Charlie And Lola: Vol 7 Review
This is now the third piece that I've written on the very charming Charlie And Lola and, so, will be short because of it. This seventh volume of the show - these build into a full series' worth of episodes on DVD - carries on the release of series two on DVD, which is coming in seven-episode chunks. The episodes begin with My Best Best Bestest Friend in which Lola welcomes a new girl to the school but then finds that Lotta is rather more taken with her. Lola finds that she's very much on her own and has no one to talk to about the fish in the school fish pond. But neither does Lotta. Lola and Lotta find that sometimes friends are meant to be together no matter what. What If I Get Lost In The Middle Of Nowhere sees the children surprised by a school trip. Lola isn't entirely happy and worries that she might get left behind...wherever it is they're going. Bright clothes, pebbles and maybe even breadcrumbs are all part of her plan not to get lost. Come the day of the school trip, Lola and Lotta are surprised to find they're meant to get lost! That's what happens on a school trip to a maze...and they're rather better at finding their way out than Charlie and Marv.
The episodes continue with I Just Love My Red Shiny Shoes. But shoes that don't fit anymore. Lola's going to have to get a new pair of shoes. She doesn't want a new pair as these red shoes are her most favourite pair ever and even if they're too small, she still just loves them. Then Dad buys her a new pair. Brown shoes...could Lola ever learn to like a pair of brown shoes? Perhaps with something of a nod to Clarice Bean, Charlie and Lola go about saving the planet in Look After Your Planet in which they encourage the whole school to recycle tins, cans and paper in the hope of winning a tree to plant. But time is running out and Charlie and Lola have to come up with a clever plan to collect enough items.
Will You Please Stop Messing About? Charlie isn't happy. He can only watch his favourite show, Space Family Hudson, if he and Lola do all of their chores and tidying-up. Lola doesn't want to watch Space Family Hudson and is quite happy turning every chore into a game. Will Charlie get her to concentrate and to finish all their little jobs? Lola? A five-year-old? To concentrate? I doubt it... But what Lola does like is a party and when it's Charlie's birthday, as it is in This Is Actually My Party, she promises that she will organise the best party ever. Charlie's hoping for monsters, goo and squidgy things. Lola, though, is thinking of ballet, fairycakes and pink! Then Charlie's monster friends turn up and Lola has to think fast to keep her brother (and his monster guests) happy. Finally, Lola thinks that she's the luckiest person in the whole wide world when Granny and Grandad send enough money to take her and Charlie to see the new Bat Cat film. Lucky Lucky Me! Bat Cat is Lola's most favourite comic book. But in spite of being so very lucky to get the money, everything goes wrong and she doesn't get to see the film. Perhaps Lola isn't so lucky after all...
Charlie And Lola has maintained a very high standard from the beginning, no doubt helped by the three books written and illustrated by Lauren Child from which, with their clear sense of design and dialogue, they could hardly go wrong with. However, there are plenty of gems in here, not least Lola and Lotta getting lost in the maze, their making up stories about the school fish and Charlie getting awfully frustrated at Lola's efforts to prevent him seeing Space Family Hudson. However, it's with This Is Actually My Party that this disc really hits form with Lola enjoying flights of fancy into her idea of a great party while Charlie's expectations are somewhat different. His friends are the comedy highlight, appearing in fancy dress as monsters and clearly hoping for sticky buns, crisps and horror fit for seven-year-olds. They're all sticky-out hair, masks and mumblings in place of words but a very accurate and very funny look at seven-year-olds in those first moments in a strange house. And that fits perfectly with the rest of the show, which is as charming a thing as the BBC have ever shown and which is as much of a must-watch for the parents of young children as it is for the children themselves.
Given that this will make up a series set with previous releases (five and six), I have reprinted what I wrote then. The truly marvellous thing about Charlie And Lola on DVD is that it absolutely mirrors Lauren Child's very complete artwork in the original books. Charlie and Lola look identical on the screen to how they are portrayed in the books and this television show has all the colourful pink wallpaper, swirly writing and bits and bobs of photographs (and stock footage) that Child had also included. The BBC transfer does a very good job with this disc, keeping Charlie And Lola simple but very clear, with all of the foreground action looking impressive. There are no obvious faults and nor are there any in the noiseless audio track, which is clear and with a good separation between the left and right channels. Once again, the shrill but very charming delivery of the children is a big part of what makes Charlie And Lola such a thing to treasure and this is captured perfectly well on this DVD. Finally, the BBC have included English subtitles on the main features as well as the bonus material. And that Charlie and Lola present the various options on the DVD menu just seems like the perfect finishing touch on this very thoughtful DVD.
As before, there is very little on this disc, only a music video for Dancing Dogs (1m47s) in which the two dogs from I Am Not Sleepy And Will Not Go To Bed invite Lola to their pyjama party. There are also two behind-the-scenes looks at the voiceovers, including one for Martin (24s) and an even shorter one for Morten (11s).
It only remains to say one thing that, in the writing of this piece, I looked up the Official Lauren Child Homepage and can only recommend that you visit it. It's a beautifully-designed website with clips from the show, a full list of books and descriptions of some of her characters. The About Lauren section is, in particular, a real treat. However, for more on Charlie And Lola, there is the Official Charlie And Lola Website but for this actual show, the CBeebies site is the one to visit with games, audio stories, 'colour and makes' and a recipe for pink milk. Milk, vanilla icecream and strawberries...lovely!