Nickelodeon // 2009 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // September 2nd, 2009
Presenting the irrepressible Olivia!!
The first Olivia book, Olivia was published in 2000 and became an immediate hit, snagging a number of prestigious awards, including the Caldecott Medal. Ian Falconer has written eight additional books, bagging additional hardware in the process. In 2009, the same creative team that translated Rosemary Welles' Max and Ruby into an animated series for Nick Jr. brought forth Olivia as a series. Nickelodeon brings us Olivia.
The disc contains four episodes, each containing two shorts:
* "Olivia Acts Out" and "Olivia and Grandma's Visit"
* "Olivia Plays Piano" and "Olivia Trains Her Cat"
* "Olivia and the Crystal Ball" and "Olivia Plays Soccer"
* "Olivia Packs Up" and "Olivia Is Invited To Dinner"
Olivia is a little pig, about 6 years old. Olivia, is precocious, playful, and imaginative, a combination that can, of course, lead to nothing but chaos. With her parents and younger brother Ian, she lives a fairly ordinary life -- except, of course, that nothing is ordinary to Olivia. Everything is new, everything is an adventure. If it isn't, well, that's where Olivia's imagination comes in -- at times, she's like Walter Mitty's long lost porcine relative. When she accidentally breaks something, she pretends that she doesn't know what happened. Her conscience won't cooperate. Olivia's guilt weighs heavily on her. When a policeman stops by to talk to her dad, she's convinced that she's headed to the big house, and she starts imagining what it will be like (sadly, her piano won't fit in the cell, so she gets a harmonica). Stories revolve around Olivia just learning how the world works, and more importantly, how to fit in while remaining, as always, Olivia. For instance, Olivia prides herself on being an individual, but what happens when an individual becomes part of a team (in this case, soccer) and wears a *gasp* uniform?
For all her adventures, for all her flights of fancy, Olivia remains a regular little girl, and that's a large part of her charm. Little ones watching can relate to Olivia, both in terms of confronting the limitations of being a kid, but also that those limitations are really challenges that should be accepted with wild abandon. The show stresses the value of imagination and of thinking for yourself. The episodes will grow old for adults after a while, but there's no denying that the producers have in Olivia captured the essence of childhood vitality.
The show is produced with 3D CGI; as one might expect, the video is excellent, with sharp images and rich, saturated colors. The 2.0 mix is strong and clear. The only real extra is a photo gallery, though the packaging boasts both previews for other Nickelodeon shows as well as a full frame presentation as extra features. Sometimes, you really have to wonder who writes the copy for these things.
Trivia: Yvonne Craig -- Batgirl herself -- voices Grandma.
Olivia is a fun, stimulating show that's perfect for the 4-to-6-year-old set. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery
* Nick Jr. Site