A drunken Judge Paul Pritchard was once involved in an incident involving a goat, a bowling pin and a blowtorch. Now there's a real cautionary tale they should be teaching kids.
"You are welcome to Grizzly Tales for gruesome kids…"
"…A series of cautionary tales for lovers of screams!"
Facts of the Case
Based on the series of books of the same name by Jamie Rix, Grizzly Tales offers a series of cautionary tales for kids, infused with a nice line in comedy-horror. Narrated by Nigel Planner, the show spawned six series in total and was one of the highest rated shows for the ITV channel and won numerous awards.
Grizzly Tales: A Tangled Web contains the following seven episodes:
• "The New Nanny"
• "The Spaghetti Man"
• "Grandmother's Footsteps"
• "Death By Chocolate"
• "Wooden Hill"
• "A Tangled Web"
• "The Princess's Clothes"
If you were to imagine a version of Tales from the Crypt for kids, you might come fairly close to Grizzly Tales; a show that takes the annoying moral lessons that were often tagged onto shows like Masters of the Universe, and makes an entire series of them but injects plenty of humour.
Introduced by Uncle Grizzly (Nigel Planner, The Young Ones), along with his pet spider Spindleshanks, each episode begins with a visit to Uncle Grizzly's cinema; the Scream Screen. Presented in claymation, these sequences act as bookends to each tale and help set the tone for what is to come. The tales themselves adopt an animated style that's not a million miles away from the illustrations of Quentin Blake, famous for his work with Roald Dahl, simplistic, yet perfectly suited to the subject material.
As for the stories themselves, they're an entertaining blend of horror and comedy that teach kids important lessons without going down the same route taken by shows like Lazy Town and Bear in the Big Blue House. Rather than having each tale end with the child in question having learnt their lesson and go on to lead a happy life, the kids here are often beyond redemption and frequently come to a sticky end. From mutating into fly's and being swatted by their siblings, to being turned into lasagne sheets; there's a delightfully diabolical nature to the series that sees it standout from the crowd.
Perhaps best demonstrating the darker nature of these tales is the story "A Tangled Web." Dealing with a child who delights in killing spiders, the yarn sees him visited by the ghosts of the unborn spiders whose mother he had recently killed, who then exact a terrible revenge on him. The episode also displays the shows skill for crafting tales that see scares seamlessly blended with laughs, ensuring that, even when dealing with the more sinister moments, the show never becomes too much for the youngsters watching.
Grizzly Tales real trump card, however, is clearly Planner's narration. Whether it be raising the tension or lightening the mood with a joke, his delivery is note perfect and is as likely to raise a smile from watching adults, as it is the kids. Voicing every character obviously holds no problems for Planner either, indeed, his work as Timothy, the child who won't eat, in the episode "The Spaghetti Man" is a particularly winning turn, offering a perfect representation of a spoiled brat, complete with yells of "It's not breakfast, it's a cow pat!"
The discs 1.33:1 transfer is a perfect reproduction of how the show looked on TV, in other words, it does the job with no frills. The audio is a similar story.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Sadly Porchlight Entertainment has put out a barebones disc for this release of Grizzly Tales. At a mere 77 minutes long, you do have to question whether that represents real value for money. The show itself is a lot of fun and easily earns itself a recommendation, it's just a shame the disc lets it down.
Not afraid of cutting against the grain, Grizzly Tales: A Tangled Web offers a refreshing antidote to the sickly-sweet moral tales so often associated with children's TV and is all the better for it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Porchlight Entertainment
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