Paramount // 1998 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Lacey Worrell (Retired) // May 25th, 2005
As a Generation Xer, I will acknowledge up front that my childhood was made up of its share of freaky, psychedelic programming: Sigmund the Sea Monster, The Banana Splits, The Brady Bunch. So I frequently find myself wondering why people loathe Teletubbies. Especially in light of the introduction of its truly wacked-out sister show, Boohbah. Give me Teletubbies any day over that!
Watching Teletubbies: Naughty Noo Noo -- Messy Messes and Terrific Tidying, one is left with a vaguely unsettled feeling. The Noo Noo, the Tubbies' blue, clunky vacuum cleaner, has long lived in the considerable shadow of Tinky Winky and the other characters. Finally given the chance to shine on his own DVD, his character development is still sorely lacking. I was left pondering the true essence of the Noo Noo. Who is he, really? What makes him tick? How did he come to work for the largely ungrateful Teletubbies, who take his considerable cleaning skills for granted? I am sad to say, my friends, that these fascinating questions remain unanswered; Teletubbies: Naughty Noo Noo -- Messy Messes and Terrific Tidying fails to portray the Noo Noo as anything other than an underling to his more colorful counterparts.
The Teletubbies -- Dipsy, Laa Laa, Po, and Tinky-Winky -- live in a beautiful land covered with Astroturf and plastic flowers. Their home is what appears to be a domed aluminum space ship. Each Teletubby, aside from his/her individual color, also has a special trademark: Dipsy, the green one, has a black-and-white hat and does some pretty funky hip-hop moves on occasion; yellow Laa Laa is fond of her orange ball; red Po has a squeaky scooter that often creates right-of-use squabbles with Laa Laa; and the biggest Teletubby, purple Tinky Winky, had the evangelists up in arms years ago because, well, he carries a red patent leather purse. And frankly, I can understand why evangelists were upset about Tinky Winky's purse. I mean, red patent leather hasn't been in style since 1983! Couldn't they have found him a cute little Kate Spade bag instead? But I digress.
The Teletubbies receive commands from a strange, screeching baby whose face is superimposed on the sun; the baby is taken to laughing hysterically at odd times, but otherwise spends his time just staring at the Teletubbies. This doesn't appear to bother them at all. The only other regular character, besides a dancing bear and an opera-singing puppet who pop up once in a while, is Noo Noo, the Tubbies' trusty vacuum cleaner. Noo Noo is responsible for cleaning up the Tubbies' home when they make a mess with their pink, gloppy Tubby Custard.
On this DVD, the Teletubbies interact with one another in simple situations, such as eating together around a table, moving around against brightly colored backgrounds, and playing with simple objects like umbrellas. The trademark segments featuring real children experiencing everyday activities, like finger-painting or washing clothes, are also included. The trusty Noo Noo is there to clean up, but occasionally has some misfires, such as sucking up the Tubby Toast before the Tubbies have had an opportunity to eat it. There are also ever-frequent reminders that "Teletubbies Love Each Other Very Much!"
As the mother of an almost five-year-old boy, I've had my ups and downs over the years with Teletubbies. It's kind of like a bad rash that won't go away. They have become a somewhat unwelcome part of my life, like diapers, sippy cups, and other paraphernalia that go along with small children. Only the diapers and sippy cups are now long gone. The Teletubbies continue to haunt me on occasion.
I couldn't even escape them when I left the country two years ago! I discovered on a trip to Switzerland that apparently the Teletubbies speak French, German, and Italian too. It made for an entertaining moment when my son was momentarily confused by the fact that Dipsy was now saying "Ciao, Tinky Winky!" instead of speaking English. On the other hand, Teletubbies, saved me years ago when I was deathly ill with the flu and unable to get out of bed to care for my son; he was perfectly content to sit next to me and watch the show while I suffered through chills, headaches, and sweats. So in some way, I owe Ragdoll Entertainment, the producers of this curiously odd programming, a debt of gratitude.
Teletubbies is highly repetitive, and the babyish way in which the main characters speak could easily drive even the most well-balanced parent insane. Because the show is aimed at children who may not even have learned to walk yet, the stories are understandably very, very simple, and the actions of the characters are often infantile. I can't explain it for the life of me, but toddlers do find it very entertaining. And for harried parents, that is a very, very good thing.
Clocking in at just 60 minutes, this DVD is on the shorter end of the spectrum; but considering that many Disney movies aimed at very young children are around 70 minutes long, this isn't exactly a crime. The overall picture quality, colors, and sound are excellent. Teletubbies: Naughty Noo Noo -- Messy Messes and Terrific Tidying does include two extra 10-minute bonus segments called "Teletubbies Everywhere," so it adds some additional incentive for potential buyers to include this one as part of their DVD collection.
I bet my parents are ecstatic that they spent so much money on my education; six years of higher education have apparently helped me to remember an alarming number of details about this show. Unbelievable. Teletubbies: Naughty Noo Noo -- Messy Messes and Terrific Tidying will never set the gold standard for children's entertainment, but it will indeed entertain. And that's all you're looking for, right?
You can do whatever you want -- turn off the television -- heck, throw it out the window for all I care -- but take my word for it: if you are the parent of a child under the age of four, the Teletubbies will find you some way, somehow. You have the sympathies of the court.
Review content copyright © 2005 Lacey Worrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Teletubbies Everywhere" Segments
* Official U.K. Site