Teletubbies: Happy Birthday Review
Ten years? Has it really been ten years since grown men and women began saying, "Eh-Oh!" to one another? That a decade has passed between the first mention of Tubby Custard? And, as is most likely, a novelty house record was released on a white label extolling the virtues of drugs to the sound of, "Twinky Winky! Dipsy! Laa-Laa! Po!" Actually, there may be nothing of the sort but remembering a time in which the cast of Rainbow, Captain Caveman and Ivor The Engine all promoted Ecstasy in songs that sounded as though they took all of four minutes to compose. one wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Teletubbies were, without their consent, also guilty.
The biggest mystery to the Teletubbies is how they ever managed to lark about on the hills surrounding their spaceship without terrifying the rabbits that lollop around them. Heaven knows that any time I walk near a rabbit in the fields around my house, I get within 50 yards until it runs off so fast that I'd have trouble keeping up with it in a car. And a fast one at that. Actually how the Teletubbies managed to construct a spaceship - assuming that it is a spaceship - and travel to Earth whilst being so preoccupied by a handbag, hat, bouncy ball and scooter is something the show doesn't answer to any satisfaction. That's not to mention their being distracted by the pictures that occasionally appear on their tummies, which must have caused them, as it does on the show, to stop whatever it is they're doing - running about, eating Tubby Custard or rolling about on the ground - and stare at each other's middles. How they managed to attract an audience of stoned students is a much lesser mystery of the Teletubbies.
This two-disc DVD marks the BBC's celebration of the Teletubbies, which have been a big success for the corporation and for Ragdoll, the production company behind the show. Unfortunately, what we have been given is only one of the two discs and so miss our chance to tell you about one half of this set, that of the Top 10 Tellytubby moments as voted for by the readers of Mother And Baby magazine. It's hard, given my limited knowledge of the Teletubbies, to think of ten memorable things they're ever done but in nothing what has been included in the press release, this seems to cover the time Noo-Noo tidied the Tubby Custard, an Animal Parade, a Dancing Bear - I thought that was the sort of thing we'd once campaigned against! - A House Appears in Teletubbyland and, though this seems to be a common occurrence, the Teletubbies play with their favourite things. Onto the second disc, we have five episodes, all of which are defined by, Play School like, what the visiting children get up to. The first in the set is Numbers: 8, in which a primary school class count up to eight, Loretta Tap Dancing, being the tale of an excitable young girl who tap dances and Delilah Packing...by now, you should know what comes next. After that, there's Playing In The Rain and Making Lanterns. Each of these last for approximately twenty-five minutes and are typical stories of Teletubbies doing whatever it is they do on an average day interrupted by these little filmed reports that play out on their tummies.
I can't say that my own children ever expressed very much interest in the Teletubbies, either in the television show or the various figures that were released to tie in with it. Partly, this was my own influence. Whilst acknowledging the use of Phonics to aid reading, Speech and Language Therapists have often explained how it is best not to pander to children's inability to enunciate certain words, such as not repeating their saying of, "Tat" when it is, "Cat", they are attempting to say. In their own minds, they are saying, "Cat". It is only that they are unable, until somewhere between two and three to clearly make the 'ka' sound. Therefore, I have always been somewhat suspicious of the Teletubbies, "Eh-Oh!" much as I am of anyone who's efforts at communication with children is but gibberish. But my children, regardless of my feelings on the subject, had no time for the Teletubbies. Bear In The Big Blue House, the Tweenies and, more recently, Charlie And Lola and Lazytown have all been well-liked but not so the Teletubbies. And if they didn't much like watching Twinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, they certainly didn't have very much time for the interruption in the Tubby action to watch the efforts of children of a similar age to them. Most disappointing of all was when the Teletubbies, in some show of appreciation for the efforts of the featured children (or in a means to pad out the running time of each episode), simply showed the filmed sequence again.
So, we tried but with the exception of my youngest, we are all too old for Teletubbies and this was most evident in the lack of interest in the second disc of this two-disc set. However, it is clear, given the success of the Teletubbies, that my own children are something of an exception and this is sure, given its advertising push in last couple of weeks, to be as big a success as anything else released by the Teletubbies in the last decade. Which is, if you didn't know, rather a lot of toys, games, videos/DVDs and, no doubt, a children's television.
Unlike much on the CBeebies channel, Teletubbies is presented in 1.33:1, looking fine throughout. Given that so very little happens in a typical episode, the format isn't noticeably troubled by artifacts and sharpness is generally very good. What this DVD does very well is to capture the bright colours of the Teletubbies, with the characters being given the vivid purple, green, yellow and red to stand out against the backdrop of lush green fields and a spaceship. If, that is, the Teletubbies' home is actually a spaceship. Likewise, the DD2.0 audio tracks is very competently handled, not least that it sounds clean and without any obvious problems with background noise or audio effects. There's some stereo separation but not a great deal other than, being a notable exception, when the Teletubbies run about the field surrounding their home. Once again, the BBC are to be congratulated for included English subtitles on this release.
Going on the basis of the second disc in this set, there are no extras on this DVD release with the exception of a couple of web links, one of which is to the Teletubbies site, whilst the other is to that hosted on the BBC's CBeebies web page.