Cbeebies: The Ultimate Summer Collection Review
"Summertime is cool!" sang G Love and with the aid of this bumper CBeebies release, the BBC are celebrating the season with this near-three-hour set that, like The Ultimate Party Collection earlier this year, draws in some CBeebies favourites on a single theme. In one respect, it's quite an odd release given how almost all of the children to whom it's aimed will be spending most of the summer outdoors mucking about in back gardens, on the beach and making tea in tents constructed out of chairs and a bedsheet. Still, the parent of any child will be all too aware of how tired and grumbling their children get when the day goes on too long, leaving this a lovely thing to have when the midday sun gets too strong, when a touch of sunburn creeps through the Factor 50 or the tears start flowing when a knee gets grazed in amongst the sand castles.
Beginning with Balamory and a trip out of the nursery to the beach - it being in the north of Scotland, the brisk winds puts paid to there being any sunbathing and causes Archie some concern over what it might do to his kilt in the presence of some young children - The Ultimate Summer Collection takes in the Fimbles' excitement at seashells, the Boogie Beebies dancing on the sand and Lolly trying to find a new flavour of ice cream in the colourfully animated The Koala Brothers. But is custard'n'onion or carrot'n'chocolate chip really what the best that she can do? Max leaves the nursery and the Tweenies behind for a day on the beach and on the promenade but this is something of a low point in the set. No matter how familiar he might be, he makes for an odd sight indeed amongst normal people, normal being those who aren't the colour of sunburn, with a shock of white hair and wearing a checked waistcoat. Me Too! sees Granny Murray welcoming Rebecca, who loves the orange juice squeezed by Rudi, but Mickey John has a hard time at school when he drips tomato juice down his white shirt.
There are some marvellous moments in this set. There's never been a day when one could refuse an episode of Higgledy House, least of all when Justin and Sarah-Jane pack for their summer holiday. The Little Robots have a fine time watching the stars at night, Little Cook finds out how tomatoes are grown and gets Big Cook to make veggie sand castles while Roly Mo reads the fable of the wind and the sun trying to find out who's stronger. But the best is saved for last when Charlie And Lola pack up their sandwiches of spready cheese, pink milk, sausagey rolls and swirly tennis (and Marv and Lotta). But three floors down and on the grass outside the flats in which they live, big, fat raindrops start to fall. Rushing back inside, it's time to have a picnic in a tent. One made out of a sheet, a couple of chairs, that is, but who invited the camel?
Watched in one sitting, this isn't ideal summer fare but, then again, it's hard to think of any child who would actually sit for so long looking a television. Round here, they've proved useful for those half-hours when everyone, dad included, needs to sit down, have a cold drink and relax. Summertime is lovely but not quite enough to keep young heads cool and there may be many a parent who'll be thanking this for keeping the summer theme going during a brief rest in the shade of a living room.
Being so very similar to The Ultimate Party Collection from earlier this year, this section is largely a reprint of what was written then. 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 Me Too! suffers the most. However, the majority of these 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 Little Robots and The Koala Brothers all look very much better. 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 but, being almost three hours long, it's not like there isn't enough content on the disc already.