CBeebies Compilation: The Ultimate Party Collection Review
If you’re as old as I am, you have to think very hard when anyone meantions age, mentally calculating the gap in years between 1971 and now. Granted, some years from now, I may well have to be thinking equally hard to remember my name, where I live or whether or not I put trousers on that morning but I also realise that these early signs of forgetfulness are symptoms of a mind and body that are getting older, sufficiently so as to dismiss my own birthday as being relatively unimportant. Not so for those of children, who look forward to birthdays with a giddy excitement, an excuse to receive gifts, eat sweets and believe themselves to be making a leap up the ladder of maturity. There being, of course, so many more things to do at the age of eight that can’t be done at the age of seven. Age tells us that’s not strictly the case but there’s no talking to an eight-year-old the morning of their birthday.
The BBC has wisely brought together a whole bunch of birthday- and party-themed episodes from many of the more popular shows on CBeebies, some of which will have been seen on individual DVD releases but work well when collected together for the child breathlessly excited about their own party. Ben and Small - the Big Cook and Little Cook - rustle up some pancakes, containing the not-very-party-like ricotta cheese, frozen spinach and tomatoes, in Postman while the Tweenies, Roly Mo and The Koala Brothers all celebrate a birthday, being those of Fizz, Little Bo and Penny. Unfortunately, children may not be quite so captivated by the party thrown for Penny Koala, who only gets her room decorated and not, as birthday lists will doubtless request, a new Bratz doll, a big birthday cake and a big bar of chocolate all for the child in question. Meanwhile in Balamory, the romance between Miss Hoolie and PC Plum carries on as gently as it ever has when he’s called in to find a letter that appears to have gone missing in the post. Spencer sent it to the nursery but it hasn’t arrived, making Miss Hoolie wonder where it is. PC Plum, as ever, finds out that the goings-on aren’t anywhere near as suspicious as I’m making them sound.
The better episodes come with the better shows, not least Lazytown, which celebrates birthdays with the arrival of Miss Roberta in which Robbie intervenes in Stephanie’s efforts to bring good manners to the other kids. The rotten one is on hand to teach them some awful things, including that burping is amongst the very finest of sounds produced by the human body! With the kids baking a cake - with that song! - Miss Roberta gets into a spot of trouble and, as always, needs rescuing by Sportacus, who might well celebrate his own birthday with a basket of sports candy! Apples, pears and bananas...try selling that to a six-year-old. There’s also the wonderful Charlie And Lola - This Is Actually My Party - that sees Lola organising a birthday party for her older brother but finding that her fairycakes, dancing and lovely but very girly pink things aren’t to Charlie’s tastes. And then Higgledy House comes along to brighten things up with Justin celebrating Sarah-Jane’s birthday. Unfortunately, Justin isn’t really into the birthday ethos of giving, handing Sarah-Jane only a little of the birthday cake - he scoffs the rest! - and cheating at Pass The Parcel. Still, she’s not bitter as what she knows but Justin doesn’t is that he’s a day early!
With the Bobinogs, Fimbles and Lunar Jim completing the set, this is a reasonable disc, acting more as a sampler for CBeebies than themed to any particular time of the year. However, having set something of a trend rolling by this release, perhaps one for later in the year with a Christmas theme might not go amiss?
With everything here anamorphically presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, the quality of these shows can vary. Charlie And Lola, offering the most basic but most imaginative animation, is amongst the better-looking shows while Lazytown suffers the most from noise and artefacts. However, most of the shows look fairly reasonable on DVD, if very ordinary at times. Not a lot of expense went in to producing Higgledy House and it shows but Lunar Jim and The Koala Brothers all look very much better. Then again, as it did in the recent Carry Me collection, the Macromedia Flash of Bobinogs comes up a treat on DVD. Everything about the DD2.0 audio tracks is well handled, not least that they sound clean and without any obvious problems with background noise or audio effects. Once again, the BBC are to be congratulated for included English subtitles on each episode included in this set, even in the silent-movie comedy of Higgledy House.
There are no extras on this DVD release.