Dive Olly Dive: Ocean Explorers: Volume 1 Review

The spirit of Jacques Cousteau lives on, albeit in little computer-generated submarines…

Olly is a little submarine. Not a big one loaded with nuclear missiles and a crew of submariners living cheek by jowl but a nice small one that goes exploring with his friend Beth. Together, they leave the safety of Diver Doug’s Special Underwater Research Facility and descend to the bottom of the sea, finding fun and adventures along the way. Alongside their friends Shankley the sea crane, Suzy the seaplane, Ranger the cowboy seahorse and Luseal the, er, seal, Olly and Beth join in a treasure hunt, play in Lava Rock Park and glide quietly through the dangers in Dark Trench. But Skid and Brandt, a sneaky little transporter and a grumbling hermit crab are, if not out to stop their fun, ready to elbow their way into the action.

What you must remember about children’s television is that, unlike children’s films, nobody is ever really that wicked. The cinema may have given us Snow White’s evil stepmother, Maleficent and even Sid from next door but television never has anyone who’s genuinely evil. Horrid Henry is as terrible as they get and even he, when push comes to shove, is actually rather nice to Perfect Peter. Instead, we get clowns like Spud from Bob the Builder, Stingo and Slugsy from Fifi and the Flowerpots, the Diesel engines from Thomas and Friends or even the foam and latex monsters from Power Rangers. They might steal a cherry pie, switch the tracks to cause chaos on the island of Sodor or stomp across some deserted bit of Japan in a megazord but they’re not so very bad.

Dive Olly Dive isn’t very different from any one of those shows. Skid and Brandt may be up to no good but they’re not all bad. Even when Olly discovers a giant octopus and dreams of fame and fortune, he realises that, with the creature wanting only to be left alone to tend its underwater garden, he must keep it a secret. But with Skid and Brandt sneaking through the coral and the seaweed in search of what they think is a monster, Olly must ensure that the octopus remains undiscovered. Olly finds that submarines more famous than he have found the octopus before and have also wrestled with needing to keep a secret. The wink that Diver Doug gives Olly tells him that he has also sworn a vow of secrecy.

That story is typical of Dive Olly Dive. In amongst the fun and games underneath the sea, there is a strong environmental message. Just as Olly needed to protect the octopus in one story, he finds, in other stories, that he needs to save Luseal from a red dye that flows in from the sea and that he must own up when he breaks off a piece of coral. But there are also stories that are more about the little submarines enjoying their time beneath the sea. There are laughs to be had when Shankley’s magnetism rubs off on Skid and even more when Olly and Beth have to spend a night on a haunted ship.

However, for children brought up on Finding Nemo, which this resembles, Dive Olly Dive might seem a little dull. Not only is the computer animation in this series some steps behind Pixar’s efforts, which is only to be expected, but so too is the writing. Most of the characters are fairly well defined but rely more on what they are than who. The only way to really tell the difference between Beth and Olly are the lights on their bows, with Olly having a normal circular light and Beth a heart-shaped light. Because she’s a girl submarine. In that they’re not quite the match for the better-realised machines in Bob the Builder. Still, the animation is nice and clunky and the DVD does a fair job by it. Although, while Dive Olly Dive may not be all that when compared to a feature film, it’s as good a presentation as most children’s television on DVD. The DD2.0 is much the same, allowing the dialogue and occasional background effect to be heard (and understood if the child is old enough) without ever really showing itself off to any extent. Finally, though, there are no extras.

Eamonn McCusker

Updated: Apr 14, 2009

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