Judge Dan Mancini still hasn't learned how to share.
Now that you're here, it's a super-special day!
Ni Hao, Kai-lan is the latest in a growing army of Dora the Explorer copycat shows for preschoolers. It debuted on Nickelodeon in early 2008 with a mission to challenge tykes with some problem solving and teach them a little Mandarin. The show follows a Chinese-American little girl named Kai-lan Chow as she learns Chinese culture from her grandfather Ye Ye and has educational adventures with her anthropomorphic animal friends, Rintoo the tiger, Hoho the monkey, Tolee the koala, and Lulu the rhinoceros.
Each 24-minute episode of the show is structurally identical. The first half of the show sets up the plot and allows Kai-lan and Ye Ye to introduce a few Mandarin words to the audience. In the second half of the show one of Kai-lan's animal pals gets upset over something that happened in the first half. Kai-lan sings, "We gotta-gotta try to find the reason why." She reviews the events of the first half to see if she can identify why her little friend is troubled. Once Kai-lan has identified the problem (with the assistance of her young audience), she sings, "What can we try? It's up to me and you to figure out what to do." Kai-lan then presents the moral of the episode (for example, "everyone gets to play when we take turns"), thus solving her friend's problem. The gang sings a little tune ad nauseam in order to hammer the moral into the brains of their toddler viewers. The end.
Ni Hao, Kai-lan: Celebrate with Kai-lan! presents four episodes from the series:
• "Happy Chinese New Year!"
• "Safari Pals"
• "Kai-lan's Campout"
• "Tolee's Rhyme Time"
As with most Nickelodeon releases, the DVD presentation of Celebrate with
Kai-Lan is mediocre. The good news is that the episodes themselves look
quite good. The full frame transfers sport bright, solid colors in keeping with
the show's design. The animation is rendered without any combing artifacts or
other digital flaws. The 480p transfers are slightly better than broadcast
television quality. Audio, however, is a utilitarian two-channel stereo mix.
Bass response is decent and dialogue is crystal clear, but there's little depth
to the mix.
Since Ni Hao, Kai-lan is essentially a Mandarin-centric clone of Dora the Explorer, right down to the repetitive format of each episode, I'm not sure why I liked it better than Dora. I'm guessing it has something to do with Kai-lan not having characters anywhere near as annoying as Dora's Swiper and Map. In any event, young children are bound to enjoy Ni Hao, Kai-lan. Mine did.
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