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Case Number 10831: Small Claims Court

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Charlie And Lola: My Little Town

BBC Video // 2005 // 72 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // February 14th, 2007

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky drew this review in scribbly crayon.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Charlie And Lola: It Is Absolutely Completely Not Messy (published July 11th, 2007), Charlie And Lola: I Really Really Need Actual Ice Skates (published October 7th, 2010), and Charlie And Lola, Volumes 1 And 2 (published November 13th, 2006) are also available.

The Charge

"I can do it, Charlie. Tidy hair, tidy clothes, clean shoes, clean hands and face and then big smiling."—Lola, "Say 'Cheese'"

The Case

Charlie Sonner and his little sister Lola, who is small and very funny, return for six more stories from the show's first season.

• "I can do anything that's everything all on my own"
Lola is practically a grown-up—at least if you ask her. She can do her coat up, pour her own pink milk, and go down the slide on the playground all by herself. Or so she thinks. In reality, just like the pink milk monkeys that live in the jungle, she could use a little help sometimes. Especially on the see-saw.

• "There is only one sun and that is me!"
Lola thinks she has the lead in the school play all sewn up. And even when she loses the part, she continues to insist she must be the one and only sun. Can Charlie talk her out of her complete state of denial? Can she ever be happy just being a brown Autumn leaf?

• "I've won…No I've won…No I've won"
Lola always has to insist on winning every game and contest, even if she has to cheat. But Charlie may be going overboard trying to force her to lose.

• "It wasn't me!"
Lola breaks her brother's prize-winning model rocket, even though she "double-triple promised" not to play with it. Then she blames her imaginary friend, Soren Lorenson. No, really—it was all his idea! That kid is a bad influence…

• "Say 'Cheese'"
It's school photo time again. Lola is ready to be the "tidiest person in the school photograph." How long do you think a four-year-old can stay clean during the day?

• "My Little Town"
Charlie and Lola get a town playset from their grandparents. Charlie wants to develop the buildings, but Lola seems to insist on giant flowers everywhere. Charlie is fighting off Martian invaders; Lola tries to build a zoo. Imagine the most chaotic game of SimCity you've ever played, and you have a good idea how well this is going to work out for our two urban planners.

Once again, I have called on the expert testimony of my four-year-old daughter—whose random and winsome behavior often resembles Lola—as to what she thinks of the episodes on this disc. Of course, she was so busy playing with her battery-powered vacuum cleaner, insisting that the family room needed a thorough cleaning (while her one-year-old brother whacked at things with a toy broom), that she could hardly be bothered with television. She did pause long enough to recommend the show to everybody. And she wanted to remind you to clean up before the House Fairy visits.

As I noted in my review of the first two volumes, the lessons in Charlie and Lola are never heavy-handed, and the perspective and art design capture the whimsical tone of childhood. The charm of the show is its blend of naturalistic language (particularly Lola's enthusiastic rambling) and crayon-infused graphics. It does not look or sound like other, nosier kid's fare, but it also does not dumb itself down.

There is little new to report about this particular volume, as opposed to the earlier two. Bonus features include two clip montages and outtakes from the recording sessions. If you win the card game on the DVD, you will receive a password to unlock DVD-ROM playing cards to print. There is a brief time delay, though, in the remote-control's reaction time that made it almost impossible for me to win. But you can also open the card images manually on the disc if you open Explorer. So there. The Easter eggs this time are merely the same clips you find in the bonus section. Both discs are presented in anamorphic widescreen, and because these seem to be transferred directly from their digital source (as computer animation), the image is apparently flawless.

If you haven't yet caught Charlie and Lola on Playhouse Disney to see if your kids warm up to it, I recommend you watch a couple of episodes before investing in the DVD releases. But if you and your children enjoy what you see, go out and pick at least one of these discs up. The show loses little of its charm in repeat viewings, and it is always good to see some children's programming that doesn't give all the adults a headache—and might even give you a chuckle or two.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 94

Perp Profile

Studio: BBC Video
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Animation
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Snap Game
• Clip Montages
• Outtakes

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