The newest original feature from "VeggieTales" lands Larry the Cucumber inside the legend of Robin Hood, where the hero fundraises from the rich to give to the poor and displays accuracy with a bow and toilet plunger.
In typical "VeggieTales" fashion, there's singing and silliness. But the theme of "Robin Good and His Not-So-Merry Men" is a serious, sobering one — "there's no hurt too big for God."
The cucumber version of Robin Hood is dedicated to helping the people of Bethlingham, where "times are as tough as Granny's shoe leather." The prince, whose role is filled by regular villain Mr. Nezzer, has been hoarding hams from the people and taxing them in return for supposed protection against giants.
But Robin Good's efforts to raise money by selling lemonade and overpriced candy bars aren't buying much ham these days, and his friends decide to give thievery a try.
Robin Good refuses because he knows that stealing is wrong, and the Merry Men abandon him.
The distraught cucumber pleads with the prince to end the unequal distribution of hams because the people are hurting. But the prince will "never dare attempt to share."
Robin Good, who is told by a kindly woman that his "face is as long as a boring sermon," must face the question: "How do I give my burdens to God?"
"Robin Good" deals with timely, serious themes like financial distress and emotional pain without being too weighty. The conclusions, drawn from the Bible, are simple and digestible enough for younger children.
The DVD also includes a short feature called "Lenny and the Lost Birthday," where Junior Asparagus experiences "the worst ever day in the world." It's a lesson in handling disappointment — not to mention understanding leap year.
Two other "VeggieTales" DVDs were released by Big Idea Entertainment earlier this year:
"If I Sang a Silly Song" — It's not heavy on substance or spiritual meaning, but the long-running "Silly Songs With Larry" feature — you know, "the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song" — is as much a part of "VeggieTales" as biblical storytelling. The combination of music, witty humor, pop culture references and randomness is celebrated on this DVD, released Jan. 24. "If I Sang a Silly Song" features 20 favorites divided into two top 10 lists from two different decades as voted by fans.
The collection is framed by a "Silly Song Telethon" story line. As Larry hosts, the veggies man the phones and take suggestions for a new silly song. They count down the 20 favorites as obscure, nonsensical ideas pour in. Fans of Larry's "Silly Songs" will be interested in seeing the rankings, and the show ends with the debut of the latest silly song, "Bubble Rap," which also appears on "Robin Good." The theme was chosen through an online fan contest.
"God Loves You Very Much" — This compilation DVD of past features was released Jan. 10 and focuses on the theme of "God's love for us." Three previous features — "Gideon: Tuba Warrior" (2006), "The Ballad of Little Joe" (2003) and "Rack, Shack & Benny" (1995) — are introduced by a new story song, "Does He Love Me?" As the Veggie Kids rattle off their concerns and shortcomings, Larry reassures them through song and interspersed Bible scriptures that they are indeed loved by God.
Aaron Shill is the editor of Features and Mormon Times at the Deseret News.