Charlie And Lola: Vol 8 Review
This is now the fourth review that I have written on the very charming Charlie And Lola and, so once again, will be short because of it. After all, precious little changes between releases. Charlie and Lola are little different now to how they were when they first appeared in Lauren Child's I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato. Each book and each episode of the show begins with Charlie saying, "I have this little sister Lola..." before briefly stating his problem in a sentence or two. Putting Lola to bed, getting her to eat vegetables or going to school are all things that Charlie, who has an old head on his very young shoulders, has had to deal with.
This disc is not our average Charlie And Lola release, though. Coming out so close to Christmas, this includes the show's Christmas episode, How Many More Minutes Until Christmas (22m00s) in which Lola excitedly opens the windows on the Advent calendar (even peeking into some of Charlie's). She writes a card to Lotta and a Christmas List that she sends to Father Christmas. But on the last day of school, the letter that Lotta opens is her Christmas List...which means that Santa has got Lotta's Christmas card! And doesn't know what Lola wants for Christmas! Then, on Christmas Eve, Lola finds there is no window for Christmas Day. What has happened? Charlie and Lola leave for the North Pole, to meet all the little elves and to find out what is wrong with Christmas.
Things get off to a good start even before the opening titles with Lola being unable to speak she's so excited. "I can't wait!", says Charlie. Lola agrees, "I can't wait...I can't wait...I can't wait eeitfvawwvaaavvvever...." and runs off giggling. Later, it gets even better. As well as all the usual Charlie and Lola goodness that is in this episode, the elves are the kind of beautifully thought-out characters that this show does so well. Voiced by Thale Krohn-Pettersen, Nicolai Berg and Bettina Berg, a chorus of elves echo the one who explains Christmas to Charlie and Lola. "We got all the toys ready for people who ask nicely", he explains in a strong Norwegian accent. All the other elves nod in agreement, "Ask nicely!" But when the elves run out of wrapping paper, they announce that, "It's a catastophree!" before Lola agrees, saying, "It is! It is a capastofy!" Charlie, Lola and an elf take to the skies in Santa's sleigh to tear down the stars from the heavens with which to wrap the presents with. It's a magical moment and sure to be an episode that will be watched often this Christmas.
The other episodes are up to the usual Charlie And Lola standard. Charlie Is Broken sees Lola fretting about her brother when he injures his arm and can't help her with her forward rolls for the show she's putting on for Granny and Grandad. I Completely Know About Guinea Pigs proves the opposite is rather more true, with Lola, in an echo of Child's My Unkle Is A Hunkle with Clarice Bean, taking the class guinea pig home and losing it behind the kitchen units. But even then, there is a surprise in store when Burt isn't a Burt at all. More of a Bertha! Meanwhile, in I Spy With My Little Eyes, Lola and Soren Lorensen play spies but when the Wolf family move in next door, Lola is terrified that they are actually wolves and that they will be eating her for tea!
I Am Really, Really, Really Concentrating sees Lola getting ready for school sports day. Charlie and Marv are taking part in the three-legged race in their class while Lola and Lotta have to do the egg-and-spoon race. Lola finds it very, very hard to run with an egg on top of her spoon so she has to really, really, really concentrate. Charlie cheers his sister on...but where will she finish? And will she drop her spoon? I Really Wonder What Plant I'm Growing has Lola looking at the tomato plant that Charlie is growing and liking it a lot, even though she doesn't actually like tomatoes (or moon squirters). She wants to grow a plant of her own but doesn't like that it will take so long. Or even what it is that she wants to grow. Finally, in I Am Extremely Magic, Charlie gets a new magic kit, which means that Lola wants to do magic too. But she cannot be as magic as Charlie and all of her tricks come out wrong. Will she ever learn magic? Or is it all in the wand?
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 It's Snowing (1m12s) in which Lola gets all excited about the thought of snow beginning to fall while there are also two behind-the-scenes looks at the voiceovers, including one for Lola (32s) and an even shorter one for an Elf (23s).