Balamory: Panto And Other Stories Review
Carrying on from the review earlier today of Balamory - Seeking Santa - this catches up with a disc that was originally released in November 2004 but which has been re-released in time for this Christmas. The first episode in the set is Panto, a special seasonal episode in which PC Plum is called upon to direct the annual pantomime and treads carefully as he tries not to upset anyone. As regular, grown-up viewers might expect, he hands Miss Hoolie the, if you'll pardon the pun, plum role of Cinderella and alongside Archie, glams himself up as an ugly sister. With the cast in place - it turns out that neither Edie McCredie nor Josie Jump wanted to play Cinders - and Suzie and Penny doubling up as the Fairy Godmothers, PC Plum turns impresario as he brings his opus to the Balamory village hall. With, as it won't surprise anyone, great success.
The other two episodes are Snow, in which the white stuff gently falls on Balamory but rather than celebrating, PC Plum frets about those who will be stuck inside for fear of slipping, particularly Mrs MacLeod. As he voices his worries, Archie comes to the rescue and, in doing so, turns her house into a winter wonderland. This is followed by Ice Skating, in which Josie Jump heads off to the mainland with her skates but tells Archie that she doesn't have any music to play when she gets there. Once again, Archie comes to the rescue, this time with a portable CD player and some musical ear muffs. With Spencer joining Josie on the ice and teaching her some moves, they leave some wonderfully wintry patterns on the ice.
Interlaced and showing it - check out shadows on the end credits, which renders them practically unreadable - this is a fairly average transfer, which keeps the content looking soft throughout. However, it's also worth saying that Balamory has always tended towards looking that way, leaving less of a jump, albeit one that's still very noticeable, between the live-action scenes and the rudimentary CG. As such, this presentation looks much like that of Balamory as it's shown on CBeebies rather than using the greater bandwidth of DVD to make it look very much better. Again, the DD2.0 audio track is fine but much like that as it's shown on CBeebies. Finally, there are English subtitles on both episodes. And yes, this was reprinted from earlier.
The main extra is a bonus episode from the show's first season, Storm In A Nursery. In this, Edie and PC Plum plan to go sailing together but there's a storm brewing off the coast and the seas are much too rough to go, even with the life jackets they've begged, borrowed and...well, that they've obviously not stolen. When Edie visits Plummie, he tells her that the trip is off, leaving Miss McCredie very disappointed. No one stays sad in Balamory for very long and when Edie visits Josie Jump, she's cheered up when Josie and the children at the nursery take her on an imaginary sailing trip.
If you've ever wanted to Sing-A-Long (1m44s) with PC Plum, then you're in luck as this disc includes the good copper's song. There is also a Game that asks the audience to find Cinderella's shoe but which shouldn't be very demanding of any child and a Photo Gallery of stills from the pantomime. Finally, as with Seeking Santa, there's More Fun (2m02s), which offers clips of other CBeebies shows.