BBC Video // 2005 // 103 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // October 7th, 2010
"You know, Charlie, I really do think I absolutely and extremely must have my own skates."
Based on the books of author Lauren Child, Charlie and Lola is a wonderful encapsulation of the joys of childhood, beautifully articulating a child's view of a world that is both confusing and full of wonder. In the absence of any adults, Charlie (the older of the two) acts as Lola's guide to understanding the big wide world, frequently putting his own interests aside for the benefit of his sister. In return, Lola is impatient, unreservedly curious, and prone to wild flights of imagination. Together, they represent one of the most relatable depictions of childhood on television; one that ensures Charlie and Lola is just as likely to delight adults as it is to entertain children. Though episodes will occasionally deal with more trite storylines, the show is not afraid to tackle the big issues. Indeed, anyone who has seen the episode "I Will Never Ever Never Forget You, Nibbles" will attest to how the show can deal with difficult subjects (in this case, the death of a pet mouse) with a level of skill and tenderness unparalleled in children's TV. Though the tales included on Charlie and Lola: I Really Really Need Actual Ice Skates never quite manage to reach the excellence of the aforementioned episode, they still stand head and shoulders above most children's entertainment.
Charlie and Lola: I Really Really Need Actual Ice Skates features the following episodes:
* "Help, I Really Mean It"
When Charlie and Lola look after their Grandparent's cat, Casper, Lola and best friend Lotta find themselves having great fun with their feline friend. But they quickly find an even better game: calling Charlie for help, whether it's needed or not. In a fresh spin on the classic "Boy Who Cried Wolf" tale, Lola and Lotta learn the importance of trust.
* "I Am Making A Craze"
When Lola fails to understand why everyone in the playground is playing with their Hula-Hoops, Charlie explains it's just the latest craze. Unimpressed, Lola sets out to start her own craze with the help of a ball, a cup, and a piece of string.
* "I Can Train Your Dog"
Charlie and Lola visit Charlie's best friend, Marv. They plan to go to the park and take Marv's dog Sizzles for a walk, but when Marv's mom can't find her handbag, which has the house keys in, the friends find themselves stuck inside with a frustrated and naughty Sizzles. Marv explains how Sizzles ruined his trainers, frequently destroys the newspaper, and howls at the TV. Sensing the chance to prove Sizzles is really a good dog, Lola offers her services as a dog trainer.
* "It's Raining, It's Boring"
Another trip to the park with Marv and Sizzles is ruined when the weather takes a turn for the worst. Stuck inside due to the downpour outside, Lola is irritated that all the games they have are only for two people, until Marv finds a box hidden in a cupboard that guarantees to keep them entertained.
* "I Wish I Could Do That, And Also That, Too"
Lola is torn when her friend, Mini Reader, invites her over to play on the same day as Marv's space party. Lola is excited at the prospect of the space party, but is determined not to let her friend Mini down.
* "I Can Dance Like A Dancer"
Lola learns the joy of dance, and the hard work it takes to become good at it. After her friend Lotta invites her to a ballet class, Lola begins having fun with dance until she finally finds a style that suits her.
* "I Am Extremely Boiling"
A hot summer day finds Charlie and Lola doing their utmost to cool down. Before long, Arnold Wolf comes to play, and joins Charlie and Lola in having an ice cream. But when Arnold accidentally causes Lola to drop hers, she sternly tells Arnold he is no longer her friend. Dejected, Arnold leaves, but attempts to win back his friend by offering to share his paddling pool.
* "But Where Completely Are We"
Charlie and Lola go on an adventure, and with a little imagination find themselves in heart of the Amazon rainforest. Charlie finds himself annoyed by Lola's insistence on packing extra supplies of "pink milk," as he wants to be like real explorers and live of the land. But with a little compromise, and a little more imagination, the siblings soon find a way to enjoy their rainforest adventure.
* "I Really Really Need Actual Ice Skates"
Lola wants ice skates, and is prepared to go to great lengths to get them. Charlie tries talking her out of it, explaining that she'll soon lose interest as she has done with so many other fads, but Lola has her mind set on being the best ice skater in the whole school.
Most episodes of Charlie and Lola teach a simple lesson, but whether it be the importance of earning trust, learning to be patient, or being able to forgive, not once is the show preachy or judgmental. Instead, Charlie and Lola simply reflects how children really are, and the resolutions to each conflict or disagreement that might occur are grounded in reality. Likewise, the dialogue, which is dominated by Lola's fractured English, is so natural it would be easy to believe it to have been improvised by children. Visually the show is a joy, with a collage style of animation employed to combine the simple, yet appealing characters with photographs, video footage, and other materials to bring Lola's active imagination to life.
No extras are included on the DVD, but you do get a colorful 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer that is as sharp as a tack. The Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack ensures the catchy theme tune will be in your head for weeks.
A treat for the whole family, Charlie and Lola: I Really Really Need Actual Ice Skates comes highly recommended.
Absolutely, most definitely, not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site