CBeebies: Big Fun Time Review
What with the fuss that less than a dozen idiot parents made over CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell, the channel has been in the news of late. Apparently she had been reducing children to tears and sleepless nights. Although quite how children that sensitive watch anything on CBeebies is quite beyond me. If they're crying into their pillows having seen Cerrie Burnell on the screen, it's a wonder they're not terrified beyond comprehension at seeing Polluto, Robbie Rotten and Justin and Sarah Jane attempting to look after a baby. Or that mad woman in the pink taxi in Me Too!
Unless, and as happens so often on their website, the Daily Mail ran quite a neutral piece in which they disguised their dislike of the BBC hiring presenters from certain groups - black people, the disabled, women, Muslims, the Irish and so on - as the rantings of upset parents only to find everyone outside of Associated Newspapers actually rather likes the idea of our national broadcaster having Cerrie Burnell onscreen. Happily, CBeebies have a much better idea of what interests children and how inquisitive they are than does Paul Dacre. I can imagine that a Daily Mail-run children's television channel would be very dull indeed, much like the awful animated features that they give away periodically.
This DVD gets all things CBeebies back to normal, much as the channel has continued to do over these past few days. Following on from other themed CBeebies releases - parties, Christmas and bedtime - this brings together almost three hours of children's television to entertain the little ones. But given that so much of CBeebies is supposed to be fun, you could have picked any few hours of viewing for this DVD rather than these particular episodes. Mitzi's Busy Day isn't any more fun than any other episode of the Koala Brothers and it's hard to be completely honest and say that Boogie Beebies is any fun at all but the press release says this release is for entertaining afternoon viewings.
Almost all of the shows expected of CBeebies are here with the exception of debutante Harry And Toto, who open this disc with a twist on the story of the hare and the tortoise, complete with golf, a go-kart and a two-tonne truck. We're back on more familiar ground with Brum and his efforts to stop two baddies from stealing jewels from a celebrity newly arrived at whatever airport is closest to where Brum roams. Fortunately, after this somewhat shaky start, things get very much better with Little Robots and our tin, zinc and iron friends deciding to celebrate all that is robotic with Metal Makes Us Special Day. In the midst of all the celebrations, some robots work harder than others, leaving Stretch sleeping through the party.
Lazytown is up next and if The Sixth Sense surprised the odd moviegoer with its twist ending, Lazytown is its very opposite. Once again, Robbie Rotten has disguised himself, as a purple bush this time, to trap Sportacus and to use a magical invention to turn him into a ten-year-old boy. In spite of all their past run-ins with Robbie dressed in various outfits and, this time, actually descending into Robbie's underground lair, the kids still don't realise that it's Rotten and his no good plans that have shrunk Sportacus back to ten years old. But he's still as good as he ever was at shooting hoops and it's not long before Robbie is rumbled. Things are no less exciting on the moon, where Rover and Lunar Jim find the bone of a long-extinct lunar dinosaur. But meteors are falling, Moonaluna communications are cutting out and Ted is in a panic that the dinosaurs might not be so extinct after all.
With a short stop in Higgledy House with Sarah-Jane and Justin babysitting, we're on to Charlie And Lola and how life just isn't fair. The funfair is coming to town and Lola wants to go on the Super Dooper Loop The Looper ride...but she's still too small. Lola imagines herself as a sunflower and a skyscraper but is still too small. But that might be a bad thing as, their stomachs churned from the Super Dooper Loop The Looper, Charlie and Marvin find out. Being too small is also on the minds of the Tweenies, who all play at being older while the never-forgetting Large Family forget that they've invited the dreadful Smarts to lunch. Only they have no food and, with Lester's diving competition that afternoon, no time either.
Mitzi also has a lot to do in The Koala Brothers when she makes a lot of promises, to bake a cake, to buy groceries and to deliver an important message, all on the day that the koalas are having an afternoon party. And a party is what they're having on Me Too! when Rudi sets off to meet Louie on Raymond's train. But he forgets it's Louie's birthday. Everybody is glum-faced. What can Raymond do? With Boogie Beebies going to the circus, it's finally left to Tommy Zoom to learn that confidence comes with his being a superhero and not from wearing his cape!
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. 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 a are a few bonus features here, such as the Big Fun Time Song (49), Nonsense Rhymes (4m22s), Number Raps with Sid and Andy (7m29s) and a couple of Quizzes, neither of which will trouble a three- or four-year-old.