Following a falling out over an unpaid gambling debt, Judge Paul Pritchard is no longer friends with Tigger and Pooh.
Our reviews of My Friends Tigger And Pooh: Friendly Tails (published February 27th, 2008) and My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths (published April 3rd, 2010) are also available.
The classic tales of Winnie the Pooh will often fill the pre-bedtime story slot in my household; the whimsical yarns proving just right to help settle a sleepy toddler. And although I recall the animated tales of Pooh Bear, Tigger, and Piglet from my own childhood, it's only since becoming a father, and reading the stories to my own son, that I've really come to appreciate just how good they are. So it was with some confusion that I first approached My Friends Tigger And Pooh: Bedtime With Pooh, because it quickly became evident this is not the same bear I read to my son.
With author A.A. Milne having created so many charming stories with such enduring characters, it seems odd that Disney chose to shoehorn them into such a generic feeling show. My Friends Tigger and Pooh primarily focuses on Darby (Christopher Robin's replacement), Pooh Bear, and Tigger, collectively known as "The Super Sleuths." Each episode sees them donning their thinking caps and solving a mystery in the Hundred Acre Wood. This repackaging of the characters reminded me a little of how Disney updated Scrooge McDuck and his nephews for Duck Tales. The problem here is that Winnie the Pooh et al are already iconic characters, and don't need superfluous changes to make them more appealing.
Moving on from my own personal dislike for the changes, the show itself isn't that bad, and should appeal to little ones in the 2-5 age bracket. Each of the three episodes included on Bedtime With Pooh are split into two separate stories, one of which revolves around a bedtime theme.
• "Pooh's Double Trouble / Eeyore Sleeps On It"—A mirror causes confusion, leading Pooh and co. to think they have doubles. The second story sees the Super Sleuths attempt to cure Eeyore's sleepwalking.
• "Eeyore's Sad Day / Tigger's Bedtime For Bouncer"—Eeyore has been missing for days, and the Super Sleuths set out to find their friend, while Tigger refuses to take a nap.
• "Buster's Bath / Once In A Pooh Moon"—After jumping into a pool of mud, Buster is in need of a bath, but reluctant to take one. The final story sees Lumpy going to his first moon party, except the moon seems to have disappeared.
Each episode is just the right length to hold the attention of little ones, usually containing amoral, or—as seen in the episode "Once In A Pooh Moon"—a mini science lesson. Lead character Darby will frequently break the fourth wall to ask questions of the viewers, which adds a nice interactive feel to the series.
With the mystery element clearly being the main drive of the show, the small moments that come closest to the original Milne tales get overlooked. This is most evident in the episode "Eeeyore's Sad Day." The episode revolves around Eeyore being even more solemn than usual, which is revealed to be caused by the lack of dandelions in the Hundred Acre Wood for him to roll in. When his friends finally realize they can't force Eeyore to be happy, they simply decide to keep him company. Still sad, but comforted by their presence, Eeyore remarks, "Havin' friends around. Not quite the same as rollin' in dandelions, but not so bad either." It's a lovely moment, one that fully captures the warmth of the original stories and highlights the magic lost in this latest iteration. The episode "Once in a Pooh Moon" suffers a similar fate. Removing the whole Super Sleuth angle would have left a perfectly entertaining and enchanting Winne the Pooh story.
Visually the series is rather bland. Sure, the picture is colorful and the character designs haven't been unnecessarily revamped, but all too often it's hard not to feel the transition to sub-standard CGI has robbed Pooh and co. of their charm.
Disney have ensured the 1.33:1 transfer is sharp and colorful, while the soundtrack is clean and has plenty of bounce during the show's many musical interludes. A bonus episode of fellow Disney show Handy Manny is available from the bonus menu, as are two interactive modes. Though both pretty much the same, just aimed at different ages, these features play the episodes as normal, but frequently stop to ask questions. Using the remote, the viewer selects the answer from multiple choices provided. By no means amazing, it nonetheless adds a little more interactivity for kids.
This update to Winnie the Pooh feels mostly unnecessary. If you can get past
that, the show itself offers a fun diversion for the kindergarten crowd.
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