. Disney’s hit shows “Hannah Montana” and “Wizards of Waverly Place” are two other examples of this formula. “Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and the newer “Suite Life On Deck” are rather hyper, lightweight entertainment, but keep in mind this isn’t really for adults and should be enjoyable to kids.
“The Suite Life” features twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse as lead characters Zack and Cody, who live with their mother, Carey (Kim Rhodes) in the Tipton Hotel. The characters are well balanced with Zack being the more laid back, mischievious one and Cody being the smarter, more cautious one. While their mother works as a singer in the hotel (and therefore is allowed to live there with her sons), Zack and Cody hang out with the hotel owner’s daughter, London Tipton (Brenda Song) and Maddie (Ashley Tisdale, “High School Musical”), who works in the hotel. Beyond hanging out, they manage to get in quite a bit of trouble, especially with hotel manager, Mr. Moseby (Phill Lewis).
After a few seasons, Zack and Cody said goodbye to the hotel and hello to the S.S. Tipton, also run by London’s dad, in “The Suite Life On Deck”. London’s on board, as is Mr. Moseby and a few new faces, Bailey (Debby Ryan) and Woody (Matthew Timmons). The main thing missing from “On Deck” is the addition of Tisdale as Maddie. While the rest of the cast give enjoyable performances, especially Lewis, Tisdale always brought something extra to the role.
On deck, the kids attend the Seven Seas High School where they still manage to get into trouble and cause problems for Mr. Moseby. Despite “Suite Life” basically picking up and moving locations, the new series does add some scenery, memorable characters, and more importantly - some new things for Zack, Cody and the gang to do. “Suite Life On Deck” also starts to focus less on their childhood antics and imaginative games, and focuses more an things like romance. For those who are growing up with Zack and Cody, this might be a welcome change, but younger viewers may miss the previous setup.
Once again, Disney has released only a few episodes from the series, including the first episode “The Suite Life Sets Sail”, where the twins set sail. Also included are “Parrot Island”, where London runs away to an island after learning she has to stay onboard the ship; “The Kidney of the Sea”, which is a play on the film “Titanic”, and “Maddie On Deck”, where Maddie visits the ship. Included in the Bonus section of the DVD are two additional episodes, “International Dateline” and “Mulch Ado About Nothing”, which happen to be two of the more memorable episodes on the DVD.
Seeing as how “Hannah Montana” and “Wizards of Waverly Place” have similar audiences, Disney is also releasing “Wizards On Deck With Hannah Montana”. The three episodes included here have the cast members gathering together on deck of the S.S. Tipton. The first episode included is “Castaway (to another show)” where Alex, Max and Justin Russo (Selena Gomez, David Henrie, and Jake T. Austin) end up onboard the S.S. Tipton along with Zack, Cody and the gang after Justin wins a contest to meet London. Bringing the casts together makes for an entertaining change, especially considering the humor of combining the antics of Zack and Cody and the magic of the Russo’s. The second episode included is “Double Crossed”, where Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) boards the ship on her way to a concert along with friend Lily (Emily Osment). Meanwhile, the Russo’s continue to use magic and Zack takes the blame. The final episode included is “Super(stitious) girl” where Hannah loses a lucky piece of jewelry and thinks it’s causing her bad luck. Elsewhere, Cody tries to impress Bailey.
Despite the obvious cross-promotion, these episodes are some of the more enjoyable of the “Suite Life” series, and the additional characters give it a fun boost. The performances from Cyrus, Osment, Gomez, Henrie and Austin are all carried over nicely and they play off of Dylan and Cole quite nicely. Fans may enjoy having these episodes together on one disc.
WIZARDS ON DECK WITH HANNAH MONTANA CLIPS:
Running into Zach (film)
Mistaken Identity (film)
Featurette: Writing an Essay (bonus)
Bloopers & Blunders (bonus)
VIDEO: Both shows are presented by Disney in 1.33:1 full-frame, the original aspect ratio of both programs. Each series looks bright, crisp and colorful on this DVD presentation, which is likely similar in quality to how the show looks when broadcast. Colors remained warm, well-saturated and clean throughout each episode, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation for each series offers crisp, clear music, dialogue and effects, but certainly doesn't put the surrounds to much use.
EXTRAS:Special Features for “Suite Life On Deck”
“Backstage Disney: Debby on Deck” has Dylan and Cole asking Debby Ryan questions, mostly about the show and how she got her start in acting. With clips from the show throughout and some extra footage of Debby Ryan working with a yo-yo, fans of the show may enjoy this near seven minute extra.
“The Floating Premiere” is a look at the premiere of the series that took place on the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder. This feature has some clips from the show, behind the scenes footage and interviews, as well as information about the series. There’s also a decent amount of footage of the ship as well as a performance from Mitchel Musso (“Hannah Montana”).
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Ponyo”, “The Princess and the Frog”, Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Blu-ray, “Race to Witch Mountain”, “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience”, “Earth”, “Princess Protection Program”, “Disney XD”.
Special Features for “Wizards On Deck with Hannah Montana”
“Bonus Short: Justin’s Award Winning Essay”: This is a somewhat informative look at how to write an essay. Here, Justin Russo (David Henrie) presents how to write an essay (including available resources, the importance of communication, and steps to getting your essay just right). There are also clips from the show throughout. Parents may enjoying having their kids watch this feature, as it's a mixture of education and entertainment.
“Backstage Disney: It’s a Suite Life Having Fun With Hannah and the Wizards” is a brief feature that goes behind the scenes with interviews and footage of the cast from “Suite Life”, “Hannah Montana” and “Wizards” hanging out and having fun. While not informative, it may be fun for fans to see the cast members interacting between takes and to hear them talk about the experience.
Also included on both DVDs is an advertisement for Disney Blu-ray with Dylan and Cole Sprouse, along with Kim Rhodes.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “The Princess and the Frog”, Disney Movie Rewards, “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam”, “Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie”, “UP”, “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure”, “Friends for Change”, “Jonas”, Disney Blu-ray.